Posts tagged ‘Barbara Gordon’

Detective 499 – Batman and Blockbuster work together, and Batgirl races to the court

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The concluding half of Conway and Newton’s Blockbuster story is featured in Detective 499 (Feb. 81).

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Batman has the evil union rep to thank for his survival.  Just before Blockbuster grinds him into paste, the rep blows up the mine, figuring to bury the miners and Batman, and all his problems.

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Blockbuster sees Batman work to save his friends, and even the brain damaged Mark Desmond can see the value in not trying to kill him at the moment.

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They work together to  clear the debris and make a safe passage out of the mine.

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Batman takes down the union rep, but leaves Blockbuster to live in peace with the miners.  It lasts for a while.  Blockbuster pops up two years down the road, in the pages of Wonder Woman.

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Things do not look good for Batgirl at the start of this story, by Burkett, Delbo and Giella.  She is due in court, and about to be thrown into the river to drown, which means she will likely not make it and forfeit her bail.

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But Barbara proves remarkably adept at escaping chains underwater.

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She finds the evidence she needs, and gets the secretary there so that she can burst into court at the right moment and accuse the guilty party.  Then she flees, changes to Barbara Gordon, and comes back in all “oh, did I miss something?”

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I do like Commissioner Gordon’s closing thoughts, but otherwise this trial story was a let-down.

 

Detective 498 – Blockbuster joins a union, and Batgirl hunts for evidence

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Detective 498 (Jan. 81) begins a 2-part tale that is probably the best of the Mark Desmond Blockbuster stories.  Being a mindless behemoth limits the plot, even if he calms down when he sees Bruce Wayne.

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The story picks up almost immediately following his last appearance, a Christmas story in Batman.  He survives the ice flow, and makes it back to shore.  The story follows his violent, lonely wanderings.

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Eventually he winds up in a backwoods, mining region, and the folks there take him in.  Batman has been busy in Gotham, dealing with a violent, smash and grab criminal, keeping up the violence level expected in a Blockbuster story.

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Months have passed, and one day Batman happens to see a news report about union troubles at a mine, and sees Blockbuster with the other miners.

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The shady union rep, who doesn’t care about the miners at all, thinks Batman is there to make trouble for him, and knocks Batman out, tossing him down the shaft of the mine – and into the arms of Blockbuster.

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Barbara Gordon awaits her trial in this story by Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Joe Giella.

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She gets released on bail, which is good or there would be no Batgirl action in this at all.  Jim just happens to be a defense attorney, and becomes her lawyer.  They meet with her father, and discuss the case.  Barbara realizes someone in her office must have planted the sleeping pills on her.

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She investigates as Batgirl, and a secretary tearfully confesses how she was forced into it.  She names the big guys, and Batgirl tries to round them up, but fails – and Barbara is due in court!  Oh, no!

Detective 497 – a bad night for Batman, and Batgirl gets arrested

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Batgirl does not look at all happy about getting her story cover-featured in Detective 497 (Dec. 80)

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And if I was Batman I’d be pissed, too, because the Batman story, by Gerry Conway and Don Newton, is much better than the Batgirl tale that ousted it.

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It’s all set in a seedy hotel, and deals not only with Batman and the villain, but with the other people staying in this dive.  The type of story that was much more common in the 40s.

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The villain in the story is the Squid, making his debut.  A creepy low-life, looking to make it big in the Gotham underworld.  He doesn’t come off like a player in this story, but he will be back.

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As with stories of this type, all the threads come together, even the weather takes it part, in the big climax.

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The good end happily, and the bad, unhappily.  That’s what fiction means.

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For unhappy endings, there’s the Batgirl story by Cary Burkett,Jose Delbo and Joe Giella.

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It turns out that Barbara had the misfortune of ditching a party and heading upstairs to change into her Batgirl garb, at the same time as a senator upstairs was being murdered.

