Posts tagged ‘Elongated Man’

Detective 557 – Batman sits in a hospital room, and Green Arrow helps defend the temple

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Detective 557 (Dec. 85) follows the big battle between Catwoman and Nocturna, in a story by Moench and Colan.

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And though Nocturna and the Night Slayer are still on the loose, Batman spends this story sitting by Selina’s bedside in the hospital.

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Robin returns to the cave, and in a slight allusion to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Justice League try to contact Batman.  The Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man and Zatanna cameo.

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The Night Slayer is left pretty much free to keep killing the former members of Nocturna’s gang, and still aims to kill Nocturna herself.  Batman and Catwoman are too busy professing their love for each other to care.

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Cavalieri, Moore and Patterson conclude Green Arrow’s team-up with Onyx in this issue.

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Although I really love the art on this story, the tale itself just doesn’t warrant the length, to me.  But there are great scenes along the way, as Arrow and Onyx defend the temple.

 

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Detective 500 – 4 Batman stories, two of them team-ups, scads of detectives, and Elongated Man and Hawkman end

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Many anniversary issue build themselves up as being something really special, but few live up to their promise.  Detective 500 (March 1981) is one of the rare ones.  It’s not all gold, but enough of it is.

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The first story, by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, bring us to a parallel world, where a new Batman is about to be born.

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The Phantom Stranger brings Batman and Robin to this world, seemingly so that Bruce will have the opportunity to prevent his parents’ deaths.

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They find this world similar, but different.  James Gordon is still just a lieutenant, and Barbara , though a librabrian, is his fiancee, not his daughter.  Bruce is hunting for information on Joe Chill, while Dick discovers that this is a world with no heroic legends, no caped heroes, nothing to inspire heroism.

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Observing the Waynes, we see that Bruce is hardly a baby hero, more like a rich spoiled brat, but Batman is blind to this.

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Batman’s pursuit of Joe Chill, who on this world is not even from Gotham, and just arriving in the city, brings him into conflict with Gordon, but Batman manages to convince him that they are friends on another world.

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His search for Chill has raised such flags that the man is murdered by the Gotham mobs.  Batman learns that the planned murder of the Waynes is happening sooner than he expected – he had not counted the extra days from leap years.

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Robin, who has been watching the Waynes, sees the murder about to occur, and struggles within himself, thinking that is might be meant to be; but Batman swoops in saves the day, his parents, and himself.

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The Phantom Stranger takes the heroes back to their own world, and they are left to wonder what will become of Bruce, but the reader gets to see the impact the attempted murder had, and that even with his parents alive, young Bruce is on the road to becoming Batman.

Sadly, this is not a parallel world we ever visit again.

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Slam Bradley gets the billing, but this story, a re-write of a Batman tale from the 40s, by Len Wein and Jim Aparo, is pretty much a free for all with a vast line-up of detectives.

They are all at a celebration for an older detective, who gets murdered in front of them.

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The original version of this story has Batman working with a number of detective based on famous fictional ones from the era.  This story brings Slam Bradley, Jason Bard, Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith, the Human Target and Roy Raymond together on the case.

For Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith and Slam Bradley, this the first time the character appeared since the end of their own series.

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There are leads in a number of directions, which allow the detectives to split up and pursue them in smaller groups.  The story gives everyone at least one moment to shine, and they wind up stopping a number of bad guys.

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Slam suspects there is more to the case, and it’s Roy Raymond who provides the real solution, that this was an elaborate suicide, designed to prompt the men to tidy up some hanging cases of his.

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Jason Bard and the Human Target both return in the pages of Detective within the next couple of years, while Roy Raymond pops up in DC Comics Presents.  Many of the rest have their next, and final, appearances in Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Slam Bradley returns a little after Crisis, returning to the pages of Detective for one story.

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The next story in the issue is a wonderful 2-pager, by Len Wein and Walt Simonson, that uses Snoopy’s “It was a dark and stormy night…” as it’s text.  Clever, and visually gorgeous.

