Posts tagged ‘E Nelson Bridwell’

Detective 452 – Batman vs the Crime Exchange, and Hawkman vs Konrad Kaslak

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452 (Oct. 75)  was my first issue of Detective Comics, and I would have just turned 10 years old when this came out.  The story, and its cliffhanger ending, captivated me so much I actively hunted for the follow up issue, the first time I had done that, I think.

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David V Reed, Ernie Chan and Mike Royer craft this 2 part story, in which a well organized criminal outfit provides contacts, clients and information for Gotham’s gangs. Batman captures one of the killers who work for them, impersonates him, and attempts to infiltrate the organization.

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He gets exposed, surrounded, and challenged to defend himself with a gun.  But Batman doesn’t use gun!  What will he do?  At 10 years old I had no idea and was deeply concerned until the next issue came out.

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And at 10 years old I really hated the unusual Hawkman logo that was used for this story – and I still hate it now.  The actual tale, by E Nelson Bridwell and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, is pretty good though.  Hawkman has a lot of trouble against an evil magician and his thieving raven.

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Shayera has a small role in this one, which also sees the return of Big Red, Hawkman’s bird sidekick, not seen since the mid 60s, in Hawkman’s old book. Hawkman realizes the magician is a distraction, the raven is the actual culprit, and Shayera informs him that Konrad Kaslak, one of their earliest enemies from back in Brave and the Bold, is out of prison.

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Big Red swoops in for some bird on bird action, and Kaslak reverts to human form, and is simply no match for Hawkman.

This is the last appearance of Konrad Kaslak until the Hawkworld series in the 90s.  Big Red returns in Super Friends a few years down the road.

 

Detective 446 – Sterling Silversmith debuts, and Hawkman returns

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The Bat-Murderer storyline continues in Detective 446 (April 1975), with a Len Wein/Jim Aparo tale that introduces a new villain for Batman.

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Sterling Silversmith has dreams of conquering the silver market, and a belief that gold will lose it’s value, and silver become the more precious metal.  His economic theories aside, Silversmith is extremely callous, and cares nothing about killing anyone who gets in his way, or using any means possible to acquire his silver.

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Only the beginning and ending of this issue reflect the larger storyline.  Otherwise, Batman’s battle with Silversmith could have occurred in any other issue.  While I like the fact that they extended the storyline by showing how it affects Batman’s other cases, I wish they had showed a bit more of an effect.

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Still, the ending, with the cop unable to shoot Batman after he drops off Silversmith, is a good scene.

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Hawkman returns to the pages of Detective with this E Nelson Bridwell story, with art by Rich Buckler and Klaus Janson.  Between this story and his last appearance in these pages, Hawkman had resigned from the Justice League, and returned to Thanagar with Shayera.  The equalizer plague struck the planet, and Hawkman returned, bringing Shayera, now both exiled from their world until a cure could be found.

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The story here is a simple one, dealing with thieves that possess a remote control that can send a car, or Hawkman, hurtling into the sky.  They had made the mistake of storing their stolen loot in Carter Hall’s apparently abandoned car.

 

Detective 434 -The Spook debuts, and Hawkman ends

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Mike Kaluta does the cover for Detective 434 (April 1973), the first half of the introduction of the Spook, a major player against Batman in the 70s.

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The Spook is introduced by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and  Dick Giordano, materializing in a cell in Gotham’s new high security prison, offering the man incarcerated , Big Turk, a way out.  The Spook blinds the man with dust first, to keep it a secret.

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No one can figure out how the escape was done, but Batman does manage to round up Big Turk, and has him in the Batmobile when the Spook suddenly appears in the road before him.  Batman gets out to investigate, but the Spook vanishes.  More frustratingly, so do the Batmobile and his prisoner!

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While Batman is getting humiliated by having the police return the abandoned Batmobile to him, we get to see the Spook’s lair, and his intricate monitoring system, while he gives his sales pitch to a hood.  For a price, the Spook will ensure to free anyone who gets captured.

There is nothing supernatural in the way this character is played, despite his name.  Anything that gets explained, is shown to be scientific in nature, or a trick.

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At story’s end, Batman disguises himself as Big Turk, and heads to prison, in order to get to face the Spook and see his game for himself.

The story concludes next issue.

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Hawkman solves a puzzling mystery in this issue, about the serial thief who keeps getting caught, but the stolen goods keep vanishing.

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E Nelson Bridwell scripts, with Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano on the art.  Hawkman eventually figures out that the thefts were done earlier, and the “stolen goods” he was caught with were dissolving duplicates.  Kind of impressive scientific stuff for a thief.  Bet he stole the secret on how to do that.

