Posts tagged ‘Batmobile’

Detective 434 -The Spook debuts, and Hawkman ends


Mike Kaluta does the cover for Detective 434 (April 1973), the first half of the introduction of the Spook, a major player against Batman in the 70s.


The Spook is introduced by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and  Dick Giordano, materializing in a cell in Gotham’s new high security prison, offering the man incarcerated , Big Turk, a way out.  The Spook blinds the man with dust first, to keep it a secret.


No one can figure out how the escape was done, but Batman does manage to round up Big Turk, and has him in the Batmobile when the Spook suddenly appears in the road before him.  Batman gets out to investigate, but the Spook vanishes.  More frustratingly, so do the Batmobile and his prisoner!


While Batman is getting humiliated by having the police return the abandoned Batmobile to him, we get to see the Spook’s lair, and his intricate monitoring system, while he gives his sales pitch to a hood.  For a price, the Spook will ensure to free anyone who gets captured.

There is nothing supernatural in the way this character is played, despite his name.  Anything that gets explained, is shown to be scientific in nature, or a trick.


At story’s end, Batman disguises himself as Big Turk, and heads to prison, in order to get to face the Spook and see his game for himself.

The story concludes next issue.


Hawkman solves a puzzling mystery in this issue, about the serial thief who keeps getting caught, but the stolen goods keep vanishing.


E Nelson Bridwell scripts, with Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano on the art.  Hawkman eventually figures out that the thefts were done earlier, and the “stolen goods” he was caught with were dissolving duplicates.  Kind of impressive scientific stuff for a thief.  Bet he stole the secret on how to do that.


This is Hawkman’s last solo story before he is ordered back to Thanagar, and resigns his position with the Justice League.  In a couple of years he gets exiled, and returns to Earth, and his next solo story is also in the pages of Detective.

Detective 402 – Man-Bat returns, and Robin helps reform school kids


Man-Bat returns in Detective 402 (Aug. 70), although it’s Frank Robbins scripting Neal Adams and Dick Giordano’s art.


Batman responds to an alarm at a laboratory, and finds Man-Bat already there, having taken down the men trying to rob the place.  Batman and Man-Bat fight after Man-Bat tries to take a serum, and Batman discovers that his appearance is real, not a costume.


There’s a good shot of the 1970 Batmobile, and just below that, the introduction of Francine Lee, Kirk’s fiancee.  She doesn’t do much besides weep in this story, but she does give Batman the needed background on Kirk Langstrom.


Batman chases, and Man-Bat runs, until the spectacular sequence in which he gains wings.  He makes the mistake of fleeing into the Batcave though.


It’s a great fight, as Batman tries to help the poor man, who is simply freaking out due to his animal nature.


Batman finally takes Man-Bat down with the Batmobile.  He doesn’t look in great shape as the story ends, but Batman is determined to cure him.

It’s a few more months before the final chapter of this introduction to the character appears.


Speedy guest stars in this Mike Freidrich story, with art by Kane and Colletta.  The story takes place just after Robin rejoins the Teen Titans, after briefly leaving.  Roy and Dick discuss these recent events as the story opens.


The story sets up the next issue, introducing us to a program at Hudson U. to help out kids who had wound up in reform schools and such, in the hopes of making university available to them.


Roy is pretty subdued through the story, which culminates in Dick pondering changing his name from Robin to something more adult.  But his Nightwing days were a decade away, and he proudly stays as Robin.

Detective 396 – Batman and the millionaire biker, and Batgirl goes after a woman killer


It;s back to Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella for Detective 396 (Feb. 70), as Batman comes to the aid of a young millionaire who spends his life on his motorbike.


Crooks learn that he delivers his stock orders while biking, and bug his machine, but he dictates in code, and they are forced to kidnap him.  When he starts selling Wayne stock, Bruce gets alerted, and figures out the situation.


It’s not a bad story, not great.  The one thing I do like about it is that the ugly new Batmobile, which appeared a few issues earlier with its awful yellow trim, gets trashed at the end.


Batgirl goes after a serial killer who uses a dating agency to find his prey in this 2-part story by Frank Robbins, with art by Kane and Anderson.


The killer, who gives his victims orchids before strangling them, seems to have a liking for the “Plain Jane” type, so Barbara does herself up that way, and joins the dating agency, in hopes of luring the killer.


Her date does bring her an orchid, and she attacks, but the poor man is simply mystified.  The story does end on a cliffhanger, and she gets grabs from behind.

Detective 364 – a mysterious foe for Batman


I love this cover, but I always think the villain in the story is the Getaway Genius, who does not even appear in the tale.  Detective 364 (June 1967) has art by Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella.


The Riddler opens this tale, getting taken down by Batman and Robin.  They discover a mysterious clue, not from him, and continue to find these at the sites of other crimes.


Moldoff is not up to par at all on this issue.  Aunt Harriet looks about 20 years older, and the Batmobile is an ugly version of the tv car.


The story isn’t that great, either.  It wanders, and then concludes with the villain being a sleepwalking Alfred, partly under the control of the Outsider.

I do love the cover, though.

Detective 334 – the Outsider makes a call


A major new villain for Batman is introduced by Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella in Detective 334 (Dec. 64), but it isn’t the character referred to in the title.


The Grasshopper is the eponymous villain, luring Batman and Robin into a building, but immediately appearing at the base of it, stealing the Batmobile.


The Grasshopper then pulls a shipboard theft, and we get to see that he is actually two men, in identical costumes, explaining his impossible feats.  Batman has also figured this out, noting slight differences in the voices.


They capture Robin, and attempt to lure Batman to his death, but he’s too smart for them.  The Grasshopper(s) are thrown in prison, and never heard from again.


