Posts tagged ‘Bob Kane’

Detective 106 – The Phantom of the Library

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

 

Detective 80 – the end of Two-Face

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Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson being the story of Harvey Kent to a conclusion in Detective 80 (Oct. 43).  Two-Face gets back out onto the streets, and continues his life of crime.

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Batman and Robin track Harvey to his lair, a moodily drawn double masted schooner, but is unaware that he is being followed as well.

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Batman confronts Two-Face, who pulls a gun and shoots.  Gilda dives in front, taking the bullet, which shocks Harvey back to his senses.

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He goes to say good-bye to his criminal buddies, who are none too keen on seeing him reform, and tie him up, forcing him to plan their next crime.

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Batman intervenes, Harvey gets freed, and after pleading guilty is sentenced to only a year in prison.  Once he gets out he gets facial surgery, and he and Gilda are left to live happily ever after.

Really.

The next time this character appeared, five years down the road, he was called Harvey Dent.  The name was changed to avoid “confusion” with Clark Kent.  But in the 80s, in a Mr. and Mrs. Superman story from Superman Family, we see Harvey and Gilda Kent, happily married, and attending the wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, so this Harvey really did recover from his time as Two-Face,

 

Detective 77 – the Crime Doctor debuts, and the Boy Commandos in the Himilayas

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Bill Finger and Bob Kane introduce Matthew Thorne, the Crime Doctor, in Detective 77 (July 1943).

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Thorne is a family physician, who advises criminals on the side.  In both cases he behaves much the same way, observation, analysis and prescription.  It works chillingly well.

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Batman eventually gets on his trail, and the Crime Doctor fares pretty well at holding him off.  When an injured man stumbles in needing Thorne’s help, both he and Batman work together to perform the surgery to save the man’s life.  Batman cannot understand why Thorne would want to turn to crime, with his knowledge, wealth and social standing, but Thorne avows that he does it simply for the pleasure of it.

The Crime Doctor is caught at the end of the story, but the final panel informs the reader of his return in the pages of Batman the following month.

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Simon and Kirby send the Boy Commandos deep into China, where they discover a magical land, along the lines of Shangi-La, in this story.

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Japanese invaders are approaching, and the Commandos aid the locals, who are deemed Chinese, to fend them off and save the city.  This is highly ironic, I think.  These Shangri-La cities are derived from the shadowy knowledge of Tibet at this time, and the Chinese are not the good guys in the history of Tibet.

 

Detective 74 – Tweedledum and Tweedledee debut, and Rip Carter goes on trial

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Two of Batman’s most frequent enemies from the 1940s, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, are introduced in Detective 74 (April 1943), with art by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.

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The story begins with Batman and Robin getting confused, and then electric shocked, by what appear to be identical twins.

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Heading to a tailor who runs a store for oversized men, Bruce and Dick learn that the two men are actually cousins, Deever and Dumfree Tweed, and seek out their house.

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Though it would not usually be their “shtick,” in this first story they dress up as the Alice in Wonderland characters, along with a Mad Hatter and March Hare as muscle, in order to rob a costume ball.  Batman nixes that plan.

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Simon and Kirby put Rip Carter on trial in this Boy Commandos story.  Though it’s not for the reckless endangerment of children.  Taking the kids into battle is just fine.

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Instead, he is charged with disobeying orders, leading to casualties among the troops.  Rip, and others, relate the story behind this, which has to do with a cowardly British officer.

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It’s not the best Boy Commandos story, it’s a bit heavy on text, and the ending is awkward, with one of the judges revealed as the penitent father of the cowardly officer, so Rip gets acquitted.  And not as much good battle art as usual, either.

Detective 73 – Batman vs the Scarecrow, the Boy Commandos and the tin box, and the Crimson Avenger gets a cloud

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The Scarecrow makes his second appearance in Detective 73 (March 1943), which turns out to be the last appearance of the character until the 1960s.  Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson illustrate.

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Professor Crane is out of prison, and has thought up a new set of crimes, which have absolutely nothing to do with fear or scaring people at all.  Nope, instead he has a little blackboard and leaves three letter rhyming clues (vat, mat, yat).  What a let down.  Linda Page appears briefly, buying a ridiculous hat.

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The Scarecrow does hoist a nasty looking machine gun, but without the fear gas element (which had been created by Hugo Strange before the Scarecrow was introduced), the character just doesn’t sing.

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Simon and Kirby give each of the boys a chance to shine in this tale, which sees the Boy Commandos navigate a dense jungle to deliver a little tin box.

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There are Nazis pursuing them, of course, but unlike the other tales to date, this one gives much more play to the team itself.  Brooklyn still manages to grab focus.

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The tin box is revealed to be tin foil wrappers, and Rip Carter explains the importance of recycling stuff for war.  So propaganda again, but far more readable than the Japanese one.

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The Crimson Avenger starts using a capsule that releases a crimson smoke cloud, which he uses for dramatic entrances and exits, and also for messing up the bad guys during a fight.  It seems to affect the brain at times.

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The City Desk Editor is left befuddled at Lee Travis’ disappearance, while Lee himself managed to change costume and fall out a window.

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The Crimson Avenger and Wing are pursuing a mob boss who likes his people to dress and use tech from the turn of the century.  A mob boss keeping his people behind the times is not likely to triumph.

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