Posts tagged ‘Batcave’

Detective 538 – is the Cat-Man costume magic?, and Green Arrow, three years ago


Doug Moench and Gene Colan take the second half of this Cat-Man 2-parter in an interesting direction in Detective 538 (May 1984).


Thomas Blake, the Cat-Man was defeated by Batman in the first half of this story, but the news was spread that he had won, because of his costume.  This is all done in order to get a fellow con to lead Batman to where he stored his loot.


Thomas Blake has a small role, in protective custody with Harvey Bullock, but the man in cat suit for this story is Collins.


With Batman tailing, Collins breaks into Blake’s apartment, steals the suit, and heads out for his loot.  he takes crazy risks, because he believes in the suit’s magic, and Batman has to save his life, repeatedly, without being spotted, to keep the con going.


Collins leads Batman to his loot, in a cave, but a collapse opens a tunnel and Collins winds up in the Batcave.  He and Batman fight on the dinosaur and giant penny, as Alfred tries to explain the sounds to Julia, who has recently moved into Wayne Manor.

Collins is captured, and Batman explains the con, but Collins still believes it was the suit that saved his life, and lead him to the Batcave.

Thomas Blake returns as Cat-Man in a couple of years.  Collins is not seen again, doubtlessly shanked in prison by Blake.


Shawn McManus is now on the pencils for Green Arrow, with Pablo Marcos doing inks, and just in time as Joey Cavalieri tells a poignant story, reflecting back on a dead friend of Oliver Queen.


The story is split on each page, with the present, as Green Arrow hunts and captures gun runners, on the top.  On the bottom is the story of Oliver and his pop star musician friend.


When I first read this, when it came out, I couldn’t see any connection at all between the two stories, and it sort of irritated me, until I hit the page above, and realized that the pop star was meant to be John Lennon, and the upper story about the ease with which illegal guns are available in the US.



Detective 527 – Man-Bat attacks, and Green Arrow meets Ozone


Doug Moench begins his run on Detective Comics with issue 527 (June 1983).  Dan Day does the pencils, with Pablo Marcos on inks.


Day’s art is exceptional, and I wonder why he didn’t do more that I know of.  Kirk Langstrom has gone back to work at the natural history museum, but gets so into his job that he forgets to take the medication that prevents him from turning into Man-Bat.  So guess what, he does.


In his Man-Bat state, he imagines Batman to be responsible for his daughter, Rebecca, having inherited his sonic senses (Man-Bat logic is not too far from Bizarro logic), and seeks him out.  Not finding him in the Batcave, he heads up the stairs and into Alfred, who has a brief but enjoyable fight with the creature.


Later, Batman gets involved in the fight, as does the chandelier.


The fight keeps going, back down the stairs and into the cave.  Jason Todd leaps in, providing a convenient victim for Man-Bat to fly away with.

The next couple of years will see a huge degree of integration between Detective and Batman, so many stories, like this one, will only have one part in Detective, and the other in Batman.  Which is to say, I won’t be covering the resolution to this story in my next post.


Paris Cullins and Pablo Marcos  go all 80s in this Joey Cavalieri Green Arrow story.


The villain, Ozone, has a variety of spray cans that facilitate his thefts and escapes, and a style that went out before it was ever in.


Rick comes to visit Oliver Queen at the Daily Star, bringing him a police band radio he built, which conveniently broadcasts Ozone’s latest crime.  Oliver makes  Rick a copy boy, so that he can continue to give him wonderful toys.


Ozone’s spray cans usually stray out something destructive or escape enhancing, but they seem to be pretty powerful on their own, as Green Arrow discovers.


Detective 526 – Jason Todd dons the costume


Celebrating Batman’s 500th appearance, Detective 526 (May 1983) is a forgotten, but worthy, anniversary issue.  Crisis on Infinite Earths would remove this story from continuity, and the origin of Jason Todd radically changed, but this work by Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Alfredo Alcala stands on its own merit.


The Joker calls together a mass assembly of Batman’s enemies.  Croc is out to kill Batman, but he’s a newbie, and not worthy of the honour, the Joker insists.  So he lays out a plan that will give them all chances of killing Batman that night.

The line-up includes the regulars: Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face, and Scarecrow.  Cat-Man, Killer Moth, Mr. Freeze, the Mad Hatter, and Matt Hagen as Clayface had all appeared within the last few years.  The Cavalier had not been seen since an issue of Batman Family in the late 70s.  Tweedledum and Tweedledee had not been seen since the 1940s!  Technically, this is the first appearance of the Earth-1 versions of the characters, but with Crisis looming that scarcely matters.

