Posts tagged ‘Atom’

Detective 489 – Batman fights a vampire, Commissioner Gordon in a prison riot, Robin and Batgirl team-up, the Atom meets the Dharlu, Alfred and the evil butlers, and Batman finds Bronze Tiger

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Batman has two stories, book-ending Detective 489 (April 1980).  The first, by Jean-Marc deMatteis, Irv Novick and Vince Colletta has a rash of murders, seemingly committed by a vampire.

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A vampire hunter has also come to town, informing Batman that he and his assistant have been chasing this creature from city to city.  Batman insists there must be some other explanation for the deaths.

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The story looks like it is going the obvious direction, that the vampire hunter is really the vampire, but it doesn’t quite go that way.

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In fact, the vampire hunter is the killer, but with a split personality that thinks he is a vampire.  His assistant explains it all – then turns into a bat and flies away.

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Commissioner Gordon stars in this chapter of Tales of Gotham City, by Paul Kupperberg, Irv Novick and Steve Mitchell.

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A riot breaks out at Gotham penitentiary, and they prisoners demand Gordon be the negotiator, but when he arrives, he discovers they simply intend to kill him.

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This is possibly the most bad-ass story Gordon gets, as he takes down the men about to kill him, fakes a deal with others to get the prisoners back in their cells, and then takes down the other leaders of the riot, all by himself.

This could be a kick-ass action movie.

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Robin and Batgirl, whose team-ups made Batman Family a success, have the last one for many years, and it’s awful.  In so very many ways.  Jack C Harris, Don Heck and Vince Colletta are all to blame.

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I never like Don Heck’s art, but in this issue it descends to new lows.

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Barbara Gordon goes missing, and then show uup with no memory. Commissioner Gordon calls on Robin, informing him that his daughter is Batgirl.  Robin already knows this, he and Batgirl discovered each others identities back in Batman Family, but Gordon doesn’t know this.

One has to wonder why he goes to Robin, though, instead of Batman.

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Anyway, Robin tracks her down, and convinces her to get into her Batgirl costume, although she still remembers nothing.  Conveniently, they promptly run into the guy who stole all her memories.

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So they beat him up, and discover the stolen memories are all on cassette tapes.  Robin plays them and restores Barbara’s memories, but then leaves the last tape, which apparently contains nothing but the secret identities of Batman and Robin, and gives her a bit of a guilt trip, asking her not to listen to it.

And she burns the tape!

The whole reason for this story was to make it so that she no longer knew their identities.  Why not?  Just stupid.  Poorly drawn, poorly written, and a bad idea for a story in the first place.

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Bob Rozakis, Alex Saviuk and Vince Colletta give the Atom an adventure on the JLA satellite.  The Atom’s last solo story was in Five Star Spectacular, but he was soon to get a rotating series in Action Comics.

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The story deals with the Dharlu, a comatose alien that resides in the JLA satellite computer, and has to be there in order for the computer to work.  I never understood that story.  Anyway, investigating some computer problems, the Atom discovers a while bunch of tiny Dharlu’s loose in the computer.  Her kids, one would guess.

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The Atom sends the little Dharlu’s shooting out into the vacuum of space, so they can “find their destinies,” unless they all just die out there.  And he doesn’t even try to take the original one out of the computer prison they keep it in.

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Ok, here’s a story I won’t attack.  Alfred sees a picture of himself in the paper, part of a phony Butler ring being broken up by Batman in this story by Bob Rozakis and Jose Delbo.

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Curious, he goes to investigate, and finds the bad butlers, who mistake him for part of their crew.  Alfred clues in that he was being impersonated to infiltrate the group.

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It’s all a bit convoluted, and Alfred only pretends to have figured it all out beforehand.  Robin cameos, having been the one who had impersonated him before.

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The second Batman story in the issue, by Denny O’Neil and Don Newton, picks up the League of Assassins storyline.  Both the League and Batman have tracked Bronze Tiger to the hospital where he is recovering.  How they did this is not explained, but its been a few months since the last part of this story, so they had time.

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Bronze Tiger defends himself from the League killers, although Batman was there to step in if needed.  Tiger does not recall his time with the League completely, but does remember enough to send Batman to an amusement park they were using.

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There he fights a bunch of the League, but does not find any of the big players – but does find a seismologist being held captive.

And with that unusual detail, the story is set up for its big finale next issue.

 

 

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Detective 468 – The Calculator vs Batman

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The big finale to the Calculator sage, by Bob Rozakis, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin takes up all of Detective 468 (March/April 1977).

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As Hawkman predicted last issue, the Calculator does indeed go up against Batman, and is defeated by him, as he was with all the previous heroes.  But once again, he presses that special button.

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One thing that makes this story entertaining is its use of Morgan Edge, normally a supporting character in the Superman books.  He is trying to secure Bruce Wayne’s vote on the sales of a division of Galaxy Communications, and though he does, in the end, give Batman the inspiration for beating the Calculator, he never does get the signature he needs.

