Posts tagged ‘Gil Kane’

Detective 520 – Boss Thorne hires Dr 13, and a Catwoman solo story


Gerry Conway and Don Newton art joined by inker Alfredo Alcala on Detective 520 (Nov. 82).


Batman meets with Jim Gordon and Jason Bard, as well as Vickie Vale.  Her editor committed suicide, and they know he gave Vicki’s pictures to Boss Thorne.  They are trying to tie Thorne to Hamilton Hill.

Batman breaks into a prison, and breaks Deadshot out, to get the name of who hired him.  Floyd Lawton has no problems giving up Thorne’s name, but is surprised when Batman knocks him out and sends him back.


Meanwhile, Boss Thorne is more concerned with the hauntings of Hugo Strange’s ghost than with the detectives, and has hired Dr. 13 to find out if the ghost is real.  Dr.13 was last seen a little over a year earlier, investigating the ghost of Wayne Manor.


Dr. 13 goes to Greytowers, the phony hospital run by Hugo Strange, and his ghost materializes.  And Alfred dusts the Batcave.


Catwoman’s solo tales had been running periodically in the back pages of Batman for the last few years.  This issue marks her only solo story in Detective, by Bob Rozakis and Gil Kane.


Selina Kyle bumps into a former henchman of hers, and, sensing that he is lying to her about his plans, decides to follow him. Catwoman is on the good side of the law these days.


It’s a soft story with a happy ending, as the guy has gone straight as well, and was hoping Catwoman would follow him and be his back up as he exposed some thieves.

Detective 405 – the League of Assassins debuts, and Batgirl gets statuesque


The League of Assassins are first referred to in Detective 405 (Nov. 70).  I don’t want to say “they” appear, as only one member is in this Denny O’Neil/Bob Brown/Frank Giacoia tale.


A number of shipping tycoons around the world have been murdered, and Commissioner Gordon requests, on behalf of Interpol, that Batman stay near one who is in Gotham.  Batman does, and they sail off.  The ship gets bombed by dolphins, and they wind up on a island of deadly traps.


All of this is the work of Tejja, of the League of Assassins.


The story does a good job of building the menace of this organization, even though Batman manages to defeat the martial artist.


The story continues in the following issue.


The Batgirl story by Robbins, Kane and Giacoia ends this issue.


The crazy actress who framed Jason does her best to turn Batgirl into a statue in this story, but she fights her way free.

In a nicely ironic touch, the huge head of Billy Warlock has cameras in the eyes, which record the bragging confession of the actress.

I should have mentioned last issue that, with this story, Batgirl’s series becomes the sole back-up feature in Detective.

Detective 404 – Batman vs Enemy Ace, and Jason Bard is framed for murder


Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano craft a really clever variation of a team-up story in Detective 404 (Oct. 70), as Batman gets involved with a film crew making a biopic of Enemy Ace.


Bruce Wayne is one of the producers of the film, and he views the story of Hans Von Hammer as that of a man trying to maintain nobility in the madness of World War I.  There is also a lookalike descendant of Hans who disagrees completely with the way the film portrays Hans, and thinks it demeans him.


Someone keeps sabotaging the film production, and it’s not difficult to guess who.  But that’s all just a set-up for the big finale, as Franz dresses as Enemy Ace, and challenges Batman to a dogfight.


Who cares if it’s not really practical, it brings Enemy Ace fully into the story, even if it’s a different man in a different time.


Franz dies when his scarf gets caught in the rotor, but it’s given a hint of a supernatural feel, as if his ghostly ancestor denied him.

There is a follow-up story, of sorts, a few years down the road.


Batgirl investigates the murder of underground film director Billy Warlock in this story by Frank Robbins, Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia.

Jason Bard was arrested for the crime after being seen by witnesses, but he was on a job, and ordered to dress a certain way.  It doesn’t take Barbara long to figure out he was set up, despite the damning evidence against him.  Commissioner Gordon gets a brief scene.


Batgirl follows the trail to two of Warlocks stars, who freely admit to their crime, as they work to turn Batgirl into a statue.



Detective 403 – another Victims, Incorporated client, and Robin ends


A really beautiful gothic cover to Detective 403 (Sept. 70), but the story, by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Frank Giacoia, makes some attempt to hit these visuals, but misses the mood entirely.


It plays out like a film noir thriller, not the gothic tale the cover promised.  A mysterious woman comes to see Bruce Wayne at Victims, Incorporated, announcing that her husband will be murdered the following day.


