Batman 342 – Batman vs Man-Bat

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Continuing the story from the previous issue, Batman 342 (Dec. 81) sees the hero fighting Man-Bat in the Batcave, related by Conway, Novick and McLaughlin.

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Dr. Thirteen discovered the existence of the cave using a sonic gun, and after Man-Bat knocks the Ghost Breaker out, Batman uses the sonics to drive Kirk Langstrom away.  He gets Dr. Thirteen to the hospital, but the man is unconscious, and Batman has no idea what he will remember of the events.

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Batman refuses to tell Commissioner Gordon exactly what happened, in order to shield his identity, and Gordon flips on him.  The election race between Hamilton Hill and Arthur Reeves has been heating up, and Gordon’s career has become a hot button issue in the campaign.

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Boss Thorne is brought back, manipulating the election from behind the scenes.  Although no longer in the madhouse, we see that Thorne is still being haunted by the ghost of Hugo Strange.

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Bruce Wayne goes to visit with Francine Langstrom, and a few pages are dedicated to her recapping the major events in her husband’s career as Man-Bat.  His most recent appearance, teaming with Superman, brought about the cure for their daughter’s illness, but Kirk grew to blame Batman, irrationally, for not helping her.  This lead him to take the Man-Bat serum again, and seek out vengeance on the hero.

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The story ends with a beautifully rendered battle between Batman and Man-Bat in the Batcave and its adjoining underground passages.  Batman fails to get the antidote to Langstrom, who flees at the end of the story, now seemingly Man-Bat for good.

Man-Bat returns in a few months.

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