Posts tagged ‘Jim Aparo’

Detective 500 – 4 Batman stories, two of them team-ups, scads of detectives, and Elongated Man and Hawkman end

tec_500

Many anniversary issue build themselves up as being something really special, but few live up to their promise.  Detective 500 (March 1981) is one of the rare ones.  It’s not all gold, but enough of it is.

tec_500_001

The first story, by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, bring us to a parallel world, where a new Batman is about to be born.

tec_500_002

The Phantom Stranger brings Batman and Robin to this world, seemingly so that Bruce will have the opportunity to prevent his parents’ deaths.

tec_500_003

They find this world similar, but different.  James Gordon is still just a lieutenant, and Barbara , though a librabrian, is his fiancee, not his daughter.  Bruce is hunting for information on Joe Chill, while Dick discovers that this is a world with no heroic legends, no caped heroes, nothing to inspire heroism.

tec_500_004

Observing the Waynes, we see that Bruce is hardly a baby hero, more like a rich spoiled brat, but Batman is blind to this.

tec_500_005

Batman’s pursuit of Joe Chill, who on this world is not even from Gotham, and just arriving in the city, brings him into conflict with Gordon, but Batman manages to convince him that they are friends on another world.

tec_500_006

His search for Chill has raised such flags that the man is murdered by the Gotham mobs.  Batman learns that the planned murder of the Waynes is happening sooner than he expected – he had not counted the extra days from leap years.

tec_500_007

Robin, who has been watching the Waynes, sees the murder about to occur, and struggles within himself, thinking that is might be meant to be; but Batman swoops in saves the day, his parents, and himself.

tec_500_008

The Phantom Stranger takes the heroes back to their own world, and they are left to wonder what will become of Bruce, but the reader gets to see the impact the attempted murder had, and that even with his parents alive, young Bruce is on the road to becoming Batman.

Sadly, this is not a parallel world we ever visit again.

tec_500_009

Slam Bradley gets the billing, but this story, a re-write of a Batman tale from the 40s, by Len Wein and Jim Aparo, is pretty much a free for all with a vast line-up of detectives.

They are all at a celebration for an older detective, who gets murdered in front of them.

tec_500_010

The original version of this story has Batman working with a number of detective based on famous fictional ones from the era.  This story brings Slam Bradley, Jason Bard, Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith, the Human Target and Roy Raymond together on the case.

For Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith and Slam Bradley, this the first time the character appeared since the end of their own series.

tec_500_011

There are leads in a number of directions, which allow the detectives to split up and pursue them in smaller groups.  The story gives everyone at least one moment to shine, and they wind up stopping a number of bad guys.

tec_500_012

Slam suspects there is more to the case, and it’s Roy Raymond who provides the real solution, that this was an elaborate suicide, designed to prompt the men to tidy up some hanging cases of his.

tec_500_013

Jason Bard and the Human Target both return in the pages of Detective within the next couple of years, while Roy Raymond pops up in DC Comics Presents.  Many of the rest have their next, and final, appearances in Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Slam Bradley returns a little after Crisis, returning to the pages of Detective for one story.

tec_500_014

The next story in the issue is a wonderful 2-pager, by Len Wein and Walt Simonson, that uses Snoopy’s “It was a dark and stormy night…” as it’s text.  Clever, and visually gorgeous.

tec_500_015

The Elongated Man gets his final solo story in this book, by Mike W Barr and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.  As well as being a decent mystery story on its own, it delves into the facts around the death of Edgar Allen Poe.

tec_500_016

Chiefly, the identity of the mysterious “Reynolds” that Poe called out for shortly before dying.  The story has to do with a letter explaining who Reynolds was, and leading to an unpublished magazine by Poe.

tec_500_017

Garcia-Lopez’s art is great, and Ralph and Sue are always fun to read about.

tec_500_018

One of his best mysteries, this is also the Elongated Man’s last solo story until his miniseries in the 90s.

tec_500_019

On the downside of the issue, there is this text story by Walter Gibson, with some scattered art by Tom Yeates.  I recall reading this as a kid, but not finding it particularly memorable.  And I dislike text stories like this in comics.  If I’m going to read a book, I’ll read a book.  I read comics for the visuals.

