Tag Archives: Bob Kane

Batman 52 – Batman visits the vikings, and the Joker’s happy victims

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There’s a sportier version of the Jokermobile on the cover of Batman 52 (April/May1949).

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Carter Nichols is back for another time travelling adventure, by Kane and Paris.

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After discovering a viking carving that appears to show Bruce Wayne, he and Dick Grayson visit Carter Nichols, to be sent back in time to the viking era. The story shows all the typical viking anachronisms.  Batman finds Olaf Ericson is his double, a viking considered a coward, after being captured in battle.

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So Batman rescues Olaf and then pretends to be him, to restore his reputation.  The story sees the vikings come to the Americas, and get into battle with the natives.  Astoundingly, the carving really is of Olaf, and not Bruce, as usually happens in these stories.

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Finger, Schwartz and Paris spin a decent Joker tale in this issue – so good that it was re-drawn in the 60s by Infantino for a Kellogs special.

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Batman and Robin are confused when the people the Joker rob are so amused at his thefts that they don’t mind being stolen from.

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Batman is certain that more is going on than appears, and then Bruce Wayne becomes another happy victim of the Jokers, to the bafflement of Dick and Alfred.  But the victims are all part of the plot, as the Joker promises to give them back twice what he stole – though his phrasing is quite specific.  For example, he steals a rare painting of the Waynes, and offers two oils in return.

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But the oils he gives back are large tubes of oil paint.  Batman messes up the Joker’s scheme, and the Joker.  The Jokermobile in this story resembles the one on the cover, more like a speedster than the previous version.

Batman 49 – Vicki Vale and the Mad Hatter debut, and the Arabian forerunner of the Joker

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Despite the proclamation on the cover of Batman 49 (Oct/Nov 49), the Joker does not actually appear in this issue.

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A new villain and a new romantic interest are introduced in the second story in the issue, by Finger, Schwartz and Paris.

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Vicki Vale is the red-headed photographer for Picture News. Aside from Catwoman, Batman had not had a romantic interest since Linda page had been dropped from the series a few years earlier.  The story also introduces the first version of the Mad Hatter, who looks like the Tenniel illustration from Alice in Wonderland, and themes his crimes on the book.

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Vicki is around taking pictures as Batman and the Mad Hatter face off against each other for the first time, and sees Batman get a cut on his chin.  Later, she gets introduced to Bruce Wayne, and notices a similar cut.

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So Vicki Vale winds up suspecting that Bruce Wayne is Batman.  Between this, and her job as a reporter, it’s pretty clear that Vicki Vale is cut from the same cloth as Lois Lane.  Though it’s hard to imagine Lois Lane lounging around in the nightgown that Vicki wears.

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This winds up playing out much like a Superman story, as Batman captures the Mad Hatter, but also has to trick Vicki and evade her trap to prove he is Bruce Wayne.

Vicki Vale is back in the next issue, and becomes a regular supporting character for the next decade.  But this version of the Mad Hatter does not appear again until the 80s, getting replaced by a different one, the Earth-1 version.

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The cover story really looks like it includes the Joker, and even Batman and Robin think that is the case in the Kane and Paris story.

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Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson buy an old Arabian carpet which appears to have a portrait of the Joker on it.  Wondering how this can possibly be, they have Carter Nichols send them to ancient Baghdad.

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There they discover the city under the torment of the Crier, the leader of a band of thieves who facially resembles the Joker, but cries instead of laughs.

Some very nice art on this tale, and nice that it doesn’t really feature the Joker.

Batman 47 – Catwoman in fashion, and Batman finds his parents’ killer

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Batman’s origin gets retold, and the murderer of his parents gets identified in Batman 47 (June/July 1948).

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The issue opens as Catwoman escapes from prison and adopts a new identity in this story by Finger, Lew Schwartz and Charles Paris.

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Calling herself Madame Moderne, Catwoman launches a high fashion magazine, and uses the information she gains about the wealthy for her latest series of robberies.  It’s not so different from some of her earlier schemes.  I do like the sequence in which Batman clues in to her connection to the fashion magazine, by the way her figure is drawn with an elongated body.

