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A 5 part story begins in Detective 444 (Dec.74/Jan. 75), called Bat-Murderer, by Len Wein and Jim Aparo.  It’s the first story with Ra’s al Ghul and Talia since the end of their big, multi-part story a year earlier in Batman.

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It opens with Commissioner Gordon telling a policeman not to use the Bat-Signal, that Batman is now a wanted murderer.  Gordon then relates the events of the previous day, Batman stopping a truck hijacking, and discovering that Talia is leading the men committing the crime.  She tosses a gun down in front of Batman, turns and runs away.  In front of witnesses, Batman picks up the gun and shoots her.

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Batman insists he did not pull the trigger, but ballistics shows nothing unusual with the gun, and Gordon is forced to place Batman under arrest.  Batman fights off the cops and flees into the night, certain that he is innocent, but incapable of explaining what has happened.

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Because multi-part stories like this were quite rare, although that was soon to change, each issue this ran in had a disclaimer announcing that the events in these issues were taking place after the events in other Batman comics coming out, to explain why Batman was not being hunted as a killer in those books.

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The Elongated Man returns in this issue.  The last back-up before Manhunter, and the first one after it.

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Mike W. Barr and Ernie Chan tell this story, in which Ralph and Sue stumble across a magic mirror in a small town.  It’s fairly obviously a fake, designed to pique Ralph’s interest, but there is decent mystery story, and a runaway daughter of a dying millionaire.

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After the conclusion to the Manhunter saga, and the heavy events in this issue’s Batman story, happy and romantic ending to the Elongated Man tale sits well.

 

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