Monthly Archives: August 2015

Batman 76 – gay parties, and fictional birds

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A good cover on Batman 76 (April/May 1953).

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Hamilton, Schwartz and Paris spin this tale about a Danger Club, made up of members who risk their lives frequently.  One of them spends too much money on gay parties.  That’s what it says.

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The members start getting killed off, and Batman knows it’s not accidental.

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Sure enough, it’s gay parties guy, and he talks about them again in his confession.  Putting the modern meaning of the word onto it makes even more sense, with his fear of being exposed.

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The same creative team provide the Penguin story in the issue, in which he claims to have found birds considered fictional.

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Batman reveal all of them to be mechanized, but there are still plenty of great visuals along the way, although the Phoenix looks like a dragon.

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There is a Penguin tale from the 70s that I think was inspired by this one.

Batman 75 – Mr. Roulette, and the Gorilla Boss of Gotham City

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The Gorilla Boss of Gotham City makes a cover debut in Batman 75 (Feb/March 53).

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But before that, Reed, Sprang and Paris spin an entertaining tale about a very odd man, Mr. Roulette.

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Vicki Vale is also in the story, although she looks a bit off.  The hairstyle looks strange.  She gets sent two boxes, with a chance to win $1,000, all to peak her interest in Mr. Roulette, who claims to gamble with death.

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Batman shows up as well, curious to see this man, but Mr. Roulette remains hooded and cloaked through the story.  He has exploding telephones, and walls that fire deadly darts.  Both Vicki and Batman are kind of freaked out by the guy.  It’s no surprise when news comes that he has died.

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But Batman has been wary all along, and proves that the whole identity of Mr. Roulette was a set-up to kill a gambler.  A well told story, complete with some giant props for the climax.

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Reed, Schwartz and Kaye introduce Boss Dyke, and execute him right off the bat.

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His body gets stolen and taken to Doc Willard, who removes his brain and implants it in a giant gorilla.

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Using the strength of being a gorilla, Boss Dyke then goes on a crime spree, stealing a million dollars.

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His plan is then to capture Batman, and have Doc Willard switch the Boss’ brain into Batman’s body, and Batman’s into the gorilla.  This appears to happen, but Batman recovered and took out Doc Willard, impersonating him.

Boss Dyke appears to die at the end of the story, and Willard goes insane.  But both return in a World’s Finest story in the mid 70s.

 

Batman 74 – is the Joker crazy?, and Alfred gets to be a movie star

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Batman and Robin may not have been aware that the guy with the gun is the real Skid Turkel until he announced it, but they sure do now, on the cover of Batman 74 (Dec/Jan 52/53).

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The Joker’s sanity is central to the Schwartz, Sprang and Paris story that opens this issue.

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The Joker pulls a series of childish and pointless robberies at the top of the story, clearly trying to establish that he has gone insane.  Batman figures out that the Joker has a reason for wanting to be sent to an asylum, and so, in disguise, gets sent there as well.  Though an asylum is shown, there is nothing to associate this clean and modern facility as Arkham Asylum.

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Batman quickly gets the Joker’s plan, to learn the secret hiding place of the loot of one of the inmates.  He tries to help the scam along, but in fact just gives himself away.  The Joker straps Batman into a straightjacket, tosses him into a sealed room and begins to flood it.

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The climax of the tale gets quite funny, as Batman and Robin play games with the Joker, with the help of an inmate who believes that he is Batman.  By the end, the Joker seems to really have gone crazy trying to figure it all out.

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Finger and Sprang give Alfred an acting role in this story, as he is considered the double of Skid Turkel, an imprisoned enemy of Batman, and the subject of a movie.

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Alfred has to shave his moustache and wear a skin head cap to play the role.  We see the back story on Turkel through the shooting of the film, which makes this a more interesting read than usual.

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The cover provides the plot twist, as Turkel escapes, grabs Alfred and uses the film shoot to try to kill Batman.  But Batman had already figured out that Turkel was not Alfred, by his necktie.

Pretty good.

Batman 73 – the Joker’s utility belt

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A great cover for Batman 73 (Oct/Nov 52), as Reed, Sprang and Paris combine the Joker with the format of a weapon story.

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After Batman once again foils the Joker’s plans with his utility belt, the Joker decides to create one for himself.

