Posts tagged ‘Jason Bard’

Detective 435 – Batman vs the Spook, and Jason Bard ends


The concluding half of the Spook’s introduction is featured in Detective 435 (June/July 1973), by Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano, who also did the cover.


Batman’s attempt to draw out the Spook fails, and he realizes that the Spook must have multiple bugs on the hoods he ensures, and was getting a duplicate signal, clueing him in that the Big Turk in prison was a phony.  And Batman is dead on with all of that.


He then, finally checks out the scene where the Batmobile was stolen, and figures out how that was done – a huge trick that relied on Batman driving onto one exact street – although the Spook more or less implies that there are similar set-ups around Gotham.  So he must employ a road works crew.


So Batman follows the tunnel and confronts the Spook, but finds it all but impossible to actually tale hold of the man, between his tricks and flexibility.  He finally plays on his ego and goads him into a position where Batman can grab his controls and neutralize them.


The story has a surprising twist at the end, as it’s revealed that the Spook is Val Kaliban, a man executed 10 years earlier.

The Spook returns in a couple of months in the pages of Batman.


Jason Bard has his final outing in Detective done by Frank Robbins.  It’s better than his Don Heck stories, but it bothers me in a different way.  Jason is on hand when a man dies while group parachuting, by being stabbed in the back.  As can be seen in that very first page, they all go down together as a unit.


When the man hits the ground, he has a knife in his back.  Jason ponders which of the other skydivers could have done this.  And has so much trouble figuring t out he goes up in a plane with them to re-enact it.


Only then does he realize that the killer had to be the one standing behind the dead man when they jumped.  The only possible person.  AND, Jason, with his bad leg, is going to sky dive?  REALLY?  Because he wants to be even more crippled?

So that’s the end of Jason Bard’s less than impressive run in Detective.  He would remain a supporting character and pop up all over the Batman books as the years pass.  He would even get a back-up series again in Detective, part of One Year Later.


Detective 425 – Batman solves a MacBeth murder, and Jason Bard begins


Great Bernie Wrightson cover for Detective 425 (July 1972), as Batman investigates murderous intentions plaguing Shakespeare in the Park in this story by Denny O’Neil, Irv Novick and Dick Giordano.


The story deals with straightforward attempts at murder, no use is made of the superstitions surrounding producing MacBeth, but the story is very good anyway.  The director has modernized the production, making it controversial (it’s 1972, remember).


There are the usual issues of romance and jealousy, as well as the controversy over the show.  As far as typical backstage mysteries go, this one is only missing the gangsters.


O’Neil works in a fair amount of dialogue from the play itself, but again, doesn’t use it for anything other than background.  The vital clue is fairly simple, but not overly obvious, making this a completely satisfying little mystery tale.


Jason Bard moves from supporting character to series star in this issue. Sadly, he brings along Don Heck, as well as Frank Robbins, from the Batgirl series.


This first case involved a fellow Vietnam vet, Matt Clay, who is wanted for murder.  Jason has a hard time believing his friend could be the crazed killer the media are making him out to be, but winds up coming across his recently murdered psychiatrist, whose secretary insists Clay is the killer.


Jason manages to find his friend, who has indeed gone off the deep end mentally, but is not a killer. Knowing that, he realizes the secretary must be lying, and killed her boss herself, and spots the vital clue to prove it.

Not a bad story, except for the art.  Jason Bard’s series continues, alternating with the Elongated Man, the Atom, and Hawkman over the next couple of years.


Detective 424 – Batman deals with a bank robbery gone wrong, and Batgirl ends


Another dramatic Kaluta cover for Detective 424 (June 1972), as Batman gets a good mystery tale and Batgirl’s series comes to its conclusion.


The story, by Frank Robbins, with art by Brown and Giordano, begins as Batman and Commissioner Gordon review the tapes of a bank robbery in which a civilian got killer. Gordon bemoans it as a tragic accident, but Batman’s suspicions are aroused by the fact that the bank robber did not shoot at the guard, but instead at the clock near him.


Investigating the dead man, Batman finds that his widow is not at all pleased with the news that her husband’s death may not have been an accident.  Batman expects her to contact the bank guard, but instead she calls a different man and discusses killing the guard to silence him.


Batman saves the guard from being killed, and then impersonates him in order to draw out a confession from the other man in the scheme, the widow’s lover, with whom she plotted this murderous scenario.


Batgirl’s series reaches it finale with this Frank Robbins and Don Heck story, set on the day of the election.


Barbara had to deal not only with her rival candidate, but also with organized crime, attempting to stop her supporters from voting.  Once again, she spends more of this story as Barbara than as Batgirl.


It’s Jason Bard who really gets to be the hero of this story, anyway.  He picks up on the clues and figures out the plan to bomb Barbara during her acceptance speech.


