Posts tagged ‘Dick Dillin’

Detective 555 – Batman vs Mirror Master and Captain Boomerang, and Green Arrow loses the rent

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Oh, my gosh, it’s the second half of a two-part story!  Who would ever have expected such a thing in Detective 555 (Oct. 85)?

Doug Moench and Gene Colan conclude the Mirror Master and Captain Boomerang’s crime spree in this issue.

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Despite the two Flash villains, it’s really Harvey Bullock who steals this story.  Right from the get-go, as he accidentally breaks the Bat-signal.

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Mirror Master uses a hypnotic lens on Bullock, and the villains take him with them as a hostage.

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But Bullock was only feigning, and when Batman and Robin show up, joins the fight against the bad guys, whipping Boomerang’s weapons back at him.

Technically, the next appearance of the villains is in Crisis on Infinite Earths 5, as this must happen before Mirror Master’s death.  But later continuity would make this the first outing of the second Mirror Master, Evan McCulloch, trying to pass himself off as the original.

 

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Elliot S Maggin, Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano contribute a Green Arrow story that looks and feels left over from the 70s, although not in a bad way.

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Heading out to pay his rent, Oliver Queen discovers that his money has been stolen.  Getting into Green Arrow gear, he finds some thieves, and stops them from getting away with their stolen goods – which does not include his money.

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To his good fortune, as he is booking the men he brought in, a policeman arrives with a pickpocket, who has Oliver’s stolen money.

Simple, fun, and effective.

 

Detective 483 – Maxie Zeus debuts, Human Target begins, Batgirl goes on a date, the Demon returns to Castle Branek, Robin wipes up MAZE and a kangaroo race

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Denny O’Neil and Don Newton bring back Leslie Thompkins in this follow-up Crime Alley story, which also serves to introduce the new villain Maxie Zeus.

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It’s once again the anniversary of the deaths of his parents, and Batman heads to Crime Alley, where he once again comes to the aid of Leslie Thompkins.  This story is the first to raise the notion that the deaths of the Waynes affected the entire city, sent it into a decline.

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Batman gets word that crime boss Maxie Zeus is having men spread poison gas through an entire apartment building in Crime Alley, just to kill one man, and Batman sets out to stop them.

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He does so, saving the innocents, as well as the man Zeus intended to kill.  Leslie still hasn’t pieced together that Batman is Bruce Wayne, but her dialogue hints that she isn’t too far from the secret.

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The ending warns Maxie Zeus that Batman is coming for him, which happens next issue.  Although not much is done with Maxie Zeus in this first story, it helps build him as a powerful threat to be faced.

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Christopher Chance, the Human Target, has his back-up series move from the Brave and the Bold to this book,a result of the DC Implosion.  Christopher Chance works as a bodyguard/impersonator.  If someone has threatened your life,he will take on your identity and flush out the wannabe killer.

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In this story, by Len Wein, Howard Chaykin and Dick Giordano, he takes on the identity of a Hollywood actor, after a number of incidents on a film set lead him to believe someone is trying to kill him.

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It’s not hard to solve this one, there is really only one viable suspect, but the story is fun is the art is great.

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Batgirl faces off against some homegrown terrorists in this story by Bob Rozakis, Bob Oskner and Vince Colletta.

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After rounding up part of the gang, she gets asked out on a date by a soldier, who had first met her when she battled Madame Zodiac in the Pentagon, in a late issue of Batman Family.  Barbara agrees, but the date quickly turns into a farce.

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The evening lurches from disaster to disaster, and though it is terrible for the two on the date, it’s certainly entertaining for the reader.

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Just as the silliness threatens to outlast its welcome, Batgirl is reminded of something the terrorists said, and realizes they are going to attack Washington Monument that night.  She and her soldier boy wind up working together to round up the remainder of the gang, so the date is a success after all.

What I really appreciate in this story is that, with the date plot, it’s basically a romantic story, but it does not weaken Barbara, or put her in a subservient position to the soldier in any way.

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Steve Ditko takes over the art for the rest of Len Wein’s Demon story, as Etrigan faces off against Baron Tyme.

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Baron Tyme fills in his story between the events of Man-Bat and now.  When he vanished in that book, he was drawn into a nether realm, which allows him great knowledge, but is a torture to his body, which is trapped between dimensions.  With the Eternity Book, he intends to open Merlin’s tomb in Castle Branek, and use him to return completely to this world.

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The story brings back the town’s inspector, who looks straight out of a Frankenstein movie.  The Demon attempts to reach Merlin’s tomb before Tyme does, but does not succeed.

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Tyme uses the Eternity Book to force Etrigan to transform back into Jason Blood, and then traps him, as he prepares to open the tomb.

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Robin’s long battle with MAZE comes to an end in this story by Bob Rozakis and Kurt Schaffenberger.

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The leader of MAZE has brought all his members together, which turns out to be a good thing for Robin and the police, as they bust in.  Raven flees, and Card Queen shows her true colours, betraying MAZE and helping to bring them down.

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Card Queen is revealed to be Duela Dent, in yet another identity.  This (and last issue) are her first appearances since the break-up of the Teen Titans.  She would not appear again until the wedding of Donna Troy in New Teen Titans.

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But the story is not yet over. Dick confronts Lori Elton and her new boyfriend, who Dick reveals to be the Raven. As the guy tries to fight back, and loses, Dick goes on to explain a number of dangling plot threads, bringing this long tale to a satisfactory, if sad, conclusion.

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The final, silent, page is quite powerful.  Lori attempts to return to Dick, but he rebuffs her.  As he walks away from the rest of the students, he looks stronger, and more like a man, than at any time before.

