Posts tagged ‘John Broome’

Detective 388 – The Joker sends Batman to the moon, and Batgirl is hired to impersonate herself

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The Joker story in Detective 388 (June 1969) is just lame.  No tow ways about it.  But I imagine it didn’t feel that way at the time, with the moon landing a current event when John Broome, Bob Brown and Joe Giella crafted this tale.

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It begins with Batman and Robin chasing the Joker as he robs a planetarium, and later a laboratory in which a scientist has created an anti-gravity machine.

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The Joker and his man manage to capture Batman and Robin, who get knocked out, and wake up in space suits on the moon.

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And how did the Joker get them there?  The story never even tries to answer that.  It’s sad that Batman and Robin actually believe they are on the moon for a page, despite the theft of the anti-gravity machine, which should have wised them up immediately that the Joker is just trying to make them think that’s where they are.

Incidentally, this story attributes the Joker with a phosphorescent glow to his face, the result of the chemicals that dyed his skin.  It’s not a bad idea, but does not appear in any other stories.

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Great Gil Kane/Murphy Anderson splash page to start off Frank Robbins Batgirl 2-parter.

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Barbara Gordon is apartment hunting, and answers an ad for a free apartment for a red-headed girl (shades of the Sherlock Holmes tale, “The Red Headed League.”   Barbara gets a big complex story from her new roomie, who needs her to dress as Batgirl for an awards ceremony while she goes to visit an ailing relative.

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The story is so convoluted it should raise Barbara’s suspicions, but doesn’t.  She is a bit surprised when Batman comes to the door, even moreso when he attacks her.

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It’s not the real Batman, of course, and Barbara manages to elude him.  She follows him to the awards ceremony, and finds a number of other goons dressed as heroes there.  They all believe her to be the woman she is impersonating, who is really part of their gang, but who betrayed them.

The story concludes next issue.

Detective 365 – “The House the Joker Built”

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A truly great cover for Detective 365 (July 1967), and an amazingly awful story, by John Broome, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella.

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The Joker starts selling his merchandise at cheaper prices than Batman.  Yes, that is what the story is about.  The Joker even commits the dastardly deed of opening his own department store.

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Batman and Robin will have none of this!  So, everybody fights.

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The Joker house from the cover is one of the items for sale at the department store, and serves as the setting for the final fight scene, but it does not look nearly as cool as the cover image.  A let down.

Detective 358 – Spellbinder debuts

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Spellbinder was a character with decent powers, and horrible visuals.  I credit John Broome for what is good about this villain, who debuted in Detective 358 (Dec. 66), and blame Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella for what is bad.

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Spellbinder can cause intense visual hallucinations in his victims, which is great.  His costume is too much.  Even considering that it is intentionally garish, it goes overboard.  And the fact that he physically spins around to put a person under his spell both looks bad on the page, and even worse in the reader’s imagination of how it would appear in reality.

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Once Batman has been affected by Spellbinder, it is easy for the villain to bring the effect back on, even with a pinwheel.  Batman does triumph, by force of will, breaking out of a hallucinatory state on his own.

Spellbinder would not appear again until the late 70s, and in a Superman comic at that!

Detective 357 – Batman meets William B. Williams

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In Detective 357 (Nov. 66) Batman meets that famous celebrity, William B. Williams.

Ummm, who?

Thanks to wikipedia –

William B. Williams (August 6, 1923 – August 3, 1986), was an American disc jockey on New York City radio station WNEW for over four decades. He hosted the popular program Make Believe Ballroom. Williams is particularly noted for coining the title “Chairman of the Board” for Frank Sinatra.

So John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella were clearly really into this guy.

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He hosts a tv show, with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson as guests, and also Batman and Robin.  Crooks burst in, gas everyone, and kidnap the supposed heroes.

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Williams reveals that he had some college kids dress up as the heroes for the show.  Maybe he did this regularly on his broadcasts?

Whatever the case, that’s it for Williams involvement in the plot, he makes just another cameo in the last panel.

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The rest of the story simply details Batman and Robin hunting down the crooks and freeing the boys.

Detective 355 – Batman vs the Hooded Hangman, and Elongated Man meets Zatanna

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Such a powerful cover for Detective 355 (Sept. 66). The actual story, by John Broome, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella, is acceptable, but the Hooded Hangman is clearly a one-shot villain.

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The Hooded Hangman is a successful pro wrestler, whose identity is unknown.

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One night, responding to an alarm, Batman sees the Hangman running from the scene, and they fight.  Batman realizes the Hangman was innocent, but there in order to fight.  He knocks Batman out, and almost succeeds in removing his mask before others show up and he flees.

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After some more fighting, Batman recognizes the bruises on the newscaster’s face as ones he would have left on the Hangman. I always laugh envisioning a newscaster on the air with massive bruises, as if nothing was wrong.

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So Batman gets into the public fight Hangman wants, and allows himself to be defeated and unmasked, because he has made himself up as the newscaster.  Tables turned, and the newscaster is exposed as the Hangman.  End of story.

As I said, definitely a one-shot villain, but such a compelling cover.  I believe it to be the inspiration behind the creation of Bane.

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Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino share this story, the penultimate chapter in Zatanna’s quest for her missing father, which had run through a number of DC comics.

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Ralph gets involved when he sees stolen jewels flying through the air, and is unable to stop the thieves flying with them.

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It turns out Zatanna was responsible, trying to find the last artifacts she was looking for.  Zatanna pretends not to know the thieves are thieves, but she was working with them, and desperate, so I’m pretty sure she is lying about that.  At any rate, she helps Ralph round them up.

