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.

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.

Detective 495 – The Crime Doctor vs Sterling Silversmith, the importance of a mattress, Batgirl goes after a gang boss, and Black Lightning and Robin end

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Michael Fleisher, Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte conclude the Crime Doctor storyline in Detective 495 (Oct. 80).

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Picking up from where last issue left off, the Crime Doctor is amazed that the men who hired him would want to kill him, and works with Batman to escape the building before it blows up.

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It was the bloodthirsty and greedy Sterling Silversmith who ordered his men to turn on the Crime Doctor, just so he could avoid paying for his services.

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Silversmith has his men kidnap the Crime Doctor, while Batman hunts them both.  Silversmith gives Thorne quicksilver to drink.  Batman captures Silversmith, but is too late to help Thorne.  He is still alive, but mentally fried, and confined to a hospital.

This is the final appearance of both Sterling Silversmith, and this incarnation of the Crime Doctor, although another one will pop up in the pages shortly after Crisis on Infinite Earths.

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Bob Rozakis and Dan Spiegle share this brief Tales of Gotham City chapter, which deals with a small time gangster who has been stealing from the mob, stashing the money in his mattress.  They are on to him, and he has to pay them back that evening.  Returning home, he finds his apartment on fire.

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He winds up trapped in his burning suite, and uses the mattress to break his fall when he jumps.  The money stuffed mattress winds up with the mobsters, and the man has his life, but nothing else.

A good one.

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Batgirl is after a mob boss in this story, by Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Frank Chiaramonte.

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Barbara is having her own romantic troubles, as office geek Richard Bender tries to make a date with her, while she still longs for the father of the girl she rescued.

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But the bulk of this tale follows her efforts as Batgirl to find proof linking the man, Beeler, to the crimes she knows he is guilty of.  She succeeds, but overall, this story is kind of flat.

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Jean-Marc deMatteis scripts this final Black Lightning story, which deals with street gangs and the crappy life choices for slum kids.

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Inspector Henderson and Jimmy Olsen both guest star – both were supporting characters in Black Lightning’s old book.

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The story gets quite violent and intense.  Even after Black Lightning wins, he has to talk the young hood out of killing himself rather than head to prison.

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While Henderson and Jimmy Olsen both next appear shortly in Superman titles, Black Lightning does not return again until the launch of Batman and the Outsiders, three years down the road.

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Harris, Nicholas and Colletta bring Robin’s series to a close with another story about his stresses at university.

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As before, he is getting barked at by Jennifer, and is in academic trouble.  At the same time, he is trying to track the shipment of drugs into the college from Gotham.

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He gets Jennifer’s blessing to spend the night working on an essay, but winds up heading out as Robin.

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He stops the bad guys, but blows his university career.  Without even saying good-bye to Jennifer he leaves Hudson University, riding off into the pages of New Teen Titans.

Dick Grayson would not get a solo series again for many years.  Tim Drake would get a series before Dick Grayson does.

 

 

Detective 494 – a new Crime Doctor, Pinball, Batgirl uses a garage, Robin deals with a hazing death, and Black Lightning fights the Slime Killer

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Michael Fleisher joins Don Newton for the lead story in Detective 494 (Sept. 80).

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A new Crime Doctor, Raymond Thorne, is introduced in this story.  As with the 1940s version, he sells his skills to other criminals, charging extra for “house calls” during the crimes themselves.  With the ambulance to travel in, and the surgical gear as a costume, I always thought this was a great idea for a villain.

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Batman gets alerted to the existence of the Crime Doctor after discovering one of his prescriptions at a crime scene.

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The story also allows us to see Thorne in his everyday life, as a wealthy and successful surgeon, whose life of crime is a thrilling addiction.

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Batman sustains injuries to great for Alfred to handle, and as Dr. Dundee is out of town, his cases are being handled by Thorne.  He patches up Bruce Wayne.  Later, when the Crime Doctor and Batman are facing off against each other, the bandage gets revealed, and Thorne lets slip that he put it there – and both men realize they know who the other is.

The two wind up trapped, after the men who hired Thorne plot to kill him and leave him at the scene, along with Batman.

The story concludes next issue.

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A classic from the day it came out, Pinball was by far the best of the Tales of Gotham City stories, by Jack C Harris, with art by Dan Spiegle.  Set in a pinball arcade, it deals with a drug runner who is so into his game that he lets a young admirer transport the drugs for him.

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After the boy leaves, he learns that a rival gang is on the hunt for the runners.  The news of this, the pinball game, and the young boy’s journey through dangerous territory are perfectly intercut.

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In the end he leaves his game, worried about the kid, and rightfully so.  The punk sacrifices his life to save the boy.  Redeeming, but dark.  This is Gotham.

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Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Frank Chiaramonte are behind the Batgirl story in this issue, which continues the story from the previous one.

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While Batgirl does not have any sort of cave of her own, she does have a friend, Jeff, who runs a garage.  He seems to have a crush on Batgirl, and she feels comfortable storing her motorcycle there.

