Tag Archives: Bill Finger

Batman 177 – big Batman and little Batman

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A good cover and a fun puzzler in Batman 177 (Dec. 65), by Finger, Moldoff and Giella.

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“Numbers” Garvey is a very superstitious hood, with a love of the numbers that gave him his nickname.  He stumbles into a cavern as this story opens, and two clay figures take on the shapes of Batman, becoming his willing slaves.  He had been thinking about Batman at the time, which is why they adopted that form.

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The little Batman becomes weak, and can only be re-energized by a diamond pressed to his head, which Garvey does, before returning the stolen gems to its hiding place.  The two Batmen work well for Garvey, but he get suspicious of them.

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So when the big Batman needs to be energized by a ruby, Garvey uses a fake.  When the big Batman acts as if the gem is real, he has his gang knock them out.  They turn out to be the Atom and the Elongated Man.

Batman and Robin are off to the side for much of this tale, though with two people in Batman costumes one hardly notices.  But they were working with Batman to seek out Garvey’s hiding places for his stolen jewels.  Batman and Robin burst in at the end, rescuing their friends and catching Garvey.

Batman 163 – Bat-Girl becomes Batwoman II, and the Joker Jury

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An enjoyable Joker cover on Batman 163 (May 1964).

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Finger, Chic Stone and Paris have Alfred write one final tale of the second Batman/Robin team in this issue.

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Betty Kane is the central character in this story, now grown up, but still coming to see her aunt Kathy.  The sparks are flying between her and Dick Grayson once again.

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Batman goes into action against a gang that has a giant flying hand.  Betty adopts the identity of Batwoman II in order to help him, and is there when his mask falls off.  She sees that he is Bruce Wayne, and realizes that Dick must have been the original Robin.

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The second Batman and Robin team then go into action, with Batman and the new Batwoman, and catch the bad guys.

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The story ends with Betty and Dick now a couple, a happy ending to their storyline.

This is the final story of the second Batman/Robin team, and their final appearance, aside from a cameo in Hypertime in The Kingdom.

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Finger, Moldoff and Paris also spin a good Joker story in this issue.

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The Joker uses a giant vacuum in his latest crime spree, and sucks up Robin along with his loot.  Batman follows, but falls into a trap, with the giant Joker plants from the splash page.

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The best part of the story is the trial that the Joker holds, with duplicates in every single position in the court.  It’s almost Kafka-esque.

Batman 159 – Joker vs Clayface, and the youth of Bruce Wayne, Jr.

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Batwoman and Bat-Girl join Batman and Robin as they deal with a fued between the Joker and Clayface in Batman 159 (Nov. 63).  Finger, Moldoff and Paris are the creative team on this story, which features Clayface’s first appearance in this book.

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The tale begins as Clayface pulls off a robbery, even though his powers are not lasting as long as they used to, due to the synthetic version of the Clayface formula he has created.

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Clayface makes the news, which infuriates the Joker, who announces that he is a far better criminal.

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Somehow Clayface gets wind of this.  He makes himself look like the Joker for his next robbery attempt, only revealing that he is Clayface when he flees from the three Bats and Robin.

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The madness continues when the Joker adopts a series of tearaway costumes for his next robbery, trying to outdo Clayface in his ability to change during battle.

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The story’s resolution has Batman impersonate the Joker to capture Clayface, Batwoman and Bat-Girl having already caught the Joker on their own.  Not much gets made of this impressive feat, which is only revealed after the fact.

This is also Clayface’s last appearance before the big “New Look” change, although he does appear in World’s Finest Comics, teaming with Brainiac in a few months.

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Alfred writes the chronologically earliest story of the second Batman/Robin team, in a tale by Moldoff and Paris.

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The story delves into the early life of Bruce Wayne, Jr, beginning as Kathy Kane gives birth to the boy.

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Batwoman even gets some play in this tale, after being marginalized in the last few of Alfred’s stories.  Bruce Jr gives some good suggestions to his parents, but is not allowed to fight crime with them.

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At the climax of the story, Bruce reveals to some bragging teens that his father really is Batman.  Batman overhears this an intervenes, making his son look like a liar, and ensuring that the kids will never stop teasing him now.

Great story, Alfred.

Batman 157 – Mirror Man returns

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Floyd Ventris, the Mirror Man, returns in the pages of Batman 157 (Aug. 63), a full nine years after his debut, in the pages of Detective Comics.  Finger, Moldoff and Paris are the creative team.

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In his first outing, he had seen the face of Bruce Wayne, but was unable to convince anyone that Bruce was really Batman.  Now he has returned to prove it to the world.  Vicki Vale discovers Mirror Man’s plan, which reinforces her belief that Batman is Bruce Wayne.

