Posts tagged ‘Black Spider’

Detective 566 – Know Your Foes, and a mystery villain in Green Arrow

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Doug Moench and Gene Colan provide a review of Batman’s major villains in this story, a lead-in to the big Batman 400.  The bulk of it reads much like a Who’s Who, but that series, and its variants, were in the future, and there really had not been anything like this.  It was much more appreciated at the time than such an issue would be now.

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After receiving a mysterious letter saying “Know your foes,” Batman and Robin review them.  All the big names are covered: Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, Scarecrow, Ra’s Al Ghul and Talia.  Killer Moth makes the cut into the big names, as does Black Mask, the newest addition to the line-up.

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Curiously, this is the first time Poison Ivy makes it into a listing of Batman villains.  She’d been a foe of his since the 60s, but rarely in his own books.  Mad Hatter, Deadshot, Nocturna and the Night Slayer round out the ones who get full entries.

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There is a curious mix on the “B-list” page.  Cavalier and Tweedledee and Tweedledum are golden age holdovers, but Black Spider and Clayface III are supposedly dead.  Mr. Freeze, Cat-Man and Croc could easily have made the cut to major villains at this time.  And they included Crazy Quilt.  Really?

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Green Arrow and Black Canary’s series builds to its finale in this story by Joey Cavalieri and Jerome K Moore.

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Onyx is giving a long, roundabout explanation to her wanna-be boyfriend about why she has come back to Star City, but it gets interrupted by a bad guy smashing right through the wall.

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Who is the mystery attacker?  That gets saved for the finale.

Detective 526 – Jason Todd dons the costume

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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?

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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 464 – Batman vs Black Spider, and the Calculator vs Black Canary

 

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Black Spider’s introductory story concludes in Detective 464 (Oct. 76), in a Gerry Conway story, with art by Chan and McLaughlin.

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Batman does not get hit by the airplane, but Black Spider manages to kill one of the deplaning passengers, and get away.  Batman hunts the streets looking for information on him, and learns the past of a “friend” of the Spider.  A kid who became a junkie and turned to crime to pay for his habit, eventually killing his own father.

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It’s hardly a surprise when Batman unmasks Black Spider, and reveals him to be the junkie, now clean, but determined to do away with those who profited from his addiction.  Black Spider appears to die at the end of the story, though Batman doubts it.  And indeed, he returns a couple years down the road in the pages of Batman.

I should have mentioned that City Councillor Arthur Reeves, who despises Batman, is re-introduced.  He has a small role, complaining to Gordon about Batman, at the start of the previous issue, and conclusion to this one.

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The Calculator returns, this time in Star City, where he faces off against Black Canary, in a story by Bob Rozakis, Mike Grell and Terry Austin.

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His plan is to steal the city’s Founder’s Day, by creating a deadly heat wave – one made worse by Black Canary every time she uses her sonic cry.

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She wins by pushing things as far as she can with her cry, which causes the Calculator’s device to melt and short out, but not before he presses his special button!

 

Detective 463 – Black Spider debuts, and the Calculator vs the Atom

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It’s Batman vs Spider-Man!  Nope, not even close.  Detective 463 (Sept. 76) introduces the Black Spider, a murderous vigilante, created by Gerry Conway, Ernie Chan and Frank McLaughlin.

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It’s a 2-part story, and this first issue spends much of it’s time setting up the antagonist.  Batman and Gordon are pursuing leads in Gotham’s drug trade, but the dealers they are after keep getting murdered.

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Batman manages to confront the Black Spider towards the end of the story.  Despite his name, and his web-swinging appearance on the cover, mostly he shoots people.

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The Black Spider manages to get away from Batman, leaving him on a tarmac in front of a landing plane.

The story concludes next issue.

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Technically, this is a one-shot back-up story featuring the Atom, but really, it is the start of a six-part story introducing the Calculator.  Bob Rozakis, Mike Grell and Terry Austin provide the art for this instalment.

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In Ivy Town, the Calculator attacks a scientist who has invented an earthquake predicting machine.  Throughout this run, the Calculator would steal things on “the day they were worth the most.”  In this one, he steals the scientist’s life on the day of his big success.

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The Atom captures the Calculator, but the villain does not seem to mind.  He presses a button on his keypad, and happily plots his next crime while in prison.

 

 

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