Posts tagged ‘Robotman’

Detective 202 – Batman goes to a resort, Roy Raymond gets his own series, and Robotman and Pow-Wow Smith end

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I skipped over many of the issues from 1952, and almost all the issues from 1953, but Detective 202 (Dec. 53) marks the end of two series, and a name change for another, so the tales in this issue get covered in my blog, even though, on their own, they likely wouldn’t.

The early 1950s were a bleak time in comic books.  They were viewed as a corrupting influence on children, and wound up neutering themselves to the point of tedium.

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The Batman and Robin story in this issue has art by Sheldon Moldoff, and a story that has Batman and Robin hunting a pirate that preys on wealthy people, staying at an island resort.

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There’s s bit of fun action, but it’s all been seen before.

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Roy Raymond, TV Detective begins, seamlessly evolving from Impossible But True, with Ruben Moreira still on the art.  Overall, this has been the best series in Detective in the last couple of years, with stories that were always interesting, even if the explanations did not always hold water.  This one has to do with a ventriloquist who claims his dummy is able to speak for itself.

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Although he is not able to take the dummy apart, Roy cannot find anything to prove the dummy is not speaking on its own.

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In the end it’s all a piece of classic misdirection, an attempt to smuggles a midget felon out of the country, in the body of the dummy.

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Robotman makes his final appearance in a story that pits him against stolen US military equipment.

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Not a bad story.  Short and action-packed, as Robotman tales were.

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Robotman did not appear again until an issue of Justice League of America in the mid-70s, and has rarely appeared since then.  In the mid-60s, a different version of Robotman, Cliff Steele, was introduced as a member of the Doom Patrol, and has “owned” the name ever since.  Curiously, for DC, the two Robotmen have never met in any story.

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Pow-Wow Smith is off to Hollywood for his final tale in Detective, which is, in fact, his second Hollywood story, though the last one was tv based.

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In this tale he is working as a stunt man, while at the same time investigating murder attempts on the actors during the shooting.

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It was the producer, doing it for the insurance.  A run of the mill plot, for a series that lost its exploration of a man of two cultures for straightforward crime stopping.

Pow-Wow Smith gets promoted, taking the cover and the lead spot in Western Comics.

 

 

 

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Detective 153 – Batman flies, Robotman fights his double, Impossible But True begins, and vengeance comes for Ohiyesa

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Great cover for this Dick Sprang story in Detective 153 (Nov. 49).  Batman and Robin are searching for an escaped felon, but take time out to attend a lecture on bats.  Just as the professor shows off some bat-wings he has created, the bad guy shows up.  Batman attempts to get to him, but she shoots his rope, and Batman falls, allowing the guy to escape.

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The professor gives him the bat-wings, and off Batman flies.

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Robin gets captured, but the professor has also provided a bat-radar system, which Batman uses to navigate a trapped room.

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And then, just as you are wondering how they are going to justify not keeping this cool stuff, Batman wakes up.  It was all a dream.  Lame.

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Robotman is pitted against a double of himself, when a scientist friend constructs a similar body, and implants the brain of a recently deceased man.

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The man inside the new body turns out to be a criminal, and a pretty fanatical one.  He takes no time to try to conceal his evil plans, announcing them to everyone.  Good thing he did, because Robotman knows to attack him right away.

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In attempting to electrocute Robotman, the new robot-man kills himself instead.

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Impossible But True begins in this issue, with art by Ruben Moreira.  The series stars Roy Raymond, and would come to be called that.  Roy has a hit tv show (Impossible But True) on which he shows off amazing things, and disproves hoaxes, along with his assistant, Karen Duncan.

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Looking for something good for next week’s show, Roy comes across a letter claiming there is a valley which ages people while they are in it.

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Roy sets out to investigate, entering the valley and experiencing the effect himself.

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The story closes with the broadcast of the episode, and the complex (and almost as unbelievable) explanation of what was really going on.

