Posts tagged ‘Bob Brown’

Detective 436 – Batman gets scared, and the Elongated Man needs a clue

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A very creepy cover by Nick Cardy for Detective 436 (Aug,/Sept. 73), as Shotgun Smith returns in a story by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Frank Giacoia.

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Bruce Wayne returns from a vacation, and Shotgun Smith is now working customs, checking for drugs.  Alfred is quite surprised to find some in Bruce’s luggage.  Bruce examines the powder, just before Shotgun comes bursting in to arrest him.

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Batman finds himself suffering a crippling fear of the dark – a side effect of exposure to the powder, but still has presence of mind to demand a warrant from Shotgun, which he does not have.

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Batman realizes that only Shotgun and the stewardess could have planted the drugs on him, and follows him, finding the two together.  But he has also been alert enough to spot that this is not the real Shotgun Smith, but someone impersonating him, and using his position, in league with the stewardess, to smuggle drugs on unsuspecting passengers.

Not a bad story, but it’s unfortunate that Shotgun isn’t really himself in his second appearance.

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Sue gets kidnapped in this Elongated Man story, by Elliot S! Maggin and Dick Giordano.

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The kidnappers lure Ralph to them, with an invisible dog trick. I love the panel of Ralph stuck in the glass jar.

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They show Ralph a live video feed of Sue, who flashes two fingers at him.  Ralph pays little attention to their demands – they want him to use his powers to their benefit – instead trying to figure out Sue’s clue as to her location.

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He does so, and captures the bad guys (booga booga), but the story ends on the wonderful twist, as Ralph explains how he figured out Sue’s clue, and Sue replies that she never intended it as a clue, she was just telling him to save her before 2 o’clock.

 

 

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Detective 432 – Batman and the torn up money, and the Atom begins

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Dick Giordano does the cover art for Detective 432 (Feb. 73), while Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Murphy Anderson tell the tale of a distinct lack of trust among thieves.  I am tempted to say this story is inspired by the opening half hour or so of “Diamonds are Forever,” as the plots are almost the same.

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After a man is murdered during a mugging, Batman discovers that the briefcase the man was carrying contains a million dollars in bills torn in half.  With Commissioner Gordon, they deduce that this is the loot from a major robbery, committed by an entire gang.  Batman impersonates the dead man, taking the torn money to follow the trail.

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Batman avoids the exploding rental car the man was meant to die in, and follows the girl who set him up, after she grabs the money.  But she gets taken out next, and Batman continues to follow the new killer.

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The gang had torn the loot so that no one could run off with it, but their continued distrust of each other turned them against each other, so in the end Batman simply has to nab the sole survivor.  They made it easy on him, really.

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The Atom story in this issue, by Elliot S! Maggin and Murphy Anderson, was meant to begin a rotating position in Detective, as with Jason Bard, Elongated Man and Hawkman, but the suspension of the rotating back-ups a few months down the road meant that this was his only tale in Detective at this time.  A few years down the road, the Atom would return to Detective, but his solo series ran more often in Action Comics in the 70s and 80s.

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Jean Loring’s client announces on the witness stand that he will vanish, and promptly does so. Ray Palmer recognizes the lights that accompanied his disappearance as those from the Time Pool, and goes to see Profesor Hyatt, who tells him of its unusual behaviour.  As the Atom, Ray descends into the Time Pool on the track of the vanishing thief.

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He winds up in Chicago, just minutes before the outbreak of the Great Fire, and though he finds the man, the time trip has driven him insane.  He winds up dying in the past, so although Ray solves the mystery, he has nothing to show for it.  Still, the story is entertaining and the art, particularly the splash page, is top drawer.

Detective 428 – Batman meets Shotgun Smith, and Hawkman begins

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Another Kalauta cover on Detective 428 (Oct. 72), as Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Dick Giordano introduce Shotgun Smith, the toughest cop in Gotham City, a character inspired by Gene Hackman’s Popeye Doyle in The French Connection

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As with the movie, drug dealers are the main focus of this story. Unlike the movie, the character has a young daughter, which makes him more vulnerable.

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Batman and Shotgun Smith disagree over methods, and it’s kind of bizarre to see Batman coming down on him for not proceeding through proper police procedures.  But also necessary to build some animosity between the two as the story kicks off.

Batman comes to suspect that Smith is actually working with the biggest drug lord in Gotham, using his position as a cop to take out his rivals.

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The story comes to a highly satisfying conclusion, as we learn that Shotgun was using Batman as part of his cover, as he tried to convince the drug lord he was working with him, in order to protect his daughter. In this instance, Batman is not angry about being manipulated at all.

While he never becomes a significant supporting character, Shotgun Smith does return on occasion.

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Hawkman begins as one of the rotating back-up features, in a story by E. Nelson Bridwell, with art by Dick Dillin and Joe Giella.  Hawkman had not had a solo series since the cancellation of Atom and Hawkman, but continued to appear as a member of the Justice League.

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The story in this one is almost alarmingly simple. A series of thefts of valuable objects have occurred in a old mansion in Midway City.  The stolen goods have been replaced by immaculate forgeries, which indicates that this has been going on for some time.  Hawkman investigates, and the thief reveals himself, coming out of a secret passage.  They fight for a bit, and Hawkman wins.  The end.

Detective 424 – Batman deals with a bank robbery gone wrong, and Batgirl ends

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Another dramatic Kaluta cover for Detective 424 (June 1972), as Batman gets a good mystery tale and Batgirl’s series comes to its conclusion.

