Posts tagged ‘Flash’

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.

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Detective 449 – Batman herds cattle, and Elongated Man chases a man who walks on air

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Detective 449 (July 1975) features an unusual tale by Elliot S! Maggin, with art by Ernie Chan and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, which climaxes with Batman on horseback, leading a cattle drive through Gotham City.

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The story begins as Batman brings in a man named Tad Wolfe for attempted murder.  Although he witnessed it, something about the situation feels wrong to Batman, and he continues to ponder it.

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Meanwhile, he gets entangled in the cattle rustling plot.  Chan is always great on background details, and his panels of the cattle on the loose look great.

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Batman, as well as other Gotham cops, round up the herds and keep control of the situation.

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The story concludes back with the Tad Wolfe plot line, as Batman has realized that Wolfe prevented his gun from firing, and was taking the heat for his criminal brother.  Wolfe returns a few issues down the road.

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Mary Skrenes and Dick Giordano relate this issue’s Elongated Man story, which opens with Sue informing Ralph that there is a man outside their window – of their high rise hotel.

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Ralph is on the case immediately, following the mysterious man as he rushes away, and shows he can swim as fast as he can fly.

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After the man disappears when cornered in an alley, Ralph deduces it must be the Flash, and indeed, this is another birthday mystery devised by Sue.  What really sells the story, though, is when Ralph explains his deductions, about the Flash vibrating through a wall, and the Flash informs him that he didn’t do that at all, he jumped over Ralph.

“Uhhh, whatever.  I figured it out, didn’t I?

Pure Ralph.

Detective 351 – Cluemaster debuts, and the Elongated Man’s old costume gets stolen

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Great cover for the debut of the Cluemaster, in Detective 351 (May 1966).  The story itself, by Gardner Fox, with art by Infantino and Greene, gives the largest role to Aunt Harriet that the character will ever get.

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The story opens as she accidentally discovers the elevator to the Batcave.  She even goes down and explores it.  She hints to Bruce and Dick about her discovery, but they have already covered their tracks.  She spends the rest of the story trying to prove they are Batman and Robin.

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Meanwhile, the heroes are dealing with the Cluemaster.  He’s basically the Riddler, except his clues are not in the form of riddles.And though Batman and Robin do not realize it at first, he is also seeking the Batcave, and the secret of their identities.

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The two plotlines converge when the traps Cluemaster and Aunt Harriet have laid wind up exposing each others traps, so Bruce and Dick have plenty of time to figure out how to outwit both.

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And sure, Cluemaster is left in the dark, but the film they create for Aunt Harriet is hardly a solution, showing her that Batman and Robin do indeed have a cave under the mansion, and are in contact with Bruce and Dick.  That’s just bound to create bigger problems later on.  Or would, if Aunt Harriet hadn’t been such a marginal character.

As for Cluemaster, it took until the 90s for this character to come to life.  He has a number of cameos before that, the next one in a Batman comic from 1968.

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It’s just Fox and Infantino on the Elongated Man story in this issue.  Ralph has plans to donate his old costume to the Flash Museum in Central City, but discovers that it has been stolen.

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It turns out his costume has retained some of its elasticity, and is being used, basically as a giant rubber band, by a clever crook, to facilitate his escapes.

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Old vs new for the climax, and of course Ralph wins.  The Flash has a cameo at the end of the story, as Ralph and Sue present the costume to the museum.

Detective 336 – Batman under a witch’s curse, and the Elongated Man in a trap for the Flash

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Batman and Robin deal with a broomstick riding witch in Detective 336 (Feb. 65), a Fox/Moldoff/Giella tale.

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Batman and Robin are called to a robbery, where the witch announces that she will be removing their senses one at a time as the evening, and her crime spree, progress.

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And that’s essentially what happens, though the two heroes always manage to prevail.

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Robin is the one to figure out that the broomstick is the actual source of her powers, and unseats her, freeing Batman from her spell.

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The whole thing turns out to be a ploy by the Outsider, who brags at the end to Batman.

