Posts tagged ‘Calculator’

Detective 468 – The Calculator vs Batman

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The big finale to the Calculator sage, by Bob Rozakis, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin takes up all of Detective 468 (March/April 1977).

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As Hawkman predicted last issue, the Calculator does indeed go up against Batman, and is defeated by him, as he was with all the previous heroes.  But once again, he presses that special button.

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One thing that makes this story entertaining is its use of Morgan Edge, normally a supporting character in the Superman books.  He is trying to secure Bruce Wayne’s vote on the sales of a division of Galaxy Communications, and though he does, in the end, give Batman the inspiration for beating the Calculator, he never does get the signature he needs.

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The effect of the Calculator’s special button is to ensure that he cannot be beaten a second time by a given hero.  It’s never really clear how his machine does this, or any of the other amazing things it does.  But it does make for a great spread, as the heroes take each other down.  The Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Arrow and Hawkman all have small roles in this story, but it’s really a Batman tale, not even a team-up.

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Ultimately, Batman outwits the Calculator, and has him defeat himself. Batman goads him into creating a cage, while standing on a spinnable floor.  The Calculator winds up trapped by his own creation.

Likely because his suit was never really explainable, the Calcualtor did not move on from this introductory run to become a major player.  He next appeared against the Atom in the early 80s, in the pages of Action Comics, and would pop up from time to time in different books.  It was not until the millennium that he got reworked into an impressive villain again.

Detective 467 – Batman on the subway, and the Calculator vs Hawkman

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Batman is underground in Detective 467 (Jan./Feb. 77), pursuing a drug connection in this story by Bob Rozakis, with art by John Calnan and Vince Coletta.

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It’s a pretty straightforward story, livened up when Batman, in disguise, sees another Batman on the subway car, and realizes the fake Batman is part of the pass-off.

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The story is narrated by Batman, although who he is talking to is meant to be a mystery, with little clues sprinkled in.  Of course, it’s the most obvious answer, Hawkman, who has the back-up story this issue.

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After hearing Batman’s tale, Hawkman relates his encounter with the Calculator, as told by Rozakis, Rogers and Austin.

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The Calculator attempts to steal Hawkman while he is in flight.  That really doesn’t sound like a great idea, when he is relying on Hawkman to stay in the air himself.  But he does make himself a nuisance.

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Hawkman has little patience for the Calculator, and simply decks him once he gets the chance.

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The conclusion to the story sets up next issue’s full length tale, involving all the heroes from the past few issues, working with Batman against the Calculator.

 

Detective 466 – The Signalman returns, and the Calculator vs Green Arrow

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After spending years in prison, Phil Cobb escapes and returns to his original villainous identity, the Signalman, in Detective 466 (Dec. 76).  In his last appearance, in the early 60s, he had adopted a second identity, the Blue Bowman.

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Len Wein, Ernie Chan and Vince Coletta handle this tale, and the Signalman comes off as fairly impressive.  His signals are used in a variety of ways, inspiring both the crimes and his weapons and defenses.

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And you just have to love the scene in which he tries to fry Batman in the Bat-Signal. tec_466_003

He goes over a cliff at the end, but does not die, returning next year in the pages of Batman.  Signalman would have a role in a very good Justice League story in the 80s, but for solo outings, this was his highpoint.

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Green Arrow gets a story in Detective Comics for the first time, as he faces the Calculator in this Bob Rozakis/Marshall Rogers/Terry Austin story.

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Still in Star City, the Calculator’s plan this time is to steal the baseball game.  He steals the ball being shot by Green Arrow as the first pitch, and all other balls thrown vanish as well.

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This is also the first Rogers/Austin story in Detective.  The art is just perfect.

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Ralph Dibny had been visiting with Green Arrow before the attack, but finds himself incapable of going into action as the Elongated Man against the Calculator.  Green Arrow writes it off as nerves, but it’s the major clue as to the Calculator’s greater scheme.

Detective 465 – Commissioner Gordon gets kidnapped, and the Calculator vs the Elongated Man

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David V Reed gives some interesting details on how Batman operates in his story from Detective 465 (Nov. 76), with art by Ernie Chan and Frank Giacoia.

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We discover that, a long time earlier, Batman had established a fake identity, and provided him with a home, office and secretary.  This identity would exist solely to be given by Commissioner Gordon is he were ever to be captured and forced to reveal Batman’s identity.  So when someone show up at the office asking questions, Bruce realizes Gordon has been kidnapped.

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We also see part of Batman’s intelligence gathering network.  In disguises, he leaves and retrieves coded messages on grocery story bulletin boards.

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The latter part of the story is not as interesting, as Batman beats people up and fights his way to Gordon and the kidnappers.

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The Calculator stays in Star City, awaiting the Elongated Man, as he and Sue are scheduled to attend a comic book convention in this story, by Bob Rozakis, Ernie Chan and Terry Austin.

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This one is all about stealing Ralph’s day.  His initial attack is passed off as the actions of a cosplayer, and Ralph is completely unprepared as he enters the hall, and causes everyone around his to stretch uncontrollably.  Of course he gets blamed.  The Calculator is on hand, but remaining perfectly still, and Ralph realizes that it’s movement that sets off the stretching.

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And thus we get the only story in which Ralph Dibny tortures a villain into giving up, simply by squeezing him.  And though he doesn’t realize it, he even presses the Calculator’s special button.

 

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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