Posts tagged ‘Two-Face’

Detective 566 – Know Your Foes, and a mystery villain in Green Arrow

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Doug Moench and Gene Colan provide a review of Batman’s major villains in this story, a lead-in to the big Batman 400.  The bulk of it reads much like a Who’s Who, but that series, and its variants, were in the future, and there really had not been anything like this.  It was much more appreciated at the time than such an issue would be now.

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After receiving a mysterious letter saying “Know your foes,” Batman and Robin review them.  All the big names are covered: Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler, Scarecrow, Ra’s Al Ghul and Talia.  Killer Moth makes the cut into the big names, as does Black Mask, the newest addition to the line-up.

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Curiously, this is the first time Poison Ivy makes it into a listing of Batman villains.  She’d been a foe of his since the 60s, but rarely in his own books.  Mad Hatter, Deadshot, Nocturna and the Night Slayer round out the ones who get full entries.

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There is a curious mix on the “B-list” page.  Cavalier and Tweedledee and Tweedledum are golden age holdovers, but Black Spider and Clayface III are supposedly dead.  Mr. Freeze, Cat-Man and Croc could easily have made the cut to major villains at this time.  And they included Crazy Quilt.  Really?

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Green Arrow and Black Canary’s series builds to its finale in this story by Joey Cavalieri and Jerome K Moore.

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Onyx is giving a long, roundabout explanation to her wanna-be boyfriend about why she has come back to Star City, but it gets interrupted by a bad guy smashing right through the wall.

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Who is the mystery attacker?  That gets saved for the finale.

Detective 564 – Circe toys with Two-Face, and Onyx returns

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Detective 564 (July 1986) has the penultimate chapter of the Two-Face saga, by Moench and Colan.

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Circe convinces Two-Face that their mangled visages give them a bond, but it’s fairly clear that she is just using him.  Poor Harvey is too lost in his madness to see it.

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Catwoman is onto her game, though, and takes her place.  The mask being as useful to hide Circe’s scars as to conceal Catwoman’s identity.  Two-Face discovers this, and is not pleased to be played with this way.

The story concludes in the next issue of Batman.

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Cavalieri and Moore bring the Steelclaw story together in this chapter.

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Knowing that Steelclaw is the mayor, Green Arrow and Black Canary head to his estate.  He tries to use his power from both ends, as the mayor and as Steelclaw to have them taken down.

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Some excellent art by Jerome K Moore on this chapter.  The mafia and the heroes converge on the mayor’s mansion as the climax approaches.

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But wait! Look who is back as well!  Onyx!

Detective 563 – Two-Face is lonely, and Green Arrow sets up Champion

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Doug Moench and Gene Colan begin a 4part Two-Face story in Detective 563 (June 1986) that weaves back and forth between this book and Batman.

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Jason Todd brings Rena back to Wayne Manor, and in his quest to impress her, he almost reveals his Robin outfit.  Or at least, that’s what Alfred thinks he is going to do, just before he stops Jason.  Was he going to?  Jason says no, but teen hormones do overpower judgement.

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Batman and Catwoman are still trying to round up the last members of Black Mask’s False Face Society.  Batman breaks into the Sionis family tomb, which he was using as a base.  But all they discover is that someone else is trailing them.

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As for Two-Face, the length of the four part story means that this issue serves to re-introduce him, and he reflects on his origin.  Circe is also re-introduced, the former girlfriend of Black Mask, horribly mutilated by him.

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Green Arrow and Black Canary continue their struggle against Steelclaw and Champion in this story by Cavalieri and Moore.

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Green Arrow has noticed that all the things Champion has saved had been insured by the same company.  He figures that Champion is actually causing the disasters he saves things from, and sets him up.  Entertainingly, Green Arrow uses an art exhibit by Ozone as bait, which Champion shows up to set fire to.

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Black Canary doesn’t have a lot to do in this one, but does make the vital connection, through the use of the nickname “Brucie,” realizing that Steelclaw is really the mayor.

