Posts tagged ‘Hudson University’

Detective 495 – The Crime Doctor vs Sterling Silversmith, the importance of a mattress, Batgirl goes after a gang boss, and Black Lightning and Robin end

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Michael Fleisher, Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte conclude the Crime Doctor storyline in Detective 495 (Oct. 80).

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Picking up from where last issue left off, the Crime Doctor is amazed that the men who hired him would want to kill him, and works with Batman to escape the building before it blows up.

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It was the bloodthirsty and greedy Sterling Silversmith who ordered his men to turn on the Crime Doctor, just so he could avoid paying for his services.

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Silversmith has his men kidnap the Crime Doctor, while Batman hunts them both.  Silversmith gives Thorne quicksilver to drink.  Batman captures Silversmith, but is too late to help Thorne.  He is still alive, but mentally fried, and confined to a hospital.

This is the final appearance of both Sterling Silversmith, and this incarnation of the Crime Doctor, although another one will pop up in the pages shortly after Crisis on Infinite Earths.

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Bob Rozakis and Dan Spiegle share this brief Tales of Gotham City chapter, which deals with a small time gangster who has been stealing from the mob, stashing the money in his mattress.  They are on to him, and he has to pay them back that evening.  Returning home, he finds his apartment on fire.

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He winds up trapped in his burning suite, and uses the mattress to break his fall when he jumps.  The money stuffed mattress winds up with the mobsters, and the man has his life, but nothing else.

A good one.

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Batgirl is after a mob boss in this story, by Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Frank Chiaramonte.

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Barbara is having her own romantic troubles, as office geek Richard Bender tries to make a date with her, while she still longs for the father of the girl she rescued.

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But the bulk of this tale follows her efforts as Batgirl to find proof linking the man, Beeler, to the crimes she knows he is guilty of.  She succeeds, but overall, this story is kind of flat.

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Jean-Marc deMatteis scripts this final Black Lightning story, which deals with street gangs and the crappy life choices for slum kids.

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Inspector Henderson and Jimmy Olsen both guest star – both were supporting characters in Black Lightning’s old book.

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The story gets quite violent and intense.  Even after Black Lightning wins, he has to talk the young hood out of killing himself rather than head to prison.

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While Henderson and Jimmy Olsen both next appear shortly in Superman titles, Black Lightning does not return again until the launch of Batman and the Outsiders, three years down the road.

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Harris, Nicholas and Colletta bring Robin’s series to a close with another story about his stresses at university.

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As before, he is getting barked at by Jennifer, and is in academic trouble.  At the same time, he is trying to track the shipment of drugs into the college from Gotham.

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He gets Jennifer’s blessing to spend the night working on an essay, but winds up heading out as Robin.

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He stops the bad guys, but blows his university career.  Without even saying good-bye to Jennifer he leaves Hudson University, riding off into the pages of New Teen Titans.

Dick Grayson would not get a solo series again for many years.  Tim Drake would get a series before Dick Grayson does.

 

 

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Detective 486 – Maxie Zeus causes deaths from a distance, the Human Target joins the Sea Devils, Batgirl chases Killer Moth, Alfred protects the penthouse, and Robin unmasks the Scarecrow

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Maxie Zeus returns, though he spends the entire duration of the story from Detective 486 (Oct./Nov. 79) in Arkham Asylum.  But that is sort of the point, as he announces which rival gang members he wishes to die, and how they will do so.  And when the first dies while skydiving, of the “thunderbolt” that Zeus ordered, Batman gets on the case.

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Denny O’Neil and Don Newton relate this story.  It’s really not hard to figure out that Maxie Zeus’ lawyer is carrying out his commands, although how he is doing it is a bit of a mystery.

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Batman figures out how the parachute death was pulled off, and tries to warn of Zeus next target, who was warned he would die in brimstone.

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And though Batman exposes the lawyer’s guilt, and stops his plot, a chain reaction does cause the man to die in sulfur – as brimstone is now called.

Maxie Zeus returns a few months down the road.

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The Human Target is called in to sub for an actual hero in this story by Len Wein and Dick Giordano.  The story never states it, but the man he is impersonating, Dane Dorrance, and his girlfriend Judy, are both members of the Sea Devils, having last appeared a couple of years earlier in Showcase 100.

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Dane has been hospitalized after an attempt on his life, and Judy calls in Christopher Chance to root out the killer.

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Once again, the story isn’t about figuring out who is trying to kill him, it’s about the action and fun, and Dick Giordano’s beautiful art.  I have no complaints.

