Posts tagged ‘Vigilante’

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

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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.

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Batman faces off against the Riddler in this story by Cary Burkett and Don Newton, which also introduces a new hero, the Swashbuckler.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Robin resolves the man in black plot in this issue, by Jack C Harris, Charles Nicholas and Vince Colletta.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Batgirl has the first chapter of a longer story, by Cary Burkett, Jose Delbo and Joe Giella.

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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.

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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.

 

Adventure 443 – Aquaman vs the Fisherman, and Seven Soldiers of Victory ends

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Aquaman did not have many recurring villains in his own comic, but Adventure 443  (Feb 76) brings back the Fisherman, a third-rater at best.  Still, the story, by Paul Levitz and David Michelinie, with art by Jim Aparo, is pretty good.

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Aquaman intercepts some people hunting a dolphin, but discovers that they are French police, and the dolphin is being used for heroin smuggling.  Following the animal, Aquaman discovers the Fisherman is running the operation.  This was the first appearance of the character since the 60s, and though he captures Aquaman, another long-unseen character frees him.

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Topo had not been used in an Aquaman story since issue 36 of his old book, but becomes a regular supporting character again with this issue.

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The kicker to the story comes only on its last page, as Aquaman is dethroned by vote of the council, and the mysterious Karshon becomes the new King of Atlantis.

 

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The conclusion of the Seven Soldiers of Victory saga, with art by Dick Dillin, is a bit of a let-down.  The team reconvenes, and Willie the Wisher sends a battery of beasts against them.

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They defeat the creatures, and make Willie feel bad for his actions simply by talking about it.  Willie makes himself disappear.  Well, that was easy.

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In the end we discover that the events were all made into a film, but no one believes it because no one remembers Willie – even though all the activity occurred not on Earth, but in the Land of Magic.  So why would anyone on Earth be aware of it anyway?

Still, most of  the original tales of the Seven Soldiers of Victory were similarly pretty weak, so this is simply on par with their published adventures.

As a team, the group never appears again, except in flashbacks, or in All-Star Squadron issues, set in the 1940s.  The story clearly takes place before the events in Justice League of America 100-102, as Wing is still alive.

Adventure 442 – Aquaman has issues with NATO, and the Vigilante chapter of Seven Soldiers of Victory

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Paul Levitz and Jim Aparo craft the Aquaman story in Adventure 442 (Dec 75), pitting him against General Morgan of NATO when terrorists take over a ship of nuclear waste.

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General Morgan tries to blow up the ship, which would then sink towards Atlantis, potentially wiping out the city.  His reasons are not evil, letting some die to save many more, but Aquaman has no intention of sitting back and letting this happen.  He manages to take out the NATO missile sent at the ship, and then boards it an takes down the terrorists as well.

But this is not an entirely happy ending, as Aquaman is still furious about the situation, and intends to seek out Morgan.

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A different plot thread also begins in this issue, of the Atlanteans dissatisfaction with Aquaman as their king.  In the late 60s there was a small plot about civil unrest in Atlantis, but this run in Adventure would really play that up.

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The Vigilante chapter of the Seven Soldiers of Victory epic is one of the more enjoyable.  Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Mike Royer handle the art, as Vigilante winds up a giant in a land of battling gnomes.

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For reasons that are never made clear, beyond “magic,” Vigilante gains the ability to shape shift, and turns himself into a giant insect to terrify the gnomes into submission.  Their war is over the proper phrasing of a sentence, and he brings peace by getting the rival armies to sing it as a round.

Adventure 438 – The Spectre and a human museum, and the Seven Soldiers of Victory begin

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Adventure 438 (April 1975) has the shortest Spectre story of the run, a mere 10 pages, because of the extended length of the back-up feature.  As a result, the story by Mike Fleisher is very simple, but the art by Ernie Chan and Jim Aparo makes it rewarding anyway.

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The tale deals with another madman, who is having people kidnapped and killed to be put in his personal museum.

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Corrigan is put on the case, tracks him down, and as the Spectre frees some gorillas from their exhibit to kill him.

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The Seven Soldiers of Victory begin a serialized story in this issue.  The story itself was written in the 1940s for their run in Leading Comics, but never published, or even drawn.  It follows the standard format of SSoV tales, with the entire team together for the first and last chapter, and five middle chapters featuring the team members in Individual action.