Zatanna then prepares to cast a spell that will take her to another dimension in search of Zatara.  Ralph offers to help, but she insists she will do it alone.

As it turns out, in her next appearance, in Justice League of America a few months down the road, she does call on Ralph, as well as the other heroes she encountered on her quest, for help.

 

Detective 352 – Mr. Esper debuts, and a pin-up!

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A minor recurring foe, around for about a decade, Mr. Esper was introduced in Detective 352 (June 1966), in a story by John Broome, with art by Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella.  The story is called “Batman’s Crime Hunt A-Go-Go.”  Possibly the worst title for a Batman story ever.

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It begins with Batman getting a series of amazing hunches while patrolling with Robin, capturing a number of criminals he likely would not have.  All seems well, but Batman does not trust the situation.

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While out for a night on the town, he sees mentalist Mr. Esper, who correctly reads Bruce’s mind.  He repeats the exact sum that had been stolen, stumbling over one of the numbers when he realizes it’s significance.

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Batman is quick on the uptake, and takes down Mr. Esper and his crew.  Esper had been sending Batman sonic whispers, leading him to crimes, and away from others, and also getting him dependant on the voice, even when it started giving the wrong information.

Mr. Esper next appears in a Batman comic in the early 70s.

This issue also contains a classic Batman and Robin pose as a pin-up.

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Detective 346 – Batman and the inescapable trap, and the Elongated Man sees the future

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The Batman tale in Detective 346 (Dec. 65), by John Broome, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella, deals with an escape artist who uses his abilities to steal money, in order to purchase escape tricks.

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Carnado is pretty much under the thumb of the trick builder, Eivol Ekdal, although the reader is not likely to sympathize with either of the men.

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Carnado lures Batman to Ekdal’s workshop, where they seal him in the trap, but Batman manages to escape by blowing it up.

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Not such a great story, but absolutely worth including, because this is re-told as one of the earliest episodes of the Batman tv series, although the gender of the escape artist is changed, and the role is played by Anne Baxter, who makes the character much more rounded and sympathetic.

Possibly the only case in which the tv adaptation was better than the 0riginal story.

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Gardner Fox scribes the Elongated Man tale in this issue, with Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene on the art.

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Ralph realizes he is getting flashes of the future, when he knows how much Sue is going to spend on a hat before she even starts shopping.

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The stakes get higher as the story progresses, as Ralph foresees a bank robbery.  He fails to stop it, and gets captured and forced to name the winners of upcoming horse races, but manages to hide himself in ceiling cracks when the bad guys come back, and he rounds them all up.

Ralph figures out that the visions of the future were caused by tainted gingold.  And it must have been a very rare case, because there was never another story where he gained this ability again.

Detective 343 – Batman and Elongated Man vs the Phantom General

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The second book-length team up of Batman and Elongated Man appeared in Detective 343 (Sept. 65), a story by John Broome, with art by Infantino and Giella.

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The story begins with Batman noticing the military precision with which a new gang is committing their robberies.  Batman actively seeks out Ralph’s help in this story.

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It’s a good thing he does, because Ralph knows all about General Von Dort, a Nazi war criminal believed dead, who has a monocle that emits a hypnotic ray, and a desire to build a death ray.

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Batman and Elongated Man head around the world tracking Von Dort, but when they finally catch up to him, he uses his monocle on Elongated Man, making him fight Batman and Robin.

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They defeat Ralph, who gets control of his mind again, and they all take down Von Dort.

I really love the final scene, as they all sit down to dinner, and Batman thinks about how wonderful Sue Dibny is.

Detective 341 – The Joker plays silent screen comics

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The story in Detective 341 (July 1965), by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, is reminiscent of a 1940s Joker story, with old vaudevillains and a will.  In both cases, the Joker committed crimes while acting like a famous comedian.

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This story begins with him clearly impersonating Charlie Chaplin, although the character is just called the Tramp.  He gets people off guard, and then he and his men rob the place.

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He’s done up as Harpo Marx when Batman and Robin finally catch up to him.

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The Joker is covering these crimes by pretending to be filming a movie,  If this story sounds familiar, it’s because it was used for an early Joker story on the Batman tv series.

Detective 332 – The “New Look” Joker, and Sue gets replaced by an alien

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It had been well over a decade since the Joker had appeared in Detective Comics, but he returns in issue 332 (Oct. 64), in a John Broome story.  The art is by Sheldon Moldoff, with Joe Giella inking.

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The “New Look” Joker did look a bit different, but was still the same themed robber he had been since the late 40s.  In this story, he causes the people at the scenes of his crimes to laugh uncontrollably, and render them incapable of stopping him.

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This is attributed to him spraying the dust of “loco weed” in the air.  I always thought that was a nickname for marijuana, but according to wiki it’s something else completely.  Too bad.

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There is a nice bit with a swinging cell door the Joker uses to trap Batman and Robin, reflecting the scene on the cover, but not much else to make this special.

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The Elongated Man gets a wild adventure in this issue, courtesy of Gardner Fox, with art by Infantino and Sid Greene.

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In the middle of the night, Ralph wakes up to see Sue leaving with an alien.  He follows them, and questions Sue the next day, but she denies it.  Re-tracing his steps, Ralph finds himself transported to an alien world.

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He deals with soldiers in the thrall of an alien queen, who is Sue’s double, but really, nothing it what it seems here.

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This story, in fact, introduces the concept of the “birthday mysteries” that Sue sets up for Ralph.  The entire thing was a huge hoax on him. Ralph lets on, at the end, that he had figured it out early on because of Sue’s tan lines from a sun lamp.

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