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Trouble comes looking for Pow-Wow Smith in this Carmine Infantino story, as a man he had captured escapes on his way to the gallows, and comes seeking revenge.

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The man disguises himself as a native.  He disguises himself, and is lucky enough to come at the time of a festival.

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He lures Ohiyesa out of the camp, and cuts a rope, so he will fall to his death.  He returns to the camp and announces that Ohiyesa has died.

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Which of course, he hasn’t, and shows up just in time.  They fight, the disguise comes off, and the Mexican is revealed.  At Ohiyesa’s insistence, they return him to the whites for justice, and he finally gets hung.

Aside from the very start and end, this story takes place entirely with the Sioux.

Detective 151 – Batman and the I.O.U.s, Robotman loses his head, and Pow-Wow Smith debuts

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Who is that woman driving the motorcycle on the cover of Detective 151 (Sept. 49)?  The picture does not correspond to the Batman and Robin story inside.  Simply due to her red hair, and from lack of any other options, I aver that this is Vicki Vale.  She had been introduced almost a year earlier in the pages of Batman, although she had yet to appear in Detective Comics.

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The story in this issue is a complex one, dealing with a man who rescues others, but then demands they sign over an I.O.U. for their lives.

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He then attempts to blackmail them, warning that he can foresee their deaths and prevent them, but if they refuse to pay him, he won’t.

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Aside from the Dick Sprang art there is little to recommend this tale, but I decided that if any of the interior stories were worth commenting on, I would also write up the Batman story in that issue.  Which I have done.

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The Robotman story in this issue is entertaining, sometimes even intentionally so.  The story opens with a man discovering a box containing Robotman’s head.

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Ah, that panel made me laugh so hard.

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It turns out Robotman allowed himself to be used to test out a new motor an inventor had created, but it sent racing uncontrollably around the world until he smashed his own body in order to stop.

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Pow-Wow Smith, Indian Lawman begins in this issue, with art by Carmine Infantino.  The series is vastly less racist than its name would imply.

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We get the whole backstory of the character in this issue.  His real name is Ohiyesa, of the Sioux.  As a young boy, he made friends with a white settler, Jimmy.

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After stopping a fight between loggers, they give him the nickname Pow-Wow Smith.  So it’s bestowed on him by white men, who are shown to be abrasive and difficult.  It’s a backhanded compliment, but Ohiyesa accepts it with pride, and refers to himself that way as well.

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Jimmy goes off to college, and Ohiyesa decides to go as well, though members of his tribe are concerned that he is abandoning their ways for those of the white invaders.

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Ohiyesa graduates, and gets a job as a “lawman” (presumably a freelance policeman).  He returns home to his tribe, but dons his native gear when he is with them, to show he has not abandoned his past.

Although the series would become primarily a mystery series with a western patina, this first story gives more of a taste of the actual issues that the character would deal with, a foot in each world, but not entirely part of either.

It was also a good addition to the book, maintaining the “detective” concept, while at the same time bringing a western series into the title, at a time when westerns were the big hit craze.

Detective 150 – Batman fights a ghost, Robotman fights Robotcrook, and the Boy Commandos end

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A generic cover on Detective 150 (Aug. 49), which makes me wonder why Batman and Robin chose to shoot the rope so close to the Batsignal.  Batman is going to get blinded in another step.

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The ghost of an executed gangster starts appearing around Gotham, creating panic in the underworld, in this story with art by Dick Sprang.

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A renowned ghost buster, Paul Visio, joins Batman in the case, but has no luck proving the ghost a fake.

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But that’s because Visio is the one behind the fraud, an attempt to take over Gotham’s gangs by scaring them into submission.

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Otto Binder pits Robotman against a similar foe in this story.

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Robotcrook is exactly what he sounds like, but he is controlled from afar, rather than having an implanted brain.

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Robotman manages to hold off his rival, and find the controller, Gimmick Gus.

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The Boy Commandos end their run in Detective Comics with a heck of a trip, with Curt Swan handling the art.

