Who's Night-Slayer?

Who's This? He's on page 2 of Who's Who vol.XVII.
The facts: Better known as Nocturna's foster brother, Anton Knight started life as the Night-Thief in Detective Comics #529 (1983), the start of an arc shared between the two Batman books that introduced both siblings. They would both reappear in a longer arc a year later, which would see him upgrade his lethality, becoming Night-Slayer with 'Tec #544. A year later, they were back at it for one last engagement as a duo. Night-Slayer was last seen taking advantage of a mass prison breakout engineered by Ra's al Ghul in Batman #400.
How you could have heard of him: Uhm... in Nocturna biographies? While his more famous (adopted) sister has made appearances in the post-Crisis and even New52 universes, Night-Slayer might not even have existed in those realities.
Example story: Detective Comics #529 (1983) by Doug Moench, Gene Colan and Dick Giordano
A few words on why I chose this particular issue. First, I didn't really want to feature Nocturna, and though she appears at the very end of this issue, she's normally ALWAYS around. That's what happens when a character has an obsession with his foster sister. So Night-Thief's introduction is pretty much the only place he gets to do his thing without sharing too much page space. Second, when I told people I was considering writing this article, I got some ooohs and ahhhs at the prospect of featuring some Gene Colan Batman art. Well, only the first arc had any of that. So he's not Night-Slayer yet, but hey, staying away from his more psychotic behavior will do us good. It's not like he doesn't use violence in his capers:
Colan is uncommonly good at making people rag-doll when they get hit. And this is just to get his hands on a fur coat! What'll he do for bigger ticket items? Well, Batman hears the alarm and shows up, but can't get his hands on the slippery shadow. Night-Thief puts the guard's life in danger, and Batman has no choice but to let him go, save the man, and take him to the hospital where a journalist is surprised to hear Batman didn't get his man.
That's what I call a slow news day. But there's something more horrifying than Batman not being able to catch a thief that one time - he's about the form the Outsiders!
Ok ok, I'm going a little off-topic here. Obviously, these are dark days for the Dark Knight. He's getting bested by a C-lister, about to quit the JLA for one of the worst teams in comicdom, AND about to crown Jason Todd the new Robin. Rough stuff. Now let's get back to Night-Thief. Here's how he plans his heists.
Lesson: The society pages should NOT publish rich peoples' addresses AND movements. And they wonder why the crime rate is so high in Gotham. But Batman gets a helping hand too, because Night-Thief likes to dedicate songs to his own personal manhunter, broadcasting his crimes in advance, on whatever radio station Bats might be listening to. See, Night-Thief loves the night, and all things nightly. Late night radio is just the kind of beat poetry his soul grooves to. To the Brevoorts'!
Night's lover WANTS Batman to come after him because he loves the night and Batman's been known to say he WAS the night. Is that it? And Batman learns a hard lesson about people who dress in dark clothes.
Maybe that's what made him eventually switch to the totally black suit. Shadows ain't blue, son. So now Batman is looking for shadows, but dude, shadows ain't tangible!
Oh man, you just got played! Friendly advice: Don't issue a press release about it this time. Night-Thief runs home and meets up with his foster sister, the pallid Nocturna who really IS the night (in his heart). The furs, the jewels, they're all for her.
Both are nocturnal creatures, one completely black, the other completely white, it's a wonder Batman writers ever decided to use one without the other. They sort of wrote the Night-Slayer into a corner when Nocturna fell for Batman and he was cast as the jealous jilted lover, I suppose.

Who else? I think Nocturna got more than a fair shake in all this, so she won't be the subject of this feature for now. Looking ahead at through Volume 17 of Who's Who, I still think it'll have to be a darkness-related character I cover next.

7 comments:

SallyP said...

Well...I have to admit to never having heard of Night Slayer...but that is one HELLUVA magnicent set of buns in that first scan.

American Hawkman said...

Hey, it's discount Shadow-Thief! :) Seriously, the fact that he managed to both beat and then unmask Bruce says something about how potentially dangerous he can be. Someone like Hugo Strange getting hold of him could be interesting.

Siskoid said...

You're the expert, Sally!

AmHawk: I like the idea of a Batman villain whose brand of madness is being the Dark Knight's romantic rival.

The Irredeemable Shag said...

After reading this, I feel pretty justified in my dislike for the characters entry in Who's Who. Ick.

Shag

Siskoid said...

You don't like to mix your poetry with your superheroes? ;-)

Jeremy Patrick said...

My first thought on seeing the Night-Slayer was "cool costume!" And then I thought about it, and it's really just a plain old black spandex bodysuit. The artists and colorists must have loved how easy it was to deal with Night-Slayer . . .

Siskoid said...

It's perhaps all the more difficult to define him. What's dark gray and what's black, how to make the action clear and when to turn him into an effective shadow, etc.

 

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