The League of Assassins are first referred to in Detective 405 (Nov. 70). I don’t want to say “they” appear, as only one member is in this Denny O’Neil/Bob Brown/Frank Giacoia tale.
A number of shipping tycoons around the world have been murdered, and Commissioner Gordon requests, on behalf of Interpol, that Batman stay near one who is in Gotham. Batman does, and they sail off. The ship gets bombed by dolphins, and they wind up on a island of deadly traps.
All of this is the work of Tejja, of the League of Assassins.
The story does a good job of building the menace of this organization, even though Batman manages to defeat the martial artist.
The story continues in the following issue.
The Batgirl story by Robbins, Kane and Giacoia ends this issue.
The crazy actress who framed Jason does her best to turn Batgirl into a statue in this story, but she fights her way free.
In a nicely ironic touch, the huge head of Billy Warlock has cameras in the eyes, which record the bragging confession of the actress.
I should have mentioned last issue that, with this story, Batgirl’s series becomes the sole back-up feature in Detective.
A really beautiful gothic cover to Detective 403 (Sept. 70), but the story, by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Frank Giacoia, makes some attempt to hit these visuals, but misses the mood entirely.
It plays out like a film noir thriller, not the gothic tale the cover promised. A mysterious woman comes to see Bruce Wayne at Victims, Incorporated, announcing that her husband will be murdered the following day.
Batman jumps into the mystery, and it’s a story of identical twin sisters and carriages being robbed in the park. There is even a big spooky house, but it just never comes together.
Robin’s series in Detective comes to an end with this Mke Freidrich/Gil Kane/Vince Colletta story that brings back the troubled kids from the previous issue.
After trouble on campus, Robin goes to spy on them, and sees the boys working with guns. He attacks, jumping to the wrong conclusions.
The boys were being recruited by a gangster, but had rejected him on their own.
Robin’s series moves over to the back pages of Batman, and improves a lot.
Detective 401 (July 1970) has a nice Adams cover, but the story, by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella, fails to grab me.
There’s a great hunter, who has vowed to hunt down Batman, because he would be the greatest challenge. The story is cat and mouse between them, but the guy is never very impressive, or threatening.
He tries to lure Batman by pretending to be holding Alfred, but Batman realizes he’s a fake. Somehow, the hunter figured out Batman was Bruce Wayne, but how is never explained. And of rouse, the hunter dies at the end, so the secret stays safe.
The second half of the O’Neil/Kane/Colletta story sees Robin comes by the university theatre in time to save Batgirl from being walled up alive.
This chapter is almost entirely Robin’s, although the two heroes do spend a bit of time together.
Barbara works on solving the mystery, while Dick tries to figure out why she is there in the first place.
Although there is no romance between the characters yet, the story does end on a flirtatious note.
Commissioner Gordon is in danger in Detective 399 (May 1970), in a story by Denny O’Neil, with Bob Brown and Joe Giella art.
This story also introduces Arthur Reeves, a city councillor who despises Batman, and the feeling is mutual. Reeves would appear in a few stories in the 70s, but become more important in the early 80s.
Batman spends the first chunk of this tale attempting to protect Gordon, before discovering that he had already been kidnapped, and an impostor was taking his place.
It’s another servicable Robbins detective tale. Not great, not even really memorable, but satisfying while reading.
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.
Batman spends a fair bit of his story missing Robin, and at the end of his tale he and Alfred eagerly read a letter from Dick, the contents of which are the narrative for his story, in Detective 394 (Dec. 69).
Batman’s story, by Robbins, Brown and Giella, involves his new Victims, Incorporated program, and a race car driver, shot while competing, who believes Bruce to have hired the killer.
Which, of course, he didn’t, but as Batman he hunts down the actual bad guy, a rival driver.
Robin’s story, by Frank Robbins, while similar to Friedrich’s tale of unions and riots at his high school, is far more suited to the rebellious university life of 1969.
Kane and Anderson handle the art as Dick arrives at Hudson University, and immediately gets caught up in student protests, lead by Fire-Brand Fran and Jonah Ram.
Robin realizes they have hired fake police to bust up and arrest the protestors, and wonders what their goal is.
The story continues next issue.
As Robin prepares to head off to college, he and Batman have their last case together, in Detective 393 (Nov. 69), by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella.
They also move out of Wayne Manor in this issue, poor Alfred reduced to tears. Their new residence is not shown until next month’s Batman.
The remainder of the story deals with a street kid Bruce and Dick take under their wing, who falls under the spell of a wealthy party girl.
She uses the boy to get back at her negligent parents, but is being used in turn by other criminals, and Batman has to fix everything.
The concluding half of the story introducing Jason Bard, by Robbins, Kane and Anderson sees Jason and Batgirl work together to solve the murder mystery, while Jason never clues on that she is really Barbara Gordon.
That doesn’t make him much of a detective, but between that and his bad knee, it gives Batgirl the chance to shine in her own series.
His knee is also good for some dramatic visuals when it goes out. This chapter is largely action, as the last was set-up, but together they make one of the better stories of Batgirl’s run in Detective.