Posts tagged ‘Sheldon Moldoff’

Detective 368 – the Wonder Crimes, and Elongated Man teams with the Atom

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The story in Detective 368 (Oct. 67) pits Batman and Robin against a gang attempting to commit crimes that reflect the seven wonders of the ancient world.  Because committing crimes just isn’t enough for them.

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Gardner Fox, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella are the creative team.  It takes Batman and Robin a while to figure out the logic behind the unusual crimes in odd locations.

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Once Batman figures out the connection to the wonders, he is able to figure out the location of their next crime, and they round up the gang.

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Elongated Man and the Atom team up against Chronos in this Gardner Fox story, with art by Gil Kane and Sid Greene.

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Ralph and Sue are in Ivy Town, and Ralph stops to get his watch fixed, only to discover the Atom trapped in the gears of a clock.  He helps free him, and learns of the Atom’s fight against Chronos, who vowed vengeance on him and the watch maker after being defeated by them in the Atom’s book.

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While the Atom ditches Ralph to go after Chronos, Ralph follows anyway, coming across a gang of hoods intending to steal from Chronos.  Ralph rounds them up, and though the two heroes smile at each other, you have to wonder about the Atom’s brush off.

Detective 365 – “The House the Joker Built”

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A truly great cover for Detective 365 (July 1967), and an amazingly awful story, by John Broome, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella.

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The Joker starts selling his merchandise at cheaper prices than Batman.  Yes, that is what the story is about.  The Joker even commits the dastardly deed of opening his own department store.

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Batman and Robin will have none of this!  So, everybody fights.

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The Joker house from the cover is one of the items for sale at the department store, and serves as the setting for the final fight scene, but it does not look nearly as cool as the cover image.  A let down.

Detective 364 – a mysterious foe for Batman

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I love this cover, but I always think the villain in the story is the Getaway Genius, who does not even appear in the tale.  Detective 364 (June 1967) has art by Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella.

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The Riddler opens this tale, getting taken down by Batman and Robin.  They discover a mysterious clue, not from him, and continue to find these at the sites of other crimes.

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Moldoff is not up to par at all on this issue.  Aunt Harriet looks about 20 years older, and the Batmobile is an ugly version of the tv car.

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The story isn’t that great, either.  It wanders, and then concludes with the villain being a sleepwalking Alfred, partly under the control of the Outsider.

I do love the cover, though.

Detective 362 – The Riddler makes Batman smash Gotham

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Well, it certainly is a dramatic image on the cover of Detective 362 (April 1967), and the scene is the climax of the story, but I found it a huge let-down.

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The Riddler returns in the story, with art by Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella.  His henchmen now wear crossword puzzle outfits.  Before the tv series, henchmen were fine in their normal day clothes, but now they required special uniforms.

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The Riddler is pulling a series of bank robberies, leaving clues for Batman and Robin, who are always one step behind.   Same old same old.

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The climax has a bomb hidden in a model of Gotham City, which Batman must destroy before it goes off.  So the last page is, as the cover would have it, Batman destroying the city, but it looks so bad in the comic, laughable rather than suspenseful.

The Riddler`s next outing, the following year, would be far better.

 

Detective 358 – Spellbinder debuts

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Spellbinder was a character with decent powers, and horrible visuals.  I credit John Broome for what is good about this villain, who debuted in Detective 358 (Dec. 66), and blame Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella for what is bad.

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Spellbinder can cause intense visual hallucinations in his victims, which is great.  His costume is too much.  Even considering that it is intentionally garish, it goes overboard.  And the fact that he physically spins around to put a person under his spell both looks bad on the page, and even worse in the reader’s imagination of how it would appear in reality.

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Once Batman has been affected by Spellbinder, it is easy for the villain to bring the effect back on, even with a pinwheel.  Batman does triumph, by force of will, breaking out of a hallucinatory state on his own.

Spellbinder would not appear again until the late 70s, and in a Superman comic at that!

Detective 356 – the secret of the Outsider

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The Outsider storyline comes to a resolution in Detective 356 (Oct. 66), in a story by Gardner Fox, with art by Moldoff and Giella.

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I made a mistake when I said the Grasshopper(s) never appeared again, they return in this story, but get rounded up right away.  Their function is simply to remind Batman and Robin that the Outsider is still after them.  Then we cut to an extended flashback, as a scientist discovers that Alfred is still marginally alive, and uses an experimental machine on him.  The machine kills the scientist, but revives Alfred as an evil white globby creature, the Outsider.

This was not intended when the character was created, despite the timing of it.  The reason Alfred was brought back to life was the rampant success of the tv series.  The film that spun out of the tv show is advertised at the bottom of the page above.

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So anyway, Alfred became the evil Outsider, which is why he knew so much about Batman and Robin.

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Batman manages to reverse the machine, and saves his life.  Alfred seems to remember none of his time as the Outsider.

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Aunt Harriet gets another cameo, preparing to leave but being told to stay.  The line-up from the tv series is now as close as it will get.  Chief O’Hara never made the cut.

The Outsider persona would return from time to time.  I believe a late 70s Batman Family was his next appearance.

Detective 355 – Batman vs the Hooded Hangman, and Elongated Man meets Zatanna

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Such a powerful cover for Detective 355 (Sept. 66). The actual story, by John Broome, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella, is acceptable, but the Hooded Hangman is clearly a one-shot villain.

