Posts tagged ‘Wing’

Detective 89 – Batman exposes the Cavalier, Air Wave gets a cat, and the Crimson Avenger ends

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The Cavalier makes his third appearance in Detective 89, with Dick Sprang art.

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The story begins as we discover that the Cavalier is really Mortimer Drake, a wealthy Gothamite, who is a member of the same exclusive club as Bruce Wayne.  One of the club’s other members, Professor Hellstrom, talks about a new typewriter he has invented.  That night, the Cavalier attempts to steal it, though others do as well, and the Batman and Cavalier briefly work together to defeat the other thieves.

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Batman realizes that the Cavalier must be a member of the club.  Drake unwittingly confirms this by writing up a glowing bio of the Cavalier in the club’s “who’s who.”

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Scoping out the members, Bruce spots a chemical dye on Mortimer Drake’s hand, and then, as they fight, exposes his identity.  The Cavalier manages to escape again, and returns to the pages of Batman in a couple of months.

The notion of having one of Batman’s villains come from the same background, or belong to the same social circle, will be used again with a number of Batman villains over the years: Cat-Man, Black Mask and Hush, among others.

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Air Wave’s sidekick parrot Static had appeared in a number of stories, but was never an “always there” sidekick, like Robin or Sandy.  This story ignores his existence completely, as Larry Jordan winds up with a cat as his sidekick.  This guy loves animals.

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Air Wave is pursuing a crew of thieves, who seem to follow a mysterious man, Mickey.  Air Wave does some clever broadcasting with his equipment, sending the thieves voices through all sorts of metal objects to scare and disorient them.

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Mickey turns out to be a trained cat the hoods use in their thefts, but Air Wave first transfers his voice through the cat’s collar, confusing the thieves, and then sends electricity into the cat, which surprisingly does not kill the animal, but does take down the bad guys.

At the end of the story, Air Wave continues to send his voice through the cat’s collar, pretending they are having a conversation.  Larry needs a human friend.

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The Crimson Avenger’s series comes to an end with this issue.  he and Wing take on the Ghost Gang, who put pictures of empty interiors of banks in the windows of the banks they are robbing, to divert attention.  They make the mistake of sending challenging letters, bragging of their crimes to come, to the newspaper, which puts Lee on their trail.

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Although his series ends at this point, the Crimson Avenger and Wing continue to appear as members of the Seven Soldiers of Victory in Leading Comics.

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Detective 85 – the Joker’s Double, the Crimson Avenger vs Lone Wolf, and the Boy Commandos vs Agent Axis

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Bill Finger and Dick Sprang provide the first of many variations of this story, in which a criminal adopts the guise and/or style of crime of the Joker, in order to deflect suspicion from themselves.

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The double of the Joker commits murder, using spades and clubs, to frame the famous felon, but Bruce Wayne is suspicious from the start.

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Although he does not say it, the Joker has stopped murdering people, so that would be the reason the crimes are out of character.

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Batman and the Joker wind up working together to find the imposter.  We get to see the Joker’s hideout, with his arsenal, monitoring equipment, and costume room, mirroring Batman’s.

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There is an enjoyable fight between the two Jokers to conclude the tale, and the real one escapes.

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The Crimson Avenger gets another named foe in this story, Lone Wolf, but again it’s simply a masked man whose identity is unknown.

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The villain drops an old photo, with a faded phone number on the back of it, and Lee approaches the typesetter for the newspaper to scan old phone books to find the identity of the man.

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There is some action right towards the end, but the Lone Wolf was not a strong enough character to warrant a return.

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Jack Kirby did the pencils on this Boy Commando story, which pits them against a plot by Agent Axis.  She was their major enemy in their own book, and only recurring foe for a while, but this was her first appearance in Detective Comics.

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The Boys are performing as part of a USO show, and Agent Axis is brought in to take them out and destroy morale.  But once she has assembled her crew she vanishes from the story.

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Detective 81 – the Cavalier debuts, Wing becomes a reporter, and the Boy Commandos meet General MacArthur

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The Cavalier is introduced in Detective 81 (Nov. 43), a thief with a code of chivalry, created by Bob Kane.

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The Cavalier performs a series of thefts of apparently worthless obejcts: a baseball, a toy bat, etc.  Batman and Robin repeatedly fail to stop him, thanks to the Cavalier’s impressive arsenal.  Like, a handkerchief with a ball attached to it.  OK, that’s the least impressive thing in his arsenal, true.  He also has an electrified sword, and a razor-tipped plume in his hat.

