Posts tagged ‘Bob Kane’

Detective 158 – Intruder in the Batcave!


Detective 158 (April 1950) is the first story to really focus on the Batcave, both on the cover, and  in the tale by Edmond Hamilton and Bob Kane.


Here we see the dinosaur, giant penny, and symbols of the Joker and Penguin, which will be the basic images that define the trophy room element of the cave all the way until the 90s.


The story begins with Batman and Robin taking inventory, reminding the reader of the various cases the trophies are from.  There is even the trophy case seen in the “Case Without a Crime.”  This story also confirms that the penny comes from ‘The Penny Plunderers,” and the dinosaur from “Dinosaur Island,” a a source of many arguments.


The we meet Dr. Doom, who stows away in the Batmobile to get into the Batcave, where he turns the various trophies against Batman and Robin.


In the end, he seals himself in a sarcophagus and suffocates.  Stupid twit.  But the story does nicely demonstrate the big plus for having a trophy room – you get to use those amazing props again.  There would be far fewer stories with a giant penny in them if it wasn’t already sitting in the Batcave.

Detective 152 – Batman vs the Goblin, Slam Bradley ends, and Pow-Wow Smith’s first case


It’s definitely Vicki Vale on the cover for Detective 152 (Oct. 49), and she is even in the Batman and Robin story inside!  The scene pictured does not happen, but her photographs are central to the story.


The Bob Kane story introduces the villain, the Goblin, and then follows Vicki as she attempts to photograph Batman with three men whose lives he saved.  When the photo gets sabotaged, Batman figures out that one of the three must be the Goblin.


From there it becomes a chase for the negative to the picture, and Vicki getting kidnapped.  Batman gets a severe head injury, but saves her and reveals the Goblin.  I love the last few panels, showing that Vicki has no problem throwing herself at both Batman and Bruce Wayne.


Slam Bradley’s long running series comes to an end in this issue, and Slam is barely even in the story.  Instead, it’s all about Shorty, and his younger, but taller, brother Tiny.  Howard Sherman provides the art.


Look, there’s Slam!  Standing around while Shorty commands the story.  This page has the most Slam Bradley on it of any page in his final story.  Shorty’s comic hijinks were the meat of the series now.


I think Slam must have gone into retirement at this point, leaving the agency to Shorty.  He’d been at it a full eleven years at this point.  Slam Bradley would not return until Detective 500, in 1980.


Pow-Wow’s first case, with art by Infantino, clearly causes him some inner turmoil.


He is meant to compete in a sort of native version of the Olympics, but Jimmy summons him to go help round up some train robbers.


He winds up enlisting the braves of his tribe to help, and the take down of the train robbers is impressively done.  Then, knowing he could win the honour of being the greatest brave, by moving a boulder he had already moved, he declines to do so, choosing to lose.

But why?  The story is mute on this, but the only action he has taken during the course of the story that could account for this is abandoning the contest to go get the thieves.  He must feel deeply torn about this.

Detective 135 – Batman meets Frankenstein


Edmond Hamilton and Bob Kane tell the cover story for Detective 135 (May 1948).


Professor Carter Nichols returns having been researching the story behind the Frankenstein legend, and he travels back in time himself to discover that there really was a scientist, with a giant assistant Ivan.  Ivan gets wounded and is revived with adrenaline, but it turns him into a destructive beast.


Nichols then, contrary to the way his time travel hypnosis always works, uses his own mind to pull Batman and Robin back in time to him.


Batman winds up having to take the same serum as Ivan, turning him into a destructive monster, and two battle.


Batman manages to get control of himself, but the villagers destroy the castle, and Ivan.  Batman relates the story to a travelling Englishwoman, who turns out to be Mary Shelley, who writes the novel.

This creature is in no way related to any of the other Frankenstein variations that have appeared in DC.

Detective 128 – The Joker’s crimes in reverse


The frequency with which the Joker appeared in stories from the late 1940s makes one wonder if prison breakouts were a daily occurrence at this time.  He is back, and on the cover of Detective 128 (Oct. 47)


Art by Bob Kane and Ray Burnley helps lift this one a bit above average.  The Joker does everything in reverse in the story.  His escape from prison begins with the alarm and the search, before the breakout, for example.


