Posts tagged ‘Bat Signal’

Detective 466 – The Signalman returns, and the Calculator vs Green Arrow

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After spending years in prison, Phil Cobb escapes and returns to his original villainous identity, the Signalman, in Detective 466 (Dec. 76).  In his last appearance, in the early 60s, he had adopted a second identity, the Blue Bowman.

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Len Wein, Ernie Chan and Vince Coletta handle this tale, and the Signalman comes off as fairly impressive.  His signals are used in a variety of ways, inspiring both the crimes and his weapons and defenses.

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And you just have to love the scene in which he tries to fry Batman in the Bat-Signal. tec_466_003

He goes over a cliff at the end, but does not die, returning next year in the pages of Batman.  Signalman would have a role in a very good Justice League story in the 80s, but for solo outings, this was his highpoint.

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Green Arrow gets a story in Detective Comics for the first time, as he faces the Calculator in this Bob Rozakis/Marshall Rogers/Terry Austin story.

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Still in Star City, the Calculator’s plan this time is to steal the baseball game.  He steals the ball being shot by Green Arrow as the first pitch, and all other balls thrown vanish as well.

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This is also the first Rogers/Austin story in Detective.  The art is just perfect.

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Ralph Dibny had been visiting with Green Arrow before the attack, but finds himself incapable of going into action as the Elongated Man against the Calculator.  Green Arrow writes it off as nerves, but it’s the major clue as to the Calculator’s greater scheme.

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Detective 164 – the Bat-Signal, Roy Raymond as a child, and Great Owl tells a story

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I love the cover for Detective 164 (Oct. 50).  The story is one of numerous within the next couple of years that deal with some specific item of Batman’s arsenal or accoutrements.

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The story opens with an editor complaining about declining sales, and demanding more of the writer, which probably reflects reality.  By 1950 almost all superheroes had vanished.

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The rest of the story is a series of short tales, in which the Bat-signal is used in as many ways as they could think of, in taking down criminals.  There is even a diagram of the signal and its properties.

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Roy Raymond deals with Marvella, a woman who claims to be able to talk to the dead in this Impossible But True story.  Very little background is ever given for Roy Raymond, so the little bit in this story is a gift.

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To prove to Raymond that her powers are real, she calls up his dead Uncle William, and has his voice emerge from a cat.  He accurately recounts a shared memory of William and young Raymond, which we see in flashback.

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Still, it’s a con, and Roy explains it all in the end.  But the memory was Roy’s, so it remains canon.

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This is a fun variation on the format for Pow-Wow Smith, with art by Bruno Premani.

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The story of Ohiyesa’s tracking and battle with some thieves is told by aged Great Owl to a group of young children in the camp.  Great Owl refers to everything by its “native” equivalent.  The airplane is a great eagle, for example.

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So the story is twice-told, back and forth, as we see the real events, and the way the kids imagine it.

Detective 62 – the Joker goes vaudeville, Air Wave vs Mr. Mystery, and Slam Bradley goes to the fair

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Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson put together a tale in Detective 62 (April 1942) that likely was more fun when it came out.

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An aging comedian has died, and left clues to his fortune to a number of his comedian friends.  The way they are all introduced, in the long panel, indicates that they must have been based on real comics of the time, now forgotten.

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The Joker starts killing off the comedians and stealing their clues.  The Bat Signal, still new, gets a prominent place in the page it’s used on.

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The Joker has the opportunity to unmask Batman in this story, but chooses not to, so that the game will go on.  That same scene will play out many time over the decades.  This is also one of the last stories with a murderous Joker, until the 1970s.

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The splash page to the Air Wave story in this issue appears to be at least partly done after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, with the “America at War”  blurb along the side.  But I have no idea what to make of Uncle Sam pouring out a bag of money.  Neither the image nor the statement have anything at all to do with the story.

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Instead, Air Wave contends with Mr. Mystery, a gang leader who turns out to be the one-legged mayor of the city Larry Jordan lives in!

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Some very nice Howard Sherman art as Slam Bradley and Shorty head to a fair run by an old friend, who is being forced to use unionized clowns.

Yes, unionized clowns are the root of this story.

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As one might expect, the union bosses are all gangsters, but the clowns themselves turn out to be criminals as well.

Detective 60 – the Joker and the Bat Signal, and Air Wave begins

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Lots of fighting on the cover of Detective 60 (Feb. 42), but no sign of the Joker, who appears in the issue itself.

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The Joker returns, now fully into the habit of adopting themes for a series of robberies.  In this case, wearing costumes.  But he doesn’t choose wild costumes, as the splash page implies.  Instead, he commits crimes while his men are dressed as policemen, and firemen.

Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson are still on the art, but Jack Schiff wrote this one.

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The Bat Signal makes its first appearance in this story.  The most ostentatious paging device ever, it somehow fit the mood of the character.

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We also see a new Batmobile.  It has the great fin at the back, but no shield on the front yet.  The peculiar red and blue paint job was never seen again.

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Air Wave makes his debut in this issue.  Larry Jordan is a lowly clerk in the District Attorney’s office who goes out and fights crime on roller skates as Air Wave.

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In his spare time, Larry has develope a sophisticated device capable of tracking, intercepting and transmitting sound, enabling him to spy and communicate at a distance.  The retractable skates are kind of odd, but roller skating on telephone wires is unique.

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On the other hand, his way of going down a chimney needs work.

In his first story, Air Wave helps his boss retrieve vital information needed during a gangsters trial, which has been stolen by his mob.

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