Posts tagged ‘Karen Duncan’

Detective 487 – The League of Assassins go after a writer, Roy Raymond returns, Robin goes to Germany, the Odd Man debuts, and Batgirl runs for re-election

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Denny O’Neil and Don Newton manage to craft a League of Assassins story that reads like a farce, without actually diminishing the power or threat of the League.

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The tale centres on a writer, Sergius, who works out his plots as he jogs.  The Sensei overhears him talking about the assassins and their plot, and mistakenly believes he knows something about their organization, and sends the League out to kill him.

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For a while, the clumsy Sergius is oblivious to what is going on, narrowly avoiding death.

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But the League’s activities draw Batman’s attention.  He persuades Sergius to allow Matches Malone to be his bodyguard.  For those who do not know this, Matches Malone is Batman’s “criminal” identity.

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As Matches he saves Sergius from the League’s most elaborate murder attempt, drowning him by flooding his apartment.  Batman succeeds at rounding up a number of the group’s killers, but of course the Sensei remains free.

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Roy Raymond, last seen a few months earlier in Superman Family, gets one last solo story in Detective, courtesy of Bob Rozakis and Dave Hunt.  Morgan Edge has a small role, as Roy is hosting an Impossible But Truespecial on WGBS.

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Three beings claiming to be aliens are to appear on the show.  One is an R2D2 type machine, one is along the standard lines of an alien monster, and one is an ordinary looking woman, claiming to be exiled from her homeworld.

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In a particularly nice touch,Roy is reunited with old friend and former helper, Karen Duncan.

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Roy exposes the machine and monster as fakes.  Even as a kid I could see the twist that the ordinary looking woman really was an alien, but it was a pleasant shock when it turns out to be Hawkgirl.

Roy Raymond next appears in Detective 500.

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Robin’s story, by Jack C Harris, Kurt Schaffenberger and Joe Giella, takes Dick to West Germany to inspect Wayne Enterprises holdings.

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Dick finds it all terribly boring, until he hears of an unusual bank robbery, in which the wall was pulverized.

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As Robin, he investigates, and quickly gets on the track of some new mini-tanks being developed by his company for the US base there, and figures out a neat trick on how they load the tanks into trucks, using them for the robbery.

Definitely one of the better stories from Robin’s run in this book.

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The Odd Man gets his only solo story to date, by Steve Ditko.  This was intended to be the back-up feature in Shade, the Changing Man, but when that comic was cancelled in the DC Implosion, this story got shelved, until it’s appearance here.

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By far the most annoying thing about this tale, given that it is the character’s only story, is how little we learn about him.  His normal human identity is Clay Stoner, a private detective.  He is facing off against thieves patterning themselves on ancient Egyptians.

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We see him use “powder and smoke gloves”, and he also has a plastic spray he seals a villain in, but that’s it for weaponry.  Does he have any powers?  Who knows.  Why does he dress so strangely?  Who knows.

The Odd Man does pop up from time to time, but no appearance has ever clarified who he is.

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Jack G Harris and Dick Giordano send Barbara Gordon back to the polls in this story.  It’s the first time re-election has been mentioned, so even though she went to Washington seven years earlier, it must only be 2 comic book years since that story.

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Her political adversary, Della Zigler, is based on an actual politican from this era, Bella Abzug, known for her huge hats.  And while Barbara is trying to defeat Della in the election, as Batgirl she is working to save her life from gangsters who want her dead.

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I was genuinely surprised at the ending of this story when I was kid.  Barbara Gordon loses the election.  But heroes never lose!  While I would never say this story is powerful, it certainly has a kick in the teeth ending, though Barbara herself admits she spent too much time as Batgirl and too little campaigning.  And looking back over her seven years in Washington, very few stories showed her functioning as a congresswoman.  I expect her constituents were also feeling neglected.

Detective 292 – Batman becomes a giant, and Roy Raymond ends

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Batman gets exposed to an experimental gas, which turns him into a giant in this Sheldon Moldoff story from Detective 292 (June 1961).

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Batman does his best to continue his war on crime, but his giant size makes life difficult.

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Kathy Kane adds a complication to the story, as she has a date with Bruce Wayne, which of course he cannot come to.  A mysterious stand-in takes his place.