Later continuity would add even more to this story, when it was revealed that the witch was actually Zatanna, in disguise and under the thrall of the Outsider.

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The Elongated Man gets to penetrate a house of traps set for the Flash in this Fox story, with art by Infantino and Greene.

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Ralph and Sue are on their way to Central City to visit Barry and Iris, when Ralph is alerted to a house rigged up by Mirror Master.  Sue goes off to lunch with Iris while Ralph navigates through the various traps, finding the man running it while Mirror Master is away.

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It turns out Flash chose to leave the house to Ralph, rather than dealing with it after he defeated Mirror Master, because he figured Ralph would enjoy it.  And, he did.  That’s a true buddy.

The story ends with the two couples going out for a refined dinner.

Adventure 466 – Flash, Deadman, Justice Society of America and Aquaman end

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Adventure 466 (Dec 79) is the last issue of the book as a Dollar Comic, and with the next issue it shrinks back to regular size.  All four of the series conclude their runs in this issue, most with arguably their best stories.

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The Flash faces one of his regular enemies, the Weather Wizard, in this story by Cary Bates, with art by Mike Netzer and Vince Colletta.

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Mark Mardon claims to have turned over a new leaf, and intends to use his powers for good, although the Flash doesn’t believe or trust him for a second.  Nonetheless, it seems to be true, although his behaviour seems irrational, if benevolent.

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But even his good intentions prove disastrous, as his drought relief turns into a raging flood.  Flash realizes his change in behaviour is likely connected to increased sunspot activity, and his mental bond with his weather controlling wand has allowed his emotions to become affected.

And though he commits no crimes during this time, he still winds up in prison at the end of the story, after attacking people who called him a hero, enraged that they would insult him so.

A fun little tale, and by far the best art of any of the Flash’s stories in Adventure.

The Flash’s series ends, but he continues in his own comic.

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Len Wein and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez go out on a high note with the final Deadman story, by far the best of his run.  It begins quite simply, as Deadman watches an old man in a park, feeding the birds, and envies him his life.

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When the man pulls out a gun and tries to kill himself, Deadman is horrified, but acts quickly, inhabiting a bird and using that to knock the gun out of his hand.  He follows the old man home, and discovers that he lives with his abusive adult son, a drug dealer, and his innocent grand-daughter.

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Deadman follows the son when he storms out after a fight, pretty much intending to see that he gets arrested.  But when the man heads to the docks and ponders his life, deciding to change, Deadman’s faith is restored, and he tags along to make sure he lives up to his intent.

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The grandfather also heads out, and both wind up at the big boss’s place, where things go horribly wrong, despite the best intentions of the hero and the two men.  Deadman possesses the grandfather, which causes him to freeze, and he winds up getting shot, and dying, as a result.  Th boss kills himself rather than wind up in prison, but at least the son and his daughter survive.

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Even still, this is a dark and powerful story, fully worthy of the last panel of Deadman screaming in frustration.  That happens a lot in Deadman stories, but rarely with as much meaning.

Deadman’s next appearance, in DC Comics Presents, follows up on this tale.  Deadman’s next continuing series comes in the late 80s, in the pages of Action Comics Weekly.

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The entire Justice Society of America appear in this final story, leaving the funeral of Mr Terrific following the latest JLA/JSA crossover, in a story by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton.

After their departure, Power Girl asks Huntress about something she overheard, about the Justice Society disbanding in the early 1950s, and for the rest of the tale, Huntress relates the story to her.  Much of it is a fairly standard super-hero tale, as the team is offered a satellite headquarters, which turns out to be a deathtrap.  They escape, and capture the man behind it, but the last few pages take a surprising twist.

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The man was a Soviet agent, and the Justice Society are summoned before the House Un-American Activities Committee to testify about their relationship with him, a session that quickly degenerates into a witch hunt.

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In order to clear their names, they are told they must unmask and reveal their identities to the Committee.  As a group, they refuse, and disappear from the chamber.

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A powerful story, with long-lasting effects throughout the DC Universe.  The story gives a solid explanation of why the team abruptly vanished in the early 1950s, a reason rooted in the issues of the time, even moreso than it appears.