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This is Hawkman’s last solo story before he is ordered back to Thanagar, and resigns his position with the Justice League.  In a couple of years he gets exiled, and returns to Earth, and his next solo story is also in the pages of Detective.

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 492 – Shazam ends

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The Shazam story by E Nelson Bridwell and Don Newton ends in Adventure 492 (Oct 82).  Master Man has called up evil gods from a variety of pantheons : the Egyptian Set, Slavic Cernobog, Aztec Tezcatlipoca and Persian Ahriaman.  The evil gods and the Marvel Family go one on one.

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Kid Eternity decides to fight his own fight, rather than calling up someone to do it for him, and lures Ahriman to the Big Bang, while Mary Marvel simply blows out the fires of the Aztec god.

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Captains Marvel, the original and junior versions, prefer physical combat with their adversaries.

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After wiping out Ahriman, Kid Eternity takes on Master Man, and Satan is so displeased by the failures of everyone fighting for him that he wipes them all out himself.

While the Marvels all next appear a couple years down the road in a DC Comics Presents Annual, these are the final appearances of all the villains, except for Ibac, who returns in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Kid Eternity has to wait for the mini-series by Grant Morrison for his return.

The next Shazam series, which features only Billy Batson as Captain Marvel, is a 1987 mini-series.

 

Adventure 491 – the comic shrinks and expands to digest size, and Shazam begins

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After a gap of six months, Adventure Comics returns with issue 491 (Sept 82), but now it’s a small, digest sized book.  It’s 100 pages long, but virtually all of that consists of reprints.  The only new work in the issue is the Shazam story, continued from the series in World’s Finest Comics, which also recently underwent a format change.

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E Nelson Bridwell, Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte helpm the tale as Satan assembles a crew to take out the Marvel Family, which now includes Kid Eternity, revealed to be the long-lost brother of Captain Marvel, Jr back in World’s Finest.  Ibac and Sabbac are joined by newer villain Darkling, as well as Master Man, Kid Eternity’s old enemy.

They take the Marvels by surprise while they are in their normal human form, binding and gagging them.

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It’s Kid Eternity who saves the day, getting loose of his gag and calling up Zeus.  Smart move, as Zeus is able to send the magic lightning bolts that transform Billy Batson, Mary Batson and Freddy Freeman into Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr.

Together the four heroes take down Ibac, Sabbac and Darkling, but Master Man has called up four evil gods of his own.

The story concludes next issue.

Adventure 490 – Dial “H” for Hero ends

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Dial “H” for Hero ends its run in Adventure with issue 490 (Feb 82) in a full-length story by E Nelson Bridwell and Bob Rozakis, with art by Carmine Infantino and Howard Bender.

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It`s more cosmic in scope than most of their tales, and Bender makes the art better than most of the other issues as well.

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But despite some nice visuals, it`s still a typical Dial `H`story, with Chris and Vicki becoming a variety of one-shot heroes to defeat a line-up of one-shot villains.

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At least the house does get furnished, on the very last page.  In kind of dull, run-of-the-mill furniture.

Chris King and Vicki Grant appear next in the DC Comics Presents team-up with Superman that pits them against the Master, and then a month or so later begin a back-up series in New Adventures of Superboy.

Adventure 423 – Supergirl saves the Justice League

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Aliens plot to conquer the world using mind-controlling sunglasses in Adventure 423 (Sept 72), a story by E Nelson Bridwell and Steve Skeates, with art by Mike Sekowsky and Bob Oskner.

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Linda is out shopping when a pushy saleswoman shoves a pair of sunglasses on her, and she discovers she cannot remove them.  The glasses also force her, or anyone wearing them, to follow the commands of the aliens who created them.

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She is ordered to Metropolis, where she switches the glasses with Clark Kent’s usual ones, rendering him under the aliens control as well.

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The two aliens brothers behind this are not working together well, and one decides to betray the other, and has Supergirl use her heat vision, which results in the destruction of the glasses, freeing her mind.

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Superman brings the glasses to the Justice League, but Supergirl intervenes, much like the scene on the cover, and gets Green Lantern to destroy the glasses Superman is wearing.

A fairly silly story.  She still has her problems with her powers vanishing at times in this tale, although that has been used less frequently in recent months, and this would be the last story to reference that.

Adventure 356 – Baby Legionnaires

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E Nelson Bridwell returns to script the story in Adventure 356 (May 67).  Curt Swan’s art is the best thing about it.  The story isn’t awful, just nothing particularly special, although it does establish a few things about the Legionnaires and their universe.

