Posts tagged ‘Ralph Dibny’

Detective 500 – 4 Batman stories, two of them team-ups, scads of detectives, and Elongated Man and Hawkman end

tec_500

Many anniversary issue build themselves up as being something really special, but few live up to their promise.  Detective 500 (March 1981) is one of the rare ones.  It’s not all gold, but enough of it is.

tec_500_001

The first story, by Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, bring us to a parallel world, where a new Batman is about to be born.

tec_500_002

The Phantom Stranger brings Batman and Robin to this world, seemingly so that Bruce will have the opportunity to prevent his parents’ deaths.

tec_500_003

They find this world similar, but different.  James Gordon is still just a lieutenant, and Barbara , though a librabrian, is his fiancee, not his daughter.  Bruce is hunting for information on Joe Chill, while Dick discovers that this is a world with no heroic legends, no caped heroes, nothing to inspire heroism.

tec_500_004

Observing the Waynes, we see that Bruce is hardly a baby hero, more like a rich spoiled brat, but Batman is blind to this.

tec_500_005

Batman’s pursuit of Joe Chill, who on this world is not even from Gotham, and just arriving in the city, brings him into conflict with Gordon, but Batman manages to convince him that they are friends on another world.

tec_500_006

His search for Chill has raised such flags that the man is murdered by the Gotham mobs.  Batman learns that the planned murder of the Waynes is happening sooner than he expected – he had not counted the extra days from leap years.

tec_500_007

Robin, who has been watching the Waynes, sees the murder about to occur, and struggles within himself, thinking that is might be meant to be; but Batman swoops in saves the day, his parents, and himself.

tec_500_008

The Phantom Stranger takes the heroes back to their own world, and they are left to wonder what will become of Bruce, but the reader gets to see the impact the attempted murder had, and that even with his parents alive, young Bruce is on the road to becoming Batman.

Sadly, this is not a parallel world we ever visit again.

tec_500_009

Slam Bradley gets the billing, but this story, a re-write of a Batman tale from the 40s, by Len Wein and Jim Aparo, is pretty much a free for all with a vast line-up of detectives.

They are all at a celebration for an older detective, who gets murdered in front of them.

tec_500_010

The original version of this story has Batman working with a number of detective based on famous fictional ones from the era.  This story brings Slam Bradley, Jason Bard, Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith, the Human Target and Roy Raymond together on the case.

For Captain Compass, Mysto, Pow-Wow Smith and Slam Bradley, this the first time the character appeared since the end of their own series.

tec_500_011

There are leads in a number of directions, which allow the detectives to split up and pursue them in smaller groups.  The story gives everyone at least one moment to shine, and they wind up stopping a number of bad guys.

tec_500_012

Slam suspects there is more to the case, and it’s Roy Raymond who provides the real solution, that this was an elaborate suicide, designed to prompt the men to tidy up some hanging cases of his.

tec_500_013

Jason Bard and the Human Target both return in the pages of Detective within the next couple of years, while Roy Raymond pops up in DC Comics Presents.  Many of the rest have their next, and final, appearances in Crisis on Infinite Earths.  Slam Bradley returns a little after Crisis, returning to the pages of Detective for one story.

tec_500_014

The next story in the issue is a wonderful 2-pager, by Len Wein and Walt Simonson, that uses Snoopy’s “It was a dark and stormy night…” as it’s text.  Clever, and visually gorgeous.

tec_500_015

The Elongated Man gets his final solo story in this book, by Mike W Barr and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.  As well as being a decent mystery story on its own, it delves into the facts around the death of Edgar Allen Poe.

tec_500_016

Chiefly, the identity of the mysterious “Reynolds” that Poe called out for shortly before dying.  The story has to do with a letter explaining who Reynolds was, and leading to an unpublished magazine by Poe.

tec_500_017

Garcia-Lopez’s art is great, and Ralph and Sue are always fun to read about.

tec_500_018

One of his best mysteries, this is also the Elongated Man’s last solo story until his miniseries in the 90s.

tec_500_019

On the downside of the issue, there is this text story by Walter Gibson, with some scattered art by Tom Yeates.  I recall reading this as a kid, but not finding it particularly memorable.  And I dislike text stories like this in comics.  If I’m going to read a book, I’ll read a book.  I read comics for the visuals.

