Posts tagged ‘Romeo Tanghal’

Detective 492 – Batman and Batgirl team-up, a bridge story, Man-Bat ends, and Robin vs the Penguin

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Cary Burkett and Don Newton lead off Detective 492 (July 1980) with a Batman/Batgirl team up, divided into two chapters.  Often the structure of something like this gets in the way of the storytelling, but in this case, it works to an advantage.

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Batman sees the news reports about Batgirl being killed, and heads to see Commissioner Gordon, discovering that Batgirl is at home, alive.  She explains how she used the dummy as a decoy for Cormorant.

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She tells the men she has decided to give up being Batgirl.  Batman argues with her, not to give up the good fight.  He looks to Gordon to back him up, but he is more than happy to not have his daughter out risking her life.

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Batman goes in pursuit of General Scarr, working his way up through the man’s ranks of hoods.  These fight scenes are really nicely intercut with a long conversation between Gordon and Barbara about being a hero, what things are worth the risk, and how Batman can be the way he is.

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Batman reaches Scarr, only to discover that he has fought his way into a trap.  He was the intended target all along.

So then, he was lying to his men in the previous issue when he talked about Batgirl being a threat?  Why?  He had to have informed them about the trap, so they had to know they were luring Batman.

It’s a minor point, but it bugged me as a kid.

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The story moves to the Batgirl half, as she discovers Batman has gone missing, and goes in search of him. She faces Cormorant, and finds that he is far more frightened of her than she of him, because he thinks she has come back from the dead.

Cormorant returns in a Batgirl Special in the late 80s, but no long thinks she is a ghost.

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She finds Batman, and though he has already broken his bonds and is taking out Scarr;s men, she still manages to rescue him.

The story ends as if her trauma is cured, but in reality, this event would leave deep scars.

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Bob Haney and Bob Oskner craft this installment of Tales of Gotham City.  There is some excellently vertiginous art as we read about a bridge, and the people on it one afternoon.

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The story is told from the point of view of a man who works on the bridge every day.  There is a little old man he sees walking the bridge daily.  Today is special, though, as there is a really dramatic guy threatening to jump because a girl doesn’t like him, and felons speeding towards the bridge, with police in pursuit.

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The storyline all come together, and the boy does little to save the girl he claims to love, when she gets grabbed by the felons.  It’s the old man who sacrifices his life for her.

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He gets the girl anyway, as she realizes suicidal cowards are hot.  The old man turns out to be the one who built the bridge many years earlier.  Corny, but I enjoyed it, and the art really carries it.

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Man-Bat has his final story, by Bob Rozakis, Romeo Tanghal and Vince Colletta.

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Kirk returns home to find Francine and the baby gone, long overdue from a shopping trip.  He discovers that they are on a subway car, mysteriously trapped in its tunnel.

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He finds the car, and the giant rat that has caused it to stop. My only complaint with this tale is that there is not enough Man-Bat vs giant rat action, as he drives it away with a torch.

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His series ends on an appopriately “can’t win for losing” note, as Kirk’s help in the situation is dismissed by the authorities, who refuse to take him seriously.

Man-Bat next appears, along with Francine, the baby, and Jason Bard, in Barve and the Bold the following month, in a coda to his series.

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Robin’s story,by Jack C Harris, Charles Nicholas and Vince Colletta, involves a pterodactyl egg on display at the university.

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The Penguin has come to town to steal it, and wants Robin aware of his presence.

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Dick winds up having the same romantic problems with Jennifer Anne that he was having with Lori Elton, as he keeps having to disappear and make excuses for breaking dates.  Oh, and there’s that man in black again.

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The Penguin has a fairly silly death-trap prepared for Robin, shutting him in a cage and firing it into the air.  He escapes, and nabs the villain.

 

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Adventure 478 – Aquaman, Starman and Plastic Man end

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Aquaman gets the cover for his final, really final, story in Adventure 478 (Dec 80), by Jean-Marc DeMatteis and Dick Giordano.