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Barbara is not above a bit of flirting herself, when she finds out the father of the girl Batgirl rescued the previous issue is single.

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She also discovers that the development plans had been altered, and the original plan buried by slum lords who wanted to hold onto their properties.  She exposes their scheme, and the new housing is built, and the theatre saved.

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It’s back to campus life with this Harris/NIcholas.Colletta Robin story, that deals with a supposed death by hazing, which was really an intentional murder.

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Dick and Jennifer about to go swimming when they discover the body, and once again Dick ditches his girlfriend to go be Robin.

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It’s not one of his harder cases, and he does end up lip-locked with Jennifer.  Considering that their relationship ends next issue, I wanted to include their last really happy moment.

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Black Lightning is back, with a good story by Jean-Marc deMatteis.

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The hero has two major concerns in this story.  As teacher Jefferson Pierce, he is worried about one of his students, who seems to be having some troubles at home.

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As Black Lightning, he is dealing with the Slime Killer, a vigilante doling out bloody street justice.

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Visiting the boy at home, Jeff meets his angry, physically abusive father.

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It’s not much of a surprise when the father turns out to be the Slime Killer, but the story does not shy away from the difficult ending, as the son chooses to support his father, even after he is exposed and arrested.  Not an entirely happy ending, but a good one.

 

 

Detective 493 – Batman vs the Riddler in Texas, the Red Tornado’s first solo story, Robin confronts the man in black, the Human Target becomes a trucker, and Batgirl braves the fire

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Good gosh, the Batman Family are really happy about Detective 493 (Aug. 80).  Smiles a mile wild. The Human Target is less happy, falling out of his awkwardly shaped spot, but the clear star to the cover is the Red Tornado, never before or since considered either a member of the Batman Family, or a detective.

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Batman faces off against the Riddler in this story by Cary Burkett and Don Newton, which also introduces a new hero, the Swashbuckler.

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As usual, the Riddler sends a clue before he begins his spree, but it’s Alfred who notices that it is not a real riddle, but a snatch of lyrics from a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.

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That was all Batman needed, and he is on the trail of the Riddler, following him to Texas.  The story winds up taking place in Houston, using actual locations.

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Batman runs into a local hero, the Swashbuckler, who claims to be the nephew of Greg Saunders, the Vigilante.  He’s not a bad character, though the mask seems a bit excessive.

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The amusement park next to the Astrodome is one of the locations the Riddler leads the heroes to.  His big crime is teased by him saying he was going after the only person who is a bigger riddler than he is.

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Batman and Swashbuckler ponder possible crimes, but Batman figures out he is going after a man named Noone, as “no one” was a bigger riddler in the villains eyes.

Sadly, so far as I know and recall, the Swashbuckler never appeared again.

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Ok, so first of all let me say I like the Red Tornado as a character, I like Tales of Gotham City as a series, and I like Jean-Marc deMatteis as a writer.  Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta aren’t the top of my list, but I don’t hate them.

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But why is Red Tornado starring in a Gotham City story when the character has never been a part of this milieu?  And why, for his first story, is he in the middle of the city’s black ghetto, in the midst of a tale of religious faith and community standing up to drug dealers and the like?

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I guess this was a try-out for his upcoming series in World’s Finest Comics, but I never liked it.  The tear in the android’s eye in the final panel just makes me gag.

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Robin resolves the man in black plot in this issue, by Jack C Harris, Charles Nicholas and Vince Colletta.

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The pressures of being Robin, academic life, his relationship with Jennifer, and his job on the university paper get to be too much for him.  We haven’t even seen him at the paper since his run in Detective began.  Stressed, Dick leaves and heads for Gotham.

Neither Bruce nor Alfred are at the penthouse, but he does run in to Lucius Fox.  Dick heads back to the old Batcave.

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Changing to Robin, he leaves, and runs into the man in black.  Confronting him, he discovers that the man is actually a bodyguard hired to protect Dick Grayson, at Lucius Fox’s orders.  Dick gets that taken care of.

It’s worth noting that this is the same month that the New Teen Titans launched, and Dick’s inability to cope with university would lead into that series.

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The Human Target gets his last solo story in Detective, although he makes a few more appearances in the book.  As usual, Len Wein and Dick Giordano helm this tale of a murdered trucker.

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The man’s body was completely charred, but his vengeful widow hires Christopher Chance to impersonate him, pretending that he survived the murder attempt, to draw out the killer.

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It works, but the victory is not all the widow hoped for, as she learns that the hired killer was just doing it for the money, hired by a rival trucking firm, and there was nothing personal in any of it.

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Batgirl has the first chapter of a longer story, by Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Joe Giella.

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It begins with a spat between her and Roger Barton over rival housing development plans.  Barbara goes to inspect the site of the theatre in question, and is surprised to find the protestors not interested in the theatre at all.

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Her attention gets drawn by a nearby fire, and she changes to Batgirl, and winds up saving the little girl who had been held hostage by Cormorant, and was still living in fear.

 

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