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The final story in this issue, by Denny O’Neil, Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin, was intended to be one of the “Public Life of Bruce Wayne” stories that ran in the back pages of Batman, until the DC Implosion ended that.

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It’s silly, but entertaining, and sort of clever.  Knowing that an Australian hit man has come to Gotham, Bruce Wayne finances a kangaroo race in the city, in order to draw him out.

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Once he has spotted the man, he follows him as Batman, finds the men who hired them, and rounds them all up.

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There is also a nice pin-up on the back page of the current Batman family, with Batgirl, Robin, Alfred and Commissioner Gordon.

 

 

Detective 428 – Batman meets Shotgun Smith, and Hawkman begins

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Another Kalauta cover on Detective 428 (Oct. 72), as Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Dick Giordano introduce Shotgun Smith, the toughest cop in Gotham City, a character inspired by Gene Hackman’s Popeye Doyle in The French Connection

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As with the movie, drug dealers are the main focus of this story. Unlike the movie, the character has a young daughter, which makes him more vulnerable.

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Batman and Shotgun Smith disagree over methods, and it’s kind of bizarre to see Batman coming down on him for not proceeding through proper police procedures.  But also necessary to build some animosity between the two as the story kicks off.

Batman comes to suspect that Smith is actually working with the biggest drug lord in Gotham, using his position as a cop to take out his rivals.

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The story comes to a highly satisfying conclusion, as we learn that Shotgun was using Batman as part of his cover, as he tried to convince the drug lord he was working with him, in order to protect his daughter. In this instance, Batman is not angry about being manipulated at all.

While he never becomes a significant supporting character, Shotgun Smith does return on occasion.

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Hawkman begins as one of the rotating back-up features, in a story by E. Nelson Bridwell, with art by Dick Dillin and Joe Giella.  Hawkman had not had a solo series since the cancellation of Atom and Hawkman, but continued to appear as a member of the Justice League.

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The story in this one is almost alarmingly simple. A series of thefts of valuable objects have occurred in a old mansion in Midway City.  The stolen goods have been replaced by immaculate forgeries, which indicates that this has been going on for some time.  Hawkman investigates, and the thief reveals himself, coming out of a secret passage.  They fight for a bit, and Hawkman wins.  The end.

Adventure 443 – Aquaman vs the Fisherman, and Seven Soldiers of Victory ends

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Aquaman did not have many recurring villains in his own comic, but Adventure 443  (Feb 76) brings back the Fisherman, a third-rater at best.  Still, the story, by Paul Levitz and David Michelinie, with art by Jim Aparo, is pretty good.

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Aquaman intercepts some people hunting a dolphin, but discovers that they are French police, and the dolphin is being used for heroin smuggling.  Following the animal, Aquaman discovers the Fisherman is running the operation.  This was the first appearance of the character since the 60s, and though he captures Aquaman, another long-unseen character frees him.

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Topo had not been used in an Aquaman story since issue 36 of his old book, but becomes a regular supporting character again with this issue.

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The kicker to the story comes only on its last page, as Aquaman is dethroned by vote of the council, and the mysterious Karshon becomes the new King of Atlantis.

 

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The conclusion of the Seven Soldiers of Victory saga, with art by Dick Dillin, is a bit of a let-down.  The team reconvenes, and Willie the Wisher sends a battery of beasts against them.

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They defeat the creatures, and make Willie feel bad for his actions simply by talking about it.  Willie makes himself disappear.  Well, that was easy.

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In the end we discover that the events were all made into a film, but no one believes it because no one remembers Willie – even though all the activity occurred not on Earth, but in the Land of Magic.  So why would anyone on Earth be aware of it anyway?

Still, most of  the original tales of the Seven Soldiers of Victory were similarly pretty weak, so this is simply on par with their published adventures.

As a team, the group never appears again, except in flashbacks, or in All-Star Squadron issues, set in the 1940s.  The story clearly takes place before the events in Justice League of America 100-102, as Wing is still alive.

Adventure 438 – The Spectre and a human museum, and the Seven Soldiers of Victory begin

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Adventure 438 (April 1975) has the shortest Spectre story of the run, a mere 10 pages, because of the extended length of the back-up feature.  As a result, the story by Mike Fleisher is very simple, but the art by Ernie Chan and Jim Aparo makes it rewarding anyway.

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The tale deals with another madman, who is having people kidnapped and killed to be put in his personal museum.

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Corrigan is put on the case, tracks him down, and as the Spectre frees some gorillas from their exhibit to kill him.

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The Seven Soldiers of Victory begin a serialized story in this issue.  The story itself was written in the 1940s for their run in Leading Comics, but never published, or even drawn.  It follows the standard format of SSoV tales, with the entire team together for the first and last chapter, and five middle chapters featuring the team members in Individual action.

As this is the first time I am writing about the team, I will point out the curious fact that there are not seven members in the Seven Soldiers of Victory.  Shining Knight, Green Arrow, Vigilante, Crimson Avenger and Star-Spangled Kid are the heroes.  Sidekicks Speedy and Stripsey are counted to make up seven, but Wing is not.  Only white people count, maybe?

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The first chapter, with art by Dick Dillin, introduces the villain, who is really more of a trickster than a bad guy, Willie the Wisher, whose wishes become reality, hence his name.  He wishes the team off to the Land of Magic.

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The Shining Knight’s chapter follows immediately, with art by Howard Chaykin, which really manages to capture the look of Frank Frazetta’s work on the Knight.

He is menaced by a duplicate of himself, which emerges from a mirror.  He defeats his double, but winds up captured by a wizard and bound, back in the room he began in.

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This time, knowing the mirror will produce a duplicate, he uses the other knight’s sword to undo his bonds before he emerges, giving him the upper hand.

 

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