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Batman’s inability to manage at his height winds up putting him in the hands of his enemies, but he has taken care to disguise his face, so unmasking him does not succeed.

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The final panel reveals that it was Superman who stood in as Bruce Wayne, leaving Batwoman convinced Batman is not Bruce.

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Roy Raymond has his final story in this issue, with art by Ruben Moreira.

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It’s a straightforward hoax story, trying to keep people away from a treasure by pretending an ancient wizard has come back to life.  Roy has no problem with this case, after years of similar ones.

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Roy Raymond next appears in the early 70s, in Superman, but Karen has to wait until the 80s, and returns in the pages of Detective, part of Roy’s final solo story.

Detective 276 – Batwoman meets Bat-Mite, and Roy Raymond and the space hoax

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Bat-Mite makes his second appearance in this Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff tale from Detective 276 (Feb. 60).

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In this, and his first appearance, Batman keeps convincing the criminals that the odd things that happened when Bat-Mite was around were hallucinations, but Batwoman discovers that Bat-Mite is real.  As she does not bark at him like Batman does, Bat-Mite decides to hang out with Batwoman and help her fight crime.

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She also finds the imp’s help frustrating, but there is a feel-good thing permeating this, so no one stays angry for long, no matter what Bat-Mite does.  I think that’s part of his powers.

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Together, Batman, Robin, Batwoman and Bat-Mite stop the Hobby Robbers, the villains whose activity was pretty much completely overwhelmed by the guest stars.

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A man approaches Roy Raymond, announcing that he has created a hoax, but still challenging Roy to expose it in this Ruben Moreira story.

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Roy cannot pass up such an interesting proposal, so he and Karen go along, as the man claims to be transporting them to an alien world.  Roy eventually realizes they really are on an alien planet.

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He then exposes the man as an alien, and the story abruptly shifts into high gear, as the alien tries to kill Roy and Karen, who use jets to fly to safety.  Another alien shows up and stops the first, explaining that they had a bet as to whether the first could fool Roy Raymond about being human.  They watched the broadcasts of Impossible But True on their home planet.

 

Detective 244 – Batarangs, and Roy Raymond’s birthday party

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Batarangs are the focus of the Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff tale in Detective 244 (June 1957).

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As with stories of this kind, much of it is spent relating short tales that illustrate a variety of batarangs, most of which were never seen in any other tale.  Batman and Robin both dread using “Batarang X,: which means that it will be used at the climax of the story.

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It’s not a bad tale.  Much better than the make-up one. If anything, it makes one wonder why it was two years into the stories that explore Batman’s arsenal before they dealt with the batarangs.

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Batarang X turns out to be nothing more than a giant batarang that Batman rides in order to quietly approach some villains by air.

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It’s Roy Raymond’s birthday in this story.  Ruben Moreira is credited with the art, but it doesn’t seem on par with previous stories.

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Roy receives some very strange gifts, including a pen that can write on the air, and suspects that one of the partygoers is hoaxing him.  Karen is his first choice, but she clears herself with a polygraph.

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In a weird twist ending, one of Roy’s staffers turns out to be his time-travelling descendant from the future, come back to celebrate his famous ancestor’s birthday.  Any hint of a romance between Roy and Karen is pretty tidily squashed in this one, as the boy refers to Roy as his ancestor, but not Karen.

Detective 236 – new gear for Batman, J’onn phones home, and Roy Raymond and the magic tablecloth

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Batman gets some new toys in Detective 238 (Oct. 56), in a story with art by Sheldon Moldoff.

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After a clever felon invents devices that neutralize the advantages of the Batmbole, Batplace and Bat Signal, Batman and Robin realize they need to build some new equipment to take the bad guys down.

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The new Batmobile is a purple tank, and the Batplane is replaced by a weird purple machine called an “anodyne.” which looks like a flying saucer.

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The new Bat Signal utilizes a telescope.  They use these things to defeat the bad guys, but then return to their tried and true weaponry at the end of the story.  Although the conclusion holds out the possibility that these devices will return, none of them ever did.

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J’onn fights crime on two worlds in this story, which sees him in Martian form for the bulk of the tale.

