Welcome to Adventure(s) Time’s forty-second installment, a look at classic animated series and their tie-in comic books. Suggestions are always welcome, so feel free to leave one in the comments. This week, we examine the times Killer Croc was targeted by Cupid’s arrow. Once as the pursuer, once as the pursued.
Batman & Robin Adventures #24 (October 1997) was the first story to pair Croc with a love interest. “Crocodile Tears” comes from writer Ty Templeton and penciler Bo Hampton, one of the final stories published before the revamp of Batman. We open with the heroes confronting Killer Croc in public, as two police officers witness the battle. The rookie admires Batman and Robin’s bravery, the vet dismisses the vigilantes. Templeton’s characterizations aren’t arbitrary. The public’s lack of support for the caped crusaders turns out to be key to the story.
The next day, Summer Gleeson reports on the confrontation. A blonde Summer, one lacking in any real journalistic ethics. She explains to her boyfriend that opinion polls are turning against the heroes, and kicking them while down makes for good ratings.
Summer never had much of a personality in the series, so who’s to say if this is out of character. The blonde hair is an odd one, though. This isn’t a one-time coloring flub. Summer, from this point on in Adventures titles, is no longer a redhead. Maybe this was done to distinguish her from Veronica Lake and Barbara Gordon. It’s hard to argue it was a mistake, since she stays blonde (a specific shade) until her final 2003 appearance. This had to be conscious choice.
Regardless, Croc isn’t going to be complaining. Summer’s report is the first one sympathetic to his perspective. The first time an attractive woman has looked at him as anything other than a freak. He responds as Killer Croc would — breaking into her home that night.
Still, the story isn’t eager to make Croc a creep. He says he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, and only reacts when Summer’s boyfriend charges him. Croc saw a book on Van Gogh in prison, and is impressed Summer has a “Starry Night” print in her apartment. Clearly, they were meant to be together. He leaves, promising romance and a starry night of their own.
Croc isn’t the first villain in an Adventures comic to fall for Summer, either. Clayface and Summer nearly made music together in one of the earliest issues of the series.
Templeton’s Croc is thuggish, but not dumb. When Batman locates Summer, he quickly discerns there was more to Croc’s words than she realized. Also, notice Templeton is homaging Bob Kane in this scene. Interesting, since Templeton would later provide art for the Bill Finger tribute/Bob Kane exposé book Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.
Batman and Robin locate Croc inside the museum, attempting to lift a Van Gogh for his “date” with Summer. Croc trashes the place, and the finale of the battle conveniently occurs in Summer’s sight. She accuses Croc of being a monster, cutting him in a way she could never understand.
The irony being, if Croc were truly a monster, he wouldn’t care. The label wouldn’t mean anything to him. He never would’ve sought her company in the first place. Croc’s incensed, ready to show Summer just what a monster he is. He stops himself, though. Realizes how futile his actions would be, actually asks Batman to send him back to prison.
It’s an emotional conclusion, perhaps ranking up there with Croc’s final words in “Sideshow,” the most famous Killer Croc TAS episode. (And, as I’ve argued before, one of the very best episodes of the show’s run.)
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