Batman jumps into the mystery, and it’s a story of identical twin sisters and carriages being robbed in the park.  There is even a big spooky house, but it just never comes together.


Robin’s series in Detective comes to an end with this Mke Freidrich/Gil Kane/Vince Colletta story that brings back the troubled kids from the previous issue.


After trouble on campus, Robin goes to spy on them, and sees the boys working with guns.  He attacks, jumping to the wrong conclusions.


The boys were being recruited by a gangster, but had rejected him on their own.

Robin’s series moves over to the back pages of Batman, and improves a lot.


Detective 402 – Man-Bat returns, and Robin helps reform school kids


Man-Bat returns in Detective 402 (Aug. 70), although it’s Frank Robbins scripting Neal Adams and Dick Giordano’s art.


Batman responds to an alarm at a laboratory, and finds Man-Bat already there, having taken down the men trying to rob the place.  Batman and Man-Bat fight after Man-Bat tries to take a serum, and Batman discovers that his appearance is real, not a costume.


There’s a good shot of the 1970 Batmobile, and just below that, the introduction of Francine Lee, Kirk’s fiancee.  She doesn’t do much besides weep in this story, but she does give Batman the needed background on Kirk Langstrom.


Batman chases, and Man-Bat runs, until the spectacular sequence in which he gains wings.  He makes the mistake of fleeing into the Batcave though.


It’s a great fight, as Batman tries to help the poor man, who is simply freaking out due to his animal nature.


Batman finally takes Man-Bat down with the Batmobile.  He doesn’t look in great shape as the story ends, but Batman is determined to cure him.

It’s a few more months before the final chapter of this introduction to the character appears.


Speedy guest stars in this Mike Freidrich story, with art by Kane and Colletta.  The story takes place just after Robin rejoins the Teen Titans, after briefly leaving.  Roy and Dick discuss these recent events as the story opens.


The story sets up the next issue, introducing us to a program at Hudson U. to help out kids who had wound up in reform schools and such, in the hopes of making university available to them.


Roy is pretty subdued through the story, which culminates in Dick pondering changing his name from Robin to something more adult.  But his Nightwing days were a decade away, and he proudly stays as Robin.

Detective 401 – A hunter takes aim on Batman, and Robin rescues Batgirl


Detective 401 (July 1970) has a nice Adams cover, but the story, by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella, fails to grab me.


There’s a great hunter, who has vowed to hunt down Batman, because he would be the greatest challenge.  The story is cat and mouse between them, but the guy is never very impressive, or threatening.


He tries to lure Batman by pretending to be holding Alfred, but Batman realizes he’s a fake.  Somehow, the hunter figured out Batman was Bruce Wayne, but how is never explained.  And of rouse, the hunter dies at the end, so the secret stays safe.


The second half of the O’Neil/Kane/Colletta story sees Robin comes by the university theatre in time to save Batgirl from being walled up alive.


This chapter is almost entirely Robin’s, although the two heroes do spend a bit of time together.


Barbara works on solving the mystery, while Dick tries to figure out why she is there in the first place.


Although there is no romance between the characters yet, the story does end on a flirtatious note.

Detective 400 – Man-Bat debuts, and Batgirl teams with Robin


Man-Bat makes his first appearance in Detective 400 (June 1970), the first chapter in his story, which will run through three issues scattered across seven months.


Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano introduce Kirk Langstrom, a bat specialist at Gotham’s Natural History Museum, who longs to create a sonar system in humans the way that bats have them.


He experiments on himself, and at first all seems well.  Meanwhile, Batman is working to perfect a way to fight a group who commit crimes in total darkness, using night vision goggles.  This involves forcing Alfred to dress up as a robber so that Batman can hunt him and knock him down.


As Batman beats up Alfred, Langstrom discovers that the serum is continuing to change his body, as his face and head now resemble that of a bat.


Batman and Man-Bat meet only briefly at the conclusion of the story, both battling the gang in the dark.  Batman does not realize that Man-Bat is not in a costume.  Man-Bat runs off into the night.

Even though the cover, and the teaser for the next chapter in this story, show Man-Bat with wings, those do not manifest in this story.


A team-up of Batgirl and Robin is billed in this issue, by Denny O’Neil, Gil Kane and Vince Colletta.  Calling it a team-up is excessive.  Mostly, it’s a 2-parter that stars Batgirl in the first half, and Robin in the second.


