Posts tagged ‘Hawkman’

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Detective 480 – Batman fights a killing machine, and Hawkman fights the Pied Piper

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I remember being so disappointed when I picked up Detective 480 (Nov./Dec. 78), and discovered it was not by the previous creative team.  Denny O’Neil and Don Newton craft a serviceable story, but it’s just not on par with what had come before.

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The story deals with an overweight boy, hated and teased, unloved by his parents, who becomes a tool of a wealthy man who wants to create a living weapon.

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Dr. Moon makes an appearance, the scientist behind the transformation.  Dr. Moon was always Denny O’Neil’s evil scientist of choice.  He had last appeared a few months earlier in Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter, and would return in a couple of years in the pages of Wonder Woman.

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The boy does well against Batman for a while, but as soon as he starts to lose the man behind it all gets abusive and, realizing that he has been used, he kills the man instead of Batman.

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Len Wein and Murphy Anderson are behind the Hawkman story in this issue, which pits him against the Pied Piper, who is selling his skills and weapons.

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The Piper is working on sonic weaponry, and though he is selling his equipment, he is using the man who bought it to see how well it works against a superhero.

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So even though Hawkman defeats the middle man, when he goes after the Pied Piper he has more advanced sonics to face.  Which he does, and wins.

Hawkman’s series is cancelled as part of the DC Implosion, but begins again in short order, in the pages of World’s Finest Comics.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

Detective 468 – The Calculator vs Batman

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The big finale to the Calculator sage, by Bob Rozakis, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin takes up all of Detective 468 (March/April 1977).

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As Hawkman predicted last issue, the Calculator does indeed go up against Batman, and is defeated by him, as he was with all the previous heroes.  But once again, he presses that special button.

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One thing that makes this story entertaining is its use of Morgan Edge, normally a supporting character in the Superman books.  He is trying to secure Bruce Wayne’s vote on the sales of a division of Galaxy Communications, and though he does, in the end, give Batman the inspiration for beating the Calculator, he never does get the signature he needs.

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The effect of the Calculator’s special button is to ensure that he cannot be beaten a second time by a given hero.  It’s never really clear how his machine does this, or any of the other amazing things it does.  But it does make for a great spread, as the heroes take each other down.  The Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Arrow and Hawkman all have small roles in this story, but it’s really a Batman tale, not even a team-up.

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Ultimately, Batman outwits the Calculator, and has him defeat himself. Batman goads him into creating a cage, while standing on a spinnable floor.  The Calculator winds up trapped by his own creation.

Likely because his suit was never really explainable, the Calcualtor did not move on from this introductory run to become a major player.  He next appeared against the Atom in the early 80s, in the pages of Action Comics, and would pop up from time to time in different books.  It was not until the millennium that he got reworked into an impressive villain again.

Detective 467 – Batman on the subway, and the Calculator vs Hawkman

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Batman is underground in Detective 467 (Jan./Feb. 77), pursuing a drug connection in this story by Bob Rozakis, with art by John Calnan and Vince Coletta.

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It’s a pretty straightforward story, livened up when Batman, in disguise, sees another Batman on the subway car, and realizes the fake Batman is part of the pass-off.

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The story is narrated by Batman, although who he is talking to is meant to be a mystery, with little clues sprinkled in.  Of course, it’s the most obvious answer, Hawkman, who has the back-up story this issue.

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After hearing Batman’s tale, Hawkman relates his encounter with the Calculator, as told by Rozakis, Rogers and Austin.

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The Calculator attempts to steal Hawkman while he is in flight.  That really doesn’t sound like a great idea, when he is relying on Hawkman to stay in the air himself.  But he does make himself a nuisance.

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Hawkman has little patience for the Calculator, and simply decks him once he gets the chance.

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The conclusion to the story sets up next issue’s full length tale, involving all the heroes from the past few issues, working with Batman against the Calculator.

 

Detective 452 – Batman vs the Crime Exchange, and Hawkman vs Konrad Kaslak

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452 (Oct. 75)  was my first issue of Detective Comics, and I would have just turned 10 years old when this came out.  The story, and its cliffhanger ending, captivated me so much I actively hunted for the follow up issue, the first time I had done that, I think.

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David V Reed, Ernie Chan and Mike Royer craft this 2 part story, in which a well organized criminal outfit provides contacts, clients and information for Gotham’s gangs. Batman captures one of the killers who work for them, impersonates him, and attempts to infiltrate the organization.

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He gets exposed, surrounded, and challenged to defend himself with a gun.  But Batman doesn’t use gun!  What will he do?  At 10 years old I had no idea and was deeply concerned until the next issue came out.

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And at 10 years old I really hated the unusual Hawkman logo that was used for this story – and I still hate it now.  The actual tale, by E Nelson Bridwell and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, is pretty good though.  Hawkman has a lot of trouble against an evil magician and his thieving raven.

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Shayera has a small role in this one, which also sees the return of Big Red, Hawkman’s bird sidekick, not seen since the mid 60s, in Hawkman’s old book. Hawkman realizes the magician is a distraction, the raven is the actual culprit, and Shayera informs him that Konrad Kaslak, one of their earliest enemies from back in Brave and the Bold, is out of prison.

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Big Red swoops in for some bird on bird action, and Kaslak reverts to human form, and is simply no match for Hawkman.

This is the last appearance of Konrad Kaslak until the Hawkworld series in the 90s.  Big Red returns in Super Friends a few years down the road.

 

Detective 446 – Sterling Silversmith debuts, and Hawkman returns

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The Bat-Murderer storyline continues in Detective 446 (April 1975), with a Len Wein/Jim Aparo tale that introduces a new villain for Batman.

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Sterling Silversmith has dreams of conquering the silver market, and a belief that gold will lose it’s value, and silver become the more precious metal.  His economic theories aside, Silversmith is extremely callous, and cares nothing about killing anyone who gets in his way, or using any means possible to acquire his silver.

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Only the beginning and ending of this issue reflect the larger storyline.  Otherwise, Batman’s battle with Silversmith could have occurred in any other issue.  While I like the fact that they extended the storyline by showing how it affects Batman’s other cases, I wish they had showed a bit more of an effect.

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Still, the ending, with the cop unable to shoot Batman after he drops off Silversmith, is a good scene.

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Hawkman returns to the pages of Detective with this E Nelson Bridwell story, with art by Rich Buckler and Klaus Janson.  Between this story and his last appearance in these pages, Hawkman had resigned from the Justice League, and returned to Thanagar with Shayera.  The equalizer plague struck the planet, and Hawkman returned, bringing Shayera, now both exiled from their world until a cure could be found.

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The story here is a simple one, dealing with thieves that possess a remote control that can send a car, or Hawkman, hurtling into the sky.  They had made the mistake of storing their stolen loot in Carter Hall’s apparently abandoned car.

 

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