Posts tagged ‘Al MIlgrom’

Detective 482 – Batman fights an ape, Batgirl in China, The Demon begins, Bat-Mite invades DC, and Robin meets Card Queen

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The second half of the Batman story by Jim Starlin and P Craig Russell opens Detective 482 (Feb./March 1979).

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The villain has captured Batman, and intends to use his mind-transfer machine to take over the hero’s body.  Batman breaks free, and destroys the machine, which traps the bad guy in the ape body.

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While the chapter in the last issue was a lot of detecting and back story, this second half is largely an extended fight between Batman and the ape.

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In an unusual ending, the ape is about to kill Batman when a policeman shoots it, sending it falling to its death.  Not a bad story, but maybe not worth being spread over two issues.

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Batgirl’s story, by Rozakis and Heck, has Barbara Gordon and her friend in the hands of the Chinese.  Her brother Tony Gordon, who had been brought into her series in Batman Family, plays a small but important role in this tale.

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While the Chinese try to force Barbara’s confused friend into admitting she is Batgirl, Barbara escapes and gets into costume, and fights the Sino-Superman to free her friend.

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The story ends with Tony sacrificing himself to blow up the laboratory and end the threat of these “heroes” for good.  Although it kills off the character, it remains a really unsatisfactory ending for his plot line.  Especially as the character never returns, and is never spoken of.

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The Demon, who had appeared with Man-Bat in the final issue of Batman Family, gets his own series for a few issues, while Man-Bat takes a break.  Len Wein, Michael Golden and Dick Giordano re-introduce Jason Blood and his demonic other half, Etrigan, in the character’s first solo storyline since the end of his own book a few years earlier.

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The Eternity Book, which has power over the Demon, is the crux of this tale.  It had appeared in his own book as well.  It’s theft in this story awakens the Demon, who sets out to retrieve it.

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The supporting cast are all brought back.  Glenda had last appeared alongside Jason in a Brave and the Bold team-up with Batman.  Harry Matthews makes his first appearance since the Demon’s book ended.  Randu had last appeared in the short-lived Kobra series, in which he was blinded.  To Wein’s credit, Randu is still blind in this story.

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Glenda’s lack of knowledge about the Eternity Book allows Randu to exposit about Morgaine le Fay and the fall of Camelot, Merlin bonding Etrigan to Jason Blood, and his immortal life since then.

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At the end of the story, Etrigan discovers the book is now in the possession of Baron Tyme, making his second appearance.  He had debuted in the first issue of Man-Bat’s brief series.

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Bat-Mite makes his only appearance in the 70s in this wonderful little story, barging in to the DC offices to demand he get a story.

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As confused editor Al Milgrom tries to explain that he cannot produce a story on his own, Bat-Mite causes writer Bob Rozakis, penciller Michael Golden, inker Robert Smith and more to appear.  Essentially, the entire story consists of the people who produced the story.

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It’s very silly, very Bat-Mite, and was much beloved when it came out.  Bat-Mite next appears in the Ambush Bug History of the DC Universe.

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Robin’s story, by Rozakis and Juan Ortiz, closes out this issue.  It is told as one of the top men from MAZE looks over footage of their local operatives battles with Robin.   We see another aerial battle between Robin and Raven, with Robin stopping the crime, but not the villain.

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Then we are introduced to a new MAZE operative, Card Queen.

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As with the Raven, he stops her crime, but she manages to escape.

This long running storyline culminates next issue.

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Detective 470 – Batman vs Dr. Phosphorus

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The concluding half of the Dr. Phosphorus story is featured in Detective 470 (June 1977), by Englehart, Simonson and Milgrom.

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Batman goes to discuss Dr. Phosphorus with Jim Gordon, who is sharing a hospital room with Alfred.  With Gordon incapacitated, the city council, under Boss Thorne, push through a bill outlawing Batman.

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Meanwhile, Dr. Phosphorus continues his reign of terror, wiping out the entire audience at a rock concert.

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Aware that Dr. Phosphorus is using the abandoned nuclear plant as his base, but incapable of approaching it subtly, Bruce goes the other way, and hosts a huge party on his yacht, using that to sail near the plant.  Boss Thorne is there, but so is a new character, Silver St. Cloud.  She doesn’t do much aside from flirt with Bruce in this story, but she’ll be back.

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With a specially insulated costume, Bruce swims away from the yacht and confronts Phosphorus.  They battle, and it’s not so much that Batman beats him, as that Phosphorus causes his own defeat, as his hands burn though the railings and he falls into the reactor, setting off an explosion.

Dr. Phosphorus returns in a couple of years, in the pages of Batman.

Detective 469 – Dr. Phosphorus debuts

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At 12 years old, the conclusion to the Calculator storyline had been so exciting I had not expected much from Detective 469 (May 1977).  I was very wrong. It doesn’t start huge, but the Steve Englehart run on Detective that begins in this issue would be the best Batman storyline of my childhood, and would be reprinted numerous times over the years, in whole and in part.

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Walt Simonson and Al Milgrom handle the art on this first issue, which opens with Alfred falling mysteriously ill.  Bruce rushes him to the hospital, and discovers that people all across Gotham are suddenly collapsing.

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Dr. Phosphorus claims responsibility.  He is a glowing skeletal form, his skin made of phosphorus, burning when exposed to air.  He poisoned Gotham’s water supply simply by immersing himself in it.  Batman attempts to fight him, but any contact burns his hands, and the villain flees.

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There is also a back-up story in this issue, again by Englehart, Simonson and Milgrom, giving the origin of Dr.Phosphorus.

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More importantly, in the big picture, this story also introduces Boss Rupert Thorne, the big power broker in Gotham City.

