Posts tagged ‘Hawkgirl’

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

tec_500

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.

tec_500_001

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

tec_500_002

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

tec_500_003

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.

tec_500_004

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

tec_500_005

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.

tec_500_006

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.

tec_500_007

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.

tec_500_008

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.

tec_500_009

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.

tec_500_010

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.

tec_500_011

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.

tec_500_012

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.

tec_500_013

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.

tec_500_014

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.

tec_500_015

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.

tec_500_016

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.

tec_500_017

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

tec_500_018

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

tec_500_019

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.

tec_500_020

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

tec_500_021

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.

tec_500_022

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

tec_500_023

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.

tec_500_024

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.

tec_500_025

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.

tec_500_026

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.

tec_500_027

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.

Advertisements

Detective 487 – The League of Assassins go after a writer, Roy Raymond returns, Robin goes to Germany, the Odd Man debuts, and Batgirl runs for re-election

tec_487

Denny O’Neil and Don Newton manage to craft a League of Assassins story that reads like a farce, without actually diminishing the power or threat of the League.

tec_487_001

The tale centres on a writer, Sergius, who works out his plots as he jogs.  The Sensei overhears him talking about the assassins and their plot, and mistakenly believes he knows something about their organization, and sends the League out to kill him.

tec_487_002

For a while, the clumsy Sergius is oblivious to what is going on, narrowly avoiding death.

tec_487_003

But the League’s activities draw Batman’s attention.  He persuades Sergius to allow Matches Malone to be his bodyguard.  For those who do not know this, Matches Malone is Batman’s “criminal” identity.

tec_487_004

As Matches he saves Sergius from the League’s most elaborate murder attempt, drowning him by flooding his apartment.  Batman succeeds at rounding up a number of the group’s killers, but of course the Sensei remains free.

tec_487_005

Roy Raymond, last seen a few months earlier in Superman Family, gets one last solo story in Detective, courtesy of Bob Rozakis and Dave Hunt.  Morgan Edge has a small role, as Roy is hosting an Impossible But Truespecial on WGBS.

tec_487_006

Three beings claiming to be aliens are to appear on the show.  One is an R2D2 type machine, one is along the standard lines of an alien monster, and one is an ordinary looking woman, claiming to be exiled from her homeworld.

tec_487_007

In a particularly nice touch,Roy is reunited with old friend and former helper, Karen Duncan.

tec_487_008

Roy exposes the machine and monster as fakes.  Even as a kid I could see the twist that the ordinary looking woman really was an alien, but it was a pleasant shock when it turns out to be Hawkgirl.

Roy Raymond next appears in Detective 500.

tec_487_009

Robin’s story, by Jack C Harris, Kurt Schaffenberger and Joe Giella, takes Dick to West Germany to inspect Wayne Enterprises holdings.

tec_487_010

Dick finds it all terribly boring, until he hears of an unusual bank robbery, in which the wall was pulverized.

tec_487_011

As Robin, he investigates, and quickly gets on the track of some new mini-tanks being developed by his company for the US base there, and figures out a neat trick on how they load the tanks into trucks, using them for the robbery.

Definitely one of the better stories from Robin’s run in this book.

tec_487_012

The Odd Man gets his only solo story to date, by Steve Ditko.  This was intended to be the back-up feature in Shade, the Changing Man, but when that comic was cancelled in the DC Implosion, this story got shelved, until it’s appearance here.

tec_487_013

By far the most annoying thing about this tale, given that it is the character’s only story, is how little we learn about him.  His normal human identity is Clay Stoner, a private detective.  He is facing off against thieves patterning themselves on ancient Egyptians.

tec_487_014

We see him use “powder and smoke gloves”, and he also has a plastic spray he seals a villain in, but that’s it for weaponry.  Does he have any powers?  Who knows.  Why does he dress so strangely?  Who knows.

The Odd Man does pop up from time to time, but no appearance has ever clarified who he is.

tec_487_015

Jack G Harris and Dick Giordano send Barbara Gordon back to the polls in this story.  It’s the first time re-election has been mentioned, so even though she went to Washington seven years earlier, it must only be 2 comic book years since that story.

tec_487_016

Her political adversary, Della Zigler, is based on an actual politican from this era, Bella Abzug, known for her huge hats.  And while Barbara is trying to defeat Della in the election, as Batgirl she is working to save her life from gangsters who want her dead.

tec_487_017

I was genuinely surprised at the ending of this story when I was kid.  Barbara Gordon loses the election.  But heroes never lose!  While I would never say this story is powerful, it certainly has a kick in the teeth ending, though Barbara herself admits she spent too much time as Batgirl and too little campaigning.  And looking back over her seven years in Washington, very few stories showed her functioning as a congresswoman.  I expect her constituents were also feeling neglected.

