Detective 482 – Batman fights an ape, Batgirl in China, The Demon begins, Bat-Mite invades DC, and Robin meets Card Queen
The second half of the Batman story by Jim Starlin and P Craig Russell opens Detective 482 (Feb./March 1979).
The villain has captured Batman, and intends to use his mind-transfer machine to take over the hero’s body. Batman breaks free, and destroys the machine, which traps the bad guy in the ape body.
While the chapter in the last issue was a lot of detecting and back story, this second half is largely an extended fight between Batman and the ape.
In an unusual ending, the ape is about to kill Batman when a policeman shoots it, sending it falling to its death. Not a bad story, but maybe not worth being spread over two issues.
Batgirl’s story, by Rozakis and Heck, has Barbara Gordon and her friend in the hands of the Chinese. Her brother Tony Gordon, who had been brought into her series in Batman Family, plays a small but important role in this tale.
While the Chinese try to force Barbara’s confused friend into admitting she is Batgirl, Barbara escapes and gets into costume, and fights the Sino-Superman to free her friend.
The story ends with Tony sacrificing himself to blow up the laboratory and end the threat of these “heroes” for good. Although it kills off the character, it remains a really unsatisfactory ending for his plot line. Especially as the character never returns, and is never spoken of.
The Demon, who had appeared with Man-Bat in the final issue of Batman Family, gets his own series for a few issues, while Man-Bat takes a break. Len Wein, Michael Golden and Dick Giordano re-introduce Jason Blood and his demonic other half, Etrigan, in the character’s first solo storyline since the end of his own book a few years earlier.
The Eternity Book, which has power over the Demon, is the crux of this tale. It had appeared in his own book as well. It’s theft in this story awakens the Demon, who sets out to retrieve it.
The supporting cast are all brought back. Glenda had last appeared alongside Jason in a Brave and the Bold team-up with Batman. Harry Matthews makes his first appearance since the Demon’s book ended. Randu had last appeared in the short-lived Kobra series, in which he was blinded. To Wein’s credit, Randu is still blind in this story.
Glenda’s lack of knowledge about the Eternity Book allows Randu to exposit about Morgaine le Fay and the fall of Camelot, Merlin bonding Etrigan to Jason Blood, and his immortal life since then.
At the end of the story, Etrigan discovers the book is now in the possession of Baron Tyme, making his second appearance. He had debuted in the first issue of Man-Bat’s brief series.
Bat-Mite makes his only appearance in the 70s in this wonderful little story, barging in to the DC offices to demand he get a story.
As confused editor Al Milgrom tries to explain that he cannot produce a story on his own, Bat-Mite causes writer Bob Rozakis, penciller Michael Golden, inker Robert Smith and more to appear. Essentially, the entire story consists of the people who produced the story.
It’s very silly, very Bat-Mite, and was much beloved when it came out. Bat-Mite next appears in the Ambush Bug History of the DC Universe.
Robin’s story, by Rozakis and Juan Ortiz, closes out this issue. It is told as one of the top men from MAZE looks over footage of their local operatives battles with Robin. We see another aerial battle between Robin and Raven, with Robin stopping the crime, but not the villain.
Then we are introduced to a new MAZE operative, Card Queen.
As with the Raven, he stops her crime, but she manages to escape.
This long running storyline culminates next issue.