Detective 484 – Batman vs Maxie Zeus, the Human Target has a mystery client, Batgirl tries to save her father, Robin returns to the circus, the Demon vs Baron Tyme, and an unsolved case of Batman
Batgirl’s story gets the cover spot for Detective 484 (June/July 1979), though it’s deceptive in implying that Batman and Robin are also part of that story.
Batman’s main story, by Denny O’Neil and Don Newton, is a follow up to last issue, as Batman penetrates Olympus, the penthouse retreat of Maxie Zeus.
We get a bit of background on the villain. He comes from wealth and education, and is credited as being an organizational genius. His pretense of being a Greek god is looked on with amusement by his gang, who stay with him despite this.
Although he knows Batman is coming for him, and in spite of the pleas of his men, throughout the tale, that he flee, Maxie Zeus remains secure that he will triumph.
Batman makes it past Zeus’ bodyguard, Odysseus, and winds up in his “Scylla or Charybdis” trap – between attack dogs and whirling blades. The scene in which he survives by sending the dogs into the blades is pretty awful, but the only way out.
Even when he is captured, Maxie does not seem in any way put out. Instead, he is delighted when Batman tells him his pride was his undoing. And Maxie is not out of the picture, returning in a couple of months.
The Human Target gets an unusual case in this issue, courtesy of Len Wein and Dick Giordano. He is called on the phone and warned off of helping Floyd Fenderman, but no such person has contacted Christopher.
So rather than disguise himself as the potential victim, Chris has to try to find out who the victim is. He does adopt a disguise for part of the tale.
But for the climax of the action it is simply Chris being himself.
The story ends on a cute note, as Christopher discovers that Fenderman has been trying to get into contact with him for days.
Jack C Harris, Bob Oskner and Vince Colletta are the creative team on this Batgirl story, in which she hunts down the men who tried to kill her father.
She meets with a fair bit of resistance when she insists that the case is hers. The Gotham police feel it’s their duty to avenge their boss, and want to call Batman in as well. Fortunately for Barbara, he is busy with Maxie Zeus.
Despite that conflict, and the cover, this is a fairly simple story. When she goes to check on her father, she spots the bejewelled nurse, and her suspicions are aroused. She prevents a second attempt on her father’s life, and rounds up the bad guys.
Not bad, but it could have been much better.
Robin returns to Haly’s Circus for the first time since his parents’ deaths in this story by Jack C Harris and Kurt Schaffenberger. There are a number of stories in which Dick returns to Haly’s Circus for the first time since his parents’ deaths, but I believe this one genuinely is the first.
He is surprised to see posters for the Flying Graysons, but discovers that it’s merely a stage name for performers playing off the notoriety of the dead performers. Oddly, Dick is neither repulsed nor offended by this.
The story recaps his origin – the candlelit vow is there. It is always featured in his origin to this point. It gets dropped eventually, and I’m going to keep an eye out for when that happens.
The rest of the story has him stopping some crimes at the circus. Adequate, but not exceptional.
Baron Tyme and Jason Blood continue their confrontation before Merlin’s tomb in this story by Len Wein and Steve Ditko.
The Inspector leads the townsfolk into the remains of Castle Branek, but Tyme is powerful enough to hold them all off as he opens Merlin’s tomb. The distraction does allow Jason the opportunity to turn back into Etrigan.
Tyme discovers the tomb is empty, and Etrigan beings down the castle around him. The Demon passes on the Eternity Book to the Inspector, and feels that all is done, but we see that Tyme survived the collapse.
The final story in the issue is one of the Unsolved Cases of the Batman. As with the Public Life of Bruce Wayne, this was intended as a back-up story in Batman, but moved here as a result of the DC Implosion.
The story, by Denny O’Neil, John Calnan and Frank McLaughlin, has a scientist decipher notes by Galileo for the creation of a universal solvent, and a way to contain it.
He creates the solvent, but cannot contain it, and it dissolves everything, including the notes. Batman manages to turn it into a non-destructive gas, but the secret is lost.
So the case is only “unsolved” in that Batman did not find out the secret of creating the destructive solvent. That’s not really unsolved. That basic problem was likely a factor in ending these “unsolved” tales.
The issue’s back cover features a pin-up of Batman’s major villains. The Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Two-Face are joined by the Scarecrow, who hasn’t usually made the cut for such spreads before, as well as Ra’s Al Ghul, the new kid on the block. Catwoman’s appearance is a bit out of date, as she had already started on her road to reform, but I’m not complaining.