Posts tagged ‘Mike Friedrich’

Detective 403 – another Victims, Incorporated client, and Robin ends

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A really beautiful gothic cover to Detective 403 (Sept. 70), but the story, by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Frank Giacoia, makes some attempt to hit these visuals, but misses the mood entirely.

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It plays out like a film noir thriller, not the gothic tale the cover promised.  A mysterious woman comes to see Bruce Wayne at Victims, Incorporated, announcing that her husband will be murdered the following day.

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Batman jumps into the mystery, and it’s a story of identical twin sisters and carriages being robbed in the park.  There is even a big spooky house, but it just never comes together.

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Robin’s series in Detective comes to an end with this Mke Freidrich/Gil Kane/Vince Colletta story that brings back the troubled kids from the previous issue.

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After trouble on campus, Robin goes to spy on them, and sees the boys working with guns.  He attacks, jumping to the wrong conclusions.

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The boys were being recruited by a gangster, but had rejected him on their own.

Robin’s series moves over to the back pages of Batman, and improves a lot.

 

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Detective 402 – Man-Bat returns, and Robin helps reform school kids

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Man-Bat returns in Detective 402 (Aug. 70), although it’s Frank Robbins scripting Neal Adams and Dick Giordano’s art.

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Batman responds to an alarm at a laboratory, and finds Man-Bat already there, having taken down the men trying to rob the place.  Batman and Man-Bat fight after Man-Bat tries to take a serum, and Batman discovers that his appearance is real, not a costume.

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There’s a good shot of the 1970 Batmobile, and just below that, the introduction of Francine Lee, Kirk’s fiancee.  She doesn’t do much besides weep in this story, but she does give Batman the needed background on Kirk Langstrom.

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Batman chases, and Man-Bat runs, until the spectacular sequence in which he gains wings.  He makes the mistake of fleeing into the Batcave though.

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It’s a great fight, as Batman tries to help the poor man, who is simply freaking out due to his animal nature.

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Batman finally takes Man-Bat down with the Batmobile.  He doesn’t look in great shape as the story ends, but Batman is determined to cure him.

It’s a few more months before the final chapter of this introduction to the character appears.

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Speedy guest stars in this Mike Freidrich story, with art by Kane and Colletta.  The story takes place just after Robin rejoins the Teen Titans, after briefly leaving.  Roy and Dick discuss these recent events as the story opens.

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The story sets up the next issue, introducing us to a program at Hudson U. to help out kids who had wound up in reform schools and such, in the hopes of making university available to them.

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Roy is pretty subdued through the story, which culminates in Dick pondering changing his name from Robin to something more adult.  But his Nightwing days were a decade away, and he proudly stays as Robin.

Detective 391 – Ginny Jenkins returns, and Robin’s school goes on strike

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Ginny Jenkins, who had claimed to be Mrs. Bruce Wayne in her first appearance, makes her second and final bow in Detective 391 (Sept. 69), in a story by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella.

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This time round she is being romantically pursued by Tim Clark, a masseur at a spa frequented by mobsters, one of whom happens to be a newspaper publisher, and Ginny’s boss.

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Tim tries to warn Ginny away from the boss, but she refuses to believe him.  Tim decides to dress up as Batman, as so many people have done in the last year or so.

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Tim fails to convince Ginny to leave her job, and fails to stop the mobsters from beating him silly, but once the read Batman swoops in and exposes the payoff scheme with the restaurant reviews, Ginny realizes the truth and lives happily even after with Tim.

I kind of like it when a minor character returns for another story, and then disappears this way.  Were Batman real, there would be many people whose lives he touched tangentially, and then moved on, like Ginny Jenkins.

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It’s strike action at Dick Grayson’s high school in this Mike Freidrich tale, with art by Kane and Anderson.

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Robin gets on the trail of the hoods who forced the school board head to launch the strike, and discover that they are in the pay of a developer, backing the strike so that the budget would go to construction of a new building on land he owned.

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Again, not much about this story feels like the world of a high school teen, but it’s a good tale nonetheless.

 

Detective 390 – the man who makes Batman’s costumes, and Robin tries to avert a teacher’s strike

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Batman is usually assumed to have made his own costumes, or to have had Alfred make them for him, but in the Frank Robbins/Bob Brown/Joe Giella tale from Detective 390 (Aug. 69), he has a tailor, Sam Tweed, make them for him.