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To fulfill the conditions of a will and gain a fortune for charity, Rip and the boys have to travel around the world without duplicating a means of transportation.  It does make for an entertaining little story, with plenty of interesting visuals.

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Although their series ends here, their own book continues, as does their series in World’s Finest Comics.

Detective 143 – Batman vs the Pied Piper, Robotman vs the Baffler

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In Detective 143 (Jan. 49) Batman and Robin go up against the Pied Piper, a one-shot villain who uses pipes as the theme for his crimes, but does not lure rats, or children.

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Bill Finger wrote the story, in which the arrogant villain toys with Batman, running a pipe shop and almost openly flaunting his connection to the thefts.

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The climax takes place on a giant, functioning, pipe organ.  I always love it when Batman fights his enemies on giant, working props.

This Pied Piper never returns, and has no connection to the later Flash villain.

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Robotman faces the Baffler in this Otto Binder tale.

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The Baffler is an inventor, who has created a number of devices to use against Robotman if he intervenes in his crimes, which is good, because that’s exactly what happens.  Rocket roller skates get the Baffler and his men away the first time.

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The Baffler also has an impressive buzz saw to cut through Robotman’s legs. Robotman simply attached the wheels to the stumps and captures the Baffler.

Detective 140 – The Riddler debuts, and Robotman finds his double

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The Riddler debuts in Detective 140 (Oct. 48), in a story by Bill Finger, with art by Dick Sprang.

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The story opens with the background of Edward Nigma, a child willing to cheat in order to show he was smarter than everyone else.  After a brief career as a carny, he decides to turn to crime.

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Having a costume is apparently mandatory for criminals.

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The Riddler begins by taking over an electronic billboard, leaving clues to his upcoming crime as a crossword puzzle.

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At his worst, the Riddler can come off as a lame version of the Joker, but this story shows a lot more energy and spark than any of the Joker stories from the past few years.  The puzzle trap above looks great, and Batman way of deducing how to undo is is simple, but clever.

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The story even has a great last panel, with the question mark symbol floating in the water, teasing the reader (and Batman) with whether Nigma lived or died.

The Riddler returns just a couple of issues later.  And this story was adapted for the 60s tv show.

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Otto Binder scripts this tale, in which Robotman, in his guise as Paul Dennis, is mistaken for another man who looks just like him.  Although the story fails to pursue this direction, the lookalike must be the man who posed for the mask that Robotman wears.

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The man is a banker, and a really clumsy one, as he dropped thousands of dollars into a lake.  Oops!  Robotman attempts to retrieve it, but can`t.

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So the rest of the tale is Robotman using his attachable body parts to do a variety of odd jobs quickly and earn back the missing money.

 

Detective 138 – The Joker`s invisible crimes, and Robotman begins

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I have to commend the cover of Detective 138 (Aug. 48).  It depicts the central villain of the Batman and Robin story, yet conceals that this is the Joker.  Once the viewer knows who it is, it is easy to spot the shape of the hair, and the tails on the jacket, which confirm his identity.

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On the other side, the actual tale, by Bill Finger, with Dick Sprang art, is definitely lacking.  It begins well, as the Joker confronts a scientist who has developed an invisibility formula, and steals it.

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But an invisible Joker is just an invisible thief.  The Joker had been so neutered that if you remove the visual of him, there is no character left.

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The conclusion of the story works well, though.  Batman takes the formula himself, removing the Joker`s advantage, and takes him down.

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Robotman begins in this issue, his series moving over from Star-Spangled Comics.  Otto Binder crafts a good introductory tale, as Robert Crane`s robotic form is torn apart.

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The parts are gathered together in a lab by a scientist who finds the blueprints for Robotman concealed in the body`s heel, and the story recaps his origin.  Robert Crane gets shot, and his friend puts Crane`s brain into a robot body he had already constructed.  Robotman has a plastic face he wears, pretending to be Paul Dennis.

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His body gets re-assembled, and Robotman takes down the villain who thought he had destroyed him.

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