Posts tagged ‘Cavalier’

Detective 566 – Know Your Foes, and a mystery villain in Green Arrow

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Doug Moench and Gene Colan provide a review of Batman’s major villains in this story, a lead-in to the big Batman 400.  The bulk of it reads much like a Who’s Who, but that series, and its variants, were in the future, and there really had not been anything like this.  It was much more appreciated at the time than such an issue would be now.

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After receiving a mysterious letter saying “Know your foes,” Batman and Robin review them.  All the big names are covered: Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, Scarecrow, Ra’s Al Ghul and Talia.  Killer Moth makes the cut into the big names, as does Black Mask, the newest addition to the line-up.

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Curiously, this is the first time Poison Ivy makes it into a listing of Batman villains.  She’d been a foe of his since the 60s, but rarely in his own books.  Mad Hatter, Deadshot, Nocturna and the Night Slayer round out the ones who get full entries.

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There is a curious mix on the “B-list” page.  Cavalier and Tweedledee and Tweedledum are golden age holdovers, but Black Spider and Clayface III are supposedly dead.  Mr. Freeze, Cat-Man and Croc could easily have made the cut to major villains at this time.  And they included Crazy Quilt.  Really?

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Green Arrow and Black Canary’s series builds to its finale in this story by Joey Cavalieri and Jerome K Moore.

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Onyx is giving a long, roundabout explanation to her wanna-be boyfriend about why she has come back to Star City, but it gets interrupted by a bad guy smashing right through the wall.

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Who is the mystery attacker?  That gets saved for the finale.

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.

Detective 89 – Batman exposes the Cavalier, Air Wave gets a cat, and the Crimson Avenger ends

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The Cavalier makes his third appearance in Detective 89, with Dick Sprang art.

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The story begins as we discover that the Cavalier is really Mortimer Drake, a wealthy Gothamite, who is a member of the same exclusive club as Bruce Wayne.  One of the club’s other members, Professor Hellstrom, talks about a new typewriter he has invented.  That night, the Cavalier attempts to steal it, though others do as well, and the Batman and Cavalier briefly work together to defeat the other thieves.

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Batman realizes that the Cavalier must be a member of the club.  Drake unwittingly confirms this by writing up a glowing bio of the Cavalier in the club’s “who’s who.”

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Scoping out the members, Bruce spots a chemical dye on Mortimer Drake’s hand, and then, as they fight, exposes his identity.  The Cavalier manages to escape again, and returns to the pages of Batman in a couple of months.

The notion of having one of Batman’s villains come from the same background, or belong to the same social circle, will be used again with a number of Batman villains over the years: Cat-Man, Black Mask and Hush, among others.

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Air Wave’s sidekick parrot Static had appeared in a number of stories, but was never an “always there” sidekick, like Robin or Sandy.  This story ignores his existence completely, as Larry Jordan winds up with a cat as his sidekick.  This guy loves animals.

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Air Wave is pursuing a crew of thieves, who seem to follow a mysterious man, Mickey.  Air Wave does some clever broadcasting with his equipment, sending the thieves voices through all sorts of metal objects to scare and disorient them.

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Mickey turns out to be a trained cat the hoods use in their thefts, but Air Wave first transfers his voice through the cat’s collar, confusing the thieves, and then sends electricity into the cat, which surprisingly does not kill the animal, but does take down the bad guys.

At the end of the story, Air Wave continues to send his voice through the cat’s collar, pretending they are having a conversation.  Larry needs a human friend.

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The Crimson Avenger’s series comes to an end with this issue.  he and Wing take on the Ghost Gang, who put pictures of empty interiors of banks in the windows of the banks they are robbing, to divert attention.  They make the mistake of sending challenging letters, bragging of their crimes to come, to the newspaper, which puts Lee on their trail.

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Although his series ends at this point, the Crimson Avenger and Wing continue to appear as members of the Seven Soldiers of Victory in Leading Comics.

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 63 – Batman vs Mr. Baffle, Cliff Crosby and Larry Steele end

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Another generic Batman and Robin cover for Detective 63 (May 1942).  Mr. Baffle was good enough to mention, but not to show.

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Mr. Baffle is blatantly patterned after the character Raffles, the gentleman thief.  But it has been stated by one of the Bill Finger/Bob Kane/Jerry Robinson team that the Penguin was based on Raffles as well.  This leads me to wonder if the one time appearance of Mr. Baffle was really a rough draft of the Penguin, printed later.  Either that, or they wanted a version of Raffles that retained the qualities the Penguin lacked.

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Mr. Baffle arrives from Europe, and is already notorious.  Batman almost nabs him the moment he arrives.  But he eludes capture, trims his facial hair, and begins moving in high society, while scoping out the sites for his thefts.

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Linda Page gets to have significance in the story.  She spots the rough fingertips on Baffle, and doubts he is really part of the upper crust.  Snobbery as a super-power!

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When Baffle later tries to wiggle out of things by claiming to be secretly Batman, Linda exposes his lies.

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Baffle and Batman have a swordfight battle, and Baffle dives off a tower.  He claims he will return, but as he never did, he must have just gone splat on the ground.

Much of this character, including the swordfighting, would be reworked into the Cavalier.

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In his final tale, Cliff Crosby solves the murder of a circus lion tamer, which was done by coating the lion’s mane with nicotine.  Often the crimes were needlessly elaborate that way.

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With Cliff’s series ending so soon after the attack on Pearl Harbour, I suspect he joined the army, perhaps as a journalist, but did not survive the war.

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The Seal returns for Larry Steele’s final case.  His scheme has some creativity to it, as he uses blinding light to disorient the tellers when his men rob their banks.

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As with Cliff Crosby, one cannot help but suspect that Larry’s series ended because he enlisted immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

 

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