In reality, the publication of the book Seduction of the Innocent, which blamed all manner of mental and social problems with youth on the influence of comic books, had swept the US in the early 1950s, and virtually all super-herores ceased to appear.  So there are really two levels to this tale.

The JSA continue to appear regularly in Justice League of America, and Huntress was soon to get her own series in Wonder Woman.  The next time they had their own book was in the America vs the Justice Society mini-series in the mid-80s.

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After three strong stories it would be nice to say that Aquaman goes out on a high note as well.  I can’t say that, but at least the story, by Bob Rozakis and Don Newton, doesn’t suck.

The underwater Nazis return, as we discover that Helga’s death was simply a hologram, and they have subtly invaded Atlantis.  Vulko turns out to be a hologram as well.

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Mera accompanies Aquaman as he invades their base.  As a kid I found her behaviour on this page suspicious, and noted the subtle clue in the lower left corner of the bottom panel.

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Aquaman also figures out that Mera is a hologram, finds and frees her and Vulko, and brings the Nazi base crashing down around them.  He even gains a new pet, the telepathic mutated Nazi seahorse, Siggy.

Aquaman’s series continues in the pages of World’s Finest Comics a few months down the road.

Adventure 465 – Flash hears mysterious warnings, Deadman deals with slum gangs, the Justice Society hunt for a stolen poison and Aquaman faces underwater Nazis

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Cary Bates, Don Heck and Joe Giella tell an entertaining little tale in Adventure 465 (Oct 79), and at least make a slight reference to the events happening in the Flash’s own comic, although Iris’ murder is never specifically mentioned.

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After stopping a missile, Flash discovers his hearing has become messed up, and begins overhearing an unusual warning about invaders from above.

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After much puzzlement and research, Barry determines that he has temporarily developed the ability to understand dolphins, who were chatting about thieves diving in and hiding their loot in the dolphin tank at the aquarium.  And while in his own book Barry Allen is close to a complete breakdown, here he is content to play ball with the creatures.

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Some beautiful Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez art on this Len Wein story, with Dick Giordano providing the inks.  Deadman does not return to Hill’s Circus after his visit to the lab in the last issue.  Instead he finds himself “strolling” through the slums.

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He comes across a young chopkeeper and his wife, being harassed by a protection scam, and follows (and occasionally possesses) the man as he tries to rally the neighbourhood to stand up to the gang.  When this fails, he tries to find evidence on his own that will bring them down.

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Boston Brand helps all he can, and for a change this story does come to a happy ending, a rarity in a Deadman tale.

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The Justice Society get their only typical super-team adventure in their run in this book.  Paul Levitz and Joe Staton provide a tale in which the team split up in a desperate search for a stolen poison capsule that threatens to wipe out an entire city.

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Levitz does a good job giving the various heroes their moments of glory.  Huntress and Power Girl find vital clues as to who stole the poison – the cleaning lady, trying to help her addict son, unaware of what it truly was.

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Hawkman barges in on Dr Fate, insisting that he help the team, and Inza Nelson gets her only appearance during the JSA’s run in this book.

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Green Lantern and the Flash get to be the ones to actually find the capsule, stuck to a dog’s fur, and destroy it.

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The Dr Fate scene pays off in the epilogue, although only by implication at this point, as Mr Terrific shows up, in a rare appearance, to join the team for the annual JLA/JSA team-up, at which he gets murdered.

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Aquaman encounters some robot-building underwater Nazis in this story, by Bob Rozakis, with art by Don Newton.

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After encountering a hologram of a sea monster, Aquaman finds a hidden city in Antarctica of Nazis, descendants of ones who fled there at the end of World War 2.  Helga serves as his guide, and appears to be fairly open and pleasant, but that is simply a ruse to get him off his guard, at which point they attack and imprison him, replacing him with a hologram.

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The Nazi Aquaman hologram brings Helga to Atlantis, introducing her to Vulko, who just merrily accepts everything in the incompetent fashion he has been consistently showing, but Mera is suspicious.