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And we are now in the era of the giant props, with an oversized sewing machine used for the climax of the tale.

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Finger, Kane and Paris re-tell the origin of Batman in this story, expanding it with the identity of the killer.

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In this tale, Batman never knew the name of the man who shot down Thomas and Martha Wayne, but never forgot his face.  After coming across a trucking firm that is smuggling criminals out of state, Batman sees a picture of the company owner, and recognizes it as the same man, Joe Chill.

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Much of the story is a cat and mouse game between the two men, although Chill has no idea of his connection with Batman.  Finally, Batman confronts Chill and unmasks.  He informs Chill that he will follow him every day until he gets proof against him.

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Chill flees, and tells his drivers that he was the man who brought Batman into existence.  The hot-headed men gun down Chill, only afterwards realizing that they ought to have found out Batman’s identity from Chill first.

An extremely good expansion of the story, and really, it’s about time that the killer who started it all was identified and dealt with.

Batman 39 – Catwoman’s Christmas

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Robin’s look of unconcern on the cover of Batman 39 (Feb/March 1947) makes me think he cut the ice as a trap.

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Finger, Kane and Burnley bring back Catwoman, still shown as a blonde, in this Christmas tale.

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Catwoman steals three cats, using them in her latest crimes, but the romantic element in this story is a bit more interesting.  She stops her gang from killing Batman, and they accuse her of being interested in him.  She doesn’t seem to be fully aware of her own feelings.

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But by the end of the tale, she has decided that Batman is more important than her crime spree.  She tries to seduce him into joining her, but he rebuffs her advances, and even takes her to prison.  No more letting Catwoman go free just because she flirts with him.

Batman and Robin wear their white costumes, to blend in with the snow and approach Catwoman and her gang without being seen.  The costumes were originally seen in the North Pole Crimes, which is cited in this tale.

Catwoman returns the following month in Detective Comics.

Batman 36 – the Penguin opens a restaurant, Alfred solo stories end, and Batman joins the Knights of the Round Table

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Batman and Robin visit the Arthurian era in Batman 36 (Aug/Sept 46).

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But the lead story in the issue features the Penguin, by Schwartz, Kane and Burnley.

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The Penguin opens his own restaurant in this tale.  He has the customers write out and sign their orders, which is how he collects their signatures, using them for a forgery scam.

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It’s a pretty straightforward story, but the art is strong enough to carry it. The story was adapted for the Batman tv series.

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The Adventures of Alfred had gone from a regular feature to a sporadic one, and comes to an end with this tale by Robinson.

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It follows the standard pattern, as Alfred befriends the bad guy and tries to catch an innocent man.  The thief he is looking for is British, so Alfred hits up all the restaurants in Gotham that serve traditional English cuisine as he searches for the man.

Alfred remains a regular cast member, and is featured in a number of Batman tales, but will not get another solo story until Batman Family, in the mid 70s.

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Carter Nichols is back, as Batman heads to the time of King Arthur in this Finger, Kane and Burnley story.

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Nichols looks almost evil as he sends them back in time, and though hypnosis is credited, the panel makes it look like it’s a super-power he possesses.  In this story, it’s Nichols who calls on Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, asking for help. A “newly discovered list of the Knights of the Round Table” includes the name Sir Hardi le Noir. Nichols sends Bruce and Dick back to King Arthur’s time to find out who this mysterious knight was.

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There is some great art, and the story reflects the usual Arthurian tropes, with Morgan Le Fay and Mordred as the villains of the tale, framing Merlin as a traitor. The mysterious knight turns out to be Batman himself, but rather than take the glory, Bruce tells Nichols that they failed to learn anything about Sir Hardi Le Noir.

 

Batman 35 – Catwoman’s nine lives, Dinosaur Island, and Dick Grayson writes a comic book

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Dick is a little over-controlling on the cover of Batman 35 (June/July 1946).

