Posts tagged ‘Julie Madison’

Detective 49 – Clayface returns, and the Crimson Avenger battles Echo

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No pirates in Detective 49 (March, 1941), although there would be a story coming in a few months that does pit Batman against them, so perhaps this cover can be viewed as a trailer.

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Clayface returns, along with Julie Madison and the head of the studio, in a Bill Finger/Bob Kane/Jerry Robinson story that is really just a replay of the original.

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Julie Madison has not been seen since the last Clayface story, as she has been swept up by Hollywood, and even given a new name, Portia Storme.  She formally ends her engagement with Bruce Wayne in this story.

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Meanwhile, Basil Karlo escapes during a prison transfer, and again dons his Clayface garb, intending to kill everyone he didn’t manage to kill the last time around.  Preferably on a movie set.  Like last time.

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The car is officially the Batmobile as of this story, although it’s still the red one.  Just occurred to me that we haven’t seen the blue car in Detective since the introduction of Robin, so perhaps this was a new car he painted in Dick’s honour.

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The story really only gets into high gear in the last few pages, once they are back amid the phony castles of the set.

It’s not a bad story, but it’s the same story, without the whodunnit element.  This was the last appearance of Basil Karlo as Clayface until the early 80s.  There would be two more men adopting the name Clayface before his comeback, the first of which was Matt Hagen, in the early 60s.

Julie Madison also leaves the comic after this story, pursuing her Hollywood career.  She next appears in an issue of World’s Finest in the late 70s.

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The Crimson Avenger is given his best opponent by far in this issue.  A mad scientist (just named Jon), builds a giant golden android, Echo, and sends it on a destructive rampage.

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The Avenger wins out through some deft footwork, and a lot of luck.  After seeing an attack by Echo, Lee follows it back to the scientist’s lab.  When the bad guy orders Echo to kill, the Avenger steps out of the way, and Echo kills his master.

 

 

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Detective 40 – Clayface debuts, Red Logan helps a blind detective, and Cliff Crosby goes flying

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The cover for Detective 40 (June 1940) actually reflects the final story from Batman 1, in which it’s the Joker who is chopping the flagpole.

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Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson craft a classic tale in this issue, introducing the first of many foes to use the name Clayface.  The story also gives Bruce Wayne’s fiancee Julie Madison her largest role yet.  We discover that she is an aspiring actress, and has just landed a starring role in a horror film, Dread Castle.

The logo also changes this issue, bringing back that great Batman logo, and merging the Robin logo with it, in a far more harmonious blend.

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Clayface haunts the studio, much like the Phantom of the Opera, killing off the actors as their characters die.  There are many suspects, with motives varying from jealousy to insurance to gangster threats, but it isn’t too difficult to spot the aging horror actor, Basil Karlo, as the most likely.

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The horror movie set helps fill the scenes with dungeons and shadows, and this is a perfect gem of a tale.

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Basil Karlo is unmasked, literally, at the end of the tale.  He returns a few months down the road, as do Julie, and the head of Argus Studios.

Julie Madison’s absence from the next few months of stories is dealt with in that tale as well.

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Red Logan teams up with a blind detective in this issue.  A woman killed by a speeding car is discovered to have stolen war plans in her possession, which leads them to a boarding house that is a nest of spies.

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This is Red’s final story in England.  With no explanation, he is back in the US in the next issue.  But in 1940, the War would have been the obvious reason.

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In this story, Cliff Crosby is hired by an old friend to supervise construction of a new aircraft.  Because that’s what explorers do, right?

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Exploring, vacationing or supervising aircraft construction, it all comes to the same thing for Cliff: spies and fights.  In this case, and air battle.  At some point in his varied career, he has clearly becomes a pilot.

Detective 32 – Batman and vampires, Speed Saunders and Skull-Face

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Batman gets his head on the cover of Detective 32 (Oct 39), even though the main picture is a generic image.  This is the last cover not to feature Batman.

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Bill Finger and Bob Kane pick up the story from last issue, with Batman and Julie Madison now in Eastern Europe, encountering a mesmerized woman, Dalla.

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This entire story reads much like one of the Dracula movies from the era.

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The Monk retains his hypnotic control of Julie, drawing her to him, but Batman has no qualms about executing him and Dalla.

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Speed gets a real villain, of sorts, in this Fred Guardineer story.  Skull Face wears a cloak and a skull mask, and poisons bathing beauties after forcing them to give their money to charity.  Why exactly he wants to do this in not clear.

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Detective 31 – Batman vs the Monk

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It is far from obvious that Batman is a benevolent character on the cover of Detective 31 (Sept 39).  The actual villain, the Monk, looks more like a servant of the looming master of the castle, than the actual villain of the tale.

A striking variant to this cover would be printed in a couple of years, after Robin was introduced and Batman made more friendly.

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There are a number of firsts in this story.  First of the firsts is the logo, the earliest variation of what would become the standard Batman logo for decades.  And the middle top panel also became an iconic Batman pose, duplicated by many artists over the years.

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Julie Madison debuts, the fiancee of Bruce Wayne.  There is no real introduction for her, she is an entranced victim of the Monk, encountered on the street by Batman, when we first meet her.  After he breaks her spell, Julie decides to go on a trip to Europe, and Batman decides to follow.

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Bruce now just hangs his cape and hood out in the open.  Considering he has a fiancee, you’d think he would be more cautious.  We see his first aircraft, the Batygyro, and also the first batarang, here termed as “baterang.”

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Batman arrives in Paris in time to save Julie again from the Monk, but winds up getting captured himself.  And while I admire Kane’s art for its entertaining dynamism, his version of the Eiffel Tower in the bottom right panel is shameful.

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This and the next few stories make the most of Batman being in Europe.  Castles and dungeons, the elements of Universal monster movies dominates in these tales.  The Monk himself is a vampire, as the next issue makes clear.  Batman looks much better escaping from a cage in a stony dungeon than he would in a modern warehouse.  The looks of these stories would hugely influence the style given to Gotham City in years to come.

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