 

 

Detective 526 – Jason Todd dons the costume

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Celebrating Batman’s 500th appearance, Detective 526 (May 1983) is a forgotten, but worthy, anniversary issue.  Crisis on Infinite Earths would remove this story from continuity, and the origin of Jason Todd radically changed, but this work by Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Alfredo Alcala stands on its own merit.

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The Joker calls together a mass assembly of Batman’s enemies.  Croc is out to kill Batman, but he’s a newbie, and not worthy of the honour, the Joker insists.  So he lays out a plan that will give them all chances of killing Batman that night.

The line-up includes the regulars: Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face, and Scarecrow.  Cat-Man, Killer Moth, Mr. Freeze, the Mad Hatter, and Matt Hagen as Clayface had all appeared within the last few years.  The Cavalier had not been seen since an issue of Batman Family in the late 70s.  Tweedledum and Tweedledee had not been seen since the 1940s!  Technically, this is the first appearance of the Earth-1 versions of the characters, but with Crisis looming that scarcely matters.

Some of the newer villains are included as well: Black Spider, Captain Stingaree and the Spook.  Talia is there, without her father being involved in the story, which is rare.

The Gentleman Ghost is a Hawkman villain, but had fought Batman twice in his own book.  This is the only time he appears in a line-up of Batman villains.

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Catwoman watches, but takes no part in the meeting.  Talia also has no interest in killing Batman, but has to fight her way out.

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Both Catwoman and Talia head to the Batcave to warn Batman of the plans against him, but get involved in a cat fight of their own.

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Meanwhile, things aren’t going so well for Dick Grayson.  His great plan to use the Todds against Croc simply put them into his hands, and he has Jason driven to Wayne Manor to keep him safe.

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Barbara accompanies her father as Commissioner Gordon checks out the abandoned theatre where the villains met, and finds evidence pointing to a gathering of their enemies.

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Barbara goes to find Dick, and they suit up as Batgirl and Robin and head out to fight the villains, as Batman does the same, with Talia and Catwoman as back-up.  No one is at home, so Jason is left to explore Wayne Manor, and guess where he winds up?

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The Spook manages to get the drop on Talia, if only for a moment.  But with so many fighting against them, the two women and Batman get taken.

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Robin is the one to find the remains of the Todds, fed to his namesakes by Croc.

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Jason, unawares, has found an alternate Robin costume in the cave, and suited up.  He heads out to join the rest of the heroes.

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Batgirl and Robin fight well together. There is no hint of romance, as there had been in their Batman Family team-ups.  Robin is in a budding romance with Starfire in the pages of New Teen Titans, but their ease with each other reminds one of the bond between them, the best duo of Batman’s supporting cast.

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Jason happens upon  a group of the villains, which gives him the information he needs to find out where everyone else is.

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Finally the big climax, as the Joker gloats over his captured foes.

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Croc had been working behind the scenes with the Joker, using all the other villains to wear Batman down.  He makes his move, but Batman manages to duck at the right time, and Croc takes down the Joker.

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Jason Todd arrives just as Batman has beaten Croc into submission, and delivers the final blow.  Only afterwards does he discover his parents bodies.

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The epilogue sees Bruce sending Catwoman and Talia off together in a car.  Where is he sending them?  Why did he stick these two women in the same car together?  How far did they get before their fight forced the car off the road and into a ditch?

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The issue ends with Bruce and Jason Todd, who is looking relatively ok for a boy whose parents were horribly murdered the night before.  But he is to be the new Robin, and there is a sense of hope.

Which is all kind of weird now, because Jason Todd was given such a different origin, and made such a different character, in the post-Crisis reality.

But for a couple of years, this was the origin of Jason Todd, Robin.

Detective 513 – A Two-Faced Batman

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Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Frank Chiaramonte conclude a Two-Face story begun in Batman in Detective 513 (April 1982).

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Batman, captured by Two-Face, has been missing for days. Vicki Vale goes to Wayne Manor, revealing her belief that Batman is Bruce Wayne to Alfred and Dick, who just sort of look embarrassed for her, and she leaves.

