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
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.
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.
For a while, the clumsy Sergius is oblivious to what is going on, narrowly avoiding death.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In a particularly nice touch,Roy is reunited with old friend and former helper, Karen Duncan.
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.
Robin’s story, by Jack C Harris, Kurt Schaffenberger and Joe Giella, takes Dick to West Germany to inspect Wayne Enterprises holdings.
Dick finds it all terribly boring, until he hears of an unusual bank robbery, in which the wall was pulverized.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.