Michael Fleisher joins Don Newton for the lead story in Detective 494 (Sept. 80).
A new Crime Doctor, Raymond Thorne, is introduced in this story. As with the 1940s version, he sells his skills to other criminals, charging extra for “house calls” during the crimes themselves. With the ambulance to travel in, and the surgical gear as a costume, I always thought this was a great idea for a villain.
Batman gets alerted to the existence of the Crime Doctor after discovering one of his prescriptions at a crime scene.
The story also allows us to see Thorne in his everyday life, as a wealthy and successful surgeon, whose life of crime is a thrilling addiction.
Batman sustains injuries to great for Alfred to handle, and as Dr. Dundee is out of town, his cases are being handled by Thorne. He patches up Bruce Wayne. Later, when the Crime Doctor and Batman are facing off against each other, the bandage gets revealed, and Thorne lets slip that he put it there – and both men realize they know who the other is.
The two wind up trapped, after the men who hired Thorne plot to kill him and leave him at the scene, along with Batman.
The story concludes next issue.
A classic from the day it came out, Pinball was by far the best of the Tales of Gotham City stories, by Jack C Harris, with art by Dan Spiegle. Set in a pinball arcade, it deals with a drug runner who is so into his game that he lets a young admirer transport the drugs for him.
After the boy leaves, he learns that a rival gang is on the hunt for the runners. The news of this, the pinball game, and the young boy’s journey through dangerous territory are perfectly intercut.
In the end he leaves his game, worried about the kid, and rightfully so. The punk sacrifices his life to save the boy. Redeeming, but dark. This is Gotham.
Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Frank Chiaramonte are behind the Batgirl story in this issue, which continues the story from the previous one.
While Batgirl does not have any sort of cave of her own, she does have a friend, Jeff, who runs a garage. He seems to have a crush on Batgirl, and she feels comfortable storing her motorcycle there.
Barbara is not above a bit of flirting herself, when she finds out the father of the girl Batgirl rescued the previous issue is single.
She also discovers that the development plans had been altered, and the original plan buried by slum lords who wanted to hold onto their properties. She exposes their scheme, and the new housing is built, and the theatre saved.
It’s back to campus life with this Harris/NIcholas.Colletta Robin story, that deals with a supposed death by hazing, which was really an intentional murder.
Dick and Jennifer about to go swimming when they discover the body, and once again Dick ditches his girlfriend to go be Robin.
It’s not one of his harder cases, and he does end up lip-locked with Jennifer. Considering that their relationship ends next issue, I wanted to include their last really happy moment.
Black Lightning is back, with a good story by Jean-Marc deMatteis.
The hero has two major concerns in this story. As teacher Jefferson Pierce, he is worried about one of his students, who seems to be having some troubles at home.
As Black Lightning, he is dealing with the Slime Killer, a vigilante doling out bloody street justice.
Visiting the boy at home, Jeff meets his angry, physically abusive father.
It’s not much of a surprise when the father turns out to be the Slime Killer, but the story does not shy away from the difficult ending, as the son chooses to support his father, even after he is exposed and arrested. Not an entirely happy ending, but a good one.