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The “worthless” objects are, in fact, critical to each step of his plan.  For example, the baseball has an autograph on it that is duplicated to allow the Cavalier access to a bank vault.

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Batman and Robin foil his schemes, but do not catch the Cavalier, whose return in Batman’s own book is promoted in the final panel. Just like the Crime Doctor a few issues earlier.

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Wing gets his largest role in the Crimson Avenger series in this story.  That’s not such a good thing, as it means the story is far more offensive and racist than most of this run.

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With all his reporters busy, Lee Travis agrees to let Wing cover a theft, but his lack of understanding of English leads him to mis-report the story as an inside job.  But it turns out that it actually was, and Wing is kidnapped by the thieves, who want to know how he figured it out.

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The Crimson Avenger comes to Wing’s rescue.  And even though he broke an important story, Lee has no intention of allowing Wing to stay a reporter.

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The Boy Commandos meet General MacArthur on the first couple of pages of this Simon and Kirby story.  MacArthur and Rip Carter are discussing the war plans for the Pacific when Brooklyn interjects with news of the assault on Bataan.

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The rest of the story has Rip and the Boys at Bataan, helping to rescue the troops there and beating back the Japanese forces.

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The Bataan Death March would already have been big news by the time this story was written.  But clearly this series wanted to be as fresh as the headlines.

 

Detective 79 – Batman in “Destiny’s Auction,” the Crimson Avenger vs the Adder,and the Boy Commandos in Italy

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Detective 79 (Sept. 43) features “Destiny’s Auction” as its Batman and Robin story, one of my favourite Batman stories from this period.

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Jerry Anderson does the art as Madame Calagra tells the future of an aspiring actress, an aging actor, and a rising hoodlum.  They interpret the destinies in a positive way – but things go very wrong for each of them, in ways suiting the words.

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There are three identical trunks, one with stolen gems, and another an unpublished manuscript.  Batman and Robin get involved, and the lives of the three enmesh.

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Big happy ending (except for the hoodlum), and those three fortunes from the opening have come true again, in a positive way.

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The Crimson Avenger and Wing go up against the Adder in this story, although the Adder appears rarely.  Mostly its Lee and Wing taking on his assistant.

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Banks are being robbed, and bank presidents apprehended and killed.

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The Crimson Avenger and Wing jump around a lot and hit a lot of people.  They finally encounter the Adder, who gets unmasked and revealed to be the bank president seen at the beginning, who faked his own murder.

Not someone who would likely be a recurring villain, and there is nothing serpentine about the Adder or his outfit either.

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Mussolini appears on the splash page, and the final panel, of this Simon and Kirby Boy Commandos story, but unfortunately not in the story itself.

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Rip leads the boys to Italy, where they encounter many Italian partisans, who desire the overthrow of Mussolini.  With the Boys, they work to kick out German occupiers.

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Detective 73 – Batman vs the Scarecrow, the Boy Commandos and the tin box, and the Crimson Avenger gets a cloud

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The Scarecrow makes his second appearance in Detective 73 (March 1943), which turns out to be the last appearance of the character until the 1960s.  Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson illustrate.

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Professor Crane is out of prison, and has thought up a new set of crimes, which have absolutely nothing to do with fear or scaring people at all.  Nope, instead he has a little blackboard and leaves three letter rhyming clues (vat, mat, yat).  What a let down.  Linda Page appears briefly, buying a ridiculous hat.

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The Scarecrow does hoist a nasty looking machine gun, but without the fear gas element (which had been created by Hugo Strange before the Scarecrow was introduced), the character just doesn’t sing.

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Simon and Kirby give each of the boys a chance to shine in this tale, which sees the Boy Commandos navigate a dense jungle to deliver a little tin box.

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There are Nazis pursuing them, of course, but unlike the other tales to date, this one gives much more play to the team itself.  Brooklyn still manages to grab focus.

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The tin box is revealed to be tin foil wrappers, and Rip Carter explains the importance of recycling stuff for war.  So propaganda again, but far more readable than the Japanese one.

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The Crimson Avenger starts using a capsule that releases a crimson smoke cloud, which he uses for dramatic entrances and exits, and also for messing up the bad guys during a fight.  It seems to affect the brain at times.

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The City Desk Editor is left befuddled at Lee Travis’ disappearance, while Lee himself managed to change costume and fall out a window.

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The Crimson Avenger and Wing are pursuing a mob boss who likes his people to dress and use tech from the turn of the century.  A mob boss keeping his people behind the times is not likely to triumph.