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It’s Family Day, and all the Legionnaires with parents go off to celebrate, leaving Superboy, Mon-El, Brainiac 5, Element Lad and Dream Girl to hold the fort.  Superboy`s and Element Lad`s origins make it obvious that they are orphans, and though it hadn`t been clearly stated about Mon-El, the fact that he spent a thousand years in the Phantom Zone makes it a bit of a given as well.  Brainiac 5`s descent from Brainiac had never been made completely clear, but this is the first time we hear of him being an orphan.  Similarly, this is new news about Dream Girl.

They get called to the planet Zinth to investigate a stolen power crystal, but their attempts to retrieve it from a deep lake wind up reducing them all to infants.  Dream Girl warns Superboy and Mon-El that they would be vulnerable to this, but they arrogantly ignore her.

They get adopted, while Brainiac 5, whose intellect has not diminished with his age, finds a cure.

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It turns out this was all a plot by the adoptive parents, who had lost their children earlier and wanted super-babies.  Not only are the Legionnaires in no way upset by this, Dream Girl even gives it all a happy ending, forecasting that they will have new children by the end of the year.

The most significant thing is the mention of two planets, Yod and Rokyn.  Brainiac 5`s homeworld is always called Colu, but in this story it`s called Yod.  Later continuity would clear this up, giving it as an alternate name for the world, presumably from a different dialect.  The Rokyn reference is more significant, as the story states that this is the name the Kandorians gave to the planet on which their bottle city was enlarged, the first indication of that event, which came to pass in the late 70s.

Adventure 351 – The Legion, the Subs, the Super-Pets, guest stars, villains and happy endings

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The concluding half of E Nelson Bridwell’s Legion epic brings in not only the entire line-up of the team, and the Substitute Legion, and the Super-Pets, but even former members of the team are a part of this.  In a way, this reads as if the series was being concluded on a high note.  A season finale, so to speak.  Excellent art by Curt Swan helps make this ascend from silliness to a pure delight.

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Invisible Kid is not keen on Ultra Boy using his vision powers to find out the identities of Sir Prize and Miss Terious,and knocks him out.  I believe this is the first time we see someone taking advantage of his limitation of one-power-at-a-time.

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Miss Terious accompanies the team who head to RJ Brande’s private planetoid, where they encounter the Hag, who threatens them with paintings!  No, not art!  This sequence is actually more effective than it seems at first, as Ferro Lad’s painting hints at his death, which happens only a few issues down the road.  Miss Terious refuses to let Cosmic Boy see what future his painting shows.  Nothing awful happens to Cos in the short term, or middle term, so I figure this must show his ultimate fate from End of an Era.

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Miss Terious then puts the Legion to work gathering elements for a magic spell that will conteract the Hag’s hexes.  This proves extremely complex, and both the Substitute Legion and the Super-Pets get involved in its creation.  A lock of Mr Mxyzptlk’s hair is required, so the Legion head to Smallville and Element Lad changes the kryptonite implanted in Superboy, allowing him to remember the team, and aid them.

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Meanwhile, both Chuck Taine and Matter-Eater have been captured by Evillo’s men, but Evillo is none too pleased with Sugyn, and we get to see their nifty powers.  Sugyn can super-spit.  Yup, wow.  That’s a power.  Evillo can grow little horns out of his head, which emits beams that banish Sugyn to “the realm of darkness.”  This is not, in fact, a polite way of saying he is dead, but we do not see the realm of darkness, or Sugyn, or even Evillo for that matter, again until the 90s.

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OK, time to start wrapping things up here.  Sir Prize and Miss Terious are revealed to be Star Boy and Dream Girl, and the spell transforms the Hag into the White Witch, Dream Girl’s missing sister.  Remember her?  She appeared in…umm….well, she was mentioned in….ummm.  Ok, she was missing and just take our word for it.

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And holy crap, wouldn’t you know it EVERYONE is healed and back to the way their way, all thanks to Evillo’s doctor.  Apparently that was the reason to kidnap the three Legionnaires.  To heal them.  Oh, what a nasty nasty man that Evillo is, having people cured.  All right, I concede that Evillo supposedly didn’t know what his doctor was doing, but even still.

But does this actually bother me?  Not at all, it’s such a joyous, all-encompassing ending you just want to cheer out loud for thin Matter-Eater Lad, fat Bouncing Boy and two-armed Lightning Lad.

Even Superboy and Supergirl get to rejoin the team, as Color Kid, now part of the Subs, has used his power to turn the green kryptonite dust into blue, which only kills Bizarros.  And may explain why the Bizarro Legion never appeared again.

Love it, despite its flaws.  A Legion epic.

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