Posts tagged ‘Ernie Chan’

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.

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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 464 – Batman vs Black Spider, and the Calculator vs Black Canary

 

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Black Spider’s introductory story concludes in Detective 464 (Oct. 76), in a Gerry Conway story, with art by Chan and McLaughlin.

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Batman does not get hit by the airplane, but Black Spider manages to kill one of the deplaning passengers, and get away.  Batman hunts the streets looking for information on him, and learns the past of a “friend” of the Spider.  A kid who became a junkie and turned to crime to pay for his habit, eventually killing his own father.

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It’s hardly a surprise when Batman unmasks Black Spider, and reveals him to be the junkie, now clean, but determined to do away with those who profited from his addiction.  Black Spider appears to die at the end of the story, though Batman doubts it.  And indeed, he returns a couple years down the road in the pages of Batman.

I should have mentioned that City Councillor Arthur Reeves, who despises Batman, is re-introduced.  He has a small role, complaining to Gordon about Batman, at the start of the previous issue, and conclusion to this one.

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The Calculator returns, this time in Star City, where he faces off against Black Canary, in a story by Bob Rozakis, Mike Grell and Terry Austin.

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His plan is to steal the city’s Founder’s Day, by creating a deadly heat wave – one made worse by Black Canary every time she uses her sonic cry.

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She wins by pushing things as far as she can with her cry, which causes the Calculator’s device to melt and short out, but not before he presses his special button!

 

Detective 463 – Black Spider debuts, and the Calculator vs the Atom

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It’s Batman vs Spider-Man!  Nope, not even close.  Detective 463 (Sept. 76) introduces the Black Spider, a murderous vigilante, created by Gerry Conway, Ernie Chan and Frank McLaughlin.

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It’s a 2-part story, and this first issue spends much of it’s time setting up the antagonist.  Batman and Gordon are pursuing leads in Gotham’s drug trade, but the dealers they are after keep getting murdered.

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Batman manages to confront the Black Spider towards the end of the story.  Despite his name, and his web-swinging appearance on the cover, mostly he shoots people.

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The Black Spider manages to get away from Batman, leaving him on a tarmac in front of a landing plane.

The story concludes next issue.

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Technically, this is a one-shot back-up story featuring the Atom, but really, it is the start of a six-part story introducing the Calculator.  Bob Rozakis, Mike Grell and Terry Austin provide the art for this instalment.

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In Ivy Town, the Calculator attacks a scientist who has invented an earthquake predicting machine.  Throughout this run, the Calculator would steal things on “the day they were worth the most.”  In this one, he steals the scientist’s life on the day of his big success.

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The Atom captures the Calculator, but the villain does not seem to mind.  He presses a button on his keypad, and happily plots his next crime while in prison.

 

 

Detective 462 – the conclusion to the Captain Stingaree trilogy

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Bob Rozakis, Mike Uslan, Ernie Chan and Frank McLaughlin bring the Captain Stingaree story to a conclusion in Detective 462 (Aug. 76).

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There are also a couple of guest stars in the story.  The first to appear is Robin, who had been captured by Stingaree and encased in a block of ice.  Perhaps Stingaree got hold of Mr. Freeze’s gear.

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Once again, Stingaree lures, captures, and unmasks an unfamiliar Batman.  But then the real one shows up.  Soon, Stingaree and his men have a veritable army of Batman fighting them.

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That’s actually an illusion, courtesy of the other guest star in this issue, the Flash.  He just moved Batman around really quickly.

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So Captain Stingaree gets captured, and we learn he was the fourth of a set of quadruplets.  His three brothers became detectives – and he suspected they were also, as a group, being Batman.  It becomes clear how and when the switches were made, letting the brothers get captured in his place.  But exactly why Batman and the three brothers went to all this trouble, rather than just rounding up Stingaree and his men, is not made clear at all.

Captain Stingaree appears from time to time.  His next appearance came about 6 months later, in the pages of Secret Society of Super-Villains.  But his brothers never return, and without them, Stingaree is just a pirate-themed villain.

Detective 461 – Captain Stingaree, part 2, and Tim Trench ends

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While the Batman story in Detective 461 (July 1976) is not bad, there simply isn’t much to this middle chapter in the Bob Rozakins/Mike Uslan/Ernie Chan/Frank McLaughlin saga.

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With no explanation about the captured Batman from the end of last issue, this story again has Stingaree’s men luring Batman into a trap.  Batman and Stingaree fight.  There is a space of time between Batman being defeated, and Stingaree approaching his body.

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And another unmasking, and again, it’s not Bruce Wayne.

The story concludes next issue.

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Tim Trench gets his second, and final, case in this story by Denny O’Neil, Pablo Marcos and Al Milgrom.

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It’s another story straight out of a film noir, with Tim being asked to guard some money, and winding up with a corpse on his hands.

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There’s some creativity with the violence in this one, but otherwise, it just feels old and characterless.

While Tim Trench would never again get a series, he would make rare appearances over the years.  He next pops up during Mark Millar’s run on Swamp Thing in the 90s.

Detective 460 – Captain Stingaree and Tim Trench debut

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Captain Stingaree is introduced in an unusual three-part story, by Bob Rozakis and Michael Uslan, with art by Ernie Chan and Frank McLaughlin.

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Stingaree opens the trilogy by explaining, to a roomful of dummies, that Batman is really three men working together.  Since we readers know he is wrong, the roomful of dummies just helps emphasize how nutty he is.

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We, and Bruce Wayne, get to see the Captain in his civilian life as well.  He wears the same outfit, as he operates a club on a restored old pirate ship.

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Stingaree has a squad of hoodlums working for him, and they lure Batman.  Stingaree and Batman fight, both getting knocked out by sleeping gas.

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As the story ends, Stingaree revives, and binds the still sleeping Batman.  He unmasks him – and it’s not Bruce Wayne.

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Tim Trench, a minor supporting character from Wonder Woman a few years earlier, gets his own series with this issue, by Denny O’Neil, Pablo Marcos and Al Milgrom.

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Trench is operating out of St. Louis in this story, and seems far more down on his luck than he did a couple of years earlier.  The story is very film noir, with a shady dame and diamond.

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The story is tight, the clues are there.  But there really isn’t much to the detective.  Tim feels fairly generic.

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