tec_500_020

Hawkman also has his last solo story in Detective in this issue.  Well, kind of a solo, really he and Hawkgirl get equal roles.

tec_500_021

Paul Levitz and Joe Kubert helm this tale, that sees Katar and Shayera trying to solve the mystery of the death of a scientist many years earlier.

tec_500_022

There’s some great Kubert art, and the story itself is not bad, but it’s a bit of a tease.

tec_500_023

At the end, Hawkman reveals that the scientist whose death they were investigating was Dr. Erdel, who had died after bringing the Martian Manhunter to Earth.  J’onn had blamed himself, and Hawkman wanted proof that it was not J’onn’s fault.

Hawkman’s next solo outing is the Shadow War of Hawkman miniseries.

tec_500_024

The final story in this issue was also a let-down to me.  Even moreso, as it’s a Batman/Deadman team-up, and those had been above average stories, on the whole.  But Carmine Infantino’s art is not what it was, and Cary Bates’ story doesn’t help much either.

tec_500_025

Pursuing some criminals, Batman gets killed.  Sort of.  Almost dead.  Robin is really stressed, but Deadman shows up and decides to inhabit Batman’s body to bring his killers to justice.

tec_500_026

Oops, someone spilled a plate of scrambled eggs on the comic.  Oh, wait, that’s Infantino’s art for showing Batman and Deadman conversing on the astral plane.

tec_500_027

Deadman moves Batman around and catches the bad guys, and doing so ignites the spark that brings him back to life.  A shame this story closed the issue.  It would have done less damage buried in the middle.

Advertisements

Detective 446 – Sterling Silversmith debuts, and Hawkman returns

tec_446

The Bat-Murderer storyline continues in Detective 446 (April 1975), with a Len Wein/Jim Aparo tale that introduces a new villain for Batman.

tec_446_001

Sterling Silversmith has dreams of conquering the silver market, and a belief that gold will lose it’s value, and silver become the more precious metal.  His economic theories aside, Silversmith is extremely callous, and cares nothing about killing anyone who gets in his way, or using any means possible to acquire his silver.

tec_446_002

Only the beginning and ending of this issue reflect the larger storyline.  Otherwise, Batman’s battle with Silversmith could have occurred in any other issue.  While I like the fact that they extended the storyline by showing how it affects Batman’s other cases, I wish they had showed a bit more of an effect.

tec_446_003

Still, the ending, with the cop unable to shoot Batman after he drops off Silversmith, is a good scene.

tec_446_004

Hawkman returns to the pages of Detective with this E Nelson Bridwell story, with art by Rich Buckler and Klaus Janson.  Between this story and his last appearance in these pages, Hawkman had resigned from the Justice League, and returned to Thanagar with Shayera.  The equalizer plague struck the planet, and Hawkman returned, bringing Shayera, now both exiled from their world until a cure could be found.

tec_446_005

The story here is a simple one, dealing with thieves that possess a remote control that can send a car, or Hawkman, hurtling into the sky.  They had made the mistake of storing their stolen loot in Carter Hall’s apparently abandoned car.

 

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

tec_445

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

tec_445_001

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.”

tec_445_002

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.

tec_445_003

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

tec_445_004

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.

tec_445_005

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.

tec_445_006

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 444 – Batman murders Talia, and the Elongated Man and the magic mirror

tec_444

A 5 part story begins in Detective 444 (Dec.74/Jan. 75), called Bat-Murderer, by Len Wein and Jim Aparo.  It’s the first story with Ra’s al Ghul and Talia since the end of their big, multi-part story a year earlier in Batman.

tec_444_001

It opens with Commissioner Gordon telling a policeman not to use the Bat-Signal, that Batman is now a wanted murderer.  Gordon then relates the events of the previous day, Batman stopping a truck hijacking, and discovering that Talia is leading the men committing the crime.  She tosses a gun down in front of Batman, turns and runs away.  In front of witnesses, Batman picks up the gun and shoots her.