Some of the newer villains are included as well: Black Spider, Captain Stingaree and the Spook.  Talia is there, without her father being involved in the story, which is rare.

The Gentleman Ghost is a Hawkman villain, but had fought Batman twice in his own book.  This is the only time he appears in a line-up of Batman villains.


Catwoman watches, but takes no part in the meeting.  Talia also has no interest in killing Batman, but has to fight her way out.


Both Catwoman and Talia head to the Batcave to warn Batman of the plans against him, but get involved in a cat fight of their own.


Meanwhile, things aren’t going so well for Dick Grayson.  His great plan to use the Todds against Croc simply put them into his hands, and he has Jason driven to Wayne Manor to keep him safe.


Barbara accompanies her father as Commissioner Gordon checks out the abandoned theatre where the villains met, and finds evidence pointing to a gathering of their enemies.


Barbara goes to find Dick, and they suit up as Batgirl and Robin and head out to fight the villains, as Batman does the same, with Talia and Catwoman as back-up.  No one is at home, so Jason is left to explore Wayne Manor, and guess where he winds up?


The Spook manages to get the drop on Talia, if only for a moment.  But with so many fighting against them, the two women and Batman get taken.


Robin is the one to find the remains of the Todds, fed to his namesakes by Croc.


Jason, unawares, has found an alternate Robin costume in the cave, and suited up.  He heads out to join the rest of the heroes.


Batgirl and Robin fight well together. There is no hint of romance, as there had been in their Batman Family team-ups.  Robin is in a budding romance with Starfire in the pages of New Teen Titans, but their ease with each other reminds one of the bond between them, the best duo of Batman’s supporting cast.


Jason happens upon  a group of the villains, which gives him the information he needs to find out where everyone else is.


Finally the big climax, as the Joker gloats over his captured foes.


Croc had been working behind the scenes with the Joker, using all the other villains to wear Batman down.  He makes his move, but Batman manages to duck at the right time, and Croc takes down the Joker.


Jason Todd arrives just as Batman has beaten Croc into submission, and delivers the final blow.  Only afterwards does he discover his parents bodies.


The epilogue sees Bruce sending Catwoman and Talia off together in a car.  Where is he sending them?  Why did he stick these two women in the same car together?  How far did they get before their fight forced the car off the road and into a ditch?


The issue ends with Bruce and Jason Todd, who is looking relatively ok for a boy whose parents were horribly murdered the night before.  But he is to be the new Robin, and there is a sense of hope.

Which is all kind of weird now, because Jason Todd was given such a different origin, and made such a different character, in the post-Crisis reality.

But for a couple of years, this was the origin of Jason Todd, Robin.

Detective 520 – Boss Thorne hires Dr 13, and a Catwoman solo story


Gerry Conway and Don Newton art joined by inker Alfredo Alcala on Detective 520 (Nov. 82).


Batman meets with Jim Gordon and Jason Bard, as well as Vickie Vale.  Her editor committed suicide, and they know he gave Vicki’s pictures to Boss Thorne.  They are trying to tie Thorne to Hamilton Hill.

Batman breaks into a prison, and breaks Deadshot out, to get the name of who hired him.  Floyd Lawton has no problems giving up Thorne’s name, but is surprised when Batman knocks him out and sends him back.


Meanwhile, Boss Thorne is more concerned with the hauntings of Hugo Strange’s ghost than with the detectives, and has hired Dr. 13 to find out if the ghost is real.  Dr.13 was last seen a little over a year earlier, investigating the ghost of Wayne Manor.


Dr. 13 goes to Greytowers, the phony hospital run by Hugo Strange, and his ghost materializes.  And Alfred dusts the Batcave.


Catwoman’s solo tales had been running periodically in the back pages of Batman for the last few years.  This issue marks her only solo story in Detective, by Bob Rozakis and Gil Kane.


Selina Kyle bumps into a former henchman of hers, and, sensing that he is lying to her about his plans, decides to follow him. Catwoman is on the good side of the law these days.


It’s a soft story with a happy ending, as the guy has gone straight as well, and was hoping Catwoman would follow him and be his back up as he exposed some thieves.

Detective 481 – 2 Batman tales, and Robin, Batgirl, and Man-Bat all begin, again


One of the results of the DC Implosion was the merging of Detective Comics and Batman Family.  Detective had not been selling very well (astounding to think the Englehart/Rogers run was not a hit when released), but rather than cancel it, Batman Family was sent to the chopping block, and it’s contents moved to this book.

In truth, as a kid, I didn’t even notice that this, and the following issue, were not issues of Batman Family, as it’s displayed more prominently on the cover than the logo for Detective.


