Posts tagged ‘John Calnan’

Detective 519 – blimps blow up, and Batgirl ends

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Gerry Conway, Paul Kupperberg, Don Newton and John Calnan are the creative team on the concluding half of this story, loosely based on the Dirigible of Death from early issues, in Detective 519 (Oct. 82).

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The villain in this story is Colonel Blimp, but we see much more of his airships than of him in this story.

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But then, the airships do far more dramatic things – like explode in pure Hindenburg glory.

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Batman and Robin chase Col. Blimp to his base in the arctic.  Robin gets a pretty decent snow outfit. Keeps his colours, but looks practical.

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It’s not bad – but really, the best thing about this tale, and about the last year or so in general, is simply that Conway is re-telling some of the oldest, classic Batman stories.  It could, and would, be done better; but it’s an effort worth commending.

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Batgirl’s second run in Detective comes to a close with this issue, as Barbara Randall and Trevor Von Eeden conclude her story with the Velvet Tiger.

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Randall gives a fair amount of backstory to the rival siblings and the manipulations of their corporation.  Enough that it feels like she was intending this series to continue, and the Velvet Tiger to return.

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As it turned out, she would bring Velvet Tiger back, almost ten years down the road, in the pages of Hawk and Dove.

Batgirl gets demoted to being a supporting character, and more often appears as Barbara Gordon than as Batgirl.  Her next solo is the Batgirl special in the late 80s, which immediately precedes The Killing Joke.

 

Detective 490- Batman relaxes in a garden, Batgirl learns to dance, a snowy encounter, Robin takes a test and Black Lightning takes a shower

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Denny O’Neil and Don Newton being their League of Assassins war storyline to a conclusion in Detective 490 (May 1980), although it’s a bit less confrontational than the cover implies.

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Batman fights Lurk for the second time, following their encounter in a DC Special from a couple of years earlier. Lurk looks almost identical to Ra’s Al Ghul’s earlier sidekick, Ubu.  In later years, it would be established that Ubu is more of a title than a name, so Lurk would be the second Ubu, really.

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Working with the seismologist Batman freed last issue, he determines that the League’s plan is to cause an earthquake.  Checking the fault lines, Batman figures out that the goal must be a high level peace conference being held in an estate on the line.

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Batman has to fight his way in, and warns the men to leave before the earthquake hits, and is less then impressed with one religious leader who refuses to go, saying it would be bowing to terrorism.

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Ra’s Al Ghul, the Sensei and Talia only show up for the last few pages.  Talia shoot Batman with a tranquilizer, and takes him away, as his father and the Sensei have their standoff in the mansion.  It gets destroyed in the earthquake.  Though the implication is that both men have died, Ra’s Al Ghul shows up in Batman not too long down the road.  The Sensei, however, may well have died, as his next appearance is in the Deadman mini-series, set years earlier.

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The story concludes as Batman and Talia relax in a garden as she tends to his wounds.  The big battle with a bit of a let-down, but the ending is strong, if only because it is such an untypical, happy ending.

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Batgirl’s story, by Mike W Barr, John Calnan and Joe Giella, has her on the trail of someone who is trying to kill a b=famous ballet dancer.

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In order to keep an eye on the potential victim, Barbara goes undercover as a ballerina.  Probably wise, as the murder attempts just keep coming.

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The story has a sadly ironic resolution, as the wannabe killer is revealed as the ballet master’s son, who felt his father was keeping him out of the spotlight.  The father is devastated – he was planning to retire that night, and make his son the main dancer.

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Bob Rozakis and George Tuska craft an excellent Tales of Gotham City in this issue.  There is no talking, but the narrative relates a radio interview with a policeman about how women need to keep safe and know how to protect themselves.  As we read this, we watch a woman struggling to drive during a snowstorm.  Her car gets stuck, and she sees a shadowy man approach.

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The story has a happy ending – the man is a police officer – but it’s great to see that the woman is shown capable and prepared to defend herself.

So a good story, if not a really “Gotham”-y story.

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Jack C Harris, Alex Saviuk and John Calnan put Robin into the middle of an exam nightmare in this issue.

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After a teacher finds evidence that some students had the exam questions before the test, he announces that there will be second exam, the first was invalid.  Jennifer comes to tell Dick, and almost catches him in his Robin gear.  Perhaps he should change out of it before sleeping.

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The professor himself turns out to be the bad guy, selling the exam results for extra money.  Perhaps not a ground-breaking story, but certainly a realistic, university-based tale.

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Black Lighting, who had not been seen since an issue of World’s Finest the previous year, begins a short run in Detective with this issue.  Marty Pasko, Pat Broederick and Frank McLaughlin are teh creative team as high school teacher Jefferson Pierce dons his costume again to help another student.

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The story is a curious one.  It begins with the student kidnapped out of the school showers.

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The trail leads him to drug dealing gangs, and an aging voodoo queen, but even still, Black Lightning cannot make any sense of their actions.

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But the voodoo queen knows what she is doing, even if no one else does.  The story ends with an electrocuted Black Lightning and the student trapped together.

Detective 467 – Batman on the subway, and the Calculator vs Hawkman

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Batman is underground in Detective 467 (Jan./Feb. 77), pursuing a drug connection in this story by Bob Rozakis, with art by John Calnan and Vince Coletta.

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It’s a pretty straightforward story, livened up when Batman, in disguise, sees another Batman on the subway car, and realizes the fake Batman is part of the pass-off.

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The story is narrated by Batman, although who he is talking to is meant to be a mystery, with little clues sprinkled in.  Of course, it’s the most obvious answer, Hawkman, who has the back-up story this issue.

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After hearing Batman’s tale, Hawkman relates his encounter with the Calculator, as told by Rozakis, Rogers and Austin.

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The Calculator attempts to steal Hawkman while he is in flight.  That really doesn’t sound like a great idea, when he is relying on Hawkman to stay in the air himself.  But he does make himself a nuisance.

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Hawkman has little patience for the Calculator, and simply decks him once he gets the chance.

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The conclusion to the story sets up next issue’s full length tale, involving all the heroes from the past few issues, working with Batman against the Calculator.

 

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