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Batman’s absence has the city in a panic.  Hamilton Hill goes to consult with Boss Thorne, but he is not at all upset or concerned, happy to have him out of the way.

On the other hand, he is not happy to start seeing Hugo Strange’s ghost again.

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Everyone is wondering where Batman is. Even Jim Gordon, who has taken to hanging out on park benches now that he has resigned as commissioner.  Barbara tries to convince him to do something other than feed birds.

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And where is Batman, anyway?  Being held in a cage by Two-Face.  He is content to keep him there, no torture or anything, and his people provide food.

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Robin gets the action in this one, tracking Two-Face down.  But bythe time he arrives Batman is already free, thanks to Two-Face himself. Batman has used the food he has been given to make a mask for himself, expecting it to freak out Harvey.  Two-Face breaks the glass to free his double, and Batman takes him down.

Detective 484 – Batman vs Maxie Zeus, the Human Target has a mystery client, Batgirl tries to save her father, Robin returns to the circus, the Demon vs Baron Tyme, and an unsolved case of Batman

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Batgirl’s story gets the cover spot for Detective 484 (June/July 1979), though it’s deceptive in implying that Batman and Robin are also part of that story.

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Batman’s main story, by Denny O’Neil and Don Newton, is a follow up to last issue, as Batman penetrates Olympus, the penthouse retreat of Maxie Zeus.

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We get a bit of background on the villain.  He comes from wealth and education, and is credited as being an organizational genius.  His pretense of being a Greek god is looked on with amusement by his gang, who stay with him despite this.

Although he knows Batman is coming for him, and in spite of the pleas of his men, throughout the tale, that he flee, Maxie Zeus remains secure that he will triumph.

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Batman makes it past Zeus’ bodyguard, Odysseus, and winds up in his “Scylla or Charybdis” trap – between attack dogs and whirling blades.  The scene in which he survives by sending the dogs into the blades is pretty awful, but the only way out.

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Even when he is captured, Maxie does not seem in any way put out. Instead, he is delighted when Batman tells him his pride was his undoing.  And Maxie is not out of the picture, returning in a couple of months.

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The Human Target gets an unusual case in this issue, courtesy of Len Wein and Dick Giordano.  He is called on the phone and warned off of helping Floyd Fenderman, but no such person has contacted Christopher.

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So rather than disguise himself as the potential victim, Chris has to try to find out who the victim is.  He does adopt a disguise for part of the tale.

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But for the climax of the action it is simply Chris being himself.

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The story ends on a cute note, as Christopher discovers that Fenderman has been trying to get into contact with him for days.

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Jack C Harris, Bob Oskner and Vince Colletta are the creative team on this Batgirl story, in which she hunts down the men who tried to kill her father.

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She meets with a fair bit of resistance when she insists that the case is hers.  The Gotham police feel it’s their duty to avenge their boss, and want to call Batman in as well.  Fortunately for Barbara, he is busy with Maxie Zeus.

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Despite that conflict, and the cover, this is a fairly simple story.  When she goes to check on her father, she spots the bejewelled nurse, and her suspicions are aroused.  She prevents a second attempt on her father’s life, and rounds up the bad guys.

Not bad, but it could have been much better.

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Robin returns to Haly’s Circus for the first time since his parents’ deaths in this story by Jack C Harris and Kurt Schaffenberger.  There are a number of stories in which Dick returns to Haly’s Circus for the first time since his parents’ deaths, but I believe this one genuinely is the first.

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He is surprised to see posters for the Flying Graysons, but discovers that it’s merely a stage name for performers playing off the notoriety of the dead performers.  Oddly, Dick is neither repulsed nor offended by this.

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The story recaps his origin – the candlelit vow is there.  It is always featured in his origin to this point.  It gets dropped eventually, and I’m going to keep an eye out for when that happens.

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The rest of the story has him stopping some crimes at the circus.  Adequate, but not exceptional.

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Baron Tyme and Jason Blood continue their confrontation before Merlin’s tomb in this story by Len Wein and Steve Ditko.

