Posts tagged ‘Roy Raymond’

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Detective 487 – The League of Assassins go after a writer, Roy Raymond returns, Robin goes to Germany, the Odd Man debuts, and Batgirl runs for re-election

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Denny O’Neil and Don Newton manage to craft a League of Assassins story that reads like a farce, without actually diminishing the power or threat of the League.

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The tale centres on a writer, Sergius, who works out his plots as he jogs.  The Sensei overhears him talking about the assassins and their plot, and mistakenly believes he knows something about their organization, and sends the League out to kill him.

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For a while, the clumsy Sergius is oblivious to what is going on, narrowly avoiding death.

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But the League’s activities draw Batman’s attention.  He persuades Sergius to allow Matches Malone to be his bodyguard.  For those who do not know this, Matches Malone is Batman’s “criminal” identity.

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As Matches he saves Sergius from the League’s most elaborate murder attempt, drowning him by flooding his apartment.  Batman succeeds at rounding up a number of the group’s killers, but of course the Sensei remains free.

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Roy Raymond, last seen a few months earlier in Superman Family, gets one last solo story in Detective, courtesy of Bob Rozakis and Dave Hunt.  Morgan Edge has a small role, as Roy is hosting an Impossible But Truespecial on WGBS.

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Three beings claiming to be aliens are to appear on the show.  One is an R2D2 type machine, one is along the standard lines of an alien monster, and one is an ordinary looking woman, claiming to be exiled from her homeworld.

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In a particularly nice touch,Roy is reunited with old friend and former helper, Karen Duncan.

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Roy exposes the machine and monster as fakes.  Even as a kid I could see the twist that the ordinary looking woman really was an alien, but it was a pleasant shock when it turns out to be Hawkgirl.

Roy Raymond next appears in Detective 500.

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Robin’s story, by Jack C Harris, Kurt Schaffenberger and Joe Giella, takes Dick to West Germany to inspect Wayne Enterprises holdings.

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Dick finds it all terribly boring, until he hears of an unusual bank robbery, in which the wall was pulverized.

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As Robin, he investigates, and quickly gets on the track of some new mini-tanks being developed by his company for the US base there, and figures out a neat trick on how they load the tanks into trucks, using them for the robbery.

Definitely one of the better stories from Robin’s run in this book.

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The Odd Man gets his only solo story to date, by Steve Ditko.  This was intended to be the back-up feature in Shade, the Changing Man, but when that comic was cancelled in the DC Implosion, this story got shelved, until it’s appearance here.

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By far the most annoying thing about this tale, given that it is the character’s only story, is how little we learn about him.  His normal human identity is Clay Stoner, a private detective.  He is facing off against thieves patterning themselves on ancient Egyptians.

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We see him use “powder and smoke gloves”, and he also has a plastic spray he seals a villain in, but that’s it for weaponry.  Does he have any powers?  Who knows.  Why does he dress so strangely?  Who knows.

The Odd Man does pop up from time to time, but no appearance has ever clarified who he is.

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Jack G Harris and Dick Giordano send Barbara Gordon back to the polls in this story.  It’s the first time re-election has been mentioned, so even though she went to Washington seven years earlier, it must only be 2 comic book years since that story.

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Her political adversary, Della Zigler, is based on an actual politican from this era, Bella Abzug, known for her huge hats.  And while Barbara is trying to defeat Della in the election, as Batgirl she is working to save her life from gangsters who want her dead.

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I was genuinely surprised at the ending of this story when I was kid.  Barbara Gordon loses the election.  But heroes never lose!  While I would never say this story is powerful, it certainly has a kick in the teeth ending, though Barbara herself admits she spent too much time as Batgirl and too little campaigning.  And looking back over her seven years in Washington, very few stories showed her functioning as a congresswoman.  I expect her constituents were also feeling neglected.

Detective 292 – Batman becomes a giant, and Roy Raymond ends

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Batman gets exposed to an experimental gas, which turns him into a giant in this Sheldon Moldoff story from Detective 292 (June 1961).

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Batman does his best to continue his war on crime, but his giant size makes life difficult.

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Kathy Kane adds a complication to the story, as she has a date with Bruce Wayne, which of course he cannot come to.  A mysterious stand-in takes his place.

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Batman’s inability to manage at his height winds up putting him in the hands of his enemies, but he has taken care to disguise his face, so unmasking him does not succeed.

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The final panel reveals that it was Superman who stood in as Bruce Wayne, leaving Batwoman convinced Batman is not Bruce.

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Roy Raymond has his final story in this issue, with art by Ruben Moreira.

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It’s a straightforward hoax story, trying to keep people away from a treasure by pretending an ancient wizard has come back to life.  Roy has no problem with this case, after years of similar ones.

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Roy Raymond next appears in the early 70s, in Superman, but Karen has to wait until the 80s, and returns in the pages of Detective, part of Roy’s final solo story.

Detective 287 – Batman vs the Raven and the Wasp, Roy Raymond hunts for an heir to the throne, and J’onn’s little brother comes to visit

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Detective 287 (Jan. 6) features two new villains, neither of whom was ever seen again, the Raven and the Wasp.  Created by Sheldon Moldoff, I suppose their costumes are meant to evoke the animals they have named themselves for, but they don’t succeed, at least not for me.

