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.
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.
The story kicks into high gear once all the characters are on board the train, a refurbished antique, with the guests in period costume.
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.
A fairly straightforward, but entertaining tale, and Rogers art ensures it’s a treat for the eye.
Robin’s series picks up somewhat mid-stream, as his recurring foe, the Raven, makes an appearance in this Bob Rozakis/Don Newton tale.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So Kirk and Jason make the rounds of the nightclubs the woman frequented, looking for some sign of her.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.