Posts tagged ‘Howard Sherman’

Detective 152 – Batman vs the Goblin, Slam Bradley ends, and Pow-Wow Smith’s first case

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It’s definitely Vicki Vale on the cover for Detective 152 (Oct. 49), and she is even in the Batman and Robin story inside!  The scene pictured does not happen, but her photographs are central to the story.

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The Bob Kane story introduces the villain, the Goblin, and then follows Vicki as she attempts to photograph Batman with three men whose lives he saved.  When the photo gets sabotaged, Batman figures out that one of the three must be the Goblin.

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From there it becomes a chase for the negative to the picture, and Vicki getting kidnapped.  Batman gets a severe head injury, but saves her and reveals the Goblin.  I love the last few panels, showing that Vicki has no problem throwing herself at both Batman and Bruce Wayne.

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Slam Bradley’s long running series comes to an end in this issue, and Slam is barely even in the story.  Instead, it’s all about Shorty, and his younger, but taller, brother Tiny.  Howard Sherman provides the art.

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Look, there’s Slam!  Standing around while Shorty commands the story.  This page has the most Slam Bradley on it of any page in his final story.  Shorty’s comic hijinks were the meat of the series now.

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I think Slam must have gone into retirement at this point, leaving the agency to Shorty.  He’d been at it a full eleven years at this point.  Slam Bradley would not return until Detective 500, in 1980.

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Pow-Wow’s first case, with art by Infantino, clearly causes him some inner turmoil.

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He is meant to compete in a sort of native version of the Olympics, but Jimmy summons him to go help round up some train robbers.

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He winds up enlisting the braves of his tribe to help, and the take down of the train robbers is impressively done.  Then, knowing he could win the honour of being the greatest brave, by moving a boulder he had already moved, he declines to do so, choosing to lose.

But why?  The story is mute on this, but the only action he has taken during the course of the story that could account for this is abandoning the contest to go get the thieves.  He must feel deeply torn about this.

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Detective 121 – Commissioner Gordon gets demoted

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A generic Batman and Robin cover for Detective 121 (March 1947).  I guess they didn’t think Commissioner Gordon was cover-worthy.

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He does get to be the centre of the story in this issue, drawn by Howard Sherman.  We get an early hint of the corruption in Gotham in this story, and Batman really does little to help it.

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Commissioner Gordon has been kicked down the ladder, and is now a beat cop, at the orders of the mayor.

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Investigating, Batman discovers the mayor is in the hands of gangsters, due to his son’s gambling debts.  Batman agrees to help them out, figuring that the mayor will be wiser if Batman allows him to avoid responsibility for his actions.  Yeah, sure it will.

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There is a really great action sequence, with Batman chasing gangsters out a window and down a piano lift.

Detective 118 – The Joker plays cards, Air Wave battles aliens, and Brooklyn becomes the Invisible Commando

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A better cover, and a better Joker story than the one a couple issues earlier, Detective 118 (Dec. 46) does feature Howard Sherman art on the Batman and Robin story.

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The Joker decides to base a series of crimes on making a royal flush in diamonds, going after a people who correspond to the concept – like a dime store tycoon for the 10, and the winner of a beauty pageant for the Queen.

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It’s not bad, not great.  Some nice art.

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The narrative informs us that radio contact with the Moon was recently achieved, and is the basis for this story.  Two goons somehow transport weird creatures from the Moon to Earth.  It’s totally not clear how this happened.  Maybe the creatures came on their own, they do have a rocket ship at the end, but the hoods were watching them first.

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Anyway, Air Wave’s costume has changed, not for the better.  He no longer has the cape, and I have no idea what the new symbol on his chest is meant to represent.

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Static is still around from time to time, and he still skates on telephone wires.  At the end of this story, he somehow manages to make guns jump out of men’s hands with “broadcast power.”

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Continuing the story from last issue, Curt Swan makes this almost Brooklyn solo story, as we follow him in his quest to stop being invisible.

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He falls into the hands of gangsters, who con him into thinking they can fix him, and then use him to deliver bombs.  Really dumb move on Brooklyn’s part, but perhaps the invisibility serum is messing with his brain.

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He winds up cured after falling into a vat of chemicals.  A bit of an easy way out, but overall, not a bad story.

Detective 68 – Two-Face – part 2, evil Japanese in Boy Commandos, Air Wave gets promoted, and Slam Bradley reads Shakespeare

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The saga of Two-Face continues in this Finger/Kane/Robinson collaboration from Detective 68 (Oct. 42).  The story picks up immediately after the conclusion of the story from issue 66, as if there had never been an issue 67.

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A policeman bursts in, interrupting Batman as he tries to talk Two-Face back to sanity.  Harvey flees, and continues his crime spree.  In this story, he goes after people who use doubles, such as a reclusive millionaire who uses a double to handle social functions.

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Harvey takes a break from this to attempt to re-unite with Gilda.  He pretends that his face has been cured, but is simply using make-up, and when it begins to run he goes berserk and attacks the make-up artist, whose son then seeks vengeance on Harvey as well.

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So it becomes quite a complicated story by the time it reaches an end, and Harvey is apprehended by Batman.  The saga is not quite done, though, and there is a third, and final, chapter to this within a year.

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A very anti-Japanese piece of propaganda in the Boy Commandos tale from this issue.  Simon and Kirby open the story at sea, as the Boy Commandos and Rip Carter survive their ship being bombed by Japanese fighters.

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The boys rescue a Japanese pilot, and together they all land on a Pacific island with really clued out natives. The pilot and the Boys then become rivals for the loyalty of the natives.

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While the pilot uses science to convince the natives he has magic powers, the Boys decide to put on a show instead.

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Broadway is not for them, and the natives side with the Japanese, until Rip shows up leading a rescue/assault.