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We even get the exact sort of a cutaway that has been done with Batman’s belt.  And the Joker’s belt proves just as useful, both on himself, and on Batman when the Joker straps it over Batman’s belt.

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In the end, though, Batman uses some expanding snake pellets from the Joker’s belt to gum up the works on the conveyor belt taking Robin to his death.

This story was adapted pretty faithfully on the tv show.

Batman 71 – Batman in prison, and Commissioner Gordon can’t stop talking about it

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The cover story in Batman 71 (June/July 1952) pulls out all the stops for a prison drama, by Reed, Schwartz and Kaye.

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There is some really nice art on this story, although much more serious than usual.  The prison is filled with police officers and citizens who helped the law, while criminals are in charge.

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The inmates are put to work making license plates, but a gimmicked kind, sold to other hoods.  All the standard tropes of prison films are here, but turned on their heads.  Batman and Robin are both being held, but work on a prison break, and take advantage of a riot.

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The resolution has a lot to do with switching identities, and is the only really weak part of an otherwise stand out tale.

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Commissioner Gordon gets the focus in this Reed, Sprang and Paris story, which gives some rare background to his life.

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Gordon remembers highpoints from his career in the days before Batman showed up.  He decides to prove to himself that he is still a top detective, setting out to find Batman’s true identity.

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He catches Batman’s reflection in a mirror as he removes his mask.  But then Gordon starts stressing out over the possibility to accidentally revealing the secret.  He sends his wife, who is rarely ever seen in these days, away, as well as his son, who does not appear in the story.  But all he can do is mutter about knowing Batman’s secret, and scribble it on a notepad and such.

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Gordon gets into a car accident, and then wanders around muttering about how he knows Batman’s secret.  There must never have been any secrets in this man’s life before, it’s clearly taking over his brain.  Anyway, hoods hear him saying this, and grab him to find out what Gordon knows.

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But it turns out that Gordon doesn’t actually know who Batman is.  Batman was disguised as one of Jim Gordon’s friends at the time he removed the mask.  So Gordon has sent the bad guys after an innocent man.

Hard to believe how wildly incompetent Gordon has become since Batman went into action, but that seems to be the entire point of this story.  Batman catches the bad guys, and Commissioner Gordon is just relieved that he doesn’t know who Batman is.

 

Batman 70 – the robot cop, and the Penguin’s umbrella factory

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Crime fighting goes high tech in Batman 70 (April/May 1952), in a story by Finger, Schwartz and Paris.

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A scientist comes to Commissioner Gordon, proposing to have his new robots take the place of Batman and the police.  Gordon is skeptical, until he finds out that the man making the proposal is really a robot, being controlled by the inventor, who is in a different room.

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The story plays out in the most expected way, as the robot outperforms Batman at first, but ultimately proves to be inadequate to replace a real human.

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The Penguin is back again, paroled yet again by a system that is clearly too lax. Woolfolk, Schwartz and Paris are the creative team.

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The Penguin opens an umbrella factory, using his expertise in the field.  Batman is suspicious, but the umbrellas he is making appear normal.

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But the Penguin does have theft on his mind, and though the umbrellas are largely normal, they are still central to his crimes.  But a mediocre story nonetheless.

Batman 69 – the King of Cats

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Batman gets really jealous when Catwoman returns in Batman 69 (Feb/March 1952).

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Finger, Schwartz and Paris relate this tale, in which cat crimes begin once again in Gotham.  But this time Catwoman is not the one behind it, a new guy, the King of cats (also called Cat King) is the one behind it.

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Batman and Robin question Selina Kyle to see is she knows anything about the man, and discover that she does, and it receiving flowers from him.  Batman gets really upset about this.

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The King of Cats really does seem to have a romantic interest in Selina.  The little hearts emerging from him really can’t be read any other way.  He wants her to return to being Catwoman, and work alongside him.

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Selina is clearly torn.  Batman gets even more upset when she lets the King of Cats get away from him.

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But then it turns out that the guy is really her brother Kyle.  Which makes sense of much of the story.  Except those little floating hearts, which are now really creepy.

Chronologically, the next appearance of this Catwoman is in a Brave and the Bold story in the early 80s.  The next actual appearance of Catwoman is a couple of years down the road.  Karl Kyle does not, so far as I can recall, return, although I do believe he gets mentioned at least once.