Posts tagged ‘Batgyro’

Detective 33 – the origin of Batman, Larry Steele gets a new secretary, and Speed Saunders heads to Canada

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Batman’s back on the cover with Detective 33 (Nov. 39).

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Batman’s origin is told for the first time in this story.  The basic elements of Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s story have never really changed.  The parents gunned down on the street, right in front of the boy.  The text informs us that the mother was shot, as well as the father, though we do not see this.  That would be changed, down to the road, to her dying from a heart attack after Thomas gets shot.

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The rest of the origin is simple and straight-forward, and in its direct narrative line makes it all seem within the realms of possibility and rationality.  Batman’s intelligence and fighting skills are explained, as is his eternal goal.  The bat flying through the window as inspiration gives it just the touch of strange/supernatural that it needs.

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The story then shows us that Batman uses a secret passage to get at his gear, and the trunk containing his costume is in this room.  The ears on the suit are almost down to what would become their normal level.  The car is still described as being special, but nothing visually stands out about it.  It’s really long.

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The villain in this issue patterns himself on Napoleon, and has a dirigible he is using to terrorize people.  The story is set in the US, but comes between two stories set in Europe, and I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to include this tale in Bruce’s time in Europe.  Certainly a Napoleonic villain would fit very well in France, where the following issue’s story is set.

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The Batgyro sees some more action, getting into a fight with, and destroying, the dirigible of doom!

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Larry Steele gets a new secretary in this story, Brenda Darling. She’s a capable brunette, able to shoot the gun out of a killers hand.

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Speed heads to Canada in this story by Fred Guardineer, helping the Mounties catch a man who murders fur trappers and steals their pelts.  Trees, rock, moose, canoes, Mounties, this hits almost all the Canadian stereotypes, though no one speaks french.

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Detective 31 – Batman vs the Monk

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It is far from obvious that Batman is a benevolent character on the cover of Detective 31 (Sept 39).  The actual villain, the Monk, looks more like a servant of the looming master of the castle, than the actual villain of the tale.

A striking variant to this cover would be printed in a couple of years, after Robin was introduced and Batman made more friendly.

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There are a number of firsts in this story.  First of the firsts is the logo, the earliest variation of what would become the standard Batman logo for decades.  And the middle top panel also became an iconic Batman pose, duplicated by many artists over the years.

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Julie Madison debuts, the fiancee of Bruce Wayne.  There is no real introduction for her, she is an entranced victim of the Monk, encountered on the street by Batman, when we first meet her.  After he breaks her spell, Julie decides to go on a trip to Europe, and Batman decides to follow.

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Bruce now just hangs his cape and hood out in the open.  Considering he has a fiancee, you’d think he would be more cautious.  We see his first aircraft, the Batygyro, and also the first batarang, here termed as “baterang.”

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Batman arrives in Paris in time to save Julie again from the Monk, but winds up getting captured himself.  And while I admire Kane’s art for its entertaining dynamism, his version of the Eiffel Tower in the bottom right panel is shameful.

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This and the next few stories make the most of Batman being in Europe.  Castles and dungeons, the elements of Universal monster movies dominates in these tales.  The Monk himself is a vampire, as the next issue makes clear.  Batman looks much better escaping from a cage in a stony dungeon than he would in a modern warehouse.  The looks of these stories would hugely influence the style given to Gotham City in years to come.

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