Posts tagged ‘Dick Grayson’

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 524 – Batman vs the Squid, and Green Arrow vs Machiavelli

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Croc’s rise continues with Detective 524 (March 1983)  by Gerry Conway, with art by Newton and Giordano.

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Croc is still working for the Squid when this story begins.  And at the opening of the story, the Squid looks to be in a good position, having thrown Batman into a tank of his namesakes.

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But Croc and the Squid do not see eye to eye.  Croc’s hat comes off, and this is the first time we see his face.  Croc walks out, and the Squid vows vengeance on him.

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Meanwhile, back at Wayne Manor, a party is in progress, although the guests (expecially Vicki Vale) are still waiting for Bruce.  Dick Grayson brings along the Todd family, circus performers he met recently in the pages of Batman.  Joseph and Trina Todd are the parents of young Jason, and the whole family are aerialists, so it’s easy to see why Dick has bonded with them.  Barbara Gordon is there as well, along with her father, recently re-instated, so he’s back to being Commissioner Gordon.

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Batman escapes from the squid tank, and makes it back to the mansion.  Alfred is tending his wounds, but no one thinks to close the door or separate themselves from the rest of the party, so Trina Todd just comes walking right into the room, seeing the Batman costume and everything.

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Fixed up, Batman resumes his attack on the Squid.

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But it’s Croc who wins, shooting the Squid with a sniper rifle, just as the Squid was about to shoot Batman.

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Green Arrow squares off against the Executrix in this story by Cavalieri, Novick and Randall.

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Machiavelli continues to promote his unusual brand of libertarianism, but finds people willing to listen, and begins to make a splash in Star City politics.

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He is on the verge of being swept into office as mayor by the time Green Arrow defeats Executrix and makes it back to him.

 

Detective 518 – Deadshot aims for Bruce Wayne, and the Velvet Tiger debuts

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Detective 518 (Sept. 82) pulls off a difficult task.  Gerry Conway, Paul Levitz and Don Newton tell a tale that works well as a single issue Deadshot story, but which also advances the Boss Thorne plot, and concludes the Vicki Vale one.

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The story begins as Batman gets a blood transfusion to return him to human, while the vampires roil in agony at their capture.  Robin, who got him into this whole thing by falling for Dala, keeps watch over Batman, but gets a big surprise when he heads back up into Wayne Manor.

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Dick is stunned to encounter Bruce upstairs, spending time with Vicki Vale.  He keeps his mouth shut, and Alfred explains to him about hiring the Human Target to impersonate Bruce and deceive Vicki.

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Believing Vicki’s evidence, Boss Thorne hires Deadshot to kill Bruce Wayne, and thus, Batman.

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Perhaps because the job seemed too easy, rather than simply shooting Bruce, Deadshot tries to kill him by shooting the chandelier above him, intending it to crush Bruce.

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And though no one planned exactly this outcome, Batman shows up to rescue Bruce, leaving Vicki Vale convinced her “evidence” was wrong.  And Christopher Chance, oblivious to everything, makes Bruce act strong and heroic, which Vicki is impressed with as well.

Deadshot goes to jail, Vicki goes on happily, and Boss Thorne goes on to another plan.

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Barbara Randall and Trevor Von Eeden take the Batgirl series in a darker direction for it’s final two chapters, beginning with this story.

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The supporting cast is ditched, as Batgirl gets involved with a brother and sister who run a computer company.  The sister has a criminal identity, the Velvet Tiger, but the brother is no innocent himself, although Batgirl believes him unquestioningly.

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Von Eeden’s art, while not as polished as it would become, certainly takes exciting risks, even if they do not all pay off.

Detective 516 – Batman closes the Crime Academy, and Batgirl goes all serpentine

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Detective 516 (July 1982) has the second half of the Crime Academy story.  Paul Kupperberg joins Gerry Conway in scripting, while Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte handle the art.

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As Batman penetrates the Crime Academy, the story checks up on some of the continuing plots.  Boss Thorne can’t even get through a game of billiards without Hugo Strange’s ghost showing up to taunt him.

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Jim Gordon joins Jason Bard’s detective agency, declaring his intent to bring down mayor Hamilton Hill.

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So Batman brings down the Crime Academy on his own.  I didn’t take any shots of this, but I should mention that Dick has continued to fall for the exotic Dala, but she turns out to be linked with evil people, and he is in peril (oh, no!)

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The third part of Burkett, Delbo and Giella’s Lady Viper story sees Batgirl wake up, feeling the worse for wear.  She cannot even make it back home before passing out.

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She believes she is having disturbing dreams about being turned into a snake lady like Lady Viper, but when she wakes, amidst a group of homeless people. she discovers the dream is reality.

The story continues next issue.

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 512 – Batman vs a new Dr. Death

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There really isn’t anything that makes Detective 512 (March 1982) a “special” as such.  There is a decent Batman tale, by Conway, Colan and Janson, and a lame Batgirl story that I am not going to write up.  Instead of the normal letter column, there is a text history of Detective Comics, but nothing to put this on the same level as issue 500.

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The story is continued from this month’s issue of Batman, and for the next couple of years, this would become the standard pattern, with storylines running back and forth between the two books.

Vicki notices that Dala did not show up in the photos she took of her and Dick (in the previous Batman – last time I will say that).

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Batman is busy rescuing Robin from his deadly dangle from a bridge, left there by Dr.Death to delay Batman while the evil doctor prepares his super allergy to infect all of Gotham with.

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Rescue completed, Batman catches up with Dr. Hellfern.  He tries to get the antidote from him, but Hellfern is being a jerk, so Batman douses him with his own allergen, forcing him to reveal it’s cure.

Not a bad re-working of Dr. Death, but it wouldn’t grab much interest, and the character would go back into dormancy for another couple decades.

 

Detective 511 – Batman battles Mirage

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Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte provide a full-length story in Detective 511 (Feb. 82), introducing a new villain, Mirage.

The story takes place in the immediate aftermath of the mayoral election. Hamilton Hill won, after Arthur Reeves faked photos of Batman were exposed.

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Mirage is a thief, armed with some wrist weaponry that causes hallucinations in any who look at him. He can affect individuals, or large crowds.

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Vicki Vale is at a racetrack he robs, and takes photos of him.  His effects do not show up in the pictures, an important clue for Batman to protect himself from Mirage’s powers.

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Robin is a supporting character again, giving university another shot as Dick Grayson.  But classes fail to be as interesting as the exotic woman he runs into, Dala.

Fans may recognize this name as the female accomplice/victim of the Monk back in very early Batman stories.  A number of early villains would be re-introduced in the next year.

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Arthur Reeves, upset about losing, goes to the man who backed his campaign and gave him the fake photos – Boss Thorne, recently released from Arkham.  Thorne also reveals that he leaked the undoctored photos to Olivia Ortega, which ruined Reeves’ run for mayor.  Thorne has his own game, and everyone else is just a pawn.

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Batman manages to break Mirage’s spell, and brings him down.  When I read this as a kid, I just loved this villain and eagerly awaited his return. Now, I’m not so sure what I liked, aside from the unusual costume.  Mirage would appear again from time to time, usually in groups with other villains.

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The issue ends with Bruce Wayne stepping down as the head of the Wayne Foundation, and appointing Lucius Fox to take his place. That had more or less been being built up since the moment Fox was introduced, and the position has fit him like a glove ever since.

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