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Thanks to solar flares affecting radio waves, J’onn is able to communicate with his parents back on Mars.  They tell him of thieves using the canals for their thefts, and as John Jones, he happens to be investigating a similar case on Earth.

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J’onn realizes that in both cases the thieves are attaching themselves to things (fish or ships) traversing the canals, and while he stops the bad guys on Earth, his father passes on the info and the Martian thieves are caught as well.

This story also sets up a possibility of a rescue mission for J’onn, as now his parents, and other on Mars, know where he is and what has happened to him.

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Jack Miller and Ruben Moreira provide another interesting Roy Raymond adventure.

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The story follows an old man convincing his wife that he can fool Roy Raymond with a self-replenishing table he has invented.

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Despite Karen’s misgivings, Roy puts the man on his show, but not for the table.  Roy pulls a surprise happy ending out of the story, revealing that the amazing thing is the intricate needlework on the tablecloth itself.  Nice.

 

Detective 235 – Thomas Wayne as Batman, and Roy Raymond’s ratings slide

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Batman learns secrets behind his father’s murder in Detective 235 (Sept. 56), in a Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff tale.

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Poking around the Manor, Bruce and Dick discover a box containing a variation on the Batman costume, as well as a roll of film.  The home movie spurs Bruce’s memory, of his father and the gangster Lew Moxon, whom his father humiliated at a costume ball.

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Bruce realizes that Moxon hired Joe Chill to kill his father, the attack was not random. Batman confronts Moxon, who has prospered over the years, but also sustained an injury that has left him with amnesia about his early days.  He is still a mobster, though, and Batman’s interest is not welcome.

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Batman gains evidence of Moxon’s current wrongdoings, but his costume got wrecked in a fight.  He dons his father’s costume to confront Moxon, whose memory is restored by the sight of it.  Rushing out in terror, he gets hit by a truck.

Much, much later, around the millenium, Moxon was brought back into the comics, as having survived the accident, but been in prison for years.

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Roy Raymond’s standards seem to vanish when it comes to choosing guests, and Karen Duncan is mystified in this Ruben Moreira tale.

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Karen is more in focus in this story than usual, as she cannot fathom why Roy keeps allowing obvious frauds to appear on an upcoming broadcast.  She discovers a ratings sheet that does not look good, and figures that Roy has become desperate to draw an audience.

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The actual explanation is incredibly complex.  A cover story about giving air time to people who usually fail, and a plot to foil a foreign spy by using airwaves to mess up a missile launch.

Detective 227 – Batman’s make-up tips, Roy Raymond and a man with super-powers, and the Martian Manhunter plays ghost

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Detective 227 (Jan. 56) has another of the stories that explores an element of Batman’s arsenal.  In this case, his make-up and disguises.  Batman winds up teaching a class at a beauty school in his techniques, and one of the students is using the opportunity to study Batman’s face, to attempt to reconstruct it without the mask.

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Aging actor Barret Kean is introduced as the man who taught Batman his cosmetic skills, and he is the one opening the school.

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We get a few different short tales of how Batman and Robin used make-up to capture crooks, and then it’s time for the big finale with the guy scoping Batman’s face.

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Barret Kean takes Batman’s place for the last class, revealing his ears, but causing the bad guy to create an impossible composite.  I’m not sure who wrote this, but the art is Sheldon Moldoff.

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Jack Miller and Ruben Moreira provide a change of pace in Roy Raymond’s series.  He meets an odd little man, who demonstrates amazing abilities.

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He flies around in a car, makes the fourth floor of a building disappear, controls the roulette wheel at a casino, and other things that Roy simply cannot explain.

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At the end, Roy convinces the man that the whole country is paying tribute to him, and he leaves, back to the 4th Dimension.  He really was an extra-terrestrial being with astounding powers.  But Roy had fooled him with American Fourth of July celebrations.  Karen seems to have been under the influence of something, as she needs the holiday explained to her.

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Jack Miller also scripts the Martian Manhunter tale in this one. J’onn is put on the case of a killer,and uses his mind reading abilities to “view” the murder, and then pretend to have some eye witness details.

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The man thinks nothing of having John Jones run down by a car, which of course J’onn survives.

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He spends the rest of the story tailing the man, using his intangibility to “haunt” him and survive further murder attempts, until the killer finally turns himself in.  Quite a dark story.

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