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The Inspector leads the townsfolk into the remains of Castle Branek, but Tyme is powerful enough to hold them all off as he opens Merlin’s tomb. The distraction does allow Jason the opportunity to turn back into Etrigan.

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Tyme discovers the tomb is empty, and Etrigan beings down the castle around him.  The Demon passes on the Eternity Book to the Inspector, and feels that all is done, but we see that Tyme survived the collapse.

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The final story in the issue is one of the Unsolved Cases of the Batman.  As with the Public Life of Bruce Wayne, this was intended as a back-up story in Batman, but moved here as a result of the DC Implosion.

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The story, by Denny O’Neil, John Calnan and Frank McLaughlin, has a scientist decipher notes by Galileo for the creation of a universal solvent, and a way to contain it.

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He creates the solvent, but cannot contain it, and it dissolves everything, including the notes.  Batman manages to turn it into a non-destructive gas, but the secret is lost.

So the case is only “unsolved” in that Batman did not find out the secret of creating the destructive solvent.  That’s not really unsolved.  That basic problem was likely a factor in ending these “unsolved” tales.

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The issue’s back cover features a pin-up of Batman’s major villains.  The Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Two-Face are joined by the Scarecrow, who hasn’t usually made the cut for such spreads before, as well as Ra’s Al Ghul, the new kid on the block.  Catwoman’s appearance is a bit out of date, as she had already started on her road to reform, but I’m not complaining.

 

 

Detective 187 – the second Two-Face

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Two-Face is back in Detective 187 (Sept. 52).  Harvey Dent (the name was changed to avoid “confusion” with Clark Kent) and Gilda return.  Harvey is now giving talks about his time as Two-Face, and theatre owner George Blake has booked him for a run.

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While giving his talk, Harvey appears to transform into Two-Face in front of the entire audience.  He goes off on a destructive rampage.

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Batman chases Two-Face, but let’s it be known (to Robin) that he suspects something else is going on.

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And indeed he was right.  Two-Face was really theatre owner George Blake, who kidnapped Harvey and took his place, part of a big insurance fraud scheme with the places he attacked as Two-Face.

What gave him away?  The scarring is on the wrong side of the face.  Clever.

Detective 80 – the end of Two-Face

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Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson being the story of Harvey Kent to a conclusion in Detective 80 (Oct. 43).  Two-Face gets back out onto the streets, and continues his life of crime.

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Batman and Robin track Harvey to his lair, a moodily drawn double masted schooner, but is unaware that he is being followed as well.

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Batman confronts Two-Face, who pulls a gun and shoots.  Gilda dives in front, taking the bullet, which shocks Harvey back to his senses.

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He goes to say good-bye to his criminal buddies, who are none too keen on seeing him reform, and tie him up, forcing him to plan their next crime.

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Batman intervenes, Harvey gets freed, and after pleading guilty is sentenced to only a year in prison.  Once he gets out he gets facial surgery, and he and Gilda are left to live happily ever after.

Really.

The next time this character appeared, five years down the road, he was called Harvey Dent.  The name was changed to avoid “confusion” with Clark Kent.  But in the 80s, in a Mr. and Mrs. Superman story from Superman Family, we see Harvey and Gilda Kent, happily married, and attending the wedding of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, so this Harvey really did recover from his time as Two-Face,

 

Detective 68 – Two-Face – part 2, evil Japanese in Boy Commandos, Air Wave gets promoted, and Slam Bradley reads Shakespeare

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The saga of Two-Face continues in this Finger/Kane/Robinson collaboration from Detective 68 (Oct. 42).  The story picks up immediately after the conclusion of the story from issue 66, as if there had never been an issue 67.

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A policeman bursts in, interrupting Batman as he tries to talk Two-Face back to sanity.  Harvey flees, and continues his crime spree.  In this story, he goes after people who use doubles, such as a reclusive millionaire who uses a double to handle social functions.

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Harvey takes a break from this to attempt to re-unite with Gilda.  He pretends that his face has been cured, but is simply using make-up, and when it begins to run he goes berserk and attacks the make-up artist, whose son then seeks vengeance on Harvey as well.