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She barely appears as Batgirl in this story, mostly as Barbara Gordon, and has little time to prove her innocence.  Barbara gets arrested as the story ends, which is not a surprise or anything because it’s the cover.

 

Detective 496 – the original Clayface returns, and Dr. Voodoo debuts

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Mike Fleisher and Don Newton bring back a villain not seen in over thirty years as Basil Karlo makes a comeback in Detective 496 (Nov. 80).

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The story deals with a horror exposition about a yacht, hosted by John Carlinger, clearly intended to be John Carpenter.

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Basil Karlo reads of the exposition in his hospital room, and, furious at not being included, kills his nurse and breaks out.

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Some of Karlo’s scenes certainly do feel like a Carpenter horror film.

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Karlo makes it aboard the yacht.  Carlinger has a duplicate of his dressing room as one of the exhibits, and they confront each other there.

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Clayface begins a reign of terror on the boat, killing some of the actors, as Batman fights to save them.

But Batman figures out that Clayface is not Karlo, and reveals him to be Car;inger.  He had murdered Karlo, then adopted the Clayface guise to kill the actors who wanted his finances audited.

The death of Basil Karlo was undone by Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the character returns in the Mudpack storyline.  Perhaps because of this,  no one ever seems to recall this story, or number Carlinger among the Clayfaces.

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Batgirl gets an original costumed villain of her very own in this Burkett and Delbo story.  Dr. Voodoo.  And he looks about as corny as his name.

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Barbara is getting hot and heavy with the dad of the hostage girl.  I really ought to start using their names.  Henceforth, hostage girl is Tracy, and her dad is Jim.

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Dr. Voodoo and his men confront Batgirl as they try to rob a diamond exchange.  He appears to be able to put people into a zombie like trance, but Batgirl figures out it’s sonics.

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She gets garage guy Jeff to blast some Beethoven, which messes up Voodoo’s sonics, and she rounds up the Loa wannabes.

Detective 495 – The Crime Doctor vs Sterling Silversmith, the importance of a mattress, Batgirl goes after a gang boss, and Black Lightning and Robin end

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Michael Fleisher, Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte conclude the Crime Doctor storyline in Detective 495 (Oct. 80).

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Picking up from where last issue left off, the Crime Doctor is amazed that the men who hired him would want to kill him, and works with Batman to escape the building before it blows up.

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It was the bloodthirsty and greedy Sterling Silversmith who ordered his men to turn on the Crime Doctor, just so he could avoid paying for his services.

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Silversmith has his men kidnap the Crime Doctor, while Batman hunts them both.  Silversmith gives Thorne quicksilver to drink.  Batman captures Silversmith, but is too late to help Thorne.  He is still alive, but mentally fried, and confined to a hospital.

This is the final appearance of both Sterling Silversmith, and this incarnation of the Crime Doctor, although another one will pop up in the pages shortly after Crisis on Infinite Earths.

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Bob Rozakis and Dan Spiegle share this brief Tales of Gotham City chapter, which deals with a small time gangster who has been stealing from the mob, stashing the money in his mattress.  They are on to him, and he has to pay them back that evening.  Returning home, he finds his apartment on fire.

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He winds up trapped in his burning suite, and uses the mattress to break his fall when he jumps.  The money stuffed mattress winds up with the mobsters, and the man has his life, but nothing else.

A good one.

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Batgirl is after a mob boss in this story, by Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Frank Chiaramonte.

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Barbara is having her own romantic troubles, as office geek Richard Bender tries to make a date with her, while she still longs for the father of the girl she rescued.

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But the bulk of this tale follows her efforts as Batgirl to find proof linking the man, Beeler, to the crimes she knows he is guilty of.  She succeeds, but overall, this story is kind of flat.

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Jean-Marc deMatteis scripts this final Black Lightning story, which deals with street gangs and the crappy life choices for slum kids.

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Inspector Henderson and Jimmy Olsen both guest star – both were supporting characters in Black Lightning’s old book.

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The story gets quite violent and intense.  Even after Black Lightning wins, he has to talk the young hood out of killing himself rather than head to prison.