And while it’s a bit odd (and somewhat demeaning) to have Jason rescue Batgirl in her own series, she is busy winning an election, and he is about to gain his own series.

Batgirl heads off to Washington to be a Congresswoman, and is not seen again for over a year.  She returns in an issue of Superman, a story so popular it revived her character, and she would get her own series back, in the pages of Batman Family.

Detective 423 – Batman oversees a prisoner exchange, and Batgirl runs for congress


Mike Kaluta gives an interesting perspective on the cover for Detective 423 (May 1972), as Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Dick Giordano relate this cold war story.


The basic premise of the story is clear enough – protecting a spy being traded for one imprisoned in a foreign nation (pretty obviously Russia).  Disgruntled right wing militiamen are trying to kill the spy to prevent that, unaware that the spy being sent back is really a double agent.


While not a really great story, it certainly does show off Batman’s organizational abilities, and his competence compared to the police.


Picking up right where the last issue ended, Barbara Gordon announces her intention to run for congress, and her dad willingly cedes his campaign to her, in this tale by Robbins and Heck.


She runs a populist campaign, promising to boot the fat cats out of Washington, and gains the nickname Boots Gordon.  Jason Bard works on her campaign, as does another man, who brings in a lot of donations, although he then turns around and steals them.


It’s probably a good thing he did, as it gives Barbara a chance to get into action as Batgirl for a few panels.  Otherwise, this is a Barbara Gordon tale, more than a Batgirl one.

Detective 397 – Batman and the crazed collector, and Batgirl looks for a date


O’Neil, Adams and Giordano return for Detective 397 (March 1970), for a less supernatural, but still very powerful, tale.


The story also briefly introduces us to Cathy, Bruce Wayne’s housekeeper, who appears only in this story.


The villain of the tale is a reclusive millionaire, Orson Payne, who collects art that reminds him of the opera singer he loved and lost.  If the art reminds him of her, he must have it, whether the owner has any desire to sell or not.  The violence and theft this entails brings Batman onto the case.


Adams and Giordano do exceptional work on this story.  Payne’s mansion is stunning, the art works are beautifully executed, and the man himself is shown in glorious madness.


Payne attempts to kill Batman.  He fails, and almost dies himself, pursuing an illusory image of his lost love.  After sending Payne to prison, Bruce realizes that Cathy is really Caterina Vallance, the opera singer he loved and tried to control, who fled her entire life simply to get away from him.


Batgirl’s quest for the Orchid Killer concludes in this issue, a story by Frank Robbins, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson.


Jason Bard turns out to be the one who grabbed her, as he is pursuing the same case.  Barbara once again tries to lure the killer, but seems to get yet another innocent man.


In fact, all the men she has encountered, except for Jason, are the same man, disguising himself.  Batgirl takes the killer down.  Jason remains jealously protective of Barbara.


Detective 393 – Batman moves out of Wayne Manor, and Batgirl fights alongside Jason Bard


As Robin prepares to head off to college, he and Batman have their last case together, in Detective 393 (Nov. 69), by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella.


They also move out of Wayne Manor in this issue, poor Alfred reduced to tears.  Their new residence is not shown until next month’s Batman.


The remainder of the story deals with a street kid Bruce and Dick take under their wing, who falls under the spell of a wealthy party girl.


She uses the boy to get back at her negligent parents, but is being used in turn by other criminals, and Batman has to fix everything.


The concluding half of the story introducing Jason Bard, by Robbins, Kane and Anderson sees Jason and Batgirl work together to solve the murder mystery, while Jason never clues on that she is really Barbara Gordon.


That doesn’t make him much of a detective, but between that and his bad knee, it gives Batgirl the chance to shine in her own series.


His knee is also good for some dramatic visuals when it goes out.  This chapter is largely action, as the last was set-up, but together they make one of the better stories of Batgirl’s run in Detective.

Detective 392 – Batman impersonates someone else, and Batgirl meets Jason Bard


Detective 392 (Oct. 69) features another of the hard boiled detective action tales that Frank Robbins loves to write, with art by Bob Brown and Joe Giella.


Batman meets with a gangland informer, only to have the informer try to kill him.  Both fall into the water, but only the informer emerges, returning to the praise of his mobster boss.


But the gang is haunted by hints that Batman is still alive, and none are quick enough to figure out that Batman is impersonating the informer, which is really not that hard to guess.


Barbara Gordon meets Jason Bard in this Frank Robbins tale, with art by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson.


Jason is a private detective and Vietnam vet, wounded in action and requiring a cane.  He and Barbara meet through the library, and discover their shared interest in a series of crimes.  Jason explains his deduction that the killer was over 7 feet tall.


They go to a basketball game to look for suspects, and the story gets quite entertaining as each lies to the other in order to get away and pursue their suspicions.  Batgirl winds up coming to Jason’s help against some hoods.

The story concludes next issue.

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