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The Hooded Hangman is a successful pro wrestler, whose identity is unknown.

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One night, responding to an alarm, Batman sees the Hangman running from the scene, and they fight.  Batman realizes the Hangman was innocent, but there in order to fight.  He knocks Batman out, and almost succeeds in removing his mask before others show up and he flees.

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After some more fighting, Batman recognizes the bruises on the newscaster’s face as ones he would have left on the Hangman. I always laugh envisioning a newscaster on the air with massive bruises, as if nothing was wrong.

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So Batman gets into the public fight Hangman wants, and allows himself to be defeated and unmasked, because he has made himself up as the newscaster.  Tables turned, and the newscaster is exposed as the Hangman.  End of story.

As I said, definitely a one-shot villain, but such a compelling cover.  I believe it to be the inspiration behind the creation of Bane.

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Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino share this story, the penultimate chapter in Zatanna’s quest for her missing father, which had run through a number of DC comics.

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Ralph gets involved when he sees stolen jewels flying through the air, and is unable to stop the thieves flying with them.

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It turns out Zatanna was responsible, trying to find the last artifacts she was looking for.  Zatanna pretends not to know the thieves are thieves, but she was working with them, and desperate, so I’m pretty sure she is lying about that.  At any rate, she helps Ralph round them up.

Zatanna then prepares to cast a spell that will take her to another dimension in search of Zatara.  Ralph offers to help, but she insists she will do it alone.

As it turns out, in her next appearance, in Justice League of America a few months down the road, she does call on Ralph, as well as the other heroes she encountered on her quest, for help.

 

Detective 354 – Dr. Tzin Tzin debuts

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It’s a big step backwards on the racism ladder in Detective 354 (Aug. 66), so maybe it’s no surprise that I have no idea who wrote this, although the art is by Moldoff and Giella.

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Dr. Tzin Tzin is cut from the same cloth as Dr. Fu Manchu, except Tzin Tzin can scare you so much with his stare that it kills you.  Sigh.  He is a criminal mastermind, sitting in his den watching with glee as his men battle Batman and Robin.  It feels like we’ve gone all the way back to the cover of Detective Comics 1.

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Batman battle his way through, avoids Tzin Tzin’s deadly stare and captures him.

Dr. Tzin Tzin appears next in the early 70s, in which he is given the ability to cast illusions.

Detective 352 – Mr. Esper debuts, and a pin-up!

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A minor recurring foe, around for about a decade, Mr. Esper was introduced in Detective 352 (June 1966), in a story by John Broome, with art by Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella.  The story is called “Batman’s Crime Hunt A-Go-Go.”  Possibly the worst title for a Batman story ever.

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It begins with Batman getting a series of amazing hunches while patrolling with Robin, capturing a number of criminals he likely would not have.  All seems well, but Batman does not trust the situation.

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While out for a night on the town, he sees mentalist Mr. Esper, who correctly reads Bruce’s mind.  He repeats the exact sum that had been stolen, stumbling over one of the numbers when he realizes it’s significance.

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Batman is quick on the uptake, and takes down Mr. Esper and his crew.  Esper had been sending Batman sonic whispers, leading him to crimes, and away from others, and also getting him dependant on the voice, even when it started giving the wrong information.

Mr. Esper next appears in a Batman comic in the early 70s.

This issue also contains a classic Batman and Robin pose as a pin-up.

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Detective 350 – The Monarch of Menace debuts, and Elongated Man helps Green Lantern

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Another Joe Kubert cover for Detective 350 (April 1966).  He makes the Monarch of Menace look like a far more interesting and dangerous foe than the story by Robert Kanigher, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella has him be.

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Batman tells Robin about a foe from his past, from his days before taking on a sidekick.  The Monarch of Menace was a mob boss Batman was never able to capture.  His costume included a cape that gave off a choking gas, an electrified sceptre, and a crown with hypnotic gems.

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The story jumps to the present, and to the emotionally abused son of the Monarch, forced by his father to dress as a jester.  He steals a spare Monarch outfit from his father, to go on a crime spree himself and show what he can do.

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It’s Robin who spots him, and captures the boy, who doesn’t know how to work the costume devices well enough.  I do like the way the story parallels the generations.

With some time to study the costume, Batman preps defenses against the weapons, and plays on the Monarch’s ego, broadcasting the capture of the son as if it were the real Monarch.  When the father comes out to face Batman, he is quickly defeated once his weapons are neutralized.

The Monarch of Menace returns in a Batman story in the early 80s.

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The Elongated Man comes to the aid of Green Lantern in this Gardner Fox story, with art by Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene.

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Realizing the Hal has lost his memory of being Green Lantern, Tom Kalmaku turns to the only publicly known hero, Ralph Dibny, for his help.

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Ralph stops a robbery at Ferris Aircraft, but that’s incidental to the story.  Ralph helps Hal regain his memory, and the loss is explained as the result of exposure to a nebula.

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I don’t buy that for a second.  See, this is Ralph’s birthday, and though Sue presents him with a new costume as a present, I believe this whole tale was a birthday mystery that she arranged.  All it required was for Hal to pretend to lose his memory, and Hal is best buddies with Barry Allen.  Sue could easily have contacted Iris, and got her to get Barry to enlist Hal in the deception.

No one will ever convince me otherwise when it comes to this story.  Not even if Gardner Fox crawled out his grave to deny it.

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