Batman 237 – the Reaper

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Batman 237 (Dec. 71) contains a Batman and Robin story by O’Neil, Adams and Giordano, set in Rutland, Vermont, a frequent location for Halloween stories.  The town had a parade, at which many people would dress as super-heroes, and this got immortalized in the comic, popping up in many titles in the early 70s.

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Dick Grayson attends the parade, and party at Tom Fagan’s house, along with some of his college friends.  I know a number of characters are meant to represent DC staffers, though I’m not sure who is who.  Later stories of Rutland would be less coy.

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Dark things are afoot in Rutland, and Robin senses something is up.  He changes into costume, and gets attacked by a scythe wielding cloaked man – in a scene duplicating the cover.  Robin survives, but is the worse for wear.

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Batman has also come to Rutland, on the trail of Nazi war criminal living under an assumed name.  But the Nazi is not the villain in this story.  Rather, the killer is the one hunting him down.

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A survivor of the concentration camp run by the old Nazi, the Reaper has vowed to take vengeance on him for all those slain at his command.  But this is a story about how the quest for vengeance can overtake the one pursuing it.

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In attempting to get away from Batman, the Reaper is willing to strike down anyone in his path – until he realizes that he is about to kill a Jewish lad.  The panel of him seeing the star of David, and realizing what he was about to do, was so powerful.  The Reaper gives up the fight, falling and landing on his own scythe.

A great story, it was in no way improved when the Reaper was brought back as an animated corpse in a storyline a few years ago.

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