Posts tagged ‘Man-Bat’

Detective 527 – Man-Bat attacks, and Green Arrow meets Ozone

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Doug Moench begins his run on Detective Comics with issue 527 (June 1983).  Dan Day does the pencils, with Pablo Marcos on inks.

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Day’s art is exceptional, and I wonder why he didn’t do more that I know of.  Kirk Langstrom has gone back to work at the natural history museum, but gets so into his job that he forgets to take the medication that prevents him from turning into Man-Bat.  So guess what, he does.

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In his Man-Bat state, he imagines Batman to be responsible for his daughter, Rebecca, having inherited his sonic senses (Man-Bat logic is not too far from Bizarro logic), and seeks him out.  Not finding him in the Batcave, he heads up the stairs and into Alfred, who has a brief but enjoyable fight with the creature.

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Later, Batman gets involved in the fight, as does the chandelier.

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The fight keeps going, back down the stairs and into the cave.  Jason Todd leaps in, providing a convenient victim for Man-Bat to fly away with.

The next couple of years will see a huge degree of integration between Detective and Batman, so many stories, like this one, will only have one part in Detective, and the other in Batman.  Which is to say, I won’t be covering the resolution to this story in my next post.

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Paris Cullins and Pablo Marcos  go all 80s in this Joey Cavalieri Green Arrow story.

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The villain, Ozone, has a variety of spray cans that facilitate his thefts and escapes, and a style that went out before it was ever in.

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Rick comes to visit Oliver Queen at the Daily Star, bringing him a police band radio he built, which conveniently broadcasts Ozone’s latest crime.  Oliver makes  Rick a copy boy, so that he can continue to give him wonderful toys.

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Ozone’s spray cans usually stray out something destructive or escape enhancing, but they seem to be pretty powerful on their own, as Green Arrow discovers.

 

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Detective 492 – Batman and Batgirl team-up, a bridge story, Man-Bat ends, and Robin vs the Penguin

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Cary Burkett and Don Newton lead off Detective 492 (July 1980) with a Batman/Batgirl team up, divided into two chapters.  Often the structure of something like this gets in the way of the storytelling, but in this case, it works to an advantage.

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Batman sees the news reports about Batgirl being killed, and heads to see Commissioner Gordon, discovering that Batgirl is at home, alive.  She explains how she used the dummy as a decoy for Cormorant.

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She tells the men she has decided to give up being Batgirl.  Batman argues with her, not to give up the good fight.  He looks to Gordon to back him up, but he is more than happy to not have his daughter out risking her life.

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Batman goes in pursuit of General Scarr, working his way up through the man’s ranks of hoods.  These fight scenes are really nicely intercut with a long conversation between Gordon and Barbara about being a hero, what things are worth the risk, and how Batman can be the way he is.

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Batman reaches Scarr, only to discover that he has fought his way into a trap.  He was the intended target all along.

So then, he was lying to his men in the previous issue when he talked about Batgirl being a threat?  Why?  He had to have informed them about the trap, so they had to know they were luring Batman.

It’s a minor point, but it bugged me as a kid.

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The story moves to the Batgirl half, as she discovers Batman has gone missing, and goes in search of him. She faces Cormorant, and finds that he is far more frightened of her than she of him, because he thinks she has come back from the dead.

Cormorant returns in a Batgirl Special in the late 80s, but no long thinks she is a ghost.

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She finds Batman, and though he has already broken his bonds and is taking out Scarr;s men, she still manages to rescue him.

The story ends as if her trauma is cured, but in reality, this event would leave deep scars.

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Bob Haney and Bob Oskner craft this installment of Tales of Gotham City.  There is some excellently vertiginous art as we read about a bridge, and the people on it one afternoon.

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The story is told from the point of view of a man who works on the bridge every day.  There is a little old man he sees walking the bridge daily.  Today is special, though, as there is a really dramatic guy threatening to jump because a girl doesn’t like him, and felons speeding towards the bridge, with police in pursuit.

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The storyline all come together, and the boy does little to save the girl he claims to love, when she gets grabbed by the felons.  It’s the old man who sacrifices his life for her.