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Black Manta has gathered an army of homeless and disaffected people, and told them lies to make the Atlanteans seem like evil monsters.  Aquaman and Cal manage to escape, and Aquaman swims right by Manta and his men, who probably could have at least tried to stop him, but don’t.  They just…don’t.

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Pretty dumb move, as Aquaman convinces Vulko and the Atlanean troops to open the gates.  Must have done some really fast convincing, as it happens almost immediately.  But it works, and Manta’s men desert him.

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Mera captures Manta in a hard water bubble, and Cal Durham shows up as well, just as everything goes boom.

The story continues in Action Comics, as Aquaman’s series moves over there.

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Starman’s tale concludes a bit more than the Aquaman one does, but not by much.  Paul Levitz and Steve Ditko do bring Mn’torr’s story to an end though.  He is sentenced to death for saving Prince Gavyn, and as Starman showed up to try to save him, he faces the same sentence.

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Not content to die, Starman fights back against the monsters that are meant to kill them, saving Mn’torr once again.

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Meanwhile, Jediah Rikane and Lady Merria return to Throneworld, only to learn that Empress Clryssa is on her death bed.

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Mn’torr insists that, no matter how much Starman wants him to survive, his time is at an end, and dissolves in a really cool, very Ditko way, bequeathing Starman his staff of power.

As promised, the story does get resolved in an issue of DC Comics Presents, though not exactly “soon.”  More like eight months.

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Plastic Man’s story really does end.  And begin for that matter, as it’s complete in this issue, by Marty Pasko, with Joe Staton art.

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Plas and Woozy Winks deal with thieves who resemble Groucho Marx and Harpo, and I do like the layout of this page, integrating the building into the panel lay-out.

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Plastic Man’s series continues as a back-up in Super Friends, which it would fit in with pretty well.

Adventure 477 – Aquaman faces Black Manta, and Starman learns the origin of Mn’torr

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Another split cover on Adventure 477 (Nov 80), and the final one to really feature Starman and Plastic Man.

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Aquaman leaves New Venice by mutual agreement as this story, by J.M. DeMatteis and Dick Giordano, begins.  The mayor is furious with him for abandoning so many of this plot lines from World’s Finest Comics.

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But another long-abandoned character shows up, Cal Durham, formerly one of Black Manta’s men, now forced to live underwater.  His young sister goes to Aquaman for help.  Cal had last appeared in Aquaman’s brief 70’s revival, along with Manta.

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And it’s Black Manta that is the trouble once again, capturing the two after Cal stumbles across Manta’s new base, from which he plans to attack and conquer Atlantis.

On the last page, Mera re-appears.  She had not be taken, so much as phased away, and now back, still all feverish and comatose.

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Starman goes in search of Mn’torr in this chapter, by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal.

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He heads to a trippy temple Mn’torr was connected with, which speaks to him and allows him to essentially teleport to Mn’torr’s homeworld.

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We discover that he broke sacred vows about the balance of the universe when he rescued Prince Gavyn, and that he was not defeated by Oswin, but by his own people, who gave Oswin the staff to balance the power.

 

 

Adventure 476 – Aquaman vs Poseidon, and Starman vs Lord Protector Oswin

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Aquaman hunts for Mera in Adventure 476 (Oct 80), in a story by J.M. DeMatteis and Dick Giordano.

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He runs into a powerful man who claims to be the god Poseidon, although it’s fairly clear he is not.  When he explains his past he is clearly an amnesiac survivor of a shipwreck who comes across a mysterious but powerful trident, the source of his powers.

He has nothing to do with Mera’s disappearance either, and there is little significant about this tale, aside from the gorgeous art.

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That, and the fact that their battle leads them into the town of New Atlantis, not seen for decades in Adventure, but re-introduced in his World’s Finest run.

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Oswin hold the powerful staff of Mn’torr, and thus the upper hand, as the Starman story opens, by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal.

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While Starman tries to hold off Oswin, Jediah attempts to get Clryssa and Merria to safety, but they refuse to leave.  Jediah follows the Empress’ orders and departs, hooking up with the freed convicts as a sort of resistance movement, while Oswin defeats and captures Gavyn, Clryssa and Merria.