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This becomes significant when a new villain in town, the Masquerader, has his men keep attacking Batman and trying to tear of bits of his costume, until he finally retrieves one with the tailor’s name on the tag.  Which Batman just left there.

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Batman gets a new costume from Tweed, but finds a Masquerader costume in the box as well.  Calling Tweed, they reach the villain who tells Batman he is holding Tweed until Batman comes to give himself up.

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Batman realizes it’s a trap, but has not clued in to the fact that Tweed is really the Masquerader.  He went on working on Batman’s costumes for years, planning the day when he could lure him into a specially made shrinking suit and kill him.

It doesn’t work.  Should have stuck with his day job.

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Dick Grayson’s high school is the location for this Mike Freidrich story, with art by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson.  We see the Dick works on the school newspaper, and is heavily involved in the school’s politics, as strike negotiations hold his interest.

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As Robin, he breaks up an unusual post-game riot, which feels to him like it was not really the opposing school attacking them.

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As the story ends, the head of the school board is forced by a mysterious phone call to reject the teacher’s offer, and a strike is announced.

While this is not a bad story, largely a set-up for the following issue, it is unusual to have such a tale given to Robin.  It is a high school story, but not a teenage one.

Detective 387 – A re-telling of a classic tale

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Detective 387 (May 1969) is a good anniversary issue.  The only let-down is that neither the Joker nor the Penguin are in it, despite appearing on the cover.

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Batman’s first story, “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” is updated and retold in this issue, by Mike Friedrich, Bob Brown and Joe Giella.  Robin is involved in the story, which of course he was not in the original, as he hadn’t been introduced yet.

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While being a largely faithful re-telling, this one books the role of the son, who is a long-haired biker.  Robin distrusts him instantly, and the boy himself has issues with authority figures.

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The climactic battle is toned down to Batman’s current level.  No tossing the bad guy in a vat of acid and commenting on it being a fitting end for him, now they just beat up the bad guys.

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There would be two more re-tellings of this story in years to come, but neither would work as well as this one.

As a back-up, this issue also reprints the original tale, from Detective 27.

 

Detective 386 – Bruce Wayne vanishes, and Robin begins

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Another impostor in Detective 386 (April 1969), but this time is Bruce Wayne being doubled, in a story by Frank Robbins, with art by Bob Brown and Joe Giella.

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Bruce Wayne disappears while flying an experimental VTOL plane, and Batman is the one to investigate.  Huh?

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There is no shortage of complexity in this tale.  Batman needed to stop a robbery, so got an impersonator to take Bruce Wayne’s place on the aircraft.  That Bruce was then killed and impersonated, transferring to another airplane mid-flight.

You think there would be an easier way.

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Robin gets a solo series again, thanks to Mike Friedrich, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.  It alternates with the Batgirl series over the next year or so.  Robin had had some solo tales in the pages of Batman, but had not had his own series since the 1940s, and Star-Spangled Comics.

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This story largely deal with teenagers acting like teenagers.  They don’t want the younger kid around, and they dislike Robin because the girls all pay attention to him.

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Robin doesn’t help them with their romantic troubles, but he does bring harmony between the older kids and the newbie.

 

Detective 385 – a Batman impostor, and Batgirl gets jealous

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Batman dies to open this story, but it’s not Bruce Wayne. Robert Kanigher, Bob Brown and Joe Giella give the starring role in this story to Herbert Small, a man diagnosed with a terminal disease.

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Knowing that he has only a short time to live, and overhearing a plan to murder Batman, Small sets out to save the hero on his own.

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Disguising himself, he convinces the bad guys that he knows the Batman’s secret identity, and that it is Herbert Small.  He gets into the costume, and allows himself to be killed.

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Only at the end of the story does Batman learn what has transpired.  I really like this tale, all the way up to the “he died big” line, which just makes me groan.

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Concluding the Friedrich/Kane/Anderson story from last issue, Batgirl brings the collapsed Mark to a hospital, where it turns out he was just diabetic, not attacked.

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Mark turns out to be a private detective, gathering evidence on a gangster who has kidnapped a woman special to him.  Batgirl helps out, but is jealous of this woman she does not know, and her relationship with a man she barely knows.

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Once the woman is rescued, Batgirl realizes that she is Mark’s sister, and is much relieved.

Mark and Barbara Gordon plan to go on a date as the story ends, but as we never see Mark again, it’s clear things didn’t work out.

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