Posts tagged ‘P Craig Russell’

Detective 482 – Batman fights an ape, Batgirl in China, The Demon begins, Bat-Mite invades DC, and Robin meets Card Queen

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The second half of the Batman story by Jim Starlin and P Craig Russell opens Detective 482 (Feb./March 1979).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Then we are introduced to a new MAZE operative, Card Queen.

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As with the Raven, he stops her crime, but she manages to escape.

This long running storyline culminates next issue.

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Detective 481 – 2 Batman tales, and Robin, Batgirl, and Man-Bat all begin, again

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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.

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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.

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The story kicks into high gear once all the characters are on board the train, a refurbished antique, with the guests in period costume.

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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.

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A fairly straightforward, but entertaining tale, and Rogers art ensures it’s a treat for the eye.

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Robin’s series picks up somewhat mid-stream, as his recurring foe, the Raven, makes an appearance in this Bob Rozakis/Don Newton tale.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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So Kirk and Jason make the rounds of the nightclubs the woman frequented, looking for some sign of her.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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