Posts tagged ‘Marshall Rogers’

Detective 473 – The Penguin goes after the silver bird

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The Penguin toys with Batman and Robin in Detective 473 (Nov. 77), another Englehart/Rogers/Austin collaboration.

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The Penguin returns to the theatre for the next round of bidding on Batman’s identity, only to discover that none of the other bidders showed, nor did Strange.  He hears the Joker’s laugh, and, unsure of what is happening, decides to write this off.

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Bruce is on the mend, and goes to see Silver St. Cloud in the hospital, along with Dick.  Although the scene is G rated, it’s still by far the more intense physical relationship that we have ever seen Bruce in at this point.

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Boss Thorne, meanwhile, is deriving no pleasure from Hugo Strange’s death, as his ghost begins haunting Thorne.

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But the meat of the story is the Penguin.  Batman and Robin believe he has plans to steal a silver sculpture, the Malay Penguin. Someone has started backing a musical next door, the sounds of which keep setting off the sensitive alarm system.  The Penguin is seem lurking nearby, and though he flees the heroes, he leaves odd clues – such as “never pitch rolls at a bank.”

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Dick can’t make head not tail out of the odd clues, but does piece together a viable solution to the Penguin’s plans to steal the statue.  And he is completely wrong.

Bruce has figured out that the statue is not the goal at all, that the Penguin intends to hijack an airplane, and stops him.

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It’s an entertaining tale of wits and diversions, with the added touch that the Penguin had stolen the Malay Penguin before the story even started.  And a pleasant change to see Batman and Robin working together again.

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Detective 472 – Hugo Strange becomes Batman

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Such a great cover for Detective 472 (Sept. 77), as Englehart, Rogers and Austin conclude the Hugo Strange story.

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The first page, with Hugo Strange in double disguise, as Batman and Bruce Wayne, is the first time we see Hugo Strange in the Batman outfit – though this will be a common visual for the character in his future appearances.

Although he dresses as Batman for the opening, he only impersonates Bruce Wayne for the rest of the tale.

Alfred gets captured, both to tend to the heavily drugged Bruce, and to keep him from exposing Strange’s impersonation.

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As he liquidates various holdings of Wayne Enterprises, Silver St. Cloud bursts into his office.  Strange has no idea who she is, and brushes her off, but Silver gets very suspicious of his actions.  She returns to the clinic to try to find out more, but Strange’s sidekick, Magda, rebuffs her as well.

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Desperate, she telephones Dick Grayson for help.  Although he acts as if he, too, is giving her the cold shoulder, Dick immediately gets into his Robin gear and heads for Gotham. Too late for Silver, as Magda has two of her monster men grab the woman.

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Hugo Strange decides to auction off the secret of Batman’s identity.  It’s a shame the copy I have of this page is faded, as the original looked very good, with the three bidders in blackness. Still, it’s not hard to spot the ring of Boss Thorne, the Penguin’s umbrella and cigarette holder, and the Joker’s glove.

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Though his role in this is small, it’s a decent outing for Robin, who looks more like a college student than a teenager, for once, and who gets to show off his fighting abilities against Strange’s men.

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Even Alfred gets some action, as Magda attempts to turn Bruce into a monster.  Alfred fights with her, and injects her with the serum instead.

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And it’s not Bruce to defeats Hugo Strange at all.  Instead, Boss Thorne has his men grab Hugo after the first bid at the auction, and beat him for the secret.  Hugo refuses to speak, and regrets ever having thought of selling Batman’s identity.  Thorne is emotionless as his men beat Hugo Strange to death.

Detective 471 – Hugo Strange returns

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Although Hugo Strange had not appeared since the 1940s, he was not unknown to me when I read Detective 471 (Aug. 77) at age 12.  He had appeared in Batman 1, which had been reprinted in oversize format a year earlier.

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Rogers and Austin are back on the art, joining Englehart as we see that Dr. Phosphorus’ apparent death has not stopped Thorne or his crew from pursuing their anti-Batman agenda.

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Bruce Wayne, suffering from radiation burns from his battle last issue, seeks out an exclusive clinic for wealthy people, Graytowers, that he has heard about.  Once admitted, he is drugged, and has a great nightmare.  Maybe not so great for him, but thanks to the art, great for us.

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Silver St.Cloud attempts to visit Bruce, but is turned away at the door, while Bruce realizes that he has become a prisoner there.