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The effect of the Calculator’s special button is to ensure that he cannot be beaten a second time by a given hero.  It’s never really clear how his machine does this, or any of the other amazing things it does.  But it does make for a great spread, as the heroes take each other down.  The Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Arrow and Hawkman all have small roles in this story, but it’s really a Batman tale, not even a team-up.

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Ultimately, Batman outwits the Calculator, and has him defeat himself. Batman goads him into creating a cage, while standing on a spinnable floor.  The Calculator winds up trapped by his own creation.

Likely because his suit was never really explainable, the Calcualtor did not move on from this introductory run to become a major player.  He next appeared against the Atom in the early 80s, in the pages of Action Comics, and would pop up from time to time in different books.  It was not until the millennium that he got reworked into an impressive villain again.

Detective 463 – Black Spider debuts, and the Calculator vs the Atom

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It’s Batman vs Spider-Man!  Nope, not even close.  Detective 463 (Sept. 76) introduces the Black Spider, a murderous vigilante, created by Gerry Conway, Ernie Chan and Frank McLaughlin.

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It’s a 2-part story, and this first issue spends much of it’s time setting up the antagonist.  Batman and Gordon are pursuing leads in Gotham’s drug trade, but the dealers they are after keep getting murdered.

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Batman manages to confront the Black Spider towards the end of the story.  Despite his name, and his web-swinging appearance on the cover, mostly he shoots people.

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The Black Spider manages to get away from Batman, leaving him on a tarmac in front of a landing plane.

The story concludes next issue.

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Technically, this is a one-shot back-up story featuring the Atom, but really, it is the start of a six-part story introducing the Calculator.  Bob Rozakis, Mike Grell and Terry Austin provide the art for this instalment.

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In Ivy Town, the Calculator attacks a scientist who has invented an earthquake predicting machine.  Throughout this run, the Calculator would steal things on “the day they were worth the most.”  In this one, he steals the scientist’s life on the day of his big success.

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The Atom captures the Calculator, but the villain does not seem to mind.  He presses a button on his keypad, and happily plots his next crime while in prison.

 

 

Detective 432 – Batman and the torn up money, and the Atom begins

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Dick Giordano does the cover art for Detective 432 (Feb. 73), while Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Murphy Anderson tell the tale of a distinct lack of trust among thieves.  I am tempted to say this story is inspired by the opening half hour or so of “Diamonds are Forever,” as the plots are almost the same.

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After a man is murdered during a mugging, Batman discovers that the briefcase the man was carrying contains a million dollars in bills torn in half.  With Commissioner Gordon, they deduce that this is the loot from a major robbery, committed by an entire gang.  Batman impersonates the dead man, taking the torn money to follow the trail.

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Batman avoids the exploding rental car the man was meant to die in, and follows the girl who set him up, after she grabs the money.  But she gets taken out next, and Batman continues to follow the new killer.

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The gang had torn the loot so that no one could run off with it, but their continued distrust of each other turned them against each other, so in the end Batman simply has to nab the sole survivor.  They made it easy on him, really.

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The Atom story in this issue, by Elliot S! Maggin and Murphy Anderson, was meant to begin a rotating position in Detective, as with Jason Bard, Elongated Man and Hawkman, but the suspension of the rotating back-ups a few months down the road meant that this was his only tale in Detective at this time.  A few years down the road, the Atom would return to Detective, but his solo series ran more often in Action Comics in the 70s and 80s.

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Jean Loring’s client announces on the witness stand that he will vanish, and promptly does so. Ray Palmer recognizes the lights that accompanied his disappearance as those from the Time Pool, and goes to see Profesor Hyatt, who tells him of its unusual behaviour.  As the Atom, Ray descends into the Time Pool on the track of the vanishing thief.

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He winds up in Chicago, just minutes before the outbreak of the Great Fire, and though he finds the man, the time trip has driven him insane.  He winds up dying in the past, so although Ray solves the mystery, he has nothing to show for it.  Still, the story is entertaining and the art, particularly the splash page, is top drawer.

Detective 368 – the Wonder Crimes, and Elongated Man teams with the Atom

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The story in Detective 368 (Oct. 67) pits Batman and Robin against a gang attempting to commit crimes that reflect the seven wonders of the ancient world.  Because committing crimes just isn’t enough for them.

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Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella are the creative team.  It takes Batman and Robin a while to figure out the logic behind the unusual crimes in odd locations.

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Once Batman figures out the connection to the wonders, he is able to figure out the location of their next crime, and they round up the gang.

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Elongated Man and the Atom team up against Chronos in this Gardner Fox story, with art by Gil Kane and Sid Greene.

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Ralph and Sue are in Ivy Town, and Ralph stops to get his watch fixed, only to discover the Atom trapped in the gears of a clock.  He helps free him, and learns of the Atom’s fight against Chronos, who vowed vengeance on him and the watch maker after being defeated by them in the Atom’s book.

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While the Atom ditches Ralph to go after Chronos, Ralph follows anyway, coming across a gang of hoods intending to steal from Chronos.  Ralph rounds them up, and though the two heroes smile at each other, you have to wonder about the Atom’s brush off.

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