The story closes with the edifying moral – the only good jap is a dead jap.  No grey areas here.

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Air Wave gets a promotion in this story.  While a mere two issues ago Larry Jordan became an assistant D.A., as of this story he is the District Attorney himself!  Quite the rapid rise for a clerk.

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For what must be his first case in his new position, he prosecutes an old childhood friend for murder.

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Only after he has obtained a conviction does Larry get into his Air Wave outfit, round up his parrot sidekick Static, and set out to find information that will clear his friend.

Although on the surface it would appear that Larry should have done this before bringing charges against the guy, on reflection we can see that Air Wave had a more elaborate plan in mind, proving to everyone that he is above corruption as a D.A. and willing to send his friend to prison.  Shame that an innocent man had to sit in prison while the scheme was in play.

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The Slam Bradley story in this issue, with art by Howard Sherman, has the hero and Shorty stumble across hoods using notes in margins of books to pass each other messages.  Their larger scheme is to rob a diamond exchange next to the book store.

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The reason I have included this story is that the criminals use, among other things, a Shakespeare play to write their notes in.  Many Slam Bradley stories from this period have him quoting Shakespeare.

This might seem like an unusual habit for a tough guy hero like Slam Bradley, but in fact it simply shows the influence of Raymond Chandler, whose tough guy hero, Phillip Marlowe, often quoted Shakespeare as well.

 

 

 

Detective 62 – the Joker goes vaudeville, Air Wave vs Mr. Mystery, and Slam Bradley goes to the fair

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Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson put together a tale in Detective 62 (April 1942) that likely was more fun when it came out.

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An aging comedian has died, and left clues to his fortune to a number of his comedian friends.  The way they are all introduced, in the long panel, indicates that they must have been based on real comics of the time, now forgotten.

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The Joker starts killing off the comedians and stealing their clues.  The Bat Signal, still new, gets a prominent place in the page it’s used on.

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The Joker has the opportunity to unmask Batman in this story, but chooses not to, so that the game will go on.  That same scene will play out many time over the decades.  This is also one of the last stories with a murderous Joker, until the 1970s.

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The splash page to the Air Wave story in this issue appears to be at least partly done after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, with the “America at War”  blurb along the side.  But I have no idea what to make of Uncle Sam pouring out a bag of money.  Neither the image nor the statement have anything at all to do with the story.

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Instead, Air Wave contends with Mr. Mystery, a gang leader who turns out to be the one-legged mayor of the city Larry Jordan lives in!

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Some very nice Howard Sherman art as Slam Bradley and Shorty head to a fair run by an old friend, who is being forced to use unionized clowns.

Yes, unionized clowns are the root of this story.

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As one might expect, the union bosses are all gangsters, but the clowns themselves turn out to be criminals as well.

Detective 59 – the Penguin returns, Wing gets a costume, Steve Malone ends, and Slam Bradley gets an agency

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Robin is really happy to not be involved in the action on the cover of Detective 59 (Jan. 42).  Perhaps he was tired from the events of the Batman story in the issue.

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The Penguin returns in this story by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.  The story picks up immediately after the conclusion of last issue’s tale, as the Penguin meets the various other companions of the boxcar he escaped town in.

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When he realizes that so many of them have rewards out for their capture, he devises a scheme to turn them in, collect the reward, and then have other members of the group break them out of jail.

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Batman gets onto his scheme and breaks it up.  He uses a crime file in this story, very rudimentary, though of course snazzy for the era.  Batman also relies on the normal radio for news alerts.

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In this instalment of the Crimson Avenger Wing suddenly gets a costume as well, if not a codename.  His outfit matches the Crimson Avenger’s though with the colour scheme reversed, much like the way Kid Flash’s reversed the Flash’s colour scheme.  As his crest he has something stylized, which for many years I thought might be a “7”, or perhaps a question mark.  Now I realize it is a letter, probably Chinese.  I wonder what it means?

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Crimson Avenger and Wing started appearing in Leading Comics as part of the Seven Soldiers of Victory at this time.  His team would never get mentioned in the pages of his own series.  Odd, considering that Batman was mentioned in this strip, along with the Joker and the Penguin.

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As well as a costume, Wing seems to have changed his body, as well as his ability to speak English.  He is shorter and thinner than he used to be, and his face now an Asian caricature.

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In his final story Steve is called to the home of a wealthy retired judge with a gambling son and a niece begging for money for her husband.  When the judge is killed, Steve figures out that its the jewelled-earring wearing nurse who was the killer, not the money hungry youths.

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Steve Malone’s series ends at this point, and his character is never seen again, but after such a high-profile career I would expect that Steve went into politics and had a long and lucrative tenure in Washington D.C.

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Howard Sherman has been doing the art on Slam Bradley’s series for a while now.  The stories have been decent, but none had anything that made them stand out.  Slam continues to frequently take on manly jobs as he solves crimes with Shorty providing comic relief.

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In this story, we are told, for the first time, that Slam and Shorty work for the Wide-Awake Detective Agency.  It is never given that name again, though.

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The story involves a casino that has its winning patrons robbed on the way home.  Slam is hired by one of the victims, and infiltrates the casino, causing a big ruckus and bringing down the house.

 

 

More Fun 92 – Dr. Fate vs The Clock

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One of Dr. Fate’s lesser foes, the Clock, makes his second appearance, in More Fun 92 (July/Aug 1943).  Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman handle the writing and art.

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The story is pretty thin.  The Clock and his men pull off robberies of millionaires homes, by having the Clock dressed up as a mummy in a case as their inside man.  Fate gets onto it, and quickly figures it out.

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Much of the art on the story is good, but the few panels showing Dr. Fate escaping from a mountain of sand really don’t work.

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