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Bruce switches to his Batman gear, and pretends to have broken in.  He confronts the doctor in charge, who reveals himself to be Hugo Strange, having survived his apparent deaths decades earlier.  He distracts Batman with his ravings, as a python attacks the hero.

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Waking from the attack, Batman finds himself unmasked.  Hugo Strange now knows he is Bruce Wayne, and he is still the man’s prisoner.

 

Detective 468 – The Calculator vs Batman

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The big finale to the Calculator sage, by Bob Rozakis, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin takes up all of Detective 468 (March/April 1977).

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As Hawkman predicted last issue, the Calculator does indeed go up against Batman, and is defeated by him, as he was with all the previous heroes.  But once again, he presses that special button.

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One thing that makes this story entertaining is its use of Morgan Edge, normally a supporting character in the Superman books.  He is trying to secure Bruce Wayne’s vote on the sales of a division of Galaxy Communications, and though he does, in the end, give Batman the inspiration for beating the Calculator, he never does get the signature he needs.

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The effect of the Calculator’s special button is to ensure that he cannot be beaten a second time by a given hero.  It’s never really clear how his machine does this, or any of the other amazing things it does.  But it does make for a great spread, as the heroes take each other down.  The Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Arrow and Hawkman all have small roles in this story, but it’s really a Batman tale, not even a team-up.

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Ultimately, Batman outwits the Calculator, and has him defeat himself. Batman goads him into creating a cage, while standing on a spinnable floor.  The Calculator winds up trapped by his own creation.

Likely because his suit was never really explainable, the Calcualtor did not move on from this introductory run to become a major player.  He next appeared against the Atom in the early 80s, in the pages of Action Comics, and would pop up from time to time in different books.  It was not until the millennium that he got reworked into an impressive villain again.

Detective 467 – Batman on the subway, and the Calculator vs Hawkman

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Batman is underground in Detective 467 (Jan./Feb. 77), pursuing a drug connection in this story by Bob Rozakis, with art by John Calnan and Vince Coletta.

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It’s a pretty straightforward story, livened up when Batman, in disguise, sees another Batman on the subway car, and realizes the fake Batman is part of the pass-off.

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The story is narrated by Batman, although who he is talking to is meant to be a mystery, with little clues sprinkled in.  Of course, it’s the most obvious answer, Hawkman, who has the back-up story this issue.

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After hearing Batman’s tale, Hawkman relates his encounter with the Calculator, as told by Rozakis, Rogers and Austin.

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The Calculator attempts to steal Hawkman while he is in flight.  That really doesn’t sound like a great idea, when he is relying on Hawkman to stay in the air himself.  But he does make himself a nuisance.

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Hawkman has little patience for the Calculator, and simply decks him once he gets the chance.

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The conclusion to the story sets up next issue’s full length tale, involving all the heroes from the past few issues, working with Batman against the Calculator.

 

Detective 466 – The Signalman returns, and the Calculator vs Green Arrow

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After spending years in prison, Phil Cobb escapes and returns to his original villainous identity, the Signalman, in Detective 466 (Dec. 76).  In his last appearance, in the early 60s, he had adopted a second identity, the Blue Bowman.

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Len Wein, Ernie Chan and Vince Coletta handle this tale, and the Signalman comes off as fairly impressive.  His signals are used in a variety of ways, inspiring both the crimes and his weapons and defenses.

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And you just have to love the scene in which he tries to fry Batman in the Bat-Signal. tec_466_003

He goes over a cliff at the end, but does not die, returning next year in the pages of Batman.  Signalman would have a role in a very good Justice League story in the 80s, but for solo outings, this was his highpoint.

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Green Arrow gets a story in Detective Comics for the first time, as he faces the Calculator in this Bob Rozakis/Marshall Rogers/Terry Austin story.

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Still in Star City, the Calculator’s plan this time is to steal the baseball game.  He steals the ball being shot by Green Arrow as the first pitch, and all other balls thrown vanish as well.

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This is also the first Rogers/Austin story in Detective.  The art is just perfect.

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Ralph Dibny had been visiting with Green Arrow before the attack, but finds himself incapable of going into action as the Elongated Man against the Calculator.  Green Arrow writes it off as nerves, but it’s the major clue as to the Calculator’s greater scheme.

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