tec_444_002

Batman insists he did not pull the trigger, but ballistics shows nothing unusual with the gun, and Gordon is forced to place Batman under arrest.  Batman fights off the cops and flees into the night, certain that he is innocent, but incapable of explaining what has happened.

tec_444_003

Because multi-part stories like this were quite rare, although that was soon to change, each issue this ran in had a disclaimer announcing that the events in these issues were taking place after the events in other Batman comics coming out, to explain why Batman was not being hunted as a killer in those books.

tec_444_004

The Elongated Man returns in this issue.  The last back-up before Manhunter, and the first one after it.

tec_444_005

Mike W. Barr and Ernie Chan tell this story, in which Ralph and Sue stumble across a magic mirror in a small town.  It’s fairly obviously a fake, designed to pique Ralph’s interest, but there is decent mystery story, and a runaway daughter of a dying millionaire.

tec_444_006

After the conclusion to the Manhunter saga, and the heavy events in this issue’s Batman story, happy and romantic ending to the Elongated Man tale sits well.

 

Detective 442 – Biplane Batman, and Manhunter faces his master

tec_442

Detective 442 (Aug./Sept. 74) features another Aparo cover, but it’s Alex Toth art on the Archie Goodwin story.

tec_442_001

The story is a murder mystery, with a World War 1 biplane used as a weapon.  It was viewed as a follow-up to the Batman/Enemy Ace tale from a few years earlier, but has no direct connection.

tec_442_002

It’s fairly straightforward, and the villain’s identity is obvious, but it’s the Toth art that carries the tale.

tec_442_003

The penultimate chapter, and last solo story, for Goodwin and Simonson’s Manhunter series sees Paul Kirk in Japan, hunting down the man who trained him.

tec_442_004

The best page of the story has Christine’s father pulling a gun on her, but unable to use it.  She walks out on him, and the lower half of the page is wonderfully evocative as he heads to his doom.

tec_442_005

Manhunter battles his master, Asano Nitobe, to a standstill, trying to convince him to join his crusade against the Council, but it’s Christine who flies in with the evidence to convince him.

tec_442_006

This marks the end of the Manhunter solo series, as the story concludes next issue in a Batman team-up.

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

tec_441

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

tec_441_001

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.

tec_441_002

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.

tec_441_003

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.

tec_441_004

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.

tec_441_005

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.

tec_441_006

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.

tec_441_007

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

tec_441_008

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.

Detective 440 – Batman and the hillbillies, and Manhunter on the run

tec_440

Jim Aparo provides the cover for Detective 440 (April/May 1974).  As well as the Batman and Manhunter stories, among the reprints is Simon and Kirby Manhunter reprint from the 40s.  Curious that they did not reprint more of his tales during his run in this book.

tec_440_001

Batman’s story, by Archie Goodwin, with art by Sal Amendola and Dick Giordano, has him coming to the rescue of a girl from a rural mountain community who has come to Gotham, but is being dragged back by her brothers.

tec_440_002

Her family intends her to be a sacrifice, to lift a curse they believe is on them.  Essentially, though, what they intend is to feed her to a big bear.  Batman prevents this, and beings her back to the (relative) safety of Gotham.

tec_440_003

The Manhunter story, by Goodwin and Simonson, has Paul Kirk and Christine St. Clair on the run from her boss, Damon Nostrand, as Paul continues to relate his tale.

tec_440_004

The Council was formed of the greatest thinkers after World War 2, determined to prevent another one from occurring.  Over time, this group became corrupted and controlling.  They run a huge, international organization, with many people of power and influence among their number.  Paul was revived to be the leader of their clone army, but is less than impressed with the organization.

tec_440_005

His first assignment was to kill Damon Nostrand, but instead he goes there to warn him.  Of course, it’s a test to see if Paul will kill him, and he fails miserably.  He flees to Africa, and seeks out the son of a weaponeer he had worked with.

tec_440_006

And thus, he acquired his Manhunter gear.  Ironically, though he began his new career by refusing to kill Nostrand, he and Christine wind up leading him to his death in this tale.

 

Tag Cloud