Posts tagged ‘Steve Mitchell’

Detective 489 – Batman fights a vampire, Commissioner Gordon in a prison riot, Robin and Batgirl team-up, the Atom meets the Dharlu, Alfred and the evil butlers, and Batman finds Bronze Tiger

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Batman has two stories, book-ending Detective 489 (April 1980).  The first, by Jean-Marc deMatteis, Irv Novick and Vince Colletta has a rash of murders, seemingly committed by a vampire.

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A vampire hunter has also come to town, informing Batman that he and his assistant have been chasing this creature from city to city.  Batman insists there must be some other explanation for the deaths.

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The story looks like it is going the obvious direction, that the vampire hunter is really the vampire, but it doesn’t quite go that way.

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In fact, the vampire hunter is the killer, but with a split personality that thinks he is a vampire.  His assistant explains it all – then turns into a bat and flies away.

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Commissioner Gordon stars in this chapter of Tales of Gotham City, by Paul Kupperberg, Irv Novick and Steve Mitchell.

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A riot breaks out at Gotham penitentiary, and they prisoners demand Gordon be the negotiator, but when he arrives, he discovers they simply intend to kill him.

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This is possibly the most bad-ass story Gordon gets, as he takes down the men about to kill him, fakes a deal with others to get the prisoners back in their cells, and then takes down the other leaders of the riot, all by himself.

This could be a kick-ass action movie.

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Robin and Batgirl, whose team-ups made Batman Family a success, have the last one for many years, and it’s awful.  In so very many ways.  Jack C Harris, Don Heck and Vince Colletta are all to blame.

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I never like Don Heck’s art, but in this issue it descends to new lows.

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Barbara Gordon goes missing, and then show uup with no memory. Commissioner Gordon calls on Robin, informing him that his daughter is Batgirl.  Robin already knows this, he and Batgirl discovered each others identities back in Batman Family, but Gordon doesn’t know this.

One has to wonder why he goes to Robin, though, instead of Batman.

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Anyway, Robin tracks her down, and convinces her to get into her Batgirl costume, although she still remembers nothing.  Conveniently, they promptly run into the guy who stole all her memories.

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So they beat him up, and discover the stolen memories are all on cassette tapes.  Robin plays them and restores Barbara’s memories, but then leaves the last tape, which apparently contains nothing but the secret identities of Batman and Robin, and gives her a bit of a guilt trip, asking her not to listen to it.

And she burns the tape!

The whole reason for this story was to make it so that she no longer knew their identities.  Why not?  Just stupid.  Poorly drawn, poorly written, and a bad idea for a story in the first place.

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Bob Rozakis, Alex Saviuk and Vince Colletta give the Atom an adventure on the JLA satellite.  The Atom’s last solo story was in Five Star Spectacular, but he was soon to get a rotating series in Action Comics.

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The story deals with the Dharlu, a comatose alien that resides in the JLA satellite computer, and has to be there in order for the computer to work.  I never understood that story.  Anyway, investigating some computer problems, the Atom discovers a while bunch of tiny Dharlu’s loose in the computer.  Her kids, one would guess.

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The Atom sends the little Dharlu’s shooting out into the vacuum of space, so they can “find their destinies,” unless they all just die out there.  And he doesn’t even try to take the original one out of the computer prison they keep it in.

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Ok, here’s a story I won’t attack.  Alfred sees a picture of himself in the paper, part of a phony Butler ring being broken up by Batman in this story by Bob Rozakis and Jose Delbo.

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Curious, he goes to investigate, and finds the bad butlers, who mistake him for part of their crew.  Alfred clues in that he was being impersonated to infiltrate the group.

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It’s all a bit convoluted, and Alfred only pretends to have figured it all out beforehand.  Robin cameos, having been the one who had impersonated him before.

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The second Batman story in the issue, by Denny O’Neil and Don Newton, picks up the League of Assassins storyline.  Both the League and Batman have tracked Bronze Tiger to the hospital where he is recovering.  How they did this is not explained, but its been a few months since the last part of this story, so they had time.

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Bronze Tiger defends himself from the League killers, although Batman was there to step in if needed.  Tiger does not recall his time with the League completely, but does remember enough to send Batman to an amusement park they were using.

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There he fights a bunch of the League, but does not find any of the big players – but does find a seismologist being held captive.

And with that unusual detail, the story is set up for its big finale next issue.

 

 

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Adventure 459 – Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Deadman, New Gods begin, plus an Elongated Man story

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Major changes in Adventure Comics 459 (Oct 78), as the book expands to be a “Dollar Comic,” and the format becomes reminiscent of the 1940s anthology series “Comic Cavalcade, ” which also featured Flash, Green Lantern and Wonder Woman, as well as a host of other characters.  Deadman begins as a regular feature, and the New Gods conclude the storyline from their recently cancelled book.  The Elongated Man story was always intended as a one-shot, rather than the start of a new series for him.

