Batman 120 – the portrait gallery, and the whirly-bat

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The whirly-bats make the cover of Batman 120 (Dec. 58).

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The Wayne Family portrait gallery make its return in this story, by Finger, Moldoff and Paris.  It had been introduced in a Carter Nichols tale, which saw Batman go back in time to meet an ancestor, Silas Wayne.  In this story, Silas Wayne is the name of Bruce’s dying uncle.

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The uncle pleads with Bruce to do something useful with his life, something worthy of being commemorated with a portrait.  So Bruce tries to act as Batman, but dressed as himself.  He fails dismally, though, and of course the police just keep trying to stop him, figuring he is just a reckless millionaire.

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Finally, with Alfred wearing a Batman costume, Bruce gets to stop some criminals, and then unmask in front of the press.  As Batman, Alfred explains how he allowed Bruce to help him with the case.

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So Bruce gets his portrait included in the gallery, showing him as Batman.  Before his uncle dies, Bruce also reveals the truth to him.

There was a hard and fast rule in these days, that anyone who learned Batman’s identity during the course of a story either lost their memory, or died, by the end of it.

The portrait gallery returns during the Grant Morrison run for sure, and perhaps before that.

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The whirly-bats get the focus of this story, by Moldoff and Paris.

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Batman, whose legs have been broken by a rampaging elephant, spends the entire story in the whirly-bat, a miniature helicopter capable of going everywhere that Batman needs to go – as long as he only needs to go outside.  Robin has his own whirly-bat.

These airborne vehicles will make many returns over the next few years.

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