As usual, Batman and Robin are one step behind all the way to the end.


Detective 124 – The Joker listens to the radio, Slam Bradley comes to Canada, and the Boy Commandos lose one member and gain another


A horrible cover for Detective 124 (June 1947), but the Joker story is better than his previous two outings in this book.


Edmond Hamilton scripts and Bob Kane pencils this story, in which the Joker decides to base his new series of crimes on the top song of the day, as announced on the radio.


Batman realizes the Joker’s crimes must have been planned before the songs were announced, and that the Joker is having his men send in votes for the winning song.

The unusual thing, for me, in this scene is that the votes are sent in by mail.  I assume this is an accurate detail from how the hit parade was chosen in 1947, but it relies on a really prompt mail service.


So Batman and Robin try tracking the letters, but fail to stop the Joker, instead having to battle him amidst a huge electrical display, corresponding to the song “Stormy Weather.”


Slam Bradley comes to Canada in this story.  The only remaining series that began in Detective 1, Slam Bradley’s series has not had any stories with interesting enough plot or story for me to mention for an awful long time.  Shorty’s role in the series increased, to the point where the stories are often more comedic than serious.  But a Canada story is always interesting, in the hopes of seeing something other than snow, trees, mounties and french lumberjacks.


This story has snow, trees, mounties and french lumberjacks.  Figuring that their chances of catching an escaped felon would improve if they became mounties, Slam and Shorty ask to join for a limited time, and are allowed to.


So then we get Shorty is the dress reds, which are far too big for him.  While the french lumberjacks are laughing, Slam catches the bad guy.


The Boy Commandos are asked to be in a movie, filming in England, in this Curt Swan story.


As soon as they arrive, Alfy gets a letter from his aunt (the one who refused to let him stay with her), informing him that she has enrolled him in Oxford.  He wants to stay with the team, but Rip insists he get an education.  Poor Alfy wanders off, but before the page is done, his replacement, Tex, is being introduced.

At least the fact that he is being enrolled in Oxford indicates that the “boys” are now adult age, despite not being drawn that way.


Rip, Pierre and Brooklyn wind up stopping a plot to steal the crown jewels, aiding by Tex, a rodeo rider who also happens to be in England, and Tex is invited to join the team.

Alfy does appear again, in the following month’s issue of Boy Commandos, which retells the change in team membership.

Detective 122 – Catwoman’s first appearance in Detective


Catwoman had been appearing in the pages of Batman for seven years before she finally made it into Detective Comics, with issue 122 (April 1947), drawn by Bob Kane.


Catwoman escapes from prison and returns to her hedonistic lair.  Her scheme, for all it’s “black cat” superstition, is really nothing more than a protection racket.


Some really great scenes in this story, especially the fight on the Statue of Liberty.  Catwoman captures Robin, but seems more  interested in finding out what Batman thinks of her than in using him as bait.


Her Kitty-car appears in this story (it might be the debut of it, I will have to determine that when I go through Batman), a themed car, like the Batmobile, able to make “leaps,” like the one that allows her to escape over the drawbridge at the end of the story.

Detective 117 – Batman helps a builder, and the Boy Commandos battle an invisible man


The Batman and Robin story in Detective 117 (Nov. 46) has to do with steeplejacks, which mean people who build the metal frames of high rises.  I always thought it had to do with horse racing.  I learned something from this issue.


That likely is the only thing one would learn, though in this piece with art by Bob Kane and Ray Burnely.  The story largely focuses on Bob Skelly, who owns the company that builds these things, but is scared of being around them due to an old gypsy prophecy.


And there are criminals working for him, who are using their high rise access to pull off robberies.  Batman gets on their trail, but gets captured.


So good old Bob has to overcome his fears and swoop down to rescue Batman, so he can stop the bad guys and everyone can live happily ever after.


With no war to fight, it’s hardly surprising that the Boy Commandos series started wandering into other territory.  In this Curt Swan tale, they meet a man who develops an invisibility serum.