The first of the two Batman stories in the issue, by Denny O’Neil and Marshall Rogers, has Batman attempting to find a murderer, in order to stop a cynical scientist from destroying his notes on a new heart operation.  It makes more sense than it sounds.


The story kicks into high gear once all the characters are on board the train, a refurbished antique, with the guests in period costume.


The killer had a ticket for the excursion, which is what drew Batman. But once he has accounted for all the invited guests, he realizes the host must be the one who dropped his ticket.


A fairly straightforward, but entertaining tale, and Rogers art ensures it’s a treat for the eye.


Robin’s series picks up somewhat mid-stream, as his recurring foe, the Raven, makes an appearance in this Bob Rozakis/Don Newton tale.


Robin is given three hideous new costumes, supposedly designed by students at his university, but in actually by readers who should not design clothes.  One of the outfits allows him to fly, which is useful, although the Raven still beats him.


The third outfit is not only garish, it’s rigged with a bomb.  Robin figures this out when the bad guys flee, and winds up skinny dipping to survive.


Batgirl’s series, also by Rozakis, is also mid-storyline, as Barbara Gordon heads to China in her official capacity as a congresswoman, in order to secretly investigate the Sino-Supermen. Don Heck does the art, so it looks awful.


Believing that the reason the US has so many heroes is because the government is creating them, the Chinese government is working on their own super-hero program, which Batgirl is out to destroy.


But the Chinese are spying on her and her reporter friend as well.  They believe the reporter is actually Batgirl, and kidnap both of them.


Man-Bat’s series has him and Jason Bard running a private detective agency at this point.  Once again, it’s Bob Rozakis scripting, with Newton on the art.


They are hired to find a millionaire’s missing wife.  There is a ransom demand, which Jason fulfills as Man-Bat observes from on high.  They capture the man, who turns out to be another detective the millionaire had hired.  He did not kidnap the wife, and was just looking to profit off the situation.


So Kirk and Jason make the rounds of the nightclubs the woman frequented, looking for some sign of her.


In the end it turns out she was not kidnapped at all, simply ran off because she was bored.  The story ends with Kirk and Francine, wondering what a boring life would be like.


The second Batman story in this issue, by Jim Starlin, with art by P. Craig Russell, is the first half of a 2-parter that concludes next issue.


Batman is called to the site of a brutal murder.  Investigating, it becomes clear that no ordinary person would have had the necessary strength to have done all the damage.


He recognizes a photo on the victim’s wall, and realizes the man was a friend of his father.  The page copied above shows the Batcave as being relocated to under the Wayne Foundation Building.  Other stories would show it, intact, still below Wayne Manor.  The only possible logic to this is that Batman actually had duplicates made of the dinosaur and giant penny, so he could have them in both Batcaves.


Batman seeks out one of the surviving men from the photograph, now old and crippled, but pretty clearly the bad guy.  To Batman’s surprise, the man confesses, and then electrocutes himself.


But the electrocution does not just kill his body, it transfers his mind into the body of the giant ape, which he has already used to kill.


Detective 351 – Cluemaster debuts, and the Elongated Man’s old costume gets stolen


Great cover for the debut of the Cluemaster, in Detective 351 (May 1966).  The story itself, by Gardner Fox, with art by Infantino and Greene, gives the largest role to Aunt Harriet that the character will ever get.


The story opens as she accidentally discovers the elevator to the Batcave.  She even goes down and explores it.  She hints to Bruce and Dick about her discovery, but they have already covered their tracks.  She spends the rest of the story trying to prove they are Batman and Robin.


Meanwhile, the heroes are dealing with the Cluemaster.  He’s basically the Riddler, except his clues are not in the form of riddles.And though Batman and Robin do not realize it at first, he is also seeking the Batcave, and the secret of their identities.


The two plotlines converge when the traps Cluemaster and Aunt Harriet have laid wind up exposing each others traps, so Bruce and Dick have plenty of time to figure out how to outwit both.


And sure, Cluemaster is left in the dark, but the film they create for Aunt Harriet is hardly a solution, showing her that Batman and Robin do indeed have a cave under the mansion, and are in contact with Bruce and Dick.  That’s just bound to create bigger problems later on.  Or would, if Aunt Harriet hadn’t been such a marginal character.

As for Cluemaster, it took until the 90s for this character to come to life.  He has a number of cameos before that, the next one in a Batman comic from 1968.


It’s just Fox and Infantino on the Elongated Man story in this issue.  Ralph has plans to donate his old costume to the Flash Museum in Central City, but discovers that it has been stolen.


It turns out his costume has retained some of its elasticity, and is being used, basically as a giant rubber band, by a clever crook, to facilitate his escapes.


