Posts tagged ‘Howard Chaykin’

Detective 483 – Maxie Zeus debuts, Human Target begins, Batgirl goes on a date, the Demon returns to Castle Branek, Robin wipes up MAZE and a kangaroo race

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Denny O’Neil and Don Newton bring back Leslie Thompkins in this follow-up Crime Alley story, which also serves to introduce the new villain Maxie Zeus.

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It’s once again the anniversary of the deaths of his parents, and Batman heads to Crime Alley, where he once again comes to the aid of Leslie Thompkins.  This story is the first to raise the notion that the deaths of the Waynes affected the entire city, sent it into a decline.

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Batman gets word that crime boss Maxie Zeus is having men spread poison gas through an entire apartment building in Crime Alley, just to kill one man, and Batman sets out to stop them.

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He does so, saving the innocents, as well as the man Zeus intended to kill.  Leslie still hasn’t pieced together that Batman is Bruce Wayne, but her dialogue hints that she isn’t too far from the secret.

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The ending warns Maxie Zeus that Batman is coming for him, which happens next issue.  Although not much is done with Maxie Zeus in this first story, it helps build him as a powerful threat to be faced.

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Christopher Chance, the Human Target, has his back-up series move from the Brave and the Bold to this book,a result of the DC Implosion.  Christopher Chance works as a bodyguard/impersonator.  If someone has threatened your life,he will take on your identity and flush out the wannabe killer.

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In this story, by Len Wein, Howard Chaykin and Dick Giordano, he takes on the identity of a Hollywood actor, after a number of incidents on a film set lead him to believe someone is trying to kill him.

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It’s not hard to solve this one, there is really only one viable suspect, but the story is fun is the art is great.

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Batgirl faces off against some homegrown terrorists in this story by Bob Rozakis, Bob Oskner and Vince Colletta.

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After rounding up part of the gang, she gets asked out on a date by a soldier, who had first met her when she battled Madame Zodiac in the Pentagon, in a late issue of Batman Family.  Barbara agrees, but the date quickly turns into a farce.

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The evening lurches from disaster to disaster, and though it is terrible for the two on the date, it’s certainly entertaining for the reader.

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Just as the silliness threatens to outlast its welcome, Batgirl is reminded of something the terrorists said, and realizes they are going to attack Washington Monument that night.  She and her soldier boy wind up working together to round up the remainder of the gang, so the date is a success after all.

What I really appreciate in this story is that, with the date plot, it’s basically a romantic story, but it does not weaken Barbara, or put her in a subservient position to the soldier in any way.

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Steve Ditko takes over the art for the rest of Len Wein’s Demon story, as Etrigan faces off against Baron Tyme.

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Baron Tyme fills in his story between the events of Man-Bat and now.  When he vanished in that book, he was drawn into a nether realm, which allows him great knowledge, but is a torture to his body, which is trapped between dimensions.  With the Eternity Book, he intends to open Merlin’s tomb in Castle Branek, and use him to return completely to this world.

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The story brings back the town’s inspector, who looks straight out of a Frankenstein movie.  The Demon attempts to reach Merlin’s tomb before Tyme does, but does not succeed.

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Tyme uses the Eternity Book to force Etrigan to transform back into Jason Blood, and then traps him, as he prepares to open the tomb.

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Robin’s long battle with MAZE comes to an end in this story by Bob Rozakis and Kurt Schaffenberger.

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The leader of MAZE has brought all his members together, which turns out to be a good thing for Robin and the police, as they bust in.  Raven flees, and Card Queen shows her true colours, betraying MAZE and helping to bring them down.

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Card Queen is revealed to be Duela Dent, in yet another identity.  This (and last issue) are her first appearances since the break-up of the Teen Titans.  She would not appear again until the wedding of Donna Troy in New Teen Titans.

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But the story is not yet over. Dick confronts Lori Elton and her new boyfriend, who Dick reveals to be the Raven. As the guy tries to fight back, and loses, Dick goes on to explain a number of dangling plot threads, bringing this long tale to a satisfactory, if sad, conclusion.

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The final, silent, page is quite powerful.  Lori attempts to return to Dick, but he rebuffs her.  As he walks away from the rest of the students, he looks stronger, and more like a man, than at any time before.