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The Elongated Man gets his final solo story in this book, by Mike W Barr and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.  As well as being a decent mystery story on its own, it delves into the facts around the death of Edgar Allen Poe.

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Chiefly, the identity of the mysterious “Reynolds” that Poe called out for shortly before dying.  The story has to do with a letter explaining who Reynolds was, and leading to an unpublished magazine by Poe.

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Garcia-Lopez’s art is great, and Ralph and Sue are always fun to read about.

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One of his best mysteries, this is also the Elongated Man’s last solo story until his miniseries in the 90s.

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On the downside of the issue, there is this text story by Walter Gibson, with some scattered art by Tom Yeates.  I recall reading this as a kid, but not finding it particularly memorable.  And I dislike text stories like this in comics.  If I’m going to read a book, I’ll read a book.  I read comics for the visuals.

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Hawkman also has his last solo story in Detective in this issue.  Well, kind of a solo, really he and Hawkgirl get equal roles.

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Paul Levitz and Joe Kubert helm this tale, that sees Katar and Shayera trying to solve the mystery of the death of a scientist many years earlier.

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There’s some great Kubert art, and the story itself is not bad, but it’s a bit of a tease.

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At the end, Hawkman reveals that the scientist whose death they were investigating was Dr. Erdel, who had died after bringing the Martian Manhunter to Earth.  J’onn had blamed himself, and Hawkman wanted proof that it was not J’onn’s fault.

Hawkman’s next solo outing is the Shadow War of Hawkman miniseries.

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The final story in this issue was also a let-down to me.  Even moreso, as it’s a Batman/Deadman team-up, and those had been above average stories, on the whole.  But Carmine Infantino’s art is not what it was, and Cary Bates’ story doesn’t help much either.

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Pursuing some criminals, Batman gets killed.  Sort of.  Almost dead.  Robin is really stressed, but Deadman shows up and decides to inhabit Batman’s body to bring his killers to justice.

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Oops, someone spilled a plate of scrambled eggs on the comic.  Oh, wait, that’s Infantino’s art for showing Batman and Deadman conversing on the astral plane.

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Deadman moves Batman around and catches the bad guys, and doing so ignites the spark that brings him back to life.  A shame this story closed the issue.  It would have done less damage buried in the middle.

Detective 488 – The Spook sends Batman to death row, Tales of Gotham City begins, Batgirl comes home, the Elongated Man looks for a car, and Robin gets a new girlfriend

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Detective 488 (Feb./March 1980) sees the Spook return.  He had last appeared in an issue of Batman two years earlier.  Cary Burkett scripts, with Don Newton on the art.

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The story also sees Selina Kyle appear, in her budding romance with Bruce Wayne, which had been happening in the pages of Batman.  She, along with much of Gotham, has been reading a runaway best-seller by a man on death row.  His agent and publisher both talk about how much money they could make off a sequel, but of course the author is due to be executed.

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The Spook gets hired to break the man out of prison, and the story adds a mystery element by keeping the identity of the man behind it a secret.

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Lucius Fox, who had been introduced months earlier in Batman, also makes an appearance in this story. giving more background information on the writer.

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The Spook lures Batman to the prison, and uses some special who knows what to make everyone see Batman as the man on death row.  So the Spook breaks the writer out of prison, but no one realizes it, and Batman is due to be executed in his place.

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The Spook even shows up to taunt Batman.  Of course, he manages to escape and catch the writer, the man who hired the Spook, and the big name villain as well.

This was pretty much the last appearance of the Spook, so far as I recall, aside from a couple of stories in the next few years that feature huge line-ups of Batman villains.

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Denny O’Neil scripts the first installment of a new series, Tales of Gotham City.  Some of the stories would feature known characters, but the best of these stories dealt with the every day people of Gotham.

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The first story deals with a cop on his last day before retirement.  He was proud of his record, that he had never had to pull his gun during his time on the force.

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He winds up on a subway car with an escaped convict disguised as a woman, who disappears during the moments the train blacks out in a tunnel.

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It’s a good mystery, for its brevity, and comes to a warm and fuzzy conclusion as the cop subdues the convict without needing to pull his gun and break his perfect record.