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Both are escaped felons, and both are out to steal various mechanical inventions.  Batman and Robin defeat the Wasp, and Batman takes his place.

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He discovers that both villains are working for some aliens, stealing the devices they require to build a mind-control machine.

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Bathound makes an appearance in the story, but isn’t used well.  He’s just sort of there for the final battle.  Batman uses the mind-control device on the aliens, sending them back to their home planet.

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Some really nice Ruben Moreira art on this Roy Raymond story.  Roy is asked to help the search for a missing heir to the throne in an eastern country.  The heir has a device that will create the image of the grand vizier, and Roy is asked to help weed out the fakes.

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Eventually, one of the claimants produces the effect the desired way, and is proclaimed the heir, but Roy is still wary.

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Roy proves that the real heir was kidnapped, and the device taken from him.  The men who invited Roy over were using him to cover their own deception and impersonation.  Roy reveals the true heir, and all is well.

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J’onn’s younger brother T’omm makes his debut in this story.  Despite the destruction of Erdel’s machine many issues ago, J’onn has repaired it in this story.

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He accidentally makes it bring his little brother to Earth.  Which is really a mind-blowing coincidence.

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J’onn defeats some thieves, and T’omm helps him cover his identity.  The machine has only enough charge for one more teleportation, so J’onn sends his brother back home.

T’omm returns a few months down the road.

 

 

 

Detective 286 – Batman and Batwoman vs Starman, and Roy Raymond uncovers a buried monster

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Three magical items are at the centre of this Sheldon Moldoff tale in Detective 286 (Dec. 60).  Star-Man, who has no connection to any other version, acquires ones that give him super-strength, and flight.

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The other piece, a belt, was bought by Kathy Kane.  Once she has worn it, it leaves her feeling dragged out whenever she does not have it on.

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The belt does have the effect of neutralizing Star-Man’s powers, and with Batman and Robin she takes him down.  With all three items on, she is cured of the wasting effects of the belt.

And sadly, this was as good as the book got in 1960.

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Some great art by Moreira on this Roy Raymond tale, in which he investigates the legend of a buried monster.

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The story is far more straightforward than most Roy Raymond tales, but that makes a refreshing change.

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Roy releases the monster, who rampages until they manage to seal him up again.  And Roy learns nothing from this, continuing on his merry way.

 

Detective 276 – Batwoman meets Bat-Mite, and Roy Raymond and the space hoax

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Bat-Mite makes his second appearance in this Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff tale from Detective 276 (Feb. 60).

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In this, and his first appearance, Batman keeps convincing the criminals that the odd things that happened when Bat-Mite was around were hallucinations, but Batwoman discovers that Bat-Mite is real.  As she does not bark at him like Batman does, Bat-Mite decides to hang out with Batwoman and help her fight crime.

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She also finds the imp’s help frustrating, but there is a feel-good thing permeating this, so no one stays angry for long, no matter what Bat-Mite does.  I think that’s part of his powers.

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Together, Batman, Robin, Batwoman and Bat-Mite stop the Hobby Robbers, the villains whose activity was pretty much completely overwhelmed by the guest stars.

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A man approaches Roy Raymond, announcing that he has created a hoax, but still challenging Roy to expose it in this Ruben Moreira story.

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Roy cannot pass up such an interesting proposal, so he and Karen go along, as the man claims to be transporting them to an alien world.  Roy eventually realizes they really are on an alien planet.

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He then exposes the man as an alien, and the story abruptly shifts into high gear, as the alien tries to kill Roy and Karen, who use jets to fly to safety.  Another alien shows up and stops the first, explaining that they had a bet as to whether the first could fool Roy Raymond about being human.  They watched the broadcasts of Impossible But True on their home planet.

 

Detective 244 – Batarangs, and Roy Raymond’s birthday party

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Batarangs are the focus of the Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff tale in Detective 244 (June 1957).

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As with stories of this kind, much of it is spent relating short tales that illustrate a variety of batarangs, most of which were never seen in any other tale.  Batman and Robin both dread using “Batarang X,: which means that it will be used at the climax of the story.

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It’s not a bad tale.  Much better than the make-up one. If anything, it makes one wonder why it was two years into the stories that explore Batman’s arsenal before they dealt with the batarangs.

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Batarang X turns out to be nothing more than a giant batarang that Batman rides in order to quietly approach some villains by air.

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It’s Roy Raymond’s birthday in this story.  Ruben Moreira is credited with the art, but it doesn’t seem on par with previous stories.

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Roy receives some very strange gifts, including a pen that can write on the air, and suspects that one of the partygoers is hoaxing him.  Karen is his first choice, but she clears herself with a polygraph.

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In a weird twist ending, one of Roy’s staffers turns out to be his time-travelling descendant from the future, come back to celebrate his famous ancestor’s birthday.  Any hint of a romance between Roy and Karen is pretty tidily squashed in this one, as the boy refers to Roy as his ancestor, but not Karen.

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