Detective 489 – Batman fights a vampire, Commissioner Gordon in a prison riot, Robin and Batgirl team-up, the Atom meets the Dharlu, Alfred and the evil butlers, and Batman finds Bronze Tiger
Batman has two stories, book-ending Detective 489 (April 1980). The first, by Jean-Marc deMatteis, Irv Novick and Vince Colletta has a rash of murders, seemingly committed by a vampire.
A vampire hunter has also come to town, informing Batman that he and his assistant have been chasing this creature from city to city. Batman insists there must be some other explanation for the deaths.
The story looks like it is going the obvious direction, that the vampire hunter is really the vampire, but it doesn’t quite go that way.
In fact, the vampire hunter is the killer, but with a split personality that thinks he is a vampire. His assistant explains it all – then turns into a bat and flies away.
Commissioner Gordon stars in this chapter of Tales of Gotham City, by Paul Kupperberg, Irv Novick and Steve Mitchell.
A riot breaks out at Gotham penitentiary, and they prisoners demand Gordon be the negotiator, but when he arrives, he discovers they simply intend to kill him.
This is possibly the most bad-ass story Gordon gets, as he takes down the men about to kill him, fakes a deal with others to get the prisoners back in their cells, and then takes down the other leaders of the riot, all by himself.
This could be a kick-ass action movie.
Robin and Batgirl, whose team-ups made Batman Family a success, have the last one for many years, and it’s awful. In so very many ways. Jack C Harris, Don Heck and Vince Colletta are all to blame.
I never like Don Heck’s art, but in this issue it descends to new lows.
Barbara Gordon goes missing, and then show uup with no memory. Commissioner Gordon calls on Robin, informing him that his daughter is Batgirl. Robin already knows this, he and Batgirl discovered each others identities back in Batman Family, but Gordon doesn’t know this.
One has to wonder why he goes to Robin, though, instead of Batman.
Anyway, Robin tracks her down, and convinces her to get into her Batgirl costume, although she still remembers nothing. Conveniently, they promptly run into the guy who stole all her memories.
So they beat him up, and discover the stolen memories are all on cassette tapes. Robin plays them and restores Barbara’s memories, but then leaves the last tape, which apparently contains nothing but the secret identities of Batman and Robin, and gives her a bit of a guilt trip, asking her not to listen to it.
And she burns the tape!
The whole reason for this story was to make it so that she no longer knew their identities. Why not? Just stupid. Poorly drawn, poorly written, and a bad idea for a story in the first place.
Bob Rozakis, Alex Saviuk and Vince Colletta give the Atom an adventure on the JLA satellite. The Atom’s last solo story was in Five Star Spectacular, but he was soon to get a rotating series in Action Comics.
The story deals with the Dharlu, a comatose alien that resides in the JLA satellite computer, and has to be there in order for the computer to work. I never understood that story. Anyway, investigating some computer problems, the Atom discovers a while bunch of tiny Dharlu’s loose in the computer. Her kids, one would guess.
The Atom sends the little Dharlu’s shooting out into the vacuum of space, so they can “find their destinies,” unless they all just die out there. And he doesn’t even try to take the original one out of the computer prison they keep it in.
Ok, here’s a story I won’t attack. Alfred sees a picture of himself in the paper, part of a phony Butler ring being broken up by Batman in this story by Bob Rozakis and Jose Delbo.
Curious, he goes to investigate, and finds the bad butlers, who mistake him for part of their crew. Alfred clues in that he was being impersonated to infiltrate the group.
It’s all a bit convoluted, and Alfred only pretends to have figured it all out beforehand. Robin cameos, having been the one who had impersonated him before.
The second Batman story in the issue, by Denny O’Neil and Don Newton, picks up the League of Assassins storyline. Both the League and Batman have tracked Bronze Tiger to the hospital where he is recovering. How they did this is not explained, but its been a few months since the last part of this story, so they had time.
Bronze Tiger defends himself from the League killers, although Batman was there to step in if needed. Tiger does not recall his time with the League completely, but does remember enough to send Batman to an amusement park they were using.
There he fights a bunch of the League, but does not find any of the big players – but does find a seismologist being held captive.
And with that unusual detail, the story is set up for its big finale next issue.