Detective 493 – Batman vs the Riddler in Texas, the Red Tornado’s first solo story, Robin confronts the man in black, the Human Target becomes a trucker, and Batgirl braves the fire
Good gosh, the Batman Family are really happy about Detective 493 (Aug. 80). Smiles a mile wild. The Human Target is less happy, falling out of his awkwardly shaped spot, but the clear star to the cover is the Red Tornado, never before or since considered either a member of the Batman Family, or a detective.
Batman faces off against the Riddler in this story by Cary Burkett and Don Newton, which also introduces a new hero, the Swashbuckler.
As usual, the Riddler sends a clue before he begins his spree, but it’s Alfred who notices that it is not a real riddle, but a snatch of lyrics from a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
That was all Batman needed, and he is on the trail of the Riddler, following him to Texas. The story winds up taking place in Houston, using actual locations.
Batman runs into a local hero, the Swashbuckler, who claims to be the nephew of Greg Saunders, the Vigilante. He’s not a bad character, though the mask seems a bit excessive.
The amusement park next to the Astrodome is one of the locations the Riddler leads the heroes to. His big crime is teased by him saying he was going after the only person who is a bigger riddler than he is.
Batman and Swashbuckler ponder possible crimes, but Batman figures out he is going after a man named Noone, as “no one” was a bigger riddler in the villains eyes.
Sadly, so far as I know and recall, the Swashbuckler never appeared again.
Ok, so first of all let me say I like the Red Tornado as a character, I like Tales of Gotham City as a series, and I like Jean-Marc deMatteis as a writer. Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta aren’t the top of my list, but I don’t hate them.
But why is Red Tornado starring in a Gotham City story when the character has never been a part of this milieu? And why, for his first story, is he in the middle of the city’s black ghetto, in the midst of a tale of religious faith and community standing up to drug dealers and the like?
I guess this was a try-out for his upcoming series in World’s Finest Comics, but I never liked it. The tear in the android’s eye in the final panel just makes me gag.
Robin resolves the man in black plot in this issue, by Jack C Harris, Charles Nicholas and Vince Colletta.
The pressures of being Robin, academic life, his relationship with Jennifer, and his job on the university paper get to be too much for him. We haven’t even seen him at the paper since his run in Detective began. Stressed, Dick leaves and heads for Gotham.
Neither Bruce nor Alfred are at the penthouse, but he does run in to Lucius Fox. Dick heads back to the old Batcave.
Changing to Robin, he leaves, and runs into the man in black. Confronting him, he discovers that the man is actually a bodyguard hired to protect Dick Grayson, at Lucius Fox’s orders. Dick gets that taken care of.
It’s worth noting that this is the same month that the New Teen Titans launched, and Dick’s inability to cope with university would lead into that series.
The Human Target gets his last solo story in Detective, although he makes a few more appearances in the book. As usual, Len Wein and Dick Giordano helm this tale of a murdered trucker.
The man’s body was completely charred, but his vengeful widow hires Christopher Chance to impersonate him, pretending that he survived the murder attempt, to draw out the killer.
It works, but the victory is not all the widow hoped for, as she learns that the hired killer was just doing it for the money, hired by a rival trucking firm, and there was nothing personal in any of it.
Batgirl has the first chapter of a longer story, by Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Joe Giella.
It begins with a spat between her and Roger Barton over rival housing development plans. Barbara goes to inspect the site of the theatre in question, and is surprised to find the protestors not interested in the theatre at all.
Her attention gets drawn by a nearby fire, and she changes to Batgirl, and winds up saving the little girl who had been held hostage by Cormorant, and was still living in fear.