True, this is not the dark and seedy Gotham we have come to know and love, but the series would move there.

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Batgirl returns to Gotham in this story by Jack C Harris, with art by Jose Delbo and Frank Chiaramonte.

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The main part of the story deals with rival gang on the verge of a war after the leader of one is murdered, but the better scenes are between Barbara and her father, as they discuss her loss in the recent election.  What caused it, what lessons to take, and where to go from here.

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She averts the gang war, proving that the leader was killed by one of his own gang.

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The final scene shows the exterior of Commissioner Gordon’s house, not something often seen.  He sure seems to make a lot of money as a police commissioner.  I don’t think there is any other story showing him living in such a massive house.

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The Elongated Man is back, with a mysterious car theft in front of a huge crowd, told by Mike W Barr, with art by Eduardo Barreto and Joe Giella.  I don’t know if it’s because this is very early Barreto, or it’s Giella’s inks, but it looks absolutely nothing like his later work.

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The mystery is good enough.  The car simply vanishes, leaving no trace, and Ralph is puzzled until a chance remark by Sue makes him realize the car the crowd saw was just a collapsable shell, not a real car at all.

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Robin’s story, by Jack C Harris, with art by Schaffenberger and Colletta, has a number of wealthy students get kidnapped the first day of the semester.

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One of those grabbed is Jennifer Anne, a pretty blonde that Dick Grayson has been scoping.  So of course he gets into Robin gear to go rescue her.

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The kidnappings turn out to be more extensive than he thought, and Dick learns that he was an intended victim as well.  But knowing that he was meant to be grabbed makes him realize the poor kid, who was handing out assignments to help pay his tuition, is one of the bad guys.

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Robin rescues Jennifer, but Dick gets to make out with her.  There is a “funny” ending, as Alfred gets the ransom note just as Bruce gets Dick’s call about the situation.

But it bothers me that the message seems to be to not trust kids who have to work to pay their tuition.

Detective 468 – The Calculator vs Batman

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The big finale to the Calculator sage, by Bob Rozakis, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin takes up all of Detective 468 (March/April 1977).

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As Hawkman predicted last issue, the Calculator does indeed go up against Batman, and is defeated by him, as he was with all the previous heroes.  But once again, he presses that special button.

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One thing that makes this story entertaining is its use of Morgan Edge, normally a supporting character in the Superman books.  He is trying to secure Bruce Wayne’s vote on the sales of a division of Galaxy Communications, and though he does, in the end, give Batman the inspiration for beating the Calculator, he never does get the signature he needs.

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The effect of the Calculator’s special button is to ensure that he cannot be beaten a second time by a given hero.  It’s never really clear how his machine does this, or any of the other amazing things it does.  But it does make for a great spread, as the heroes take each other down.  The Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Arrow and Hawkman all have small roles in this story, but it’s really a Batman tale, not even a team-up.

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Ultimately, Batman outwits the Calculator, and has him defeat himself. Batman goads him into creating a cage, while standing on a spinnable floor.  The Calculator winds up trapped by his own creation.

Likely because his suit was never really explainable, the Calcualtor did not move on from this introductory run to become a major player.  He next appeared against the Atom in the early 80s, in the pages of Action Comics, and would pop up from time to time in different books.  It was not until the millennium that he got reworked into an impressive villain again.

Detective 466 – The Signalman returns, and the Calculator vs Green Arrow

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After spending years in prison, Phil Cobb escapes and returns to his original villainous identity, the Signalman, in Detective 466 (Dec. 76).  In his last appearance, in the early 60s, he had adopted a second identity, the Blue Bowman.

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Len Wein, Ernie Chan and Vince Coletta handle this tale, and the Signalman comes off as fairly impressive.  His signals are used in a variety of ways, inspiring both the crimes and his weapons and defenses.

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And you just have to love the scene in which he tries to fry Batman in the Bat-Signal. tec_466_003

He goes over a cliff at the end, but does not die, returning next year in the pages of Batman.  Signalman would have a role in a very good Justice League story in the 80s, but for solo outings, this was his highpoint.