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So it becomes quite a complicated story by the time it reaches an end, and Harvey is apprehended by Batman.  The saga is not quite done, though, and there is a third, and final, chapter to this within a year.

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A very anti-Japanese piece of propaganda in the Boy Commandos tale from this issue.  Simon and Kirby open the story at sea, as the Boy Commandos and Rip Carter survive their ship being bombed by Japanese fighters.

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The boys rescue a Japanese pilot, and together they all land on a Pacific island with really clued out natives. The pilot and the Boys then become rivals for the loyalty of the natives.

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While the pilot uses science to convince the natives he has magic powers, the Boys decide to put on a show instead.

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Broadway is not for them, and the natives side with the Japanese, until Rip shows up leading a rescue/assault.

The story closes with the edifying moral – the only good jap is a dead jap.  No grey areas here.

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Air Wave gets a promotion in this story.  While a mere two issues ago Larry Jordan became an assistant D.A., as of this story he is the District Attorney himself!  Quite the rapid rise for a clerk.

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For what must be his first case in his new position, he prosecutes an old childhood friend for murder.

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Only after he has obtained a conviction does Larry get into his Air Wave outfit, round up his parrot sidekick Static, and set out to find information that will clear his friend.

Although on the surface it would appear that Larry should have done this before bringing charges against the guy, on reflection we can see that Air Wave had a more elaborate plan in mind, proving to everyone that he is above corruption as a D.A. and willing to send his friend to prison.  Shame that an innocent man had to sit in prison while the scheme was in play.

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The Slam Bradley story in this issue, with art by Howard Sherman, has the hero and Shorty stumble across hoods using notes in margins of books to pass each other messages.  Their larger scheme is to rob a diamond exchange next to the book store.

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The reason I have included this story is that the criminals use, among other things, a Shakespeare play to write their notes in.  Many Slam Bradley stories from this period have him quoting Shakespeare.

This might seem like an unusual habit for a tough guy hero like Slam Bradley, but in fact it simply shows the influence of Raymond Chandler, whose tough guy hero, Phillip Marlowe, often quoted Shakespeare as well.

 

 

 

Detective 66 – Two-Face debuts, the Boy Commandos in Egypt, and Air Wave gets framed

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Two-Face makes his debut a Bill Finger/Bob Kane/Jerry Robinson story in Detective 66 (Aug. 42).

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The story jumps right into his origin.  Harvey Kent (not Dent) is a crusading District Attorney, prosecuting Boss Moroni.  Moroni throws acid into his face while on the witness stand.  Harvey has a devoted fiancee, Gilda.

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Despite Gilda’s attempts to help him, Harvey runs off, scars a two-headed coin, and cuts his wardrobe to pieces as he becomes Two-Face.

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Two-Face decides everything with a flip of the coin.  In this story, and only this story, he also decides what to do with the take from his robberies with the coin, giving them to those in need when the coin comes up good.  Of course, giving away stolen money just means those that took it accepted stolen goods, and were all hauled off to prison, so that idea was quietly dropped.

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The story belongs almost entirely to Harvey, Batman and Robin only show up at the end.  It’s a great scene, as Two-Face is robbing a movie theatre, using a film clip of himself to command the audience, while at the same time he and Batman are fighting on the stage in front of the screen.

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The story ends with a genuine cliff-hanger.  Two-Face has Batman at gun point, but the coin lands on its edge.  The story continues, but not in the next issue.

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Simon and Kirby send the Boy Commandos to Egypt in this story.

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Just as the last story opened in the past, this one opens in the far future, as a mummy is brought back to life, and tells the story of his encounter with the Commandos during World War 2.

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It’s Egypt, so we are into desert, and tank warfare against the Germans, all stunningly illustrated by Kirby.

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Air Wave faces off against a gang that dress like Halloween ghosts, but are not racists or trying to be spooky.  So basically, they are just content to look stupid.

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They are pretty smart,in fact, and manage to frame Larry Jordan for murder, and he has to escape, and then prove his innocence as Air Wave.

The narration refers to Larry as an “assistant district attorney,” so he is moving up in the office.

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