Posts tagged ‘Commissioner Gordon’

Detective 513 – A Two-Faced Batman

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Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte conclude a Two-Face story begun in Batman in Detective 513 (April 1982).

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Batman, captured by Two-Face, has been missing for days. Vicki Vale goes to Wayne Manor, revealing her belief that Batman is Bruce Wayne to Alfred and Dick, who just sort of look embarrassed for her, and she leaves.

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Batman’s absence has the city in a panic.  Hamilton Hill goes to consult with Boss Thorne, but he is not at all upset or concerned, happy to have him out of the way.

On the other hand, he is not happy to start seeing Hugo Strange’s ghost again.

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Everyone is wondering where Batman is. Even Jim Gordon, who has taken to hanging out on park benches now that he has resigned as commissioner.  Barbara tries to convince him to do something other than feed birds.

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And where is Batman, anyway?  Being held in a cage by Two-Face.  He is content to keep him there, no torture or anything, and his people provide food.

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Robin gets the action in this one, tracking Two-Face down.  But bythe time he arrives Batman is already free, thanks to Two-Face himself. Batman has used the food he has been given to make a mask for himself, expecting it to freak out Harvey.  Two-Face breaks the glass to free his double, and Batman takes him down.

Detective 504 – The Joker’s rumpus room, and Gordon finds a crooked cop

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Jim Starlin’s cover is easily the best thing about Detective 504 (July 1981).

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Gerry Conway and Don Newton are the creative team on this story, which sees the Joker commit some crimes and send some clues, all to lead the Batman to a rumpus room of death.

Olivia Ortega, a reporter, makes her first appearance in Detective.  Usually she reports on the Hamilton Hill/Arthur Reeves mayoral race, but in this one she interrupts that to broadcast some clues the Joker sent to her.  Very obliging.

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The rumpus room does not live up to the way it appears on the cover, and it’s just not a big enough threat, not fun enough,to warrant being the payoff for the story.

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Batman buries the Joker in ice cream. Ha ha.  Sigh.

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Paul Kupperberg, Jose Delbo and Joe Giella give another starring role to Commissioner Gordon in this chapter of Tales of Gotham City.

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After a drug bust at a known location turns out nothing, Gordon realizes there must be a cop on the take, and the evidence points to one he has known all his life, the son of a cop Gordon used to work with.

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The boy tries to turn his back on the mob, but that just puts the two of them in deadly peril.  Gordon just keeps guilting him until he gets them out of it.

Commisioner Gordon, with the super-power of guilt.

Detective 503 – the Batman family vs the Scarecrow

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Gerry Conway and Don Newton contribute a full-length story to Detective 503 (June 1981), featuring the Scarecrow.

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Batman gets shot with a dart while making his rounds of beating up the usual Gotham thugs.  It has not immediate effect, but he takes it back to analyze.

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The effects begin to manifest the next day, as people become afraid of him, as both Batman and Bruce.  Commissioner Gordon all but freaks out during a meeting they have with Hamilton Hill.

In both Detective and Batman, there is a running plotline now about the mayoral election, and the rival candidates Hill and Arthur Reeves.  Reeves is anti-Batman, but Hill is not fond of Gordon.

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Even Alfred reaches the point of not being able to be around Bruce, and he cannot function when people run or freeze in terror at the sight of him.  Using Alfred as an intermediary, he gets Robin and Batgirl to help him track down the Scarecrow, who has been running rampant in Gotham.

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They don’t prove to be much help, falling into the Scarecrow’s hands pretty quickly.  But Batman has been working on an antidote throughout this, and of course he finds one.

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It’s ok, but not my favourite Scarecrow story.

 

Detective 500 – 4 Batman stories, two of them team-ups, scads of detectives, and Elongated Man and Hawkman end

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Many anniversary issue build themselves up as being something really special, but few live up to their promise.  Detective 500 (March 1981) is one of the rare ones.  It’s not all gold, but enough of it is.

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The first story, by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, bring us to a parallel world, where a new Batman is about to be born.

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The Phantom Stranger brings Batman and Robin to this world, seemingly so that Bruce will have the opportunity to prevent his parents’ deaths.

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They find this world similar, but different.  James Gordon is still just a lieutenant, and Barbara , though a librabrian, is his fiancee, not his daughter.  Bruce is hunting for information on Joe Chill, while Dick discovers that this is a world with no heroic legends, no caped heroes, nothing to inspire heroism.

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Observing the Waynes, we see that Bruce is hardly a baby hero, more like a rich spoiled brat, but Batman is blind to this.

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Batman’s pursuit of Joe Chill, who on this world is not even from Gotham, and just arriving in the city, brings him into conflict with Gordon, but Batman manages to convince him that they are friends on another world.

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His search for Chill has raised such flags that the man is murdered by the Gotham mobs.  Batman learns that the planned murder of the Waynes is happening sooner than he expected – he had not counted the extra days from leap years.

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Robin, who has been watching the Waynes, sees the murder about to occur, and struggles within himself, thinking that is might be meant to be; but Batman swoops in saves the day, his parents, and himself.

