Posts tagged ‘Basil Karlo’

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


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).


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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Detective 49 – Clayface returns, and the Crimson Avenger battles Echo


No pirates in Detective 49 (March, 1941), although there would be a story coming in a few months that does pit Batman against them, so perhaps this cover can be viewed as a trailer.


Clayface returns, along with Julie Madison and the head of the studio, in a Bill Finger/Bob Kane/Jerry Robinson story that is really just a replay of the original.


Julie Madison has not been seen since the last Clayface story, as she has been swept up by Hollywood, and even given a new name, Portia Storme.  She formally ends her engagement with Bruce Wayne in this story.


Meanwhile, Basil Karlo escapes during a prison transfer, and again dons his Clayface garb, intending to kill everyone he didn’t manage to kill the last time around.  Preferably on a movie set.  Like last time.


The car is officially the Batmobile as of this story, although it’s still the red one.  Just occurred to me that we haven’t seen the blue car in Detective since the introduction of Robin, so perhaps this was a new car he painted in Dick’s honour.


The story really only gets into high gear in the last few pages, once they are back amid the phony castles of the set.

It’s not a bad story, but it’s the same story, without the whodunnit element.  This was the last appearance of Basil Karlo as Clayface until the early 80s.  There would be two more men adopting the name Clayface before his comeback, the first of which was Matt Hagen, in the early 60s.

Julie Madison also leaves the comic after this story, pursuing her Hollywood career.  She next appears in an issue of World’s Finest in the late 70s.


The Crimson Avenger is given his best opponent by far in this issue.  A mad scientist (just named Jon), builds a giant golden android, Echo, and sends it on a destructive rampage.


The Avenger wins out through some deft footwork, and a lot of luck.  After seeing an attack by Echo, Lee follows it back to the scientist’s lab.  When the bad guy orders Echo to kill, the Avenger steps out of the way, and Echo kills his master.



Detective 40 – Clayface debuts, Red Logan helps a blind detective, and Cliff Crosby goes flying


The cover for Detective 40 (June 1940) actually reflects the final story from Batman 1, in which it’s the Joker who is chopping the flagpole.


Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson craft a classic tale in this issue, introducing the first of many foes to use the name Clayface.  The story also gives Bruce Wayne’s fiancee Julie Madison her largest role yet.  We discover that she is an aspiring actress, and has just landed a starring role in a horror film, Dread Castle.

The logo also changes this issue, bringing back that great Batman logo, and merging the Robin logo with it, in a far more harmonious blend.


Clayface haunts the studio, much like the Phantom of the Opera, killing off the actors as their characters die.  There are many suspects, with motives varying from jealousy to insurance to gangster threats, but it isn’t too difficult to spot the aging horror actor, Basil Karlo, as the most likely.


The horror movie set helps fill the scenes with dungeons and shadows, and this is a perfect gem of a tale.


Basil Karlo is unmasked, literally, at the end of the tale.  He returns a few months down the road, as do Julie, and the head of Argus Studios.

Julie Madison’s absence from the next few months of stories is dealt with in that tale as well.


Red Logan teams up with a blind detective in this issue.  A woman killed by a speeding car is discovered to have stolen war plans in her possession, which leads them to a boarding house that is a nest of spies.


This is Red’s final story in England.  With no explanation, he is back in the US in the next issue.  But in 1940, the War would have been the obvious reason.


In this story, Cliff Crosby is hired by an old friend to supervise construction of a new aircraft.  Because that’s what explorers do, right?


Exploring, vacationing or supervising aircraft construction, it all comes to the same thing for Cliff: spies and fights.  In this case, and air battle.  At some point in his varied career, he has clearly becomes a pilot.

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