The climax has Aquaman defeat his double, while Mera gets captured by Helga, but manages to free herself.  Helga appears to die, but this story is far from over.

Funny, in memory these people were connected to the Universal Food Products crew from a few issues ago – the odd uniform on the sailor being a hint at their Nazi background.  But there is no actual connection in this story.  My teenage brain simply found a link where none was intended.

Adventure 464 – Flash vs Abra Kadabra, Deadman gets trapped by psychics, Wildcat retires, Aquaman defends Atlantis and Wonder Woman ends

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Deadman gets featured on the cover of Adventure 464 (Aug 79), which was intended as the cover for an issue of Showcase, before its cancellation in the DC Implosion.

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The Flash deals with Abra Kadabra, the “magician” from the future who uses advanced science as if it were magic, in this story by Cary Bates, with art by Don Heck and Joe Giella.

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Kadabra makes everyone in Central City perceive the world as being upside down, primarily to distract and disorient the Flash, while he seeks for the thing he plans to rob – an applause machine, used in tv recording.  Abra Kadabra’s primary motivation was always to get attention and applause, so it’s an appropriate goal, with the explanation that these no longer exist in the 64th century.

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The Flash defeats him and turns him over to police from his era, but in a nice touch, allows him to keep the machine anyway.

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As with the cover, the Deadman story in this issue, by Len Wein and Gerry Conway, with art by Jim Aparo, was intended for Showcase.  The cancellation of that series as part of the DC Implosion resulted in the story being printed here instead, and is the reason it does not use any of the locations or supporting cast from the previous issues.

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A group of scientists doing psychic research attempt to contact the spirit of Boston Brand in a seance, and succeed better than they expected, as Deadman gets pulled against his will to them.

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A fire breaks out, and the team believe the ghost is responsible, but Deadman knows it had nothing to do with him.  Taking over the body of one of the team, he tries to figure out the solution with them, and suggests the one acting as the medium, Annabelle, may have telepathic powers of her own.

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Eventually, Deadman figures out that it is the head of the project who is manipulating events.  He is an “omnipath, ” capable of controlling other psychics and supernatural beings, like Deadman.  Their battle winds up destroying the lab entirely, and the facility closes down.

Not a bad Deadman story at all, but very different than the series aleady running in Adventure, and as a kid I was disappointed in the tale.  I suspect had it been published in Showcase as intended, I would have enjoyed it much more.

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Paul Levitz and Joe Staton follow up the last Justice Society epic with a low-key tale, which is almost a Wildcat solo story.  Power Gir, Huntress and Robin appear only on the first and last pages.  The rest of the story has Ted Grant going out to his old gym, now closed down, and encountering kids coping with slum life and street gangs.

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He decides that he can do more good by re-opening the gym and being himself, rather than hanging around heroes much more powerful than he is, and chooses to retire from being Wildcat.

This is, I think, the third story that has Wildcat retire.  It was no more permanent than any of the previous ones.

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Wonder Woman’s series in Adventure ends with the conclusion of her battle with the Queen Bee, by Gerry Conway, wit art by Jose Delbo and Joe Giella.

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Zazzala attempts to murder Wonder Woman with a huge dose of bee venom, and there are a couple cool pages that show her “inner battle” with the bee poison, shown as giant bees.

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Zazzala manages to use her scientist-brain powered craft to short out the Justice League satellite, incapacitating the members on board, but Wonder Woman recovers from the poison and catches up to her.  She defeats Zazzala by throwing her into her own machine, shorting out her brain – although only temporarily, as she shows no lasting effects of this.

Wonder Woman continues in her own comic, and Queen Bee next appears in the Super Friends comic, the same issue that forms the Global Guardians.

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The issue ends with a largely unremarkable Aquaman story, written by Bob Rozakis, with art by Don Newton.

The story pits him against Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Markos, who sets up a pollution nullifying plant above Atlantis, but as a front for his armed goons to attack it.

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Aquaman defeats Markos’ men, and exposes his Detox ship as a front, but Markos sails away, vowing revenge.

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