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He gets the girl anyway, as she realizes suicidal cowards are hot.  The old man turns out to be the one who built the bridge many years earlier.  Corny, but I enjoyed it, and the art really carries it.

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Man-Bat has his final story, by Bob Rozakis, Romeo Tanghal and Vince Colletta.

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Kirk returns home to find Francine and the baby gone, long overdue from a shopping trip.  He discovers that they are on a subway car, mysteriously trapped in its tunnel.

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He finds the car, and the giant rat that has caused it to stop. My only complaint with this tale is that there is not enough Man-Bat vs giant rat action, as he drives it away with a torch.

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His series ends on an appopriately “can’t win for losing” note, as Kirk’s help in the situation is dismissed by the authorities, who refuse to take him seriously.

Man-Bat next appears, along with Francine, the baby, and Jason Bard, in Barve and the Bold the following month, in a coda to his series.

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Robin’s story,by Jack C Harris, Charles Nicholas and Vince Colletta, involves a pterodactyl egg on display at the university.

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The Penguin has come to town to steal it, and wants Robin aware of his presence.

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Dick winds up having the same romantic problems with Jennifer Anne that he was having with Lori Elton, as he keeps having to disappear and make excuses for breaking dates.  Oh, and there’s that man in black again.

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The Penguin has a fairly silly death-trap prepared for Robin, shutting him in a cage and firing it into the air.  He escapes, and nabs the villain.

 

Detective 485 – Batwoman gets murdered, the Demon ends, and Man-Bat faces SST

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The League of Assassins returns in this Denny O’Neil/Don Newton story that pits the Sensei against Ra’s Al Ghul.

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Kathy Kane, the former Batwoman, is in town with her travelling circus, and Batman has received word that the League are going to be attacking there.  Puzzled as to why, he goes to check it out, and discovers Kathy holding her own against them.  This is Kathy’s first appearance since her team-up with the Freedom Fighters in the final issue of their book.

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All is well until the Bronze Tiger shows up.  A master of martial arts, he battles Batman while another member of the League murders Kathy.

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The killers flee, and Ra’s Al Ghul shows up.  Batman realizes that Ra’s manipulated the League into attacking Kathy, so that Batman would seek vengeance against them.  Ra’s Al Ghul and the Sensei have rival plans for the League, and this storyline sees the war between them for dominance.  Talia pops up as well, but all she does is cry about loving Batman.

Up to now, the Sensei’s connection with the League of Assassins had mostly played out in Deadman stories, while Ra’s Al Ghul appeared to be their leader in Batman tales.  Though it is never spelled out in detail, the League must at this point be split between the two factions.

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The Bronze Tiger, Ben Turner, had been a supporting character in Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter, and had been kidnapped by the League when the series was cancelled.  Here we learn that the Sensei (who last appeared in a late issue of Phantom Stranger, for those keeping track) has hopes of making Bronze Tiger into his greatest weapon.

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Batman and the Bronze Tiger battle, but one of the members of the League jumps in, shooting a poisoned dart at Batman.  Though the Sensei kills the man who did this, Bronze Tiger is furious at the breach of honour, and turns on the League.  The lights go out, conveniently, so Batman misses the climax of the action, finding only the bloody masks of Tiger and Batwoman.  The story continues, although not immediately.

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The Demon’s series comes to an end with this story, by Len Wein and Steve Ditko.  The Demon stashes the Eternity Book with a relative of the previous caretaker, but this man wants nothing to do with it, and tosses it on the trash.  The book does not return until the Demon’s own series, in the 90stec_485_007

Jason Blood returns home, only to find his friends held captive by Baron Tyme. He demands the Eternity Book, but when he discovers that Jason no longer has it, comes up with a different plan.

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He casts a spell that half-transforms Jason into Etrigan, and then draws on the mystical energy of the transformation to pull his missing half back to reality.  This almost works, until the Demon steps behind a mirror, and Tyme’s spell winds up backfiring on him, sending his entire body to the nether realm.