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Oswin imprisons Starman in a crystal chamber seemingly impervious to his powers, but Gavyn manages to escape, and he and the evil Lord Protector face off for the last time.  The resulting explosion appears to kill them both, but Starman leaves behind a message indicating that he survived.

Adventure 475 – Aquaman begins, again, for the fifth time, and Starman battles to restore the Empress

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Aquaman returns to the pages of Adventure with issue 475 (Sept 80), joining Starman and Plastic Man. All the regular sized comics in the DC line gain 8 extra pages, most often corresponding to the addition of a back-up series.  This marks the fifth separate run of Aquaman in the pages of Adventure, his series moving back from World’s Finest Comics.

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Jean-Marc DeMatteis and Dick Giordano take the reigns of Aquaman as his series moves here.  Part of the plot of this story continues from the pages of World’s Finest Comics, his pursuit of some ancient Atlantean machinery.

Mera wakes with a feverish illness, and Aquaman heads out to get help, but is distracted by Topo, who leads him to the machines.

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There he winds up in battle with an old foe, the Scavenger, who had not been seen since the brief revival of Aquaman’s book in the 70s.  Although Aquaman bests the Scavenger, the machines are destroyed by the villain, so no one can have them.

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Meanwhile, Mera’s illness gets worse, and she has a really touching sequence in which she hallucinates about her dead son.  She collapses, and by the time Aquaman returns, she has disappeared.

This is the final appearance of the Scavenger pre-Crisis, as well as Topo, who had not been seen since the issue of Adventure in which Arthur Jr died.

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It’s all-out war in this chapter of the Starman saga, by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal.  Clryssa pardons two of the prisoners from Asryx, who join with Jediah Rikane as they lead one attack against Lord Protector Oswin and his men, while Starman transports the Empress and Lady Merria to the throne room.

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Still unaware that Starman is really her brother Gavyn, Clryssa promises to share the throne with him.  A nicely ironic touch.

Despite the ending of the last issue, in which Mn’torr confronted Oswin, there is no sign of the man in this tale, although Oswin makes brief reference it.  Only on the last page do we get a confirmation that things did not go well for Mn’torr.

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Oswin now has Mn’torr staff, a powerful weapon in and of itself, and has no fear of Starman or the returned Empress.

 

Adventure 474 – Starman fights without his powers

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Once again, but for the last time, a cover that features Starman and minimizes Plastic Man (who battles villains called Acid-Tongue and the Skunk), in Adventure 474 (Aug 80).

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Starman leads the search for Lady Merria in this story by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal.  Following instruction from Mn’torr, he and Clryssa head to Asryx, the prison planet, but wind up getting captured themselves.

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Clryssa is in “disguise” – which means she has a strip of cloth over her imperial tattoo.  Starman bracelets are taken from him when they are captured, and he is forced to fight some robots single-handed in order to retrieve them and regain his powers.  This scene actually looks better on the cover than in the story.

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There’s more awkward romance between Starman and his oblivious sister, before they free Merria, as well as Jediah Rikane.  Clryssa pledges to reward Jediah for his service.

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The chapter ends with a wholly unexpected scene, as Mn’torr suddenly shows up to confront Lord Protector Oswin.

 

 

Adventure 473 – Starman rejects incest

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Bad tidings across the empire in the Starman story from Adventure 473 (July 80), by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal.

Starman defends the odd bubble ship from an attack by Lord Portector Oswin’s forces, but as they have no idea the Empress is on board, this is taken to mean that Starman abducted and murdered her.

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Clryssa knows this isn’t the case, and promises to reward Starman when they return to Throneworld.  But the “reward” is a little more erotic than Gavyn is comfortable with, considering it’s from his sister.  One of the creepiest, but also entertaining, elements to this serial.

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Oswin’s men also pick up Lady Merria and Jediah Rikane, but refuse to listen to anything they have to say.  Under the belief that Clryssa and Merria had both died on the ship, Oswin has been made Regent of the Empire.  Somehow, Lady Merria being alive and heir to the throne does not change this, possibly because Oswin immdeiately has her and Rikane arrested as traitors, for complicity in the Empress’ death.

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