tec_500_020

Hawkman also has his last solo story in Detective in this issue.  Well, kind of a solo, really he and Hawkgirl get equal roles.

tec_500_021

Paul Levitz and Joe Kubert helm this tale, that sees Katar and Shayera trying to solve the mystery of the death of a scientist many years earlier.

tec_500_022

There’s some great Kubert art, and the story itself is not bad, but it’s a bit of a tease.

tec_500_023

At the end, Hawkman reveals that the scientist whose death they were investigating was Dr. Erdel, who had died after bringing the Martian Manhunter to Earth.  J’onn had blamed himself, and Hawkman wanted proof that it was not J’onn’s fault.

Hawkman’s next solo outing is the Shadow War of Hawkman miniseries.

tec_500_024

The final story in this issue was also a let-down to me.  Even moreso, as it’s a Batman/Deadman team-up, and those had been above average stories, on the whole.  But Carmine Infantino’s art is not what it was, and Cary Bates’ story doesn’t help much either.

tec_500_025

Pursuing some criminals, Batman gets killed.  Sort of.  Almost dead.  Robin is really stressed, but Deadman shows up and decides to inhabit Batman’s body to bring his killers to justice.

tec_500_026

Oops, someone spilled a plate of scrambled eggs on the comic.  Oh, wait, that’s Infantino’s art for showing Batman and Deadman conversing on the astral plane.

tec_500_027

Deadman moves Batman around and catches the bad guys, and doing so ignites the spark that brings him back to life.  A shame this story closed the issue.  It would have done less damage buried in the middle.

Advertisements

Detective 488 – The Spook sends Batman to death row, Tales of Gotham City begins, Batgirl comes home, the Elongated Man looks for a car, and Robin gets a new girlfriend

tec_488

Detective 488 (Feb./March 1980) sees the Spook return.  He had last appeared in an issue of Batman two years earlier.  Cary Burkett scripts, with Don Newton on the art.

tec_488_001

The story also sees Selina Kyle appear, in her budding romance with Bruce Wayne, which had been happening in the pages of Batman.  She, along with much of Gotham, has been reading a runaway best-seller by a man on death row.  His agent and publisher both talk about how much money they could make off a sequel, but of course the author is due to be executed.

tec_488_002

The Spook gets hired to break the man out of prison, and the story adds a mystery element by keeping the identity of the man behind it a secret.

tec_488_003

Lucius Fox, who had been introduced months earlier in Batman, also makes an appearance in this story. giving more background information on the writer.

tec_488_004

The Spook lures Batman to the prison, and uses some special who knows what to make everyone see Batman as the man on death row.  So the Spook breaks the writer out of prison, but no one realizes it, and Batman is due to be executed in his place.

tec_488_005

The Spook even shows up to taunt Batman.  Of course, he manages to escape and catch the writer, the man who hired the Spook, and the big name villain as well.

This was pretty much the last appearance of the Spook, so far as I recall, aside from a couple of stories in the next few years that feature huge line-ups of Batman villains.

tec_488_006

Denny O’Neil scripts the first installment of a new series, Tales of Gotham City.  Some of the stories would feature known characters, but the best of these stories dealt with the every day people of Gotham.

tec_488_007

The first story deals with a cop on his last day before retirement.  He was proud of his record, that he had never had to pull his gun during his time on the force.

tec_488_008

He winds up on a subway car with an escaped convict disguised as a woman, who disappears during the moments the train blacks out in a tunnel.

tec_488_009

It’s a good mystery, for its brevity, and comes to a warm and fuzzy conclusion as the cop subdues the convict without needing to pull his gun and break his perfect record.