The story plays out much like The Invisible Man, as the scientist goes from pranks to madness.  The Boy Commandos, with Rip taking part, try to capture him, but he captures Brooklyn instead.


He gives Brooklyn the invisibility serum, intending to force him to become his sidekick, but Brooklyn breaks free and gets the rest of the gang.


As in the story by Wells, the man regains his visibility as he dies.  But Brooklyn is not dead, and left in his invisible state when the story ends.  The last panels indicates that the story will continue next issue.


Detective 106 – The Phantom of the Library


The cover image for Detective 106 (Dec. 45) was used again, though redrawn, in the 90s.  As preposterous as it appears, it sort of occurs in the story, though it’s a matter of perspective, not a giant head.


Bob Kane does the pencils, with Ray Burnley on the inks, for this bibliophile version of the Phantom of the Opera.  The story begins with a page of Bruce taking Dick to the library.  Dick’s astonishment at what the library has to offer makes it seem like he has never been in one before, but perhaps that can be expected, with Wayne Manor having its own tomes.


The Phantom of the Library is Todd Torey, who was convicted of murder, and now seeks vengeance on those who sent him to prison.  He lives below the library, and spends his time waiting for his intended victims to come to the library, so he can kill them there.  His plan might have worked better if he had, you know, gone to where the victims were, but whatever.


It’s still an enjoyable story, and pays tribute to it’s inspiration with a chandelier scene towards the climax.  Torrey dies at the end of the story, and failed to come back as a real phantom to continue to haunt the library.

Detective 82 – Batman tackles the Quarterback of Crime


Bob Kane contributes the art to the Batman and Robin story in Detective 82 (Dec. 43).


The villain in this story is a gang leader who trains his men for crimes like a football coach.  He has the runs drills, use codes for plays, and practice catching and throwing a bomb.


The story plays out seriously until Alfred gets involved.  He used to play “football” in school (but he’s thinking rugby, the silly British fellow), and figures his experience will be of use. So he gets into his gear and goes out, running into the crooks and winding up playing football with the bomb.


Overall, I would say the Alfred part is what makes this a memorable story.


Detective 81 – the Cavalier debuts, Wing becomes a reporter, and the Boy Commandos meet General MacArthur


The Cavalier is introduced in Detective 81 (Nov. 43), a thief with a code of chivalry, created by Bob Kane.


The Cavalier performs a series of thefts of apparently worthless obejcts: a baseball, a toy bat, etc.  Batman and Robin repeatedly fail to stop him, thanks to the Cavalier’s impressive arsenal.  Like, a handkerchief with a ball attached to it.  OK, that’s the least impressive thing in his arsenal, true.  He also has an electrified sword, and a razor-tipped plume in his hat.


The “worthless” objects are, in fact, critical to each step of his plan.  For example, the baseball has an autograph on it that is duplicated to allow the Cavalier access to a bank vault.


Batman and Robin foil his schemes, but do not catch the Cavalier, whose return in Batman’s own book is promoted in the final panel. Just like the Crime Doctor a few issues earlier.


Wing gets his largest role in the Crimson Avenger series in this story.  That’s not such a good thing, as it means the story is far more offensive and racist than most of this run.


With all his reporters busy, Lee Travis agrees to let Wing cover a theft, but his lack of understanding of English leads him to mis-report the story as an inside job.  But it turns out that it actually was, and Wing is kidnapped by the thieves, who want to know how he figured it out.


The Crimson Avenger comes to Wing’s rescue.  And even though he broke an important story, Lee has no intention of allowing Wing to stay a reporter.


The Boy Commandos meet General MacArthur on the first couple of pages of this Simon and Kirby story.  MacArthur and Rip Carter are discussing the war plans for the Pacific when Brooklyn interjects with news of the assault on Bataan.


The rest of the story has Rip and the Boys at Bataan, helping to rescue the troops there and beating back the Japanese forces.


The Bataan Death March would already have been big news by the time this story was written.  But clearly this series wanted to be as fresh as the headlines.


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