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While Henderson and Jimmy Olsen both next appear shortly in Superman titles, Black Lightning does not return again until the launch of Batman and the Outsiders, three years down the road.

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Harris, Nicholas and Colletta bring Robin’s series to a close with another story about his stresses at university.

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As before, he is getting barked at by Jennifer, and is in academic trouble.  At the same time, he is trying to track the shipment of drugs into the college from Gotham.

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He gets Jennifer’s blessing to spend the night working on an essay, but winds up heading out as Robin.

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He stops the bad guys, but blows his university career.  Without even saying good-bye to Jennifer he leaves Hudson University, riding off into the pages of New Teen Titans.

Dick Grayson would not get a solo series again for many years.  Tim Drake would get a series before Dick Grayson does.

 

 

Detective 494 – a new Crime Doctor, Pinball, Batgirl uses a garage, Robin deals with a hazing death, and Black Lightning fights the Slime Killer

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Michael Fleisher joins Don Newton for the lead story in Detective 494 (Sept. 80).

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A new Crime Doctor, Raymond Thorne, is introduced in this story.  As with the 1940s version, he sells his skills to other criminals, charging extra for “house calls” during the crimes themselves.  With the ambulance to travel in, and the surgical gear as a costume, I always thought this was a great idea for a villain.

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Batman gets alerted to the existence of the Crime Doctor after discovering one of his prescriptions at a crime scene.

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The story also allows us to see Thorne in his everyday life, as a wealthy and successful surgeon, whose life of crime is a thrilling addiction.

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Batman sustains injuries to great for Alfred to handle, and as Dr. Dundee is out of town, his cases are being handled by Thorne.  He patches up Bruce Wayne.  Later, when the Crime Doctor and Batman are facing off against each other, the bandage gets revealed, and Thorne lets slip that he put it there – and both men realize they know who the other is.

The two wind up trapped, after the men who hired Thorne plot to kill him and leave him at the scene, along with Batman.

The story concludes next issue.

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A classic from the day it came out, Pinball was by far the best of the Tales of Gotham City stories, by Jack C Harris, with art by Dan Spiegle.  Set in a pinball arcade, it deals with a drug runner who is so into his game that he lets a young admirer transport the drugs for him.

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After the boy leaves, he learns that a rival gang is on the hunt for the runners.  The news of this, the pinball game, and the young boy’s journey through dangerous territory are perfectly intercut.

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In the end he leaves his game, worried about the kid, and rightfully so.  The punk sacrifices his life to save the boy.  Redeeming, but dark.  This is Gotham.

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Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Frank Chiaramonte are behind the Batgirl story in this issue, which continues the story from the previous one.

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While Batgirl does not have any sort of cave of her own, she does have a friend, Jeff, who runs a garage.  He seems to have a crush on Batgirl, and she feels comfortable storing her motorcycle there.

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Barbara is not above a bit of flirting herself, when she finds out the father of the girl Batgirl rescued the previous issue is single.

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She also discovers that the development plans had been altered, and the original plan buried by slum lords who wanted to hold onto their properties.  She exposes their scheme, and the new housing is built, and the theatre saved.

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It’s back to campus life with this Harris/NIcholas.Colletta Robin story, that deals with a supposed death by hazing, which was really an intentional murder.

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Dick and Jennifer about to go swimming when they discover the body, and once again Dick ditches his girlfriend to go be Robin.

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It’s not one of his harder cases, and he does end up lip-locked with Jennifer.  Considering that their relationship ends next issue, I wanted to include their last really happy moment.

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Black Lightning is back, with a good story by Jean-Marc deMatteis.

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The hero has two major concerns in this story.  As teacher Jefferson Pierce, he is worried about one of his students, who seems to be having some troubles at home.

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As Black Lightning, he is dealing with the Slime Killer, a vigilante doling out bloody street justice.

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Visiting the boy at home, Jeff meets his angry, physically abusive father.