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We see that Dr. Sartorius was a jerk even before the explosion at the nuclear power plant, which gave him his powers.  But as with Thorne, the more important element is his connection to the major players in Gotham politics, which would have repercussions next issue.

Detective 461 – Captain Stingaree, part 2, and Tim Trench ends

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While the Batman story in Detective 461 (July 1976) is not bad, there simply isn’t much to this middle chapter in the Bob Rozakins/Mike Uslan/Ernie Chan/Frank McLaughlin saga.

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With no explanation about the captured Batman from the end of last issue, this story again has Stingaree’s men luring Batman into a trap.  Batman and Stingaree fight.  There is a space of time between Batman being defeated, and Stingaree approaching his body.

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And another unmasking, and again, it’s not Bruce Wayne.

The story concludes next issue.

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Tim Trench gets his second, and final, case in this story by Denny O’Neil, Pablo Marcos and Al Milgrom.

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It’s another story straight out of a film noir, with Tim being asked to guard some money, and winding up with a corpse on his hands.

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There’s some creativity with the violence in this one, but otherwise, it just feels old and characterless.

While Tim Trench would never again get a series, he would make rare appearances over the years.  He next pops up during Mark Millar’s run on Swamp Thing in the 90s.

Detective 460 – Captain Stingaree and Tim Trench debut

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Captain Stingaree is introduced in an unusual three-part story, by Bob Rozakis and Michael Uslan, with art by Ernie Chan and Frank McLaughlin.

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Stingaree opens the trilogy by explaining, to a roomful of dummies, that Batman is really three men working together.  Since we readers know he is wrong, the roomful of dummies just helps emphasize how nutty he is.

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We, and Bruce Wayne, get to see the Captain in his civilian life as well.  He wears the same outfit, as he operates a club on a restored old pirate ship.

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Stingaree has a squad of hoodlums working for him, and they lure Batman.  Stingaree and Batman fight, both getting knocked out by sleeping gas.

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As the story ends, Stingaree revives, and binds the still sleeping Batman.  He unmasks him – and it’s not Bruce Wayne.

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Tim Trench, a minor supporting character from Wonder Woman a few years earlier, gets his own series with this issue, by Denny O’Neil, Pablo Marcos and Al Milgrom.

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Trench is operating out of St. Louis in this story, and seems far more down on his luck than he did a couple of years earlier.  The story is very film noir, with a shady dame and diamond.

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The story is tight, the clues are there.  But there really isn’t much to the detective.  Tim feels fairly generic.

Detective 451 – Molly Post returns, and Robin ends

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A great Giordano cover for Detective 451 (Sept. 75), although not really connected to the Denny O’Neil/Ernie Chan story.

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Molly Post, the professional skier who aided Batman against Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins in the pages of Batman a few years earlier returns. Her experiences have left her traumatized, and incapable of handling violence – which manifests by having her whack Batman over the head with a champagne bottle while he is fighting with an actual criminal.  It’s really a shame.  Molly was a strong character reduced to a whimperer in this tale, champagne bottle notwithstanding.

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As it turns out, she is also the intended victim in the criminal plot. Good thing she didn’t hit Batman too hard, cause he’s the one who saves her.

This is Molly’s last appearance, which is probably a good thing.

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Bob Rozakis, Al Milgrom and Terry Austin conclude Robin’s series, and the Parking Lot Bandit story, in this issue.  Robin and McDonald lay a trap for the bandit.

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And he falls into it.  With him out of the way, Robin nails the man who framed him, having his own secretary robbed, so that he could steal money from his company’s safe.

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The case solved, Dick Grayson and Lori Elton ride off on his bike.  She asks what he wants to do that evening.  And the last panel is an inset close-up of Dick’s face.  Now seriously, there is really only one thing Dick is thinking about, right?  And are we meant to read this ending as just sexual frustration?  No, this is included, therefore significant.

Which means, as far as I am concerned, that Dick Grayson loses his virginity (aside from some likely fooling around with Betty Kane) to Lori Elton following this story.

His series also moves to Batman Family, bringing Lori and Chief McDonald with him.  Dick and Lori’s relationship would last the duration of that book, and they would return to the pages of Detective when the two series merged after the DC Implosion.

Detective 450 – Batman gets waxed, and Robin chases the Parking Lot Bandit

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There is one really great moment in the Batman story from Detective 450 (Aug. 75), but despite Walt Simonson’s art, Elliot S! Maggin’s story is not structured as well as it might be.

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A professional hit men gets hired to acquire Batman’s cape and cowl, not to kill him, and we follow how he lures Batman to a wax museum and into a pouring chamber.

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He explains to Batman that he has no interest in Batman’s identity, he simply wants the cape and cowl and will allow him to leave safely.  Remarkably, he gets the garb he wants.

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Bringing it back to the man who hired him, he asks what the man wants it for.  The man insists he will trade for that, demanding to know how the hit man pulled off a recent murder.  After that, we discover, in the best moment of the tale, that Batman was the one who hired the hit man to get his cape and cowl, it was all a big set-up.

But then the story has a few more pages of them fighting, which seems extraneous.  The revelation scene was strong enough to be the ending to the story.

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Dick Grayson’s girlfriend, Lori Elton, is introduced in this story about a serial thief who prays on people in parking lots, stealing their keys and then robbing their homes.

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Bob Rozakis, Al Milgrom and Terry Austin are the creative team on this story, which takes an interesting twist.  Robin is working with police chief Frank McDonald on the case, and almost captures the thief, when his wig falls off.

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Because the thief was not wearing a wig in an earlier encounter, Robin is inclined to believe the note he receives at the end of the story, from the Parking Lot Bandit, insisting he is being framed for a robbery he did not commit.

The story concludes next issue.

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