Barbara Gordon comes to Hudson University with some rare books for a display, but thieves are on the prowl.  Batgirl chases a student radical, the obvious suspect, and runs into Dick Grayson.  This is the only bit in this issue where the two are together.


Then it’s back to Batgirl, who suspects there is more to the robberies than an angry activist.  She gets captures and bound, and is being walled up alive at the cliffhanger.

Detective 397 – Batman and the crazed collector, and Batgirl looks for a date


O’Neil, Adams and Giordano return for Detective 397 (March 1970), for a less supernatural, but still very powerful, tale.


The story also briefly introduces us to Cathy, Bruce Wayne’s housekeeper, who appears only in this story.


The villain of the tale is a reclusive millionaire, Orson Payne, who collects art that reminds him of the opera singer he loved and lost.  If the art reminds him of her, he must have it, whether the owner has any desire to sell or not.  The violence and theft this entails brings Batman onto the case.


Adams and Giordano do exceptional work on this story.  Payne’s mansion is stunning, the art works are beautifully executed, and the man himself is shown in glorious madness.


Payne attempts to kill Batman.  He fails, and almost dies himself, pursuing an illusory image of his lost love.  After sending Payne to prison, Bruce realizes that Cathy is really Caterina Vallance, the opera singer he loved and tried to control, who fled her entire life simply to get away from him.


Batgirl’s quest for the Orchid Killer concludes in this issue, a story by Frank Robbins, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson.


Jason Bard turns out to be the one who grabbed her, as he is pursuing the same case.  Barbara once again tries to lure the killer, but seems to get yet another innocent man.


In fact, all the men she has encountered, except for Jason, are the same man, disguising himself.  Batgirl takes the killer down.  Jason remains jealously protective of Barbara.


Detective 396 – Batman and the millionaire biker, and Batgirl goes after a woman killer


It;s back to Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella for Detective 396 (Feb. 70), as Batman comes to the aid of a young millionaire who spends his life on his motorbike.


Crooks learn that he delivers his stock orders while biking, and bug his machine, but he dictates in code, and they are forced to kidnap him.  When he starts selling Wayne stock, Bruce gets alerted, and figures out the situation.


It’s not a bad story, not great.  The one thing I do like about it is that the ugly new Batmobile, which appeared a few issues earlier with its awful yellow trim, gets trashed at the end.


Batgirl goes after a serial killer who uses a dating agency to find his prey in this 2-part story by Frank Robbins, with art by Kane and Anderson.


The killer, who gives his victims orchids before strangling them, seems to have a liking for the “Plain Jane” type, so Barbara does herself up that way, and joins the dating agency, in hopes of luring the killer.


Her date does bring her an orchid, and she attacks, but the poor man is simply mystified.  The story does end on a cliffhanger, and she gets grabs from behind.

Detective 395 – “The Secret of the Waiting Graves,” and Robin joins the protest


With Detective 395 (Jan. 70) Batman took another step towards the dark knight, thanks to Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and Dick Giordano.  While the stories by Frank Robbins had enmeshed Batman in a world of real street crime, this story moved the character to the verge of the supernatural, taking advantage of the gothic craze from the early 70s, and adding a new darkness to the character.


The story takes Bruce Wayne to Mexico, where he meets the reclusive Juan and Dolores Muerto.  Although the couple seems open and friendly, Batman has already spotted the violence occurring on their estate.


One of the other party guests turns out to be a government agent.  The Muertos own a ruined monastery, in which grow hundreds of “sibyl” plants, which give immortality, but at the cost of madness.  The plants are illegal, and the agent is out to get the Muertos, but they get him first.


Batman doesn’t fare too much better than the Mexican cop, getting caught and thrown into the monastery, where he is subject to the effects of the flowers, and of Neal Adams love for psychedelic panels.


Batman sets fire to the monastery and the flowers, and the story comes to a pure horror comic conclusion, with the Muertos rapidly aging and falling into their pre-dug graves.

While Detective Comics would stay largely within the realm of realistic crimes for the next few years, the supernatural element from this story would play big time in early 70s Batman.


Robin’s story, by Robbins, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson, concludes in this issue.  Robin confronts Fire-Brand Fran and Jonah about being in league with the phony cops.


It then turns out that the student radicals are really foreign agents trying to destroy the US.   That’s a kind of shocking dismissal of the issues that were being protested on US college campuses at the time, and later Robin stories would deal with those issues in a much more intelligent way.


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