That’s it for Baron Tyme, who has never been seen again.  The Demon, along with Glenda and Randu, appear next in the pages of Wonder Woman a couple years down the road.  Harry Matthews has to wait a few more years, until the Demon miniseries by Matt Wagner, to return.

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Man-Bat returns to Detective, with a story by Bob Rozakis, with art by Don Newton and Frank McLaughlin.

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Kirk Langstrom and Jason Bard are called on by a woman whose husband has been acting strangely, sneaking out at night.  She suspects he is having an affair, and hires the detectives to follow him.

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Since Man-Bat excels at surveillance, he follows the man to an abandoned building, where he dons a suit of armour and goes flying out the window. Man-Bat is convinced he has a super-villain on his hands, and starts fighting him.  But once he sees the man’s expression, he realizes that the guy is just not in control of his suit at all, and helps him crash safely.

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The story ends with Kirk complaining about how irresponsible the man was, trying to be a hero but not taking proper precautions and risking his own life, becoming a menace to others. It takes Jason Bard to point out the irony.

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Although I didn’t find either the Robin or the Batgirl stories worth writing about – both deal with art thieves, and both have mediocre art – there is a really nice pin-up of them by Dick Giordano on the back cover.

Detective 481 – 2 Batman tales, and Robin, Batgirl, and Man-Bat all begin, again

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One of the results of the DC Implosion was the merging of Detective Comics and Batman Family.  Detective had not been selling very well (astounding to think the Englehart/Rogers run was not a hit when released), but rather than cancel it, Batman Family was sent to the chopping block, and it’s contents moved to this book.

In truth, as a kid, I didn’t even notice that this, and the following issue, were not issues of Batman Family, as it’s displayed more prominently on the cover than the logo for Detective.

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The first of the two Batman stories in the issue, by Denny O’Neil and Marshall Rogers, has Batman attempting to find a murderer, in order to stop a cynical scientist from destroying his notes on a new heart operation.  It makes more sense than it sounds.

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The story kicks into high gear once all the characters are on board the train, a refurbished antique, with the guests in period costume.

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The killer had a ticket for the excursion, which is what drew Batman. But once he has accounted for all the invited guests, he realizes the host must be the one who dropped his ticket.

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A fairly straightforward, but entertaining tale, and Rogers art ensures it’s a treat for the eye.

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Robin’s series picks up somewhat mid-stream, as his recurring foe, the Raven, makes an appearance in this Bob Rozakis/Don Newton tale.

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Robin is given three hideous new costumes, supposedly designed by students at his university, but in actually by readers who should not design clothes.  One of the outfits allows him to fly, which is useful, although the Raven still beats him.

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The third outfit is not only garish, it’s rigged with a bomb.  Robin figures this out when the bad guys flee, and winds up skinny dipping to survive.

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Batgirl’s series, also by Rozakis, is also mid-storyline, as Barbara Gordon heads to China in her official capacity as a congresswoman, in order to secretly investigate the Sino-Supermen. Don Heck does the art, so it looks awful.

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Believing that the reason the US has so many heroes is because the government is creating them, the Chinese government is working on their own super-hero program, which Batgirl is out to destroy.

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But the Chinese are spying on her and her reporter friend as well.  They believe the reporter is actually Batgirl, and kidnap both of them.

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Man-Bat’s series has him and Jason Bard running a private detective agency at this point.  Once again, it’s Bob Rozakis scripting, with Newton on the art.

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They are hired to find a millionaire’s missing wife.  There is a ransom demand, which Jason fulfills as Man-Bat observes from on high.  They capture the man, who turns out to be another detective the millionaire had hired.  He did not kidnap the wife, and was just looking to profit off the situation.

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So Kirk and Jason make the rounds of the nightclubs the woman frequented, looking for some sign of her.

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In the end it turns out she was not kidnapped at all, simply ran off because she was bored.  The story ends with Kirk and Francine, wondering what a boring life would be like.

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The second Batman story in this issue, by Jim Starlin, with art by P. Craig Russell, is the first half of a 2-parter that concludes next issue.