Detective 479 – Batman vs Clayface, and Hawkman vs Fadeaway Man

tec_479

Detective 479 (July/Aug. 1978) features the conclusion to the 2-part Clayface story, as well the conclusion to Steve Englehart’s run, and the collaboration with Rogers and Austin.  Up to this point, no creative team had told such an interconnected story, or given Batman such a strong romantic plotline.

tec_479_001

Batman manages to escape from Clayface, whose exoskeleton makes him much stronger, by electrocuting his suit.

tec_479_002

Though she is not identified, the cat hints that the mysterious woman who comes to visit Bruce Wayne is Catwoman.  This is the first appearance she makes following a story in Batman Family in which she battled the Huntress, and begins her path to redemption.  Current continuity would make this her first appearance after Zatanna’s mind wipe of her, as related in Identity Crisis.

tec_479_003

Batman manages to track Payne to his wax museum, and sees just how very disturbed the man is.  One of the things I really like about this third Clayface is that, as much of a killer as he is, he remains tragic and sympathetic.

tec_479_004

Though Batman does beat him, the wax museum catches fire.  Clayface, terrified for the “life” of the dummy he loves, bursts his bonds and runs back into the building burning as it collapses.

This Clayface returns in a few years, in a Batman Annual, with an amazing story by Alan Moore.

tec_479_005

Hawkman returns to the pages of Detective following his run in Showcase, which saw Hyathis conquer Thanagar, and Hawkman and Hawkgirl exiled again.  Len Wein and Rich Buckler contribute this story, which introduces a new villain and brings back an old supporting character.

tec_479_006

Returning to the Midway City Museum, Carter  and Shiera Hall are surprised to discover someone else in Carter’s office.  Mavis Trent, not seen since Hawkman 2, explains that Carter was fired after not showing up to work for months on end.  And can you blame them?

tec_479_007

Well, maybe you can, since the guy they hired has no trouble announcing that he is a villain, the Fadeaway Man, and uses his magic cloak to send Carter away.

tec_479_008

The writer clearly has backstory for this character, with his references to “who he truly is,” and I expect, had this back-up series not been abruptly cut short, he would have returned a few issues down the road.

tec_479_009

He vanishes, unwittingly, at the end of the story.  The Hawks assume him to be dead, but Fadeaway Man retutns a few years down the road in Brave and the Bold, taking on Hawkman and Batman.

Adventure 451 – Aquaman vs Starro, and Martian Manhunter ends

Adv_451

Even as a kid I was not impressed by the Aquaman story in Adventure 451 (June 1977).  The cover was dramatic, and it was cool to see Starro the Conqueror, who had not appeared since battling the Justice League in their very first outing back in 1959.  The art by Jim Aparo is strong, as usual, but David Michelinie’s story was just too easy.

Adv_451_001

Topo grabs Aquababy yet again, and this time makes it out of the Aquacave with him.

Adv_451_002

Aquaman follows, and discovers Starro in a hidden underwater cove, now able to mentally control sea creatures, as well as the purple-eyed Idyllists that had featured in the Aqualad sub-plot.

Adv_451_003

Starro promptly explains to Aquaman that his new powers only exist if he stays in the polluted waters of the cover.  Just great when a villain immediately explains how to defeat him.  Aquaman has a bunch of puffer fish spray clean water into the cove, Starro loses his abilities to control others, and Aquaman trounces him.

Not very impressive, even for a starfish.

Starro’s next outing, 4 years down the road in the pages of JLA, takes a different slant on the character, and makes him a far more viable villain.

Adv_451_004

The conclusion of the Martian Manhunter story, by Denny O’Neil, with art by Mike Netzer and Terry Austin, pits him against Hawkman and Hawkgirl, whose spaceship he encounters.  He immediately jumps to the conclusion that they must have come from New Mars, and attacks.

Adv_451_005

I love that page.  Look at it as a whole, and you will notice that the various components form an outline of Hawkman’s head.

Hawkgirl manages to talk some sense into J’onn, and the reader is allowed to see that N’or Cott is now openly scheming against the Manhunter, and clearly not the noble being he had appeared to be in the first two instalments.  He builds a Superman robot-bomb, and sends it onto the ship with the three heroes.

Adv_451_006

Instead of resolving the storyline, this final chapter actually serves as a lead-in to a Superman/Batman/Martian Manhunter team-up in the pages of World’s Finest Comics, with the Hawks having cameos in it.

 

Tag Cloud