Posts tagged ‘Jack Kirby’

Detective 95 – Batman vs the Blaze, and the Boy Commandos in a haunted castle

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Another generic Batman and Robin cover on Detective 95 (Jan. 45), but considering the villain in this issue, it’s no loss.

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The Blaze is introduced in this Mort Weisinger story, and thanks to Dick Sprang’s art, he looks interesting.  But despite the picture, there is nothing fiery or candle-ish about him.  He has a bomb.

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He frees a group of men from a train taking them to prison, and leads them in a massive revenge plan against Batman.  Which is kind of odd, considering the Blaze had never fought Batman before.

Also, please note the central top panel.  Batman receives a diamond-studded Batman badge from Commissioner Gordon.  I’m sure the police were all very happy to spend their budget on this.  The badge does return in a couple of stories.

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Jack Kirby returns to pencil this instalment of the Boy Commandos.  All the stories had the “Simon and Kirby” logo on them, but many were drawn by other artists, and are of varying quality at duplicating the look.

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This is a really fun little story, that has the boys in a haunted castle.  One is expecting Nazis to show up at some point, but the story goes off in a different direction for a change.

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The castle was the home and workshop of a reclusive puppeteer, and it was being invaded by a rival puppeteer.  Oh, those deadly puppeteer battles.

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Detective 85 – the Joker’s Double, the Crimson Avenger vs Lone Wolf, and the Boy Commandos vs Agent Axis

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Bill Finger and Dick Sprang provide the first of many variations of this story, in which a criminal adopts the guise and/or style of crime of the Joker, in order to deflect suspicion from themselves.

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The double of the Joker commits murder, using spades and clubs, to frame the famous felon, but Bruce Wayne is suspicious from the start.

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Although he does not say it, the Joker has stopped murdering people, so that would be the reason the crimes are out of character.

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Batman and the Joker wind up working together to find the imposter.  We get to see the Joker’s hideout, with his arsenal, monitoring equipment, and costume room, mirroring Batman’s.

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There is an enjoyable fight between the two Jokers to conclude the tale, and the real one escapes.

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The Crimson Avenger gets another named foe in this story, Lone Wolf, but again it’s simply a masked man whose identity is unknown.

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The villain drops an old photo, with a faded phone number on the back of it, and Lee approaches the typesetter for the newspaper to scan old phone books to find the identity of the man.

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There is some action right towards the end, but the Lone Wolf was not a strong enough character to warrant a return.

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Jack Kirby did the pencils on this Boy Commando story, which pits them against a plot by Agent Axis.  She was their major enemy in their own book, and only recurring foe for a while, but this was her first appearance in Detective Comics.

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The Boys are performing as part of a USO show, and Agent Axis is brought in to take them out and destroy morale.  But once she has assembled her crew she vanishes from the story.

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Detective 81 – the Cavalier debuts, Wing becomes a reporter, and the Boy Commandos meet General MacArthur

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The Cavalier is introduced in Detective 81 (Nov. 43), a thief with a code of chivalry, created by Bob Kane.

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The Cavalier performs a series of thefts of apparently worthless obejcts: a baseball, a toy bat, etc.  Batman and Robin repeatedly fail to stop him, thanks to the Cavalier’s impressive arsenal.  Like, a handkerchief with a ball attached to it.  OK, that’s the least impressive thing in his arsenal, true.  He also has an electrified sword, and a razor-tipped plume in his hat.

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The “worthless” objects are, in fact, critical to each step of his plan.  For example, the baseball has an autograph on it that is duplicated to allow the Cavalier access to a bank vault.

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Batman and Robin foil his schemes, but do not catch the Cavalier, whose return in Batman’s own book is promoted in the final panel. Just like the Crime Doctor a few issues earlier.

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Wing gets his largest role in the Crimson Avenger series in this story.  That’s not such a good thing, as it means the story is far more offensive and racist than most of this run.

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With all his reporters busy, Lee Travis agrees to let Wing cover a theft, but his lack of understanding of English leads him to mis-report the story as an inside job.  But it turns out that it actually was, and Wing is kidnapped by the thieves, who want to know how he figured it out.

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The Crimson Avenger comes to Wing’s rescue.  And even though he broke an important story, Lee has no intention of allowing Wing to stay a reporter.

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The Boy Commandos meet General MacArthur on the first couple of pages of this Simon and Kirby story.  MacArthur and Rip Carter are discussing the war plans for the Pacific when Brooklyn interjects with news of the assault on Bataan.

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The rest of the story has Rip and the Boys at Bataan, helping to rescue the troops there and beating back the Japanese forces.

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The Bataan Death March would already have been big news by the time this story was written.  But clearly this series wanted to be as fresh as the headlines.

 

Detective 79 – Batman in “Destiny’s Auction,” the Crimson Avenger vs the Adder,and the Boy Commandos in Italy

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Detective 79 (Sept. 43) features “Destiny’s Auction” as its Batman and Robin story, one of my favourite Batman stories from this period.