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The Phantom Stranger takes the heroes back to their own world, and they are left to wonder what will become of Bruce, but the reader gets to see the impact the attempted murder had, and that even with his parents alive, young Bruce is on the road to becoming Batman.

Sadly, this is not a parallel world we ever visit again.

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Slam Bradley gets the billing, but this story, a re-write of a Batman tale from the 40s, by Len Wein and Jim Aparo, is pretty much a free for all with a vast line-up of detectives.

They are all at a celebration for an older detective, who gets murdered in front of them.

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The original version of this story has Batman working with a number of detective based on famous fictional ones from the era.  This story brings Slam Bradley, Jason Bard, Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith, the Human Target and Roy Raymond together on the case.

For Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith and Slam Bradley, this the first time the character appeared since the end of their own series.

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There are leads in a number of directions, which allow the detectives to split up and pursue them in smaller groups.  The story gives everyone at least one moment to shine, and they wind up stopping a number of bad guys.

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Slam suspects there is more to the case, and it’s Roy Raymond who provides the real solution, that this was an elaborate suicide, designed to prompt the men to tidy up some hanging cases of his.

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Jason Bard and the Human Target both return in the pages of Detective within the next couple of years, while Roy Raymond pops up in DC Comics Presents.  Many of the rest have their next, and final, appearances in Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Slam Bradley returns a little after Crisis, returning to the pages of Detective for one story.

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The next story in the issue is a wonderful 2-pager, by Len Wein and Walt Simonson, that uses Snoopy’s “It was a dark and stormy night…” as it’s text.  Clever, and visually gorgeous.

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The Elongated Man gets his final solo story in this book, by Mike W Barr and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.  As well as being a decent mystery story on its own, it delves into the facts around the death of Edgar Allen Poe.

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Chiefly, the identity of the mysterious “Reynolds” that Poe called out for shortly before dying.  The story has to do with a letter explaining who Reynolds was, and leading to an unpublished magazine by Poe.

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Garcia-Lopez’s art is great, and Ralph and Sue are always fun to read about.

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One of his best mysteries, this is also the Elongated Man’s last solo story until his miniseries in the 90s.

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On the downside of the issue, there is this text story by Walter Gibson, with some scattered art by Tom Yeates.  I recall reading this as a kid, but not finding it particularly memorable.  And I dislike text stories like this in comics.  If I’m going to read a book, I’ll read a book.  I read comics for the visuals.

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Hawkman also has his last solo story in Detective in this issue.  Well, kind of a solo, really he and Hawkgirl get equal roles.

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Paul Levitz and Joe Kubert helm this tale, that sees Katar and Shayera trying to solve the mystery of the death of a scientist many years earlier.

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There’s some great Kubert art, and the story itself is not bad, but it’s a bit of a tease.

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At the end, Hawkman reveals that the scientist whose death they were investigating was Dr. Erdel, who had died after bringing the Martian Manhunter to Earth.  J’onn had blamed himself, and Hawkman wanted proof that it was not J’onn’s fault.

Hawkman’s next solo outing is the Shadow War of Hawkman miniseries.

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The final story in this issue was also a let-down to me.  Even moreso, as it’s a Batman/Deadman team-up, and those had been above average stories, on the whole.  But Carmine Infantino’s art is not what it was, and Cary Bates’ story doesn’t help much either.

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Pursuing some criminals, Batman gets killed.  Sort of.  Almost dead.  Robin is really stressed, but Deadman shows up and decides to inhabit Batman’s body to bring his killers to justice.

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Oops, someone spilled a plate of scrambled eggs on the comic.  Oh, wait, that’s Infantino’s art for showing Batman and Deadman conversing on the astral plane.

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Deadman moves Batman around and catches the bad guys, and doing so ignites the spark that brings him back to life.  A shame this story closed the issue.  It would have done less damage buried in the middle.

Detective 499 – Batman and Blockbuster work together, and Batgirl races to the court

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The concluding half of Conway and Newton’s Blockbuster story is featured in Detective 499 (Feb. 81).

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Batman has the evil union rep to thank for his survival.  Just before Blockbuster grinds him into paste, the rep blows up the mine, figuring to bury the miners and Batman, and all his problems.

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Blockbuster sees Batman work to save his friends, and even the brain damaged Mark Desmond can see the value in not trying to kill him at the moment.

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They work together to  clear the debris and make a safe passage out of the mine.

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Batman takes down the union rep, but leaves Blockbuster to live in peace with the miners.  It lasts for a while.  Blockbuster pops up two years down the road, in the pages of Wonder Woman.

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Things do not look good for Batgirl at the start of this story, by Burkett, Delbo and Giella.  She is due in court, and about to be thrown into the river to drown, which means she will likely not make it and forfeit her bail.

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But Barbara proves remarkably adept at escaping chains underwater.

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She finds the evidence she needs, and gets the secretary there so that she can burst into court at the right moment and accuse the guilty party.  Then she flees, changes to Barbara Gordon, and comes back in all “oh, did I miss something?”

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I do like Commissioner Gordon’s closing thoughts, but otherwise this trial story was a let-down.