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The final story in this issue, by Denny O’Neil, Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin, was intended to be one of the “Public Life of Bruce Wayne” stories that ran in the back pages of Batman, until the DC Implosion ended that.

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It’s silly, but entertaining, and sort of clever.  Knowing that an Australian hit man has come to Gotham, Bruce Wayne finances a kangaroo race in the city, in order to draw him out.

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Once he has spotted the man, he follows him as Batman, finds the men who hired them, and rounds them all up.

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There is also a nice pin-up on the back page of the current Batman family, with Batgirl, Robin, Alfred and Commissioner Gordon.

 

 

Detective 441 – Batman faces judgement, and Manhunter goes to church

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Jim Aparo does the cover again, for Detective 441 (June/July 1974), but the Archie Goodwin Batman story inside has art by Howard Chaykin.

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This story also features the debut of Harvey Bullock, a Gotham police lieutenant who is not impressed with Batman or his methods at all.  His role is quite small, just at the top of the story, the set-up that leads Batman to the house where he faces Robin’s kidnapper.  Bullock would not appear again for almost 10 years, but eventually become a solid supporting cast member for Batman.

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The bulk of the story has Batman in a trap-filled house, facing a self-appointed judge who has passed sentence on Batman, blaming him for his daughter’s blindness as the result of a mugging, which he failed to prevent.

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The daughter does not blame Batman, and tries to stop her father.  Unwittingly, she succeeds when her blindness leads her in to one of the traps, which kills her.  Heart-broken, her father gives up to Batman.

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This issue contains absolutely the best chapter of Goodwin and Simonson’s Manhunter saga, taking place entirely within a crumbling church in Istanbul.  Every person I know who loves this series, picks this chapter as the high point.

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Using information from Damon, Paul Kirk and Christine St. Clair come to Istanbul to infiltrate a gathering of the Council, but what makes this tale great is the American tourist family, exploring the same church at the same time, completely oblivious to the other plot.

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We see that all is not well with the outer members of the Council, who find there always seem to be reasons to keep them out of the precious inner circle.  Christine St. Clair’s father is also introduced, a high ranking member of the outer circle, encouraged to stop his daughter’s investigations.

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Of the tourist family, only the boy sees the battle that occurs between Manhunter and his clones.

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The story has such a great ending, as the boy saves Paul with his toy gun, and his clueless parents drag him away, complaining that all churches are the same.

Adventure 438 – The Spectre and a human museum, and the Seven Soldiers of Victory begin

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Adventure 438 (April 1975) has the shortest Spectre story of the run, a mere 10 pages, because of the extended length of the back-up feature.  As a result, the story by Mike Fleisher is very simple, but the art by Ernie Chan and Jim Aparo makes it rewarding anyway.

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The tale deals with another madman, who is having people kidnapped and killed to be put in his personal museum.

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Corrigan is put on the case, tracks him down, and as the Spectre frees some gorillas from their exhibit to kill him.

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The Seven Soldiers of Victory begin a serialized story in this issue.  The story itself was written in the 1940s for their run in Leading Comics, but never published, or even drawn.  It follows the standard format of SSoV tales, with the entire team together for the first and last chapter, and five middle chapters featuring the team members in Individual action.

As this is the first time I am writing about the team, I will point out the curious fact that there are not seven members in the Seven Soldiers of Victory.  Shining Knight, Green Arrow, Vigilante, Crimson Avenger and Star-Spangled Kid are the heroes.  Sidekicks Speedy and Stripsey are counted to make up seven, but Wing is not.  Only white people count, maybe?

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The first chapter, with art by Dick Dillin, introduces the villain, who is really more of a trickster than a bad guy, Willie the Wisher, whose wishes become reality, hence his name.  He wishes the team off to the Land of Magic.

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The Shining Knight’s chapter follows immediately, with art by Howard Chaykin, which really manages to capture the look of Frank Frazetta’s work on the Knight.

He is menaced by a duplicate of himself, which emerges from a mirror.  He defeats his double, but winds up captured by a wizard and bound, back in the room he began in.

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This time, knowing the mirror will produce a duplicate, he uses the other knight’s sword to undo his bonds before he emerges, giving him the upper hand.

 

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