Dane Dorrance and Judy next appear, along with the other Sea Devils, in Action Comics in the early 80s, the lead-in to the Forgotten Heroes.

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To a degree, this story, by Jack C Harris, Don Heck and Joe Giella, follows up on events from an issue of Batman the previous month, which had both Batgirl and Killer Moth in it.

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Killer Moth is back to his original scheme, providing insurance and escapes for criminals who pay his premium.  When Batgirl gets involved, Killer Moth thinks that she has pursued him all the way from Gotham to Washington DC, unaware that she has made that her base for a while now.

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When the son of one of his victims mentions that Killer Moth hired his father to make shoes, Batgirl realizes that is where he has his homing device on the villains, and takes their shoes, messing up his plan.  Kind of a lame plan that can be messed up by taking someone’s shoes.  His old Mothmobile is back though, at least in two panels of this story.

It’s four more years before the character returns.  Because she debuted against him, Killer Moth pretty much became a Batgirl villain.

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Alfred gets a solo story, by Bob Rozakis and George Tuska.  He had last solo’d in the pages of Batman Family.

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In this story he gets grabbed by hoods while entering the Wayne Foundation Building, and taken as a hostage to the penthouse.  He does his best to get rid of the thieves before Batman shows up, possibly exposing his identity.

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Alfred remains his unflappable self throughout the tale.  He gives the men drinks, in order to get their fingerprints, and tries to fob them off with worthless stamps.

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In the end, it’s his mention of Commissioner Gordon that drives them away (though it’s surprising they don’t think he’s lying).  Alfred traps them in the elevator, and then prepares the house for Bruce’s arrival.

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Robin squares off against the Scarecrow in this story by Jack C Harris and Kurt Schaffenberger.

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The Scarecrow comes to Hudson University, where he holds four professors in his thrall, tormenting them with their personal fears unless they pay him off.

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Dick becomes suspicious of one of the new professors after he duplicates Jonathan Crane’s fear demonstration in class, firing a pistol.

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But having the professor duplicate his research was just part of the Scarecrow’s cover. Robin exposes Crane, tearing off his disguise, when the Scarecrow mentions that he had been in the school alone, but while impersonating a man terrified of being by himself.

 

Detective 445 – Bat-Murderer continues, and Robin begins, again

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Len Wein and Jim Aparo’s Bat-Murderer saga has its second chapter in Detective 445 (Feb./March 1975).

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Jack Ryder cameos, recapping the previous issue’s events, and setting up his larger role to come next issue.  Alfred actually asks Batman if he did it, but really we can excuse that lack of faith as the necessary set-up to hear Batman’s side of the “murder.”

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Batman figures that Ra’s Al Ghul must have some knowledge of what is going on, or possible be behind it, and breaks into Gotham prison to question him.  Ra’s openly admits to being behind his daughter’s death, and then promptly pulls out a gun and kills himself.

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In a really nice touch, Batman escapes the prison using one of the Spook’s passages.  But now he is wanted for two murders.

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Robin’s series moves back into Detective from Batman, after a year with no solo tales, in this story by Bob Rozakis and Mike Grell.  Robin joins the rotating back-up slot.

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Robin is still at Hudson University, but his previous supporting cast and campus issue based stories are done.  This tale deals with vandalism of a football from a historic game, and a long held grudge leading to a murder attempt.

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The story isn’t bad, and Grell’s art is a treat.  Police captain Frank McDonald is introduced, and will be a part of the Robin series for the next few years.

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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 394 – Batman and Robin miss each other, but fight crime anyway

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Batman spends a fair bit of his story missing Robin, and at the end of his tale he and Alfred eagerly read a letter from Dick, the contents of which are the narrative for his story, in Detective 394 (Dec. 69).

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Batman’s story, by Robbins, Brown and Giella, involves his new Victims, Incorporated program, and a race car driver, shot while competing, who believes Bruce to have hired the killer.

Which, of course, he didn’t, but as Batman he hunts down the actual bad guy, a rival driver.

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Robin’s story, by Frank Robbins, while similar to Friedrich’s tale of unions and riots at his high school, is far more suited to the rebellious university life of 1969.

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Kane and Anderson handle the art as Dick arrives at Hudson University, and immediately gets caught up in student protests, lead by Fire-Brand Fran and Jonah Ram.

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Robin realizes they have hired fake police to bust up and arrest the protestors, and wonders what their goal is.

The story continues next issue.

 

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