Old vs new for the climax, and of course Ralph wins.  The Flash has a cameo at the end of the story, as Ralph and Sue present the costume to the museum.

Detective 205 – the origin of the Batcave, and Mysto tracks a magician killer

tec_205 Detective 205 (March 1954) contains the origin of the Batcave, a story by Bill Finger, with art by Sheldon Moldoff. tec_205_001 In this story, Bruce recalls purchasing the house he lives in, and coming across the cave under the barn accidentally.  The idea that he is not living in the house he inherited from his parents is an odd one.  I don’t recall another story that makes such a claim. tec_205_002 The story recaps the areas of the Batcave, we usually see, and adds a new big screen television.  Then Batman digs up a native artifact which reads “death to the man of two identities.” tec_205_003 Well, that just begs to be explained, so off go Bruce and Dick to see Carter Nichols, who sends them back in time to the earliest white settlement in Gotham.  We meet Jeremy Coe, who is a scout for the army, clearing the land of the natives. tec_205_004 Jeremy is using the cave as a hideout while he disguises himself as a native, learning their plans.  Batman helps him turn the cave into more of a Barcave, even starting a trophy room for him.  It all gets destroyed in the big battle between the cavalry and the natives, with Batman on the side of the cavalry, of course.  Their discovery complete, Batman and Robin return to the present. tec_205_005 Mysto has an intriguing case in this issue, as a number of magicians are murdered while performing in a television studio. tec_205_006 The network just keeps sending more magicians up to die, but are concerned enough to ask Mysto’s help in figuring this out. tec_205_007 It turns out the real motive was to prevent the magicians from using the trap door, and discovering a tunnel being built for a bank robbery.

Detective 158 – Intruder in the Batcave!


Detective 158 (April 1950) is the first story to really focus on the Batcave, both on the cover, and  in the tale by Edmond Hamilton and Bob Kane.


Here we see the dinosaur, giant penny, and symbols of the Joker and Penguin, which will be the basic images that define the trophy room element of the cave all the way until the 90s.


The story begins with Batman and Robin taking inventory, reminding the reader of the various cases the trophies are from.  There is even the trophy case seen in the “Case Without a Crime.”  This story also confirms that the penny comes from ‘The Penny Plunderers,” and the dinosaur from “Dinosaur Island,” a a source of many arguments.


The we meet Dr. Doom, who stows away in the Batmobile to get into the Batcave, where he turns the various trophies against Batman and Robin.


In the end, he seals himself in a sarcophagus and suffocates.  Stupid twit.  But the story does nicely demonstrate the big plus for having a trophy room – you get to use those amazing props again.  There would be far fewer stories with a giant penny in them if it wasn’t already sitting in the Batcave.

Detective 134 – Penguin’s umbrella crimes


The cover of Detective 134 (April 1948) does not show the Penguin at all.  Instead, we see Batman and Robin being happily blasted out of cannons.


I think the image on the splash page would have made a much better cover.  The story, by Bill Finger, is ok.  Pretty standard, despite its attempt at originality.


A blast of lightning saves the Penguin from Batman and Robin, but destroys his lair and all his trick umbrellas, so he decides to commit crimes based on umbrellas that are not umbrellas.


The story is merely a set-up for some fun action scenes.  I like the huge globe that they battle on, though this is far from the only Batman story that has him fighting on a giant globe.


In one relatively disturbing sequence, Batman takes one of the Penguin’s men back to the Batcave and puts him in a torture chamber until he breaks and reveals the Penguin’s plans.  While that kind of behaviour is not unusual in the Batman from the darker periods, in these days of light stories it feels out of place.

Detective 112 – “The Case Without a Crime”


The Batman and Robin story in Detective 112 (June 1946) was reprinted in one of the 100-page issues in the mid-70s, one of the earliest comics I read.  So there was never really a time when I did not know and love this unusual Batman tale.


It’s primarily a family drama.  We do get to see the beginnings of Batman’s collection of trophies, though no real sense of it being an essential part of the Batcave.  But then we meet the family members who own and run a costume shop frequented by Bruce Wayne, whose lives are disrupted when $99 is stolen from the till.


Each of them fears one of the others is the thief, and all take action to try to cover the theft, complicating matters for Batman and Robin.  The daughter of the family attempts to win a costume contest, dressing as Catwoman and pretending to steal a necklace.

This is, incidentally, the closest Catwoman has come to appearing in Detective, despite having appeared over the last 6 years in the pages of Batman.


In the end, it turns out that Bruce Wayne was the thief.  In the first page I posted above, in the bottom panel, the daughter looks away while giving Bruce change, and hands him a $100 bill instead of a $1.

No harm, no foul, but a lot of fun in the puzzling.

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