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Catwoman is back after a couple of years, in a story by Finger, Kane and Burnley.  The tale opens with her escaping from prison, and she is shown as a blonde in this story.  That would sort of imply that she had been dyeing her hair black in previous tales, but of course was unable to do so while incarcerated.

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In this story, Catwoman dons the earliest version of her classic costume.  She convinces her gang that she has nine lives, but it’s clear to the reader that she is faking this.

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Even so, as the story progresses, she does survive a number of deadly situations, basically through sheer luck and nerve, but it does make Batman and Robin think that this might be true.

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Batman and Robin trail Catwoman back to her lair, which is referred to in the story as a catacombs, but which is really a large maze.  They do find their way out, and catch up to Catwoman, who appears to fall to her death at the end of the tale, but will be early in the next year.

This story was very loosely adapted on the 60s tv series.

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The mechanical dinosaur, which would take up permanent residence in the Batcave shortly after this story, is introduced in a tale by Finger, Kane and Burnley.

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An entrepreneur creates Dinosaur Island as an amusement park. But this is no Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs and cavemen are all robotic. To build publicity, he arranges to have Batman and Robin come to the park and fight the prehistoric robots.

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But one of his backers takes advantage of this situation, taking control of the dinosaurs and trying to use them to kill Batman. He wanted Batman out of the way, so that he could form a criminal empire.  Robin gets an impressive scene, becoming a human pterodactyl bomber to free Batman.

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The cover story is also the final story in the issue.  The art is by Kane and Burnley.  Despite the title, the story really does not focus on Dick Grayson writing his story.

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It does open with Dick, as he complains about the poor writing in comic books.  Bruce takes him to see the editor of Crescent Comics, who suggests Dick write a story himself.  He agrees, but finds this far more difficult than he envisioned.

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But the bulk of the story deals with an ex-con trying to prove to the police that he, and others, can reform.  He leads a group of former inmates as security guards, but many of them turn against him.  He stays on the straight and narrow, and aids Batman in rounding up the recidivists.  Dick finally realizes that he should write about what just happened.

Batman 22 – Alfred falls for Catwoman, Alfred solo stories begin, and the Cavalier returns

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Alfred gets a prominent place on the cover of Batman 22 (April/May 44), as his solo series begins.

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Alfred also gets a featured role in the Catwoman story in this issue, by Schwartz, Kane and Robinson.

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Calling herself Belinda, Catwoman has started working as a maid, while learning as much as she can from other domestics, giving the information to her gang so they can rob the rich.  She uses her wiles on Alfred, who is smitten with her.  To impress her, he claims to be Batman, and even dresses in his costume.

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When it comes time for the crime, she is back in her black cat outfit.  Batman and Robin figure out that Catwoman is Belinda from a poem Alfred writes her, expressing her feline qualities.

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Although Batman and Robin are in the story, and stop her gang, it’s Alfred in the Batman costume who confronts and captures Catwoman, giving her a spanking before turning her over to the police.

Catwoman returns in these pages, but not for a couple of years.  That spanking must have really affected her.

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Alfred begins his own solo series in this issue, in a tale by Mort Weisinger and Robinson, which sets the pattern for the rest of his stories.  While researching criminology in a library he encounters another man doing the same thing, but also overhears two men plotting a murder.

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The men Alfred suspected were really writers working on a script, while the man Alfred befriended is the actual criminal.  He stops the bad gut from robbing a safe, but more by accident than design.  Not that he admits to this, claiming his superior detective skills allowed his triumph.

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The Cavalier, who debuted a few months earlier in Detective Comics, makes his return in this story by Finger, Burnley and Charles Paris.

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The Cavalier displays a lot of arrogance in this story, toying with Batman and Robin.  He captures both of them, but allows them to escape, and only held them so that he could give them a clue to his next robbery.  They assume he is after a real gem, but in fact he steals a worthless fake.  The games in this story are emphasized by the fact that Mortimer Drake and Bruce Wayne dine together, with no idea that they are the Cavalier and Batman.

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This second appearance is on par with his debut, creating an excellent villain, an equal for Batman, who he is incapable of predicting or catching.

The Cavalier returns the following month in Detective Comics.