And then, on the last page, Batman receives a threatening call on his carphone from a man calling himself the Outsider, who was behind the Grasshopper’s attack.  This mysterious villain will plague Batman for the next year and half.


Detective 156 – The Batmobile of 1950, the girl who could talk to animals, and Pow-Wow Smith and the gold dust robbery


It’s time for a new Batmobile in Detective 156 (Feb. 50).


The old model gets wrecked in a chase, which also leaves Batman in a cast.  He sets to work building a top of the line, brand new modern car.


This Dick Sprang designed Batmobile can go faster than the previous one, and has a turbo boost for jumps, so it would have been able to make the jump that trashed the earlier car.


It also has a monitor, linked to a massive camera that Robin wears as he tracks down the thieves.  Batman follows in the car, smashing through the wall to save Robin and take down the bad guys in the nick of time.


A couple of deceptions are going on in this chapter of Impossible But True.  Roy Raymond investigates the story of a girl who shows up, having been raised with wild animals and able to talk with them.


There is also a storyline about a manhunt for a murderer, and the only witness to the crime was the victim’s pet.  Roy arranges for the woman to meet with the pet, but the killer steps in.


And that was the plan all along.  Roy exposed the girl as a hoax, a Hollywood promo stunt, but got them to work with him on drawing out the killer.


Great new logo for Pow-Wow Smith, thanks to Carmine Infantino.


When thieves steal bags of gold dust, the sheriff in the area summons a posse to track them down, and so Ohiyesa dons his Pow-Wow Smith garb to join in.


The story itself is not as significant as the ending, in which the thief calls Smith a “stupid Indian.”  This is the first glimpse of the racism he faces, and the series would touch on it from time to time.



Detective 61 – The Three Racketeers, Larry Steele vs the Seal, and Air Wave short circuits


From one extreme to the other, instead of having a generic cover, Detective 61 (March 1942) uses the splash page as the cover.


This would become commonplace, although most had a bit more divergence than the two shown.  Because of this, I will often just show the cover and skip the splash.


Bill Finger scripts a gem of a tale in this issue, with Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson on the art.  Three aging hoodlums sit around a table, playing poker and chatting about great criminal schemes they had, which were routed by Batman.


So it’s basically three brief stories, linked by the hoods.  A Batmobile with a shield, and a weird paint job, appears in this issue.


The final of the three tales involves the thieves using tanks, so Batman and Robin take to the air in the Batplane for the climax.


The story has the perfect coda, the revelation that the men are all incarcerated while their poker game is going on.


Larry Steele is given a recurring villain just before his series concludes, the Seal.  The Seal is the leader of a gang of thieves, who wears a costume that gives him big flippers over his fists. He looks so absurd that he adds no menace at all to the stories.



Air Wave goes up against a man simply called the Professor in this story.  He is part of the mob, wanting vengeance on Air Wave for his exploits in the previous story.


The Professor may not have a decent name,but he does have a mighty distinctive head.  Larry meets socialite Sandra Stowe, who is hanging with his boss, the D.A. Cole.


The Professor builds a machine that shorts out Air Wave circuits, but he also nabs Sandra, who smashes the machine, which lets Air Wave take down the bad guys.  The fight scenes are kinetic, but not impressive.

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


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

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 37 – almost the Batmobile, Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise ends, the Crimson Avenger returns, Cliff Crosby debuts, and Slam Bradley inherits a racehorse



Detective 37 (March 1940) contains the final Batman story before Robin shows up.  Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s story loosely resembles the movie The Old Dark House, and overall the feel is of a horror movie.

The Batmobile is almost in existence at the start of this tale.  While there is still no emblem (or name), The way the car is drawn and coloured emphasizes it as an attribute of the man.


Batman shows off another bit of gear, infra-red lenses to allow him to see in the dark, which come in useful in a fight scene.


Batman never cares much if the villain dies in these early stories.  While the man impales himself, Batman still shows no remorse.  The end of the story promotes the next Hugo Strange tale, but it appears instead in Batman 1 – a solo tale, pre-dating Robin.


In his final story Cosmo, the Phantom of Disguise goes undercover as a sailor on the Sea Swan, investigating a series of ships that have gone  missing while crossing the Atlantic.  It turns out the vice-president of the line is selling these ships and their cargo to the Nazis.  Some of the crew are in on the scam, and lead a mutiny, then turn the ship over to the Germans, who arrive in a u-boat.  Cosmo infiltrates the mutineers and ruins their plans, and when the u-boat surfaces, Cosmo and Captain Barker have it shot at, blowing it up.


They stand on deck rejoicing over their victory, but I think this is short-lived.  The sub would certainly have been in contact with the rest of the fleet – more than one sub would be needed to deal with the ship and its crew and prisoners.  I fear that though they blew up one sub, there were more around, and the Sea Swan was torpedoed and sunk, killing Cosmo and all the others aboard.


The Crimson Avenger returns, with no significant change to the series.  Lee Travis still runs the Globe-Leader, Wing is still speaking decent English and driving the car.


The story sees him pursue and capture some kidnappers.


Cliff Crosby’s series languished amid the back pages of Detective Comics for the entirety of its run.  The art managed to reach a passable level, but the stories, often only 5 or 6 pages long, never achieve anything memorable.


The series begins without making it clear what Cliff does for a living.  He helps a reporter friend, Terry Jensen, find a kidnapped judge in his first tale, but there is no indication of anything really definable about the character.  Little by little, over the few years the series ran, the picture would get drawn.


Slam inherits a racehorse in this Jerry Siegel tale.  There are drugged animals, fixed races, and blackmail at the root of the tale.


The story climaxes with Shorty filling in for a murdered jockey, and winning the Kentucky Derby.

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