Batman 319 – the Gentleman Ghost returns

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The Gentleman Ghost is back, and once again gets a Kubert cover, inked by Giordano, in Batman 319 (Jan. 80).

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Wein, Novick and Bob Smith are the creative team on the tale itself, which plays up the element of Batman refusing to believe that the Gentleman Ghost is really a spirit.  As with many of the character’s Hawkman stories, Batman finds various tricks that the Ghost uses, projections and dummies, but can never quite prove that everything is being faked.

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Early in, the story has a set-up for the forthcoming Joker tale, as his henchmen kill some policemen, leaving them with deathly grins, as they retrieve one of the Joker’s men from custody. The Joker will not actually appear in the following issue, which takes place almost entirely in Spain, but does show up in issue 321.

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Wayne Manor is used again for the bulk of the tale.  The Gentleman Ghost does fit this locale better than urban Gotham.  Bruce Wayne is hosting a costume ball, and showing off a collection of gems, which he expects the Ghost to go after.  Bruce is dressed as Henry VIII, with Selina Kyle as Katharine of Aragon.  Lucius Fox is dressed as Lincoln, and even Alfred gets into the spirit of things, going as George Washington.  Bruce makes peace between Selina and Lucius, who find out that they have something in common – a curiosity as to why Bruce keeps disappearing.

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The Gentleman Ghost has his men dress up as well, in his own costume, making it much more difficult for Batman to determine which of them is the real Ghost.

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And though Batman unmasks the fakes, stops the robbery and even finds a projector that the Gentleman Ghost is using, he is incapable of actually capturing the spirit, or even proving that he is not really a ghost.

This is the last time the Gentleman Ghost and Batman will face each other, though the character does have a cameo along with a host of other Batman villains three years down the road, in the story that sees Jason Todd become Robin.  It’s kind of a shame, I really enjoyed the Ghost’s two stories with Batman.

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