As this is the first time I am writing about the team, I will point out the curious fact that there are not seven members in the Seven Soldiers of Victory.  Shining Knight, Green Arrow, Vigilante, Crimson Avenger and Star-Spangled Kid are the heroes.  Sidekicks Speedy and Stripsey are counted to make up seven, but Wing is not.  Only white people count, maybe?

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The first chapter, with art by Dick Dillin, introduces the villain, who is really more of a trickster than a bad guy, Willie the Wisher, whose wishes become reality, hence his name.  He wishes the team off to the Land of Magic.

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The Shining Knight’s chapter follows immediately, with art by Howard Chaykin, which really manages to capture the look of Frank Frazetta’s work on the Knight.

He is menaced by a duplicate of himself, which emerges from a mirror.  He defeats his double, but winds up captured by a wizard and bound, back in the room he began in.

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This time, knowing the mirror will produce a duplicate, he uses the other knight’s sword to undo his bonds before he emerges, giving him the upper hand.

 

Adventure 427 – Voodoo Lizards, Vigilante ends and Denise toys with Captain Fear

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Nelson Strong hears the tale of a callous and arrogant photographer who goes to Africa in search of a secret tribal ceremony, in this Adventurer’s Club story by John Albano and Jim Aparo.

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His trespass first costs the life of his guide, and the story has a dark ending.  Again, this would fit completely into House of Mystery, or any of the rest of the DC horror line.

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Vigilante deals with a murder on a western film set in his final outing in Adventure Comics, a story by Cary Bates with art by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano.

An actor’s gun is loaded with real bullets, and though he claims innocence no one except Vigilante believes him.

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The brief tale winds up being about mob vengeance and a phony production company that is a front for diamond smuggling, but is actually pretty good for all that.

Vigilante’s next series comes about four years down the road, in World’s Finest Comics, though the Earth-3 version of the character gets a story in Adventure in another year or so.

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The woman Captain Fear rescued in the previous issue, Denise, turns on him when their ship is attacked by another.  The enemy ship is captained by her father – or so she claims at first, and Fero is put into chains in this Robert Kanigher/Alex Nino story.

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She tells Fero that does not want to see him imprisoned and killed by her father, and frees him, but this is merely a set-up.

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He defeats the pirate, and Denise reveals that he was not her father, rather, she was his unwilling mistress.  She takes command of the ship, and offers to make Fero her second in command, but he spurns her once again.

Adventure 426 – Adventurer`s Club begins, Vigilante hunts cocaine dealers and Captain Fear sets sail

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The Adventurer`s Club begins in Adventure 426 (March 1973), which is basically just a framing sequence for unconnected stories.

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Nelson Strong is the host of the strip, and though he is meant to look manly and authoritative, his introduction of the concept makes him look sort of crazy to me.

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This first tale, written by John Albano and drawn by Jim Aparo, would not have been out of place in any of DC`s horror books from the era.  It tells the story of gangsters haunted by the vision of a woman accidentally killed in a drive-by shooting, whose father was a hypnotist.  The story makes is clear there is nothing actually supernatural happening, beyond the hypnotic powers of the vengeful father.

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Vigilante comes to the aid of a young woman who kicked a cocaine addiction, and is now being hunted by her former dealer and ex-boyfriend, who fear (correctly) that she will turn them in to the police.

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A decent tale, written by Cary Bates, with art by Mike Sekowsky and Dick Giordano, that makes the most of its ski resort setting, not the normal locale for a motorcyle-riding hero.

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The Captain Fear story in this issue must take place quite a while after the last one, though no time frame is given, but he is now in Indochina, where he rescues a white girl from some nasty people who want to sacrifice her.

She begs him to return her to her wealthy father, a plantation owner, and also tries to make some moves on Fero, who rebuffs her coldly.

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He does manage to get her aboard his ship, fighting off a rival crew, but she turns the tables on him, pulling out a gun.  There is more to her than it seems, but what…?

Robert Kanigher and Alex Nino were at the helm of this tale.

 

 

Adventure 422 – Vigilante and rodeo racism

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Vigilante deals with white supremacists murdering black cowboys in Adventure 422 (Aug 72), with Gray Morrow art, which always seems to suit this character.

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The story is fairly simple and straightforward, but that simply adds to the realism of it.  After a black cowboy is killed by a sniper at a rodeo, a racist organization proudly claims responsibility, insisting that they are merely protecting the purity of the cowboy image.  Vigilante hunts them down.  By not adding any big twists it makes a far more effective statement.

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