True, this is not the dark and seedy Gotham we have come to know and love, but the series would move there.

tec_488_010

Batgirl returns to Gotham in this story by Jack C Harris, with art by Jose Delbo and Frank Chiaramonte.

tec_488_011

The main part of the story deals with rival gang on the verge of a war after the leader of one is murdered, but the better scenes are between Barbara and her father, as they discuss her loss in the recent election.  What caused it, what lessons to take, and where to go from here.

tec_488_012

She averts the gang war, proving that the leader was killed by one of his own gang.

tec_488_013

The final scene shows the exterior of Commissioner Gordon’s house, not something often seen.  He sure seems to make a lot of money as a police commissioner.  I don’t think there is any other story showing him living in such a massive house.

tec_488_014

The Elongated Man is back, with a mysterious car theft in front of a huge crowd, told by Mike W Barr, with art by Eduardo Barreto and Joe Giella.  I don’t know if it’s because this is very early Barreto, or it’s Giella’s inks, but it looks absolutely nothing like his later work.

tec_488_015

The mystery is good enough.  The car simply vanishes, leaving no trace, and Ralph is puzzled until a chance remark by Sue makes him realize the car the crowd saw was just a collapsable shell, not a real car at all.

tec_488_016

Robin’s story, by Jack C Harris, with art by Schaffenberger and Colletta, has a number of wealthy students get kidnapped the first day of the semester.

tec_488_017

One of those grabbed is Jennifer Anne, a pretty blonde that Dick Grayson has been scoping.  So of course he gets into Robin gear to go rescue her.

tec_488_018

The kidnappings turn out to be more extensive than he thought, and Dick learns that he was an intended victim as well.  But knowing that he was meant to be grabbed makes him realize the poor kid, who was handing out assignments to help pay his tuition, is one of the bad guys.

tec_488_019

Robin rescues Jennifer, but Dick gets to make out with her.  There is a “funny” ending, as Alfred gets the ransom note just as Bruce gets Dick’s call about the situation.

But it bothers me that the message seems to be to not trust kids who have to work to pay their tuition.

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

tec_466

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.

tec_466_001

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.

tec_466_002

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.

tec_466_004

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.

tec_466_005

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.

tec_466_006

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

tec_466_007

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.

Detective 465 – Commissioner Gordon gets kidnapped, and the Calculator vs the Elongated Man

tec_465

David V Reed gives some interesting details on how Batman operates in his story from Detective 465 (Nov. 76), with art by Ernie Chan and Frank Giacoia.

tec_465_001

We discover that, a long time earlier, Batman had established a fake identity, and provided him with a home, office and secretary.  This identity would exist solely to be given by Commissioner Gordon is he were ever to be captured and forced to reveal Batman’s identity.  So when someone show up at the office asking questions, Bruce realizes Gordon has been kidnapped.

tec_465_002

We also see part of Batman’s intelligence gathering network.  In disguises, he leaves and retrieves coded messages on grocery story bulletin boards.

tec_465_003

The latter part of the story is not as interesting, as Batman beats people up and fights his way to Gordon and the kidnappers.

tec_465_004

The Calculator stays in Star City, awaiting the Elongated Man, as he and Sue are scheduled to attend a comic book convention in this story, by Bob Rozakis, Ernie Chan and Terry Austin.

tec_465_005

This one is all about stealing Ralph’s day.  His initial attack is passed off as the actions of a cosplayer, and Ralph is completely unprepared as he enters the hall, and causes everyone around his to stretch uncontrollably.  Of course he gets blamed.  The Calculator is on hand, but remaining perfectly still, and Ralph realizes that it’s movement that sets off the stretching.

tec_465_006

And thus we get the only story in which Ralph Dibny tortures a villain into giving up, simply by squeezing him.  And though he doesn’t realize it, he even presses the Calculator’s special button.

 

Detective 457 – Leslie Thompkins debuts, and Sue becomes the Elongated Woman

tec_457

A really beautiful cover, and a powerful telling of Batman’s origin in Detective 457 (March 1976), by Denny O’Neil and Dick Giordano.  As well as introducing the character of Leslie Thompkins, this story gives the nickname Crime Alley to the place where Bruce’s parents were killed.

tec_457_001

This story also introduces the idea that Batman makes a pilgrimage each year to the spot where his parents died.  Curiously, Alfred is shown as having no idea where he is going. You’d think he would have figured it out.

tec_457_002

Crime Alley is located in what is now a terrible slum.  We meet Leslie Thompkins, who looks far older and more frail than in any of her later appearances.  She faces the ghetto street kids with smiles and open good will, as Batman does all he can to protect her.

tec_457_003

In the flashback to the parents’ murder, we see that Leslie was the woman who took care of Bruce in the immediate aftermath of the killing.  She does not appear to have any legal function in this story, but later tales would amend this, giving her a medical background, and a social working role.