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Jerry Anderson does the art as Madame Calagra tells the future of an aspiring actress, an aging actor, and a rising hoodlum.  They interpret the destinies in a positive way – but things go very wrong for each of them, in ways suiting the words.

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There are three identical trunks, one with stolen gems, and another an unpublished manuscript.  Batman and Robin get involved, and the lives of the three enmesh.

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Big happy ending (except for the hoodlum), and those three fortunes from the opening have come true again, in a positive way.

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The Crimson Avenger and Wing go up against the Adder in this story, although the Adder appears rarely.  Mostly its Lee and Wing taking on his assistant.

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Banks are being robbed, and bank presidents apprehended and killed.

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The Crimson Avenger and Wing jump around a lot and hit a lot of people.  They finally encounter the Adder, who gets unmasked and revealed to be the bank president seen at the beginning, who faked his own murder.

Not someone who would likely be a recurring villain, and there is nothing serpentine about the Adder or his outfit either.

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Mussolini appears on the splash page, and the final panel, of this Simon and Kirby Boy Commandos story, but unfortunately not in the story itself.

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Rip leads the boys to Italy, where they encounter many Italian partisans, who desire the overthrow of Mussolini.  With the Boys, they work to kick out German occupiers.

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Detective 77 – the Crime Doctor debuts, and the Boy Commandos in the Himilayas

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Bill Finger and Bob Kane introduce Matthew Thorne, the Crime Doctor, in Detective 77 (July 1943).

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Thorne is a family physician, who advises criminals on the side.  In both cases he behaves much the same way, observation, analysis and prescription.  It works chillingly well.

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Batman eventually gets on his trail, and the Crime Doctor fares pretty well at holding him off.  When an injured man stumbles in needing Thorne’s help, both he and Batman work together to perform the surgery to save the man’s life.  Batman cannot understand why Thorne would want to turn to crime, with his knowledge, wealth and social standing, but Thorne avows that he does it simply for the pleasure of it.

The Crime Doctor is caught at the end of the story, but the final panel informs the reader of his return in the pages of Batman the following month.

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Simon and Kirby send the Boy Commandos deep into China, where they discover a magical land, along the lines of Shangi-La, in this story.

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Japanese invaders are approaching, and the Commandos aid the locals, who are deemed Chinese, to fend them off and save the city.  This is highly ironic, I think.  These Shangri-La cities are derived from the shadowy knowledge of Tibet at this time, and the Chinese are not the good guys in the history of Tibet.

 

Detective 76 – the Joker becomes a florist, and the Boy Commandos meet Sandman and the Newsboy Legion

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Jerry Robinson takes over the pencilling on the Batman story in Detective 76 (June 1943), making Batman and his crew look a little more life-like, less stylized.

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The story suits the change, as the Joker makes himself look “normal” as he takes over a flower shop.

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The plants he sells come in pots that are rigged with chloroform gas, knocking out the owners and leaving the house free to be robbed.  Having figured out the plan, Bruce buys some flowers, but removes the gas from the pots.  He, Dick and Alfred pretend to be asleep, but once the Joker’s men have robbed them, change clothes and take them down.

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Simon and Kirby bring most of their characters together in this Boy Commandos story, as the Boys are brought to the US on a publicity campaign.

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Waiting to greet them once they arrive in New York are Sandman and Sandy, as well as the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion.

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The Nazis are also out in force, to kidnap the boys and make the publicity campaign a disaster for morale.  When the kids go missing, the other heroes jump into action to find them, but the Boys free themselves and Rip, and get to meet Roosevelt at the White House.

Detective 74 – Tweedledum and Tweedledee debut, and Rip Carter goes on trial

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Two of Batman’s most frequent enemies from the 1940s, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, are introduced in Detective 74 (April 1943), with art by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.

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The story begins with Batman and Robin getting confused, and then electric shocked, by what appear to be identical twins.

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Heading to a tailor who runs a store for oversized men, Bruce and Dick learn that the two men are actually cousins, Deever and Dumfree Tweed, and seek out their house.

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Though it would not usually be their “shtick,” in this first story they dress up as the Alice in Wonderland characters, along with a Mad Hatter and March Hare as muscle, in order to rob a costume ball.  Batman nixes that plan.

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Simon and Kirby put Rip Carter on trial in this Boy Commandos story.  Though it’s not for the reckless endangerment of children.  Taking the kids into battle is just fine.

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Instead, he is charged with disobeying orders, leading to casualties among the troops.  Rip, and others, relate the story behind this, which has to do with a cowardly British officer.

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It’s not the best Boy Commandos story, it’s a bit heavy on text, and the ending is awkward, with one of the judges revealed as the penitent father of the cowardly officer, so Rip gets acquitted.  And not as much good battle art as usual, either.

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