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Batman is called to the site of a brutal murder.  Investigating, it becomes clear that no ordinary person would have had the necessary strength to have done all the damage.

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He recognizes a photo on the victim’s wall, and realizes the man was a friend of his father.  The page copied above shows the Batcave as being relocated to under the Wayne Foundation Building.  Other stories would show it, intact, still below Wayne Manor.  The only possible logic to this is that Batman actually had duplicates made of the dinosaur and giant penny, so he could have them in both Batcaves.

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Batman seeks out one of the surviving men from the photograph, now old and crippled, but pretty clearly the bad guy.  To Batman’s surprise, the man confesses, and then electrocutes himself.

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But the electrocution does not just kill his body, it transfers his mind into the body of the giant ape, which he has already used to kill.

 

Detective 459 – a mystery writer’s murder, and Man-Bat ends

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Marty Pasko and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez craft a decent whodunnit in Detective 459 (May 1976), but unfortunately it really has little connection to Ernie Chan’s cover.

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The story deals with a successful mystery novelist, whose books always have a trademark “clue before dying.”  He is wealthy, successful arrogant, hated, and fairly obviously going to be the victim.

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His body is found, along with a clue left before dying.  But was the clue really his, or a distraction by the killer?

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Some good action scenes, and a solid mystery that plays fair.

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The concluding half of the Man-Bat story, also by Pasko, with art by Pablo Marcos, has the villain trying to draw supernatural energy off of Man-Bat and She-Bat.  Up to now, there had never been anything supernatural ascribed to them, and though by and large the Man-Bat stories would stay in the realm of the scientific, occasionally he would be portrayed as something magical.

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Much of this story has Kirk fighting the bad guy, both in human form, and as a demon.  It’s not clear which of the two forms is the villains true nature.

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Kirk manages to defeat him, and frees Francine, restoring her to human form.  The Langstroms return a year down the road, when Man-Bat gets a series in Batman Family.

Detective 458 – Batman and a tattooed victim, and Man-Bat begins

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Detective 458 (April 1976) is one of those issues that I loved as a kid, but that really don’t stand up well.

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Elliot S! Maggin and Ernie Chan tell this story, in which a policeman, dressed as Batman for a policeman’s ball, is murdered, with a tattoo on his forehead warning Batman.  Bruce Wayne happens to be at the ball, and Commissioner Gordon fills him in on everything.  Gordon also leaves it up to Batman to contact the widow.  Coward.

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There is a bit of a mystery as to which tattoo artist is behind it, but most of the story is Batman chasing people and beating them up for information.

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I do like the art at the story’s climax, the terrified face of the gunman as Batman approaches him.

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Man-Bat begins a two-part story, crafted out of the unpublished third issue of his own, quickly cancelled, series, by Marty Pasko, Pablo Marcos and Tex Blaisdel.

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The story has Kirk explaining his origin to his sister, as part of explaining why he has tied Francine to a bed.  She has fallen under the spell of an evil magician, who is forcing her to transform into She-Bat.

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Kirk changes to Man-Bat and follows Francine, and discovers that she has been turned into a stone gargoyle.  Oh no!

The story concludes next issue.

Detective 429 – Man-Bat in Las Vegas

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Frank Robbins writes and draws another Man-Bat story in Detective 429 (Nov. 72), and it’s far superior to his earlier one.

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After seeing a news report about an apparent attack by a giant vampire bat in Las Vegas, and discovering that Kirk and Francine Langstrom are there, Batman heads out to take down Man-Bat.

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Batman gets a chorus girl to act as bait, luring the giant creature.  Batman is surprised at how much more violent Kirk has become as Man-Bat.  The creature flees, but Batman tracks it to its lair.

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Batman discovers that it is not Kirk Langstrom terrorizing the city, but Francine, as She-Bat.  Francine was scratched by a vampire bat while they were working, and it set off her “condition.”  The story ends with Batman preparing another cure for her.

Man-Bat returns, as a hero, in an issue of Batman early the next year.  His next appearance in Detective follows the cancellation of his (very) short-lived series a couple years down the road.

 

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