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It’s not much of a surprise when the father turns out to be the Slime Killer, but the story does not shy away from the difficult ending, as the son chooses to support his father, even after he is exposed and arrested.  Not an entirely happy ending, but a good one.

 

 

Detective 493 – Batman vs the Riddler in Texas, the Red Tornado’s first solo story, Robin confronts the man in black, the Human Target becomes a trucker, and Batgirl braves the fire

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Good gosh, the Batman Family are really happy about Detective 493 (Aug. 80).  Smiles a mile wild. The Human Target is less happy, falling out of his awkwardly shaped spot, but the clear star to the cover is the Red Tornado, never before or since considered either a member of the Batman Family, or a detective.

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Batman faces off against the Riddler in this story by Cary Burkett and Don Newton, which also introduces a new hero, the Swashbuckler.

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As usual, the Riddler sends a clue before he begins his spree, but it’s Alfred who notices that it is not a real riddle, but a snatch of lyrics from a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.

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That was all Batman needed, and he is on the trail of the Riddler, following him to Texas.  The story winds up taking place in Houston, using actual locations.

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Batman runs into a local hero, the Swashbuckler, who claims to be the nephew of Greg Saunders, the Vigilante.  He’s not a bad character, though the mask seems a bit excessive.

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The amusement park next to the Astrodome is one of the locations the Riddler leads the heroes to.  His big crime is teased by him saying he was going after the only person who is a bigger riddler than he is.

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Batman and Swashbuckler ponder possible crimes, but Batman figures out he is going after a man named Noone, as “no one” was a bigger riddler in the villains eyes.

Sadly, so far as I know and recall, the Swashbuckler never appeared again.

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Ok, so first of all let me say I like the Red Tornado as a character, I like Tales of Gotham City as a series, and I like Jean-Marc deMatteis as a writer.  Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta aren’t the top of my list, but I don’t hate them.

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But why is Red Tornado starring in a Gotham City story when the character has never been a part of this milieu?  And why, for his first story, is he in the middle of the city’s black ghetto, in the midst of a tale of religious faith and community standing up to drug dealers and the like?

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I guess this was a try-out for his upcoming series in World’s Finest Comics, but I never liked it.  The tear in the android’s eye in the final panel just makes me gag.

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Robin resolves the man in black plot in this issue, by Jack C Harris, Charles Nicholas and Vince Colletta.

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The pressures of being Robin, academic life, his relationship with Jennifer, and his job on the university paper get to be too much for him.  We haven’t even seen him at the paper since his run in Detective began.  Stressed, Dick leaves and heads for Gotham.

Neither Bruce nor Alfred are at the penthouse, but he does run in to Lucius Fox.  Dick heads back to the old Batcave.

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Changing to Robin, he leaves, and runs into the man in black.  Confronting him, he discovers that the man is actually a bodyguard hired to protect Dick Grayson, at Lucius Fox’s orders.  Dick gets that taken care of.

It’s worth noting that this is the same month that the New Teen Titans launched, and Dick’s inability to cope with university would lead into that series.

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The Human Target gets his last solo story in Detective, although he makes a few more appearances in the book.  As usual, Len Wein and Dick Giordano helm this tale of a murdered trucker.

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The man’s body was completely charred, but his vengeful widow hires Christopher Chance to impersonate him, pretending that he survived the murder attempt, to draw out the killer.

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It works, but the victory is not all the widow hoped for, as she learns that the hired killer was just doing it for the money, hired by a rival trucking firm, and there was nothing personal in any of it.

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Batgirl has the first chapter of a longer story, by Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Joe Giella.

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It begins with a spat between her and Roger Barton over rival housing development plans.  Barbara goes to inspect the site of the theatre in question, and is surprised to find the protestors not interested in the theatre at all.

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Her attention gets drawn by a nearby fire, and she changes to Batgirl, and winds up saving the little girl who had been held hostage by Cormorant, and was still living in fear.

 

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