Posts tagged ‘Bat-Mite’

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 310 – Bat-Mite creates super-powered villains

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Bat-Mite gets as close to being an actual villain in Detective 310 (Dec. 62), as he would ever get, thanks to Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff.

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Figuring that watching Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson lying around tanning was not exciting enough, Bat-Mite sets the stage for action, and endows three crooks with super-powers.

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Bat-Mite hits himself on the head, and loses his ability to control his magic, so he cannot remove the powers from the bad guys, leaving Batman and Robin to have to deal with them for the rest of the story.

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By far the most intriguing thing about this story is India Rubber Man, who looks almost exactly like the Elongated Man, and has pretty much identical powers.

The Elongated Man had already been introduced in the Flash, so this was certainly not a try-out for the character.  But India Rubber Man is displayed prominently on the cover, and Elongated Man would soon gain the back-up spot, so I think it may have been a try-out to see if his image on the cover of Detective would boost the sales of this book.

Detective 289 – Bat-Mite joins the bad guys

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Bat-Mite works with the bad guys in Detective 289 (March 1961), in a story by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff.

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After Batman and Robin come down on him again for being a nuisance, Bat-Mite goes off to sulk in an alleyway.  A hoodlum finds him, and manages to convince him that he is a film producer, making a movie about Batman, and enlists Bat-Mite’s “help.”

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The imp has no idea that he is really helping the villains escape from Batman, and even the newspaper proclaiming him a mob boss doesn’t clue Bat-Mite in.  It’s only when Batman himself makes it clear that he knows nothing of any movie that Bat-Mite realizes he has been used.

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And then, of course, the villains have no hope.  Bat-Mite takes them down, apologizes to Batman, and vanishes for another couple of months.

Detective 276 – Batwoman meets Bat-Mite, and Roy Raymond and the space hoax

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Bat-Mite makes his second appearance in this Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff tale from Detective 276 (Feb. 60).

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In this, and his first appearance, Batman keeps convincing the criminals that the odd things that happened when Bat-Mite was around were hallucinations, but Batwoman discovers that Bat-Mite is real.  As she does not bark at him like Batman does, Bat-Mite decides to hang out with Batwoman and help her fight crime.

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She also finds the imp’s help frustrating, but there is a feel-good thing permeating this, so no one stays angry for long, no matter what Bat-Mite does.  I think that’s part of his powers.

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Together, Batman, Robin, Batwoman and Bat-Mite stop the Hobby Robbers, the villains whose activity was pretty much completely overwhelmed by the guest stars.

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A man approaches Roy Raymond, announcing that he has created a hoax, but still challenging Roy to expose it in this Ruben Moreira story.

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Roy cannot pass up such an interesting proposal, so he and Karen go along, as the man claims to be transporting them to an alien world.  Roy eventually realizes they really are on an alien planet.

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He then exposes the man as an alien, and the story abruptly shifts into high gear, as the alien tries to kill Roy and Karen, who use jets to fly to safety.  Another alien shows up and stops the first, explaining that they had a bet as to whether the first could fool Roy Raymond about being human.  They watched the broadcasts of Impossible But True on their home planet.

 

Detective 267 – Bat-Mite!, and the Martian Manhunter meets some passing Jovians

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The furthest Batman ever got from being the “dark knight” was the introduction of Bat-Mite, in Detective 267 (May 1959).  It’s not too difficult to see how the character came about, he is essentially Batman’s version of Mr. Mxyzptlk, and was created by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff.

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Unlike Mr. Mxyzptlk, Bat-Mite is an adoring fan of Batman and Robin, and while his actions prove just as much of a nuisance as the other imp, Bat-Mite’s motives are benevolent, if twisted, in nature.

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The first thing he does is make a bridge come to life as Batman and Robin are fighting thieves on it.  His powers enable him to do almost anything, and though he is explained scientifically as an other-dimensional creature, his powers may as well be magic.

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The good thing about Bat-Mite, in this era, is that he does genuinely succeed at making the stories more interesting, at least visually.

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And giant props?  Bat-Mite loves them as much as the fanboys do, and he is more than eager to fill an empty warehouse with them, just to make the climactic fight more visually dynamic.

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Although it was months before his next appearance, the ending of this story leaves little doubt that the character would return.

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John Jones discovers that reports of an alien ship are real, and that the crew of the ship are benevolent Jovians, who have come to Earth pursuing a thief from their world.

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J’onn is more than happy to help catch him, especially when the crew agrees to drop him off on Mars on their way back to Jupiter.

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J’onn captures the renegade from Jupiter, but at the last minute discovers that he has left a bomb behind, and J’onn stays on Earth to defuse it.  Still, his smile in the last panel seems to indicate he is not too broken up by this.  Earlier in the story he had shown some reluctance to leave Earth, so it’s safe to say that returning to Mars is no longer the driving goal it was once for the Martian Manhunter.

 

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