 

Detective 498 – Blockbuster joins a union, and Batgirl hunts for evidence

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Detective 498 (Jan. 81) begins a 2-part tale that is probably the best of the Mark Desmond Blockbuster stories.  Being a mindless behemoth limits the plot, even if he calms down when he sees Bruce Wayne.

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The story picks up almost immediately following his last appearance, a Christmas story in Batman.  He survives the ice flow, and makes it back to shore.  The story follows his violent, lonely wanderings.

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Eventually he winds up in a backwoods, mining region, and the folks there take him in.  Batman has been busy in Gotham, dealing with a violent, smash and grab criminal, keeping up the violence level expected in a Blockbuster story.

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Months have passed, and one day Batman happens to see a news report about union troubles at a mine, and sees Blockbuster with the other miners.

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The shady union rep, who doesn’t care about the miners at all, thinks Batman is there to make trouble for him, and knocks Batman out, tossing him down the shaft of the mine – and into the arms of Blockbuster.

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Barbara Gordon awaits her trial in this story by Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Joe Giella.

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She gets released on bail, which is good or there would be no Batgirl action in this at all.  Jim just happens to be a defense attorney, and becomes her lawyer.  They meet with her father, and discuss the case.  Barbara realizes someone in her office must have planted the sleeping pills on her.

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She investigates as Batgirl, and a secretary tearfully confesses how she was forced into it.  She names the big guys, and Batgirl tries to round them up, but fails – and Barbara is due in court!  Oh, no!

Detective 492 – Batman and Batgirl team-up, a bridge story, Man-Bat ends, and Robin vs the Penguin

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Cary Burkett and Don Newton lead off Detective 492 (July 1980) with a Batman/Batgirl team up, divided into two chapters.  Often the structure of something like this gets in the way of the storytelling, but in this case, it works to an advantage.

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Batman sees the news reports about Batgirl being killed, and heads to see Commissioner Gordon, discovering that Batgirl is at home, alive.  She explains how she used the dummy as a decoy for Cormorant.

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She tells the men she has decided to give up being Batgirl.  Batman argues with her, not to give up the good fight.  He looks to Gordon to back him up, but he is more than happy to not have his daughter out risking her life.

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Batman goes in pursuit of General Scarr, working his way up through the man’s ranks of hoods.  These fight scenes are really nicely intercut with a long conversation between Gordon and Barbara about being a hero, what things are worth the risk, and how Batman can be the way he is.

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Batman reaches Scarr, only to discover that he has fought his way into a trap.  He was the intended target all along.

So then, he was lying to his men in the previous issue when he talked about Batgirl being a threat?  Why?  He had to have informed them about the trap, so they had to know they were luring Batman.

It’s a minor point, but it bugged me as a kid.

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The story moves to the Batgirl half, as she discovers Batman has gone missing, and goes in search of him. She faces Cormorant, and finds that he is far more frightened of her than she of him, because he thinks she has come back from the dead.

Cormorant returns in a Batgirl Special in the late 80s, but no long thinks she is a ghost.

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She finds Batman, and though he has already broken his bonds and is taking out Scarr;s men, she still manages to rescue him.

The story ends as if her trauma is cured, but in reality, this event would leave deep scars.

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Bob Haney and Bob Oskner craft this installment of Tales of Gotham City.  There is some excellently vertiginous art as we read about a bridge, and the people on it one afternoon.

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The story is told from the point of view of a man who works on the bridge every day.  There is a little old man he sees walking the bridge daily.  Today is special, though, as there is a really dramatic guy threatening to jump because a girl doesn’t like him, and felons speeding towards the bridge, with police in pursuit.

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The storyline all come together, and the boy does little to save the girl he claims to love, when she gets grabbed by the felons.  It’s the old man who sacrifices his life for her.

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He gets the girl anyway, as she realizes suicidal cowards are hot.  The old man turns out to be the one who built the bridge many years earlier.  Corny, but I enjoyed it, and the art really carries it.

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Man-Bat has his final story, by Bob Rozakis, Romeo Tanghal and Vince Colletta.

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Kirk returns home to find Francine and the baby gone, long overdue from a shopping trip.  He discovers that they are on a subway car, mysteriously trapped in its tunnel.

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He finds the car, and the giant rat that has caused it to stop. My only complaint with this tale is that there is not enough Man-Bat vs giant rat action, as he drives it away with a torch.

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His series ends on an appopriately “can’t win for losing” note, as Kirk’s help in the situation is dismissed by the authorities, who refuse to take him seriously.

Man-Bat next appears, along with Francine, the baby, and Jason Bard, in Barve and the Bold the following month, in a coda to his series.

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Robin’s story,by Jack C Harris, Charles Nicholas and Vince Colletta, involves a pterodactyl egg on display at the university.

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The Penguin has come to town to steal it, and wants Robin aware of his presence.

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Dick winds up having the same romantic problems with Jennifer Anne that he was having with Lori Elton, as he keeps having to disappear and make excuses for breaking dates.  Oh, and there’s that man in black again.

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The Penguin has a fairly silly death-trap prepared for Robin, shutting him in a cage and firing it into the air.  He escapes, and nabs the villain.

 

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