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Batwoman has a small role in this story.  She is really just there to motivate Vicki into being “useful” to Batman.

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So Vicki hires an actor to play Bruce Wayne and mess up Mirror Man’s plans to expose his identity. Unfortunately, Batman also had made plans, having Alfred get into disguise as Bruce.  So while Batman falls into Mirror Man’s mirror trap, there are two Bruce Waynes on the loose.

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When Mirror Man discovers that Vicki hired an actor, this just backs up Mirror Man’s ideas.  But some more disguising helps confound the villain.  Alfred gets into the bat-costume, so when Mirror Man tries to reveal Bruce as a fraud, he winds up looking like a fool.

Mirror Man does make a comeback but not for over thirty years.

Batman 156 – Dr. Hurt debuts

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An evocative cover for Batman 156 (June 1963).

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The Finger, Moldoff and Paris tale begins with Batman transported to an alien world.  He believes himself to be all alone until Robin suddenly appears.

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They get into a fight with a huge robotic alien, and Robin gets crushed by a boulder.

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Then the story takes an abrupt change, as we discover that Batman was undergoing a medical research test on the effects of sensory deprivation.  The doctor running the tests is not named, but many year later Grant Morrison would bring the character back under the name Dr. Hurt.

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He is not portrayed as a villain in this story, but he does seem to show a sadistic delight in the psychological trauma Batman has undergone, and muses about what the longer term effects will be.

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And, indeed, Batman winds up suffering from flashback hallucinations from the experience.

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He loses his nerve to such a degree that he has nightmares, and winds up having Ace the Bat-Hound sleep in his room for security.

Robin and Alfred are both worried about the situation.  But when Robin finds himself in actual danger, Batman snaps out of his mental state in order to rescue him.

The unusual nature of this story made it perfect for Morrison’s re-interpretation of it.

Batman 155 – deja vu with the Penguin

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There is a fire breathing dragon statue at the beginning of the Penguin story in Batman 155 (May 1963), but much of this Finger, Moldoff and Paris story uses scenes from a much earlier Penguin tale, “Blackbirds of Banditry.”

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It’s been five years since the Penguin appeared (in Batman 99), and Batman and Robin are surprised that he has returned to crime.

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Vicki Vale questions Batman about why the Penguin, who had served his full prison term and been released, has chosen to return to crime.  Batman has no idea, but we see that the Penguin did not appreciate being considered a has been by his former underworld cronies.

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The rooftop farm and Penguin-blimp both appeared at the climax of “Blackbirds of Banditry,” and though they appear here, are not used as well.

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Similarly, the pie of blackbirds, which opened the original tale, is recycled near the conclusion of this story.

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Batman winds up using stuffed figures of himself as scarecrows to herd the Penguin to where he can capture him.

But the scenes, even if not up to the original, are still visually interesting, and this is a good Penguin story after a five year absence.

Batman 153 – Prisoners of Three Worlds

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Batman 153 (Feb. 63) is the first issue to contain a full-length story, and what a story it is.  While it does have stupid looking aliens and much of the Batman family, Finger, Moldoff and Paris tell one of the most enjoyable stories from the period, as well as having a really major development.

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Betty Kane comes to visit her aunt Kathy, and they go out on patrol as Batwoman and Bat-Girl.  Batman and Robin are also out, chasing some alien thieves.

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The four combine, just in time to be shot by a beam from the alien’ machine.  Because Batman and Batwoman are standing on a metal manhole cover, they do not get teleported away, as Bat-Girl and Robin do.

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The alien flees, and Batman and Batwoman discover that they lack the strength to pursue him.  Batman realizes the machine has taken their energy, and sent it to some other world.

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This chapter cuts between the energy bodies of the couple, and the real bodies on Earth.  While the Earthbound bodies struggle to stay alive, the energy forms battle strange creatures, and fare pretty well, until they find their energy being drained by a dying beast.

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As the physical bodies of Batman and Batwoman slowly die, Batman proclaims his love for Batwoman.  The first of his many woman that Batman has ever said this to.

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Bat-Girl and Robin get a chapter to themselves, fighting to survive on another weird alien planet.  But they also find time to make-out, and Robin seems far more willing than in previous stories.

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Batman and Batwoman manage to turn the machine back on, and draw not only their energy back, but their kid sidekicks as well.  Batman and Batwoman take down the aliens.

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While Bat-Girl and Robin head off into the woods, presumably to continue their interrupted encounter, Batman makes a lame excuse to get out of his protestation of love to Batwoman.  Kind of shameful of him, but as his cop-out is so obviously a lie, it does reinforce that Batman was sincere in what he said.

This story, and the vow of love, are referenced during the Grant Morrison run on Batman.