Leslie supplants the mother of Joe Chill as the woman who looked after young Bruce.  She had only appeared in one story, in the mid 60s.

tec_457_004

Leslie Thompkins would not appear for a few more years, but her second appearance is in the pages of Detective.  This story gives no implication that Leslie might know that Bruce is Batman.

tec_457_005

A fun second half to Bob Rozakis and Kurt Schaffenberger’s tale, which sees Sue Dibny con some thieves into thinking she has her husband’s powers.

tec_457_006

The kidnappers force Ralph to send a note to Sue, insisting that she bring the substance that gives him his stretching powers, which the thieves intend to use themselves.  Ralph’s not refers to tree bark, and Sue realizes that Ralph expects her to con the hoods.

tec_457_007

She does a creditable job, and manages to get Ralph his gingold.

tec_457_008

As well as showing Sue at her resourceful best, the story gives her a happy ending, as she finds her and Ralph on the list of most admired couples.

Detective 456 – Batman gets the kiss of death, and Elongated Man shrinks

tec_456

Elliot S! Maggin and Ernie Chan relate this story, which might have been suspenseful, had not the cover to Detective 456 (Feb. 76) given away the twist.

tec_456_001

The story begins with Bruce Wayne on a hot date, although he ditches her to go off and be Batman. Fairly soon in, he begins to feel ill, and realizes he has been poisoned.

tec_456_002

He spends a while trying to determine who is trying to kill him as Batman, before realizing the poison was intended for Bruce Wayne, and his date gave him a death kiss.

tec_456_003

And so, while desperately trying to conceal his poisoned state, he hunts down the woman, and learns she was working with a business rival.  He manages to get the antidote just in time.  Not bad.

tec_456_004

A number of minor details about the Elongated Man and his wife come out in this Bob Rozakis story, with art by Kurt Schaffenberger.  We discover he has to continue drinking the gingold daily to maintain his powers, and also that Sue is allergic to it.  We also discover that, in her debutante days, Sue frequently made the lists of best dressed women, and is unhappy to no longer be a player in that world.

tec_456_005

Ralph spots a fur robbery on the roof of a neighbouring building, but when he goes to stop it, his powers vanish, as he has not had his gingold for the day.

tec_456_006

The criminals take him captive.  The story concludes next issue.

Detective 449 – Batman herds cattle, and Elongated Man chases a man who walks on air

tec_449

Detective 449 (July 1975) features an unusual tale by Elliot S! Maggin, with art by Ernie Chan and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, which climaxes with Batman on horseback, leading a cattle drive through Gotham City.

tec_449_001

The story begins as Batman brings in a man named Tad Wolfe for attempted murder.  Although he witnessed it, something about the situation feels wrong to Batman, and he continues to ponder it.

tec_449_002

Meanwhile, he gets entangled in the cattle rustling plot.  Chan is always great on background details, and his panels of the cattle on the loose look great.

tec_449_003

Batman, as well as other Gotham cops, round up the herds and keep control of the situation.

tec_449_004

The story concludes back with the Tad Wolfe plot line, as Batman has realized that Wolfe prevented his gun from firing, and was taking the heat for his criminal brother.  Wolfe returns a few issues down the road.

tec_449_005

Mary Skrenes and Dick Giordano relate this issue’s Elongated Man story, which opens with Sue informing Ralph that there is a man outside their window – of their high rise hotel.

tec_449_006

Ralph is on the case immediately, following the mysterious man as he rushes away, and shows he can swim as fast as he can fly.

tec_449_007

After the man disappears when cornered in an alley, Ralph deduces it must be the Flash, and indeed, this is another birthday mystery devised by Sue.  What really sells the story, though, is when Ralph explains his deductions, about the Flash vibrating through a wall, and the Flash informs him that he didn’t do that at all, he jumped over Ralph.

“Uhhh, whatever.  I figured it out, didn’t I?

Pure Ralph.

Tag Cloud