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Green Arrow gets a story in Detective Comics for the first time, as he faces the Calculator in this Bob Rozakis/Marshall Rogers/Terry Austin story.

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Still in Star City, the Calculator’s plan this time is to steal the baseball game.  He steals the ball being shot by Green Arrow as the first pitch, and all other balls thrown vanish as well.

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This is also the first Rogers/Austin story in Detective.  The art is just perfect.

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Ralph Dibny had been visiting with Green Arrow before the attack, but finds himself incapable of going into action as the Elongated Man against the Calculator.  Green Arrow writes it off as nerves, but it’s the major clue as to the Calculator’s greater scheme.

Detective 465 – Commissioner Gordon gets kidnapped, and the Calculator vs the Elongated Man

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David V Reed gives some interesting details on how Batman operates in his story from Detective 465 (Nov. 76), with art by Ernie Chan and Frank Giacoia.

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We discover that, a long time earlier, Batman had established a fake identity, and provided him with a home, office and secretary.  This identity would exist solely to be given by Commissioner Gordon is he were ever to be captured and forced to reveal Batman’s identity.  So when someone show up at the office asking questions, Bruce realizes Gordon has been kidnapped.

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We also see part of Batman’s intelligence gathering network.  In disguises, he leaves and retrieves coded messages on grocery story bulletin boards.

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The latter part of the story is not as interesting, as Batman beats people up and fights his way to Gordon and the kidnappers.

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The Calculator stays in Star City, awaiting the Elongated Man, as he and Sue are scheduled to attend a comic book convention in this story, by Bob Rozakis, Ernie Chan and Terry Austin.

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This one is all about stealing Ralph’s day.  His initial attack is passed off as the actions of a cosplayer, and Ralph is completely unprepared as he enters the hall, and causes everyone around his to stretch uncontrollably.  Of course he gets blamed.  The Calculator is on hand, but remaining perfectly still, and Ralph realizes that it’s movement that sets off the stretching.

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And thus we get the only story in which Ralph Dibny tortures a villain into giving up, simply by squeezing him.  And though he doesn’t realize it, he even presses the Calculator’s special button.

 

Detective 457 – Leslie Thompkins debuts, and Sue becomes the Elongated Woman

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A really beautiful cover, and a powerful telling of Batman’s origin in Detective 457 (March 1976), by Denny O’Neil and Dick Giordano.  As well as introducing the character of Leslie Thompkins, this story gives the nickname Crime Alley to the place where Bruce’s parents were killed.

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This story also introduces the idea that Batman makes a pilgrimage each year to the spot where his parents died.  Curiously, Alfred is shown as having no idea where he is going. You’d think he would have figured it out.

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Crime Alley is located in what is now a terrible slum.  We meet Leslie Thompkins, who looks far older and more frail than in any of her later appearances.  She faces the ghetto street kids with smiles and open good will, as Batman does all he can to protect her.

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In the flashback to the parents’ murder, we see that Leslie was the woman who took care of Bruce in the immediate aftermath of the killing.  She does not appear to have any legal function in this story, but later tales would amend this, giving her a medical background, and a social working role.

Leslie supplants the mother of Joe Chill as the woman who looked after young Bruce.  She had only appeared in one story, in the mid 60s.

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Leslie Thompkins would not appear for a few more years, but her second appearance is in the pages of Detective.  This story gives no implication that Leslie might know that Bruce is Batman.

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A fun second half to Bob Rozakis and Kurt Schaffenberger’s tale, which sees Sue Dibny con some thieves into thinking she has her husband’s powers.

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The kidnappers force Ralph to send a note to Sue, insisting that she bring the substance that gives him his stretching powers, which the thieves intend to use themselves.  Ralph’s not refers to tree bark, and Sue realizes that Ralph expects her to con the hoods.

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She does a creditable job, and manages to get Ralph his gingold.

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As well as showing Sue at her resourceful best, the story gives her a happy ending, as she finds her and Ralph on the list of most admired couples.

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