Posts tagged ‘Batmobile’

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.

Detective 49 – Clayface returns, and the Crimson Avenger battles Echo

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The story sees him pursue and capture some kidnappers.

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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.

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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.

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

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

Detective 35 – Batman and the Ruby Idol, Steve Malone gets a new secretary, and Slam Bradley joins the French Foreign Legion

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Batman is back on the cover for Detective 35 (Jan 40), but the picture seems to show him fighting the Duc D’Orterre, from the previous story.

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Batman clearly has no problem with guns at this point.  Oddly, this story, by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, does not have Batman involved in any big gun fights.

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The story all deals with a stolen ruby idol, and a very mysterious murder.  Commissioner Gordon, who has not been in the last few European stories, is back in this one, in a very small role.

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The one significant development in this story is the car.  Still not a Batmobile in any sense, this “high powered roadster”  is now blue, matching the highlights in Batman’s costume, personalizing it a bit.

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In this issue, Steve Malone gets a secretary, Nancy.  He sends her out as bait for a kidnapping ring, and though she gets freed, we never see her again, and it wouldn’t surprise me if she gave her notice after that.

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Jerry Siegel sends Slam off to Africa to hunt down murderers in this issue’s tale.  Slam and Shorty wind up enlisting in the French Foreign Legion in order to find they prey.  One of the men they are hunting winds up being their sergeant, so the usual tale of the brutality of the Foreign Legion gets used as an attempt to kill Slam.

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Detective 30 – Dr. Death returns, mind-control in Spy, and bad art in Speed Saunders

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No appearance, but again Batman is mentioned on the cover of Detective 30 (Aug 39).

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Bill Finger and Bob Kane pick up the story immediately after the ending of the first, and then jump ahead slightly.  Batman suspects Dr. Death is back, although this story deals more with a jewel theft than with murder.

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Bruce still is keeping the costume in his living room.

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While this is by no means a Batmobile, it is the first indication that his car is “special.”

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Dr. Death returns, shrouded in bandages, with a new foreign henchman.  The story mirrors the previous one a bit, as Batman deals with the henchman first, and then confronts Dr. Death at the end.

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This specific Dr. Death never appears again, but a similar version appears in the 80s, and then another in more recent years.

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Jerry Siegel continues to script Spy, but the art is in lesser hands, as a scientist plots to take over the United States using a hypnosis ray, and starts by taking over the minds of senators, having them promote suspending democracy and instituting a dictatorship.  He then starts using the ray on agents, and both Jack Steele and the Chief fall prey to it.  He really ought to have used it on Bart, as Bart shoots the machine and frees everyone from his control.

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Jack is not seen again after this story.  Makes me wonder if he really was under the scientists control, or if he turned traitor.

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An overly complex story and some really poor art by Guardineer on the Speed Saunders story in this issue.  The crossbow in the forehead of the victim on the first page made me laugh, which is clearly not the intent.

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There is also a black honeycomb, referred to as coal, that a policeman hides in later in the tale.

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