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The features that had their own comics tried to do something different with their runs in Adventure.  For the Flash, this meant telling single issue tales, without the emphasis on the Rogue’s Gallery.  Still, the story had the standard creative line-up for the hero, with Cary Bates writing, and Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin on the art.

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The story sees Barry Allen go to a high school reunion, and chaos and crime take hold when a psychic ex-classmate reveals that she has read the mind of one of the alumni, and discovered that he is the Flash.  She chooses to share this information with a man in debt to the mob, who kidnaps the Flash in order to have him fight the mobsters who are out to get him.

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Unfortunately, the mind she read was not that of Barry Allen, but instead a different classmate, who had become an actor, and was recently cast as the Flash.  Still, amid all the confusion the Flash swoops in to save the day.

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Deadman had been a frequent guest star in the DC Universe throughout the 70s, most recently in the Challengers of the Unknown revival, but had not had a solo series since his back-up in Aquaman in the early 70s.

This storyline brings Boston Brand back to his Hill’s Circus beginnings, and brings back much of his original supporting cast: Lorna, Vashnu, Tiny and his twin brother Cleveland, as well as introducing Cleveland’s wife, a Russian defector Inga, and their daughter Lita.  Len Wein scripts, with Jim Aparo on the art.

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Deadman spends a few pages remembering his origin and recapping his original series from Strange Adventures, while inhabiting his brother’s body as he performs his aerial act.  A gunman tries to kill him, and then manages to kill himself while Deadman inhabits his body, which should not be possible.

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Though there is no real explanation given for the events in this issue, Inga suspects it has something to do with her past and her defection, and later issues will prove this correct.

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Green Lantern had been sharing his comic with Green Arrow for the better part of the decade, so his short run in Adventure gave him solo stories for a change.  Cary Burkett and Joe Staton provide this brief tale, as a beautiful alien woman comes to Earth seeking Hal’s help.

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He fights off the energy leeches that have crippled her ship, but his ring informs him that she is disguising her identity, so he also blasts apart her deception.

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She reveals that she is not the hot babe she pretended to be, but lusted for Hal and figured he would not be interested in her if he saw what she really looked like.  Silly woman.  Hal Jordan will bed anything that moves.

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The New Gods continues the storyline from its recently cancelled revival in this and the following issue.  Gerry Conway and Don Newton did some commendable work on the series, but it paled next to Kirby’s original.

DeSaad gives a brief recap to Orion, explaining how the captured human Orion has freed were taken by Darkseid because they unwittingly possess the Anti-Life Equation he has been searching for.

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Highfather also gives some background on the New Gods and the long war between the forces of New Genesis and Apokolips, before the story shifts to Earth, as Lightray, Metron, Forager and Jezebel deal with the Antagonist and his mind-controlled hordes. as they attempt to assassinate President Carter.

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Darkseid and Orion meet and finish the recapping, discussing the long-foretold final battle between the father and son.  All of this basically a set-up for the big finale next issue.

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The Elongated Man gets a fun little mystery, which apparently needed five writers for a seven page story, as Len Wein, Paul Levitz, Mike Gold, Ann Delany-Gold and Steve Mitchell are all credited, along with George Ruppert and Bruce Patterson on the art.

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The story sees a group of diners at a chinese restaraunt receive fortune cookies stuffed with thousand dollar bills.  Raplph runs headlong into the mystery, while Sue calmly sits and watches, filling him in on the important information he missed by running around.  Gotta love her.

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Some fun stretchiness as Ralph boards a airplane already in flight, and confronts the mysterious cookie stuffer, who turns out to be a well-known comedian with a criminal past, trying to right his long ago wrongs.  As the comedian is known for being a cheapskate (and is pretty clearly based on the non-criminal Jack Benny), he wanted to pay back the town without ruining any part of his reputation, and Ralph, satisfied with the solution, agrees.

Though the Elongated Man appeared regularly in Justice League, he had not had a solo story since his run in Detective Comics a couple of years earlier.  His next solo outing was a couple years down the road, a back-up story in an issue of Justice League of America.

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Wonder Woman faces the Shark in this story, by Jack C Harris, with art by Jack Abel and Frank Giacoia.  Most of her tales in Adventure pitted the Amazon against other heroes villains, which was not such a bad idea.

The Shark, who last appeared in these pages battling Aquaman, invades Paradise Island in his quest for Wonder Woman.  She is secretly flattered by his interest, as she deems it an indication that he views her as a hero on par with Superman, Green Lantern and Aquaman.

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Sad that she bases her view of her worth on the attitudes of those who want to fight her, but even worse is the fact that the Shark simply wants her as a mate.

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It takes her an embarrassingly long time to realize that she did not lose her powers by being bound by the Shark, as he is not a human male.  You’d think she would actually be able to tell whether she had her strength and such, but not in this story.

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She compounds this error at the end, using her lasso to command the Shark to never “return to human form.”  But he WASN’T IN HUMAN FORM!  That was the whole point of why she did not lose her powers!

While not a bad story, per se, it certainly does not come off making Wonder Woman seem particularly competent.

The Shark returns the following year, battling the Justice League in their book.

 

 

 

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