Posts tagged ‘Captain Stingaree’

Detective 526 – Jason Todd dons the costume

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Celebrating Batman’s 500th appearance, Detective 526 (May 1983) is a forgotten, but worthy, anniversary issue.  Crisis on Infinite Earths would remove this story from continuity, and the origin of Jason Todd radically changed, but this work by Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Alfredo Alcala stands on its own merit.

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The Joker calls together a mass assembly of Batman’s enemies.  Croc is out to kill Batman, but he’s a newbie, and not worthy of the honour, the Joker insists.  So he lays out a plan that will give them all chances of killing Batman that night.

The line-up includes the regulars: Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face, and Scarecrow.  Cat-Man, Killer Moth, Mr. Freeze, the Mad Hatter, and Matt Hagen as Clayface had all appeared within the last few years.  The Cavalier had not been seen since an issue of Batman Family in the late 70s.  Tweedledum and Tweedledee had not been seen since the 1940s!  Technically, this is the first appearance of the Earth-1 versions of the characters, but with Crisis looming that scarcely matters.

Some of the newer villains are included as well: Black Spider, Captain Stingaree and the Spook.  Talia is there, without her father being involved in the story, which is rare.

The Gentleman Ghost is a Hawkman villain, but had fought Batman twice in his own book.  This is the only time he appears in a line-up of Batman villains.

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Catwoman watches, but takes no part in the meeting.  Talia also has no interest in killing Batman, but has to fight her way out.

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Both Catwoman and Talia head to the Batcave to warn Batman of the plans against him, but get involved in a cat fight of their own.

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Meanwhile, things aren’t going so well for Dick Grayson.  His great plan to use the Todds against Croc simply put them into his hands, and he has Jason driven to Wayne Manor to keep him safe.

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Barbara accompanies her father as Commissioner Gordon checks out the abandoned theatre where the villains met, and finds evidence pointing to a gathering of their enemies.

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Barbara goes to find Dick, and they suit up as Batgirl and Robin and head out to fight the villains, as Batman does the same, with Talia and Catwoman as back-up.  No one is at home, so Jason is left to explore Wayne Manor, and guess where he winds up?

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The Spook manages to get the drop on Talia, if only for a moment.  But with so many fighting against them, the two women and Batman get taken.

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Robin is the one to find the remains of the Todds, fed to his namesakes by Croc.

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Jason, unawares, has found an alternate Robin costume in the cave, and suited up.  He heads out to join the rest of the heroes.

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Batgirl and Robin fight well together. There is no hint of romance, as there had been in their Batman Family team-ups.  Robin is in a budding romance with Starfire in the pages of New Teen Titans, but their ease with each other reminds one of the bond between them, the best duo of Batman’s supporting cast.

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Jason happens upon  a group of the villains, which gives him the information he needs to find out where everyone else is.

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Finally the big climax, as the Joker gloats over his captured foes.

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Croc had been working behind the scenes with the Joker, using all the other villains to wear Batman down.  He makes his move, but Batman manages to duck at the right time, and Croc takes down the Joker.

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Jason Todd arrives just as Batman has beaten Croc into submission, and delivers the final blow.  Only afterwards does he discover his parents bodies.

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The epilogue sees Bruce sending Catwoman and Talia off together in a car.  Where is he sending them?  Why did he stick these two women in the same car together?  How far did they get before their fight forced the car off the road and into a ditch?

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The issue ends with Bruce and Jason Todd, who is looking relatively ok for a boy whose parents were horribly murdered the night before.  But he is to be the new Robin, and there is a sense of hope.

Which is all kind of weird now, because Jason Todd was given such a different origin, and made such a different character, in the post-Crisis reality.

But for a couple of years, this was the origin of Jason Todd, Robin.

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Detective 462 – the conclusion to the Captain Stingaree trilogy

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Bob Rozakis, Mike Uslan, Ernie Chan and Frank McLaughlin bring the Captain Stingaree story to a conclusion in Detective 462 (Aug. 76).

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There are also a couple of guest stars in the story.  The first to appear is Robin, who had been captured by Stingaree and encased in a block of ice.  Perhaps Stingaree got hold of Mr. Freeze’s gear.

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Once again, Stingaree lures, captures, and unmasks an unfamiliar Batman.  But then the real one shows up.  Soon, Stingaree and his men have a veritable army of Batman fighting them.

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That’s actually an illusion, courtesy of the other guest star in this issue, the Flash.  He just moved Batman around really quickly.

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So Captain Stingaree gets captured, and we learn he was the fourth of a set of quadruplets.  His three brothers became detectives – and he suspected they were also, as a group, being Batman.  It becomes clear how and when the switches were made, letting the brothers get captured in his place.  But exactly why Batman and the three brothers went to all this trouble, rather than just rounding up Stingaree and his men, is not made clear at all.

Captain Stingaree appears from time to time.  His next appearance came about 6 months later, in the pages of Secret Society of Super-Villains.  But his brothers never return, and without them, Stingaree is just a pirate-themed villain.

Detective 461 – Captain Stingaree, part 2, and Tim Trench ends

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While the Batman story in Detective 461 (July 1976) is not bad, there simply isn’t much to this middle chapter in the Bob Rozakins/Mike Uslan/Ernie Chan/Frank McLaughlin saga.

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With no explanation about the captured Batman from the end of last issue, this story again has Stingaree’s men luring Batman into a trap.  Batman and Stingaree fight.  There is a space of time between Batman being defeated, and Stingaree approaching his body.

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And another unmasking, and again, it’s not Bruce Wayne.

The story concludes next issue.

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Tim Trench gets his second, and final, case in this story by Denny O’Neil, Pablo Marcos and Al Milgrom.

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It’s another story straight out of a film noir, with Tim being asked to guard some money, and winding up with a corpse on his hands.

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There’s some creativity with the violence in this one, but otherwise, it just feels old and characterless.

While Tim Trench would never again get a series, he would make rare appearances over the years.  He next pops up during Mark Millar’s run on Swamp Thing in the 90s.

Detective 460 – Captain Stingaree and Tim Trench debut

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Captain Stingaree is introduced in an unusual three-part story, by Bob Rozakis and Michael Uslan, with art by Ernie Chan and Frank McLaughlin.

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Stingaree opens the trilogy by explaining, to a roomful of dummies, that Batman is really three men working together.  Since we readers know he is wrong, the roomful of dummies just helps emphasize how nutty he is.

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We, and Bruce Wayne, get to see the Captain in his civilian life as well.  He wears the same outfit, as he operates a club on a restored old pirate ship.

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Stingaree has a squad of hoodlums working for him, and they lure Batman.  Stingaree and Batman fight, both getting knocked out by sleeping gas.

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As the story ends, Stingaree revives, and binds the still sleeping Batman.  He unmasks him – and it’s not Bruce Wayne.

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Tim Trench, a minor supporting character from Wonder Woman a few years earlier, gets his own series with this issue, by Denny O’Neil, Pablo Marcos and Al Milgrom.

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Trench is operating out of St. Louis in this story, and seems far more down on his luck than he did a couple of years earlier.  The story is very film noir, with a shady dame and diamond.

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The story is tight, the clues are there.  But there really isn’t much to the detective.  Tim feels fairly generic.

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