The League of Assassins returns in this Denny O’Neil/Don Newton story that pits the Sensei against Ra’s Al Ghul.
Kathy Kane, the former Batwoman, is in town with her travelling circus, and Batman has received word that the League are going to be attacking there. Puzzled as to why, he goes to check it out, and discovers Kathy holding her own against them. This is Kathy’s first appearance since her team-up with the Freedom Fighters in the final issue of their book.
All is well until the Bronze Tiger shows up. A master of martial arts, he battles Batman while another member of the League murders Kathy.
The killers flee, and Ra’s Al Ghul shows up. Batman realizes that Ra’s manipulated the League into attacking Kathy, so that Batman would seek vengeance against them. Ra’s Al Ghul and the Sensei have rival plans for the League, and this storyline sees the war between them for dominance. Talia pops up as well, but all she does is cry about loving Batman.
Up to now, the Sensei’s connection with the League of Assassins had mostly played out in Deadman stories, while Ra’s Al Ghul appeared to be their leader in Batman tales. Though it is never spelled out in detail, the League must at this point be split between the two factions.
The Bronze Tiger, Ben Turner, had been a supporting character in Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter, and had been kidnapped by the League when the series was cancelled. Here we learn that the Sensei (who last appeared in a late issue of Phantom Stranger, for those keeping track) has hopes of making Bronze Tiger into his greatest weapon.
Batman and the Bronze Tiger battle, but one of the members of the League jumps in, shooting a poisoned dart at Batman. Though the Sensei kills the man who did this, Bronze Tiger is furious at the breach of honour, and turns on the League. The lights go out, conveniently, so Batman misses the climax of the action, finding only the bloody masks of Tiger and Batwoman. The story continues, although not immediately.
The Demon’s series comes to an end with this story, by Len Wein and Steve Ditko. The Demon stashes the Eternity Book with a relative of the previous caretaker, but this man wants nothing to do with it, and tosses it on the trash. The book does not return until the Demon’s own series, in the 90s
Jason Blood returns home, only to find his friends held captive by Baron Tyme. He demands the Eternity Book, but when he discovers that Jason no longer has it, comes up with a different plan.
He casts a spell that half-transforms Jason into Etrigan, and then draws on the mystical energy of the transformation to pull his missing half back to reality. This almost works, until the Demon steps behind a mirror, and Tyme’s spell winds up backfiring on him, sending his entire body to the nether realm.
That’s it for Baron Tyme, who has never been seen again. The Demon, along with Glenda and Randu, appear next in the pages of Wonder Woman a couple years down the road. Harry Matthews has to wait a few more years, until the Demon miniseries by Matt Wagner, to return.
Man-Bat returns to Detective, with a story by Bob Rozakis, with art by Don Newton and Frank McLaughlin.
Kirk Langstrom and Jason Bard are called on by a woman whose husband has been acting strangely, sneaking out at night. She suspects he is having an affair, and hires the detectives to follow him.
Since Man-Bat excels at surveillance, he follows the man to an abandoned building, where he dons a suit of armour and goes flying out the window. Man-Bat is convinced he has a super-villain on his hands, and starts fighting him. But once he sees the man’s expression, he realizes that the guy is just not in control of his suit at all, and helps him crash safely.
The story ends with Kirk complaining about how irresponsible the man was, trying to be a hero but not taking proper precautions and risking his own life, becoming a menace to others. It takes Jason Bard to point out the irony.
Although I didn’t find either the Robin or the Batgirl stories worth writing about – both deal with art thieves, and both have mediocre art – there is a really nice pin-up of them by Dick Giordano on the back cover.