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The story, by Frank Robbins, with art by Brown and Giordano, begins as Batman and Commissioner Gordon review the tapes of a bank robbery in which a civilian got killer. Gordon bemoans it as a tragic accident, but Batman’s suspicions are aroused by the fact that the bank robber did not shoot at the guard, but instead at the clock near him.

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Investigating the dead man, Batman finds that his widow is not at all pleased with the news that her husband’s death may not have been an accident.  Batman expects her to contact the bank guard, but instead she calls a different man and discusses killing the guard to silence him.

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Batman saves the guard from being killed, and then impersonates him in order to draw out a confession from the other man in the scheme, the widow’s lover, with whom she plotted this murderous scenario.

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Batgirl’s series reaches it finale with this Frank Robbins and Don Heck story, set on the day of the election.

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Barbara had to deal not only with her rival candidate, but also with organized crime, attempting to stop her supporters from voting.  Once again, she spends more of this story as Barbara than as Batgirl.

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It’s Jason Bard who really gets to be the hero of this story, anyway.  He picks up on the clues and figures out the plan to bomb Barbara during her acceptance speech.

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And while it’s a bit odd (and somewhat demeaning) to have Jason rescue Batgirl in her own series, she is busy winning an election, and he is about to gain his own series.

Batgirl heads off to Washington to be a Congresswoman, and is not seen again for over a year.  She returns in an issue of Superman, a story so popular it revived her character, and she would get her own series back, in the pages of Batman Family.

Detective 423 – Batman oversees a prisoner exchange, and Batgirl runs for congress

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Mike Kaluta gives an interesting perspective on the cover for Detective 423 (May 1972), as Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Dick Giordano relate this cold war story.

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The basic premise of the story is clear enough – protecting a spy being traded for one imprisoned in a foreign nation (pretty obviously Russia).  Disgruntled right wing militiamen are trying to kill the spy to prevent that, unaware that the spy being sent back is really a double agent.

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While not a really great story, it certainly does show off Batman’s organizational abilities, and his competence compared to the police.

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Picking up right where the last issue ended, Barbara Gordon announces her intention to run for congress, and her dad willingly cedes his campaign to her, in this tale by Robbins and Heck.

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She runs a populist campaign, promising to boot the fat cats out of Washington, and gains the nickname Boots Gordon.  Jason Bard works on her campaign, as does another man, who brings in a lot of donations, although he then turns around and steals them.

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It’s probably a good thing he did, as it gives Barbara a chance to get into action as Batgirl for a few panels.  Otherwise, this is a Barbara Gordon tale, more than a Batgirl one.

Detective 411 – Talia Al Ghul debuts, and Batgirl avoids becoming a blouse

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Denny O’Neil is joined by Bob Brown and Dick Giordano for this chapter of the League of Assassins tale, though the cover at least is by Neal Adams.

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Having failed to kill Batman, Dr. Darrk has been marked for death by the League of Assassins.  Batman tracks him to China, and the story takes place on a train as they cross territory that is friendly to neither, but where Batman is in more danger.  Darrk travels with a mysterious woman.  She is silent for much of the story, and her identity only clear about halfway through.

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It’s a well-written story, making the most of the train, and the variety of locales and people they meet along the way.

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After Batman gets injured, the woman tends to him, and we learn that she is Talia Al Ghul, the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul.  Ra’s has not yet appeared, this mention is the first reference to him in the comics.  All part of the gradual build of the menace and scope of the League.  Dr. Darrk has taken her captive as protection against the League.

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The story comes to a surprising conclusion as Talia shoot and kills Darrk.  Up to that point, she had seemed a weak and helpless victim.  Even still, her facial expression during the shooting does not match the woman we would come to know.  One is left to assume, given the events in later stories, that Talia was playing helpless throughout this entire story, lulling Darrk into a sense of security.  Was she doing this anyway, before Batman became involved?  Or was her being taken captive by Darrk simply a way of ensuring she would get to meet Batman in person?  I believe it’s the latter, and Darrk was unwittingly a pawn in her, and her father’s, interest in Batman.

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Even Dick Girodano’s inks cannot save this Frank Robbins/Don Heck story.  Batgirl manages to escape from the dress cutting machine, so the criminals go after the designer herself, injured in a skiing accident in Europe.

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Batgirl saves the designed from being murdered, and captures the killers.  In the end, all the pundits are routed, as the designed bases her new wardrobe on Batgirl’s outfit.

Yeah, ugh.

This story is followed by a 2-parter dealing with wigs.  Killer wigs that crack open the skulls of women too dumb to take the crushing wigs off of their heads before they die.  These two tales are definitely the low-point of her series, but Heck’s art continues for the duration of her run, making even her passable stories unappealing.

 

Detective 406 – Batman vs Dr. Darrk

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The League of Asssassins returns in Detective 406 (Dec. 70), in a story by Denny O’Neil, Bob Brown and Frank Giacoia.

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Dr. Darrk, who had been referred to in the previous League of Assassins story, makes his bow in this tale.  Although he has been set-up as more important member of the League than the previous assassin, he doesn’t seem nearly as capable.

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The murders of shipping tycoons has continued, and Batman is still on the trail, which beings him into contact with Darrk and his operative Maya Thursday.

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Batman gets captured and bound to a Poe-type deathtrap, but a statue of an angel conveniently (or supernaturally) falls to free him.

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Batman thinks he has captured Darrk at story’s end, but it’s really just Maya.  Dr. Darrk returns a few months down the road, and the League returns even sooner.  Of all the early stories of the Assassins, this is probably the weakest, simply because Darrk fails to be impressive.

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