Detective 69 – the Joker sends gifts, the Boy Commandos in Russia, and the Crimson Avenger helps a rookie

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The Joker returns with a really complicated scheme in Detective 69 (Nov. 42), in a story with art by Kane and Robinson.

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The Joker sends four men odd little gifts, and then begins blackmailing them.  Eventually, it’s revealed that the men were all involved in an explosion that killed two others.

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Linda Page has a brief appearance, accompanying Bruce Wayne to a fair.  The only reason for her to be there is to give Bruce a big scene, how to get away when they are trapped on the parachute jump.  He simply pretends to accidentally fall out.

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The climax to the story takes place in an aircraft manufacturing plant, shown in obviously photographic accuracy.

All in all, the cover is better than the story on this outing of the Joker.

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The Boy Commandos head to Russia in this Simon and Kirby tale, coming to the aid of the besieged town of Krovna.

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The main character in the story is really Tanya Vanin, a young girl who sees the Nazi plans to surround the town, and escapes over the ice to warn the coming Allies.  The plan is comically simple on the map in the first panel.

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Rip and the Commandos show up just as Tanya is about to collapse from exposure, rescue her, learn of the Nazi forces, and successfully relieve the town.

So unusual to see Russians portrayed as noble and heroic, but the propaganda mill wasn’t aimed at them for these few years.

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As the Crimson Avenger series progressed, we see more and more of the staff at the Globe-Leader.  At first, there is just one reporter, Mac, who Lee deals with regularly, but soon many of the stories would focus on individual staff – reporters, the weather forecaster, the society columnist, the printing staff, the obituaries writer.  The best of these is in this issue.

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Lee Travis gives a young journalist from a small-town a shot at working for the paper if he can bring in interviews with three notable recluses, and then as Crimson Avenger helps him do so, with Wing tagging along.  There appear to be all manner of dreadful crimes occurring in this tale, when in fact there are innocent explanations all around.  But neither this reporter, nor any of the others ever appear a second time.

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Detective 59 – the Penguin returns, Wing gets a costume, Steve Malone ends, and Slam Bradley gets an agency

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Robin is really happy to not be involved in the action on the cover of Detective 59 (Jan. 42).  Perhaps he was tired from the events of the Batman story in the issue.

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The Penguin returns in this story by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.  The story picks up immediately after the conclusion of last issue’s tale, as the Penguin meets the various other companions of the boxcar he escaped town in.

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When he realizes that so many of them have rewards out for their capture, he devises a scheme to turn them in, collect the reward, and then have other members of the group break them out of jail.

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Batman gets onto his scheme and breaks it up.  He uses a crime file in this story, very rudimentary, though of course snazzy for the era.  Batman also relies on the normal radio for news alerts.

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In this instalment of the Crimson Avenger Wing suddenly gets a costume as well, if not a codename.  His outfit matches the Crimson Avenger’s though with the colour scheme reversed, much like the way Kid Flash’s reversed the Flash’s colour scheme.  As his crest he has something stylized, which for many years I thought might be a “7”, or perhaps a question mark.  Now I realize it is a letter, probably Chinese.  I wonder what it means?

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Crimson Avenger and Wing started appearing in Leading Comics as part of the Seven Soldiers of Victory at this time.  His team would never get mentioned in the pages of his own series.  Odd, considering that Batman was mentioned in this strip, along with the Joker and the Penguin.

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As well as a costume, Wing seems to have changed his body, as well as his ability to speak English.  He is shorter and thinner than he used to be, and his face now an Asian caricature.

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In his final story Steve is called to the home of a wealthy retired judge with a gambling son and a niece begging for money for her husband.  When the judge is killed, Steve figures out that its the jewelled-earring wearing nurse who was the killer, not the money hungry youths.

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Steve Malone’s series ends at this point, and his character is never seen again, but after such a high-profile career I would expect that Steve went into politics and had a long and lucrative tenure in Washington D.C.

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Howard Sherman has been doing the art on Slam Bradley’s series for a while now.  The stories have been decent, but none had anything that made them stand out.  Slam continues to frequently take on manly jobs as he solves crimes with Shorty providing comic relief.

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In this story, we are told, for the first time, that Slam and Shorty work for the Wide-Awake Detective Agency.  It is never given that name again, though.

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The story involves a casino that has its winning patrons robbed on the way home.  Slam is hired by one of the victims, and infiltrates the casino, causing a big ruckus and bringing down the house.

 

 

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