Tag Archives: David V Reed

Batman 304 – Batman’s afterlife, and the Public Life of Bruce Wayne begins

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The cover of Batman 304 (Oct. 78) accurately displays the lead story, as surprising as that may seem, and a second rotating back-up series, the Public Life of Bruce Wayne, appears in this issue as well.

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I remember really enjoying this tale, by Reed, Calnan and Giordano, which open as Batman apparently gets killed, and becomes a ghost.

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Batman moves through a somewhat hallucinatory world, one in which people and cars pass right through him, and he is unable to interact with the world he sees around him.  But after a few pages of this, we discover that Batman is being manipulated, and that the Spook is the one behind it all.

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Through a combination of drugs, actors and rear projection movies, the Spook is working to convince Batman that he is already a ghost, so that Batman will stop trying to affect the world he sees, and basically allow himself to be shot and killed by the gangster who hired the Spook.  Why they didn’t jut kill Batman when he was unconscious is not really clear, aside from that fact that, had they done that, there really wouldn’t be a story to tell.

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But of course, Batman does figure out that he is not really dead, survives the actual attempt to kill him, and even deduces where the Spook’s hideout is, tracking him down and capturing both him and the gangster who hired him.

The Spook returns in Detective Comics in a couple of years.

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The one and only installment of the Public Life of Bruce Wayne appears in this issue, a story by Reed, Win Mortimer and Frank Chiaramonte, which centres on Dr. Dundee, Bruce Wayne’s (and Batman’s) physician.

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Dr. Dundee has been a rarely appearing, but occasionally mentioned, character in the Batman series for many years, although this is the only story that puts him into focus.  We learn how he was young Bruce’s doctor, and so became aware that Bruce was Batman pretty much from the start.

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Hoods force Dundee to give them medical treatment, while Bruce is there.  Batman then disguises himself as Dundee, tracks the bad guys and beats them up, leaving them to think the doctor is a really tough guy.  It’s not bad, but also doesn’t quite fulfill the concept of the title, being really another Batman story.

Although this back-up series gets cut short by the DC Implosion, there is another story, printed the following year in Detective Comics, the Great Kangaroo Race, which was intended as a Public Life of Bruce Wayne tale, and is far more enjoyable than this outing.

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Batman 303 – Batman gets things backwards, and Unsolved Cases of Batman begins

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A really good cover for Batman 303 (Sept. 78), as the book expands as part of the DC Explosion, gaining a rotating back-up series, the Unsolved Cases of Batman.

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But the lead story, by Reed, Calnan and Giordano, doesn’t really come together very well.  The villain pictured on the cover is the Dodo Man, which is just a terrible name to begin with. He is a collector of anything he can find relating to the extinct bird.

But the Dodo Man is not really the most important thing in the story anyway.  Batman gets a head injury early on, and this results in him thinking that Bruce Wayne is his secret, heroic identity, and Batman his everyday public persona.

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There are some enjoyable sequences.  Commissioner Gordon thinking that Batman is disguising himself as Bruce Wayne for some unknown reason, and Alfred fretting and doing his bet to convince Bruce that something is wrong with his mind.

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Had the Dodo Man either caused this personality switch intentionally, or it been significant in Batman’s defeat of the character, it might have pulled together. But by the time the hero faces the villain for the climax, Batman has regained his proper identity orientation anyway.

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The Unsolved Cases of the Batman also let me down as a kid, despite a decent tale by Denny O’Neil, Michael Golden and Jack Abel.  I had been expecting a genuinely unsolved mystery, but that is not what got served up.

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Batman comes across a sleazy reporter being chased by a big goon. On the surface it would seem that the big guy is the bad one, and the reporter the potential victim, but that is not quite the case.

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The reporter has stolen information about the shady past of an otherwise philanthropic man, who raised the hulking figure chasing the reporter.  Both men die in their fight, and Batman allows the case to appear unsolved, in order to save the reputation of a man who spent most of his life trying to pay for his earlier sins.

So the case is not really unsolved, it’s just that Batman refuses to reveal what really happened.  Not quite the same thing.

Batman 300 – Batman retires?

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David V Reed is joined by Walt Simonson and Dick Giordano for a special anniversary issue in Batman 300 (June 1978).

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The story is set in the future, although it’s not clear about exactly how many years ahead. Twenty would be a good guess.  The world is much similar, with the notable exception that there is now a Moon base.

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Batman and Robin are still both operating, although Robin has adopted a new uniform, a variant of the one created by Neal Adams for the adult Robin.

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As Batman and Robin try to figure out what is going on with destructive bombers painted in varying colours, we also see that Alfred is still working for Bruce Wayne, and learn that Dick Grayson is now married, with two children.  Although Dick’s wife is not identified, the children are named Bruce and Jame, which would imply that Barbara Gordon is Dick’s wife.

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Commissioner Gordon is still around as well, though we learn that many of Batman’s old enemies have reformed and retired over the years.

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Batman and Robin track the criminal organization to the Moon, learning how Spectrum has wormed its way into overriding control of all criminal activity on Earth.

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The climax of this storyline is kind of abrupt, although it looks great.

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As the issue ends, Bruce reveals to Dick that he has been asked to run for governor, and is considering stepping down as Batman, getting married (although to who is not clear), and entering politics.

Although as a kid I was disappointed with this story – for not having any of the big name villains, and not really being all about Batman retiring – on reflection, I like the way it deals with the future without doing any of those things.

Batman 297 – the Mad Hatter goes straight (or tries to)

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The Mad Hatter gets his first featured appearance in almost twenty years in Batman 297 (March 1978), in a story by Reed, Rich Buckler and Vince Colletta.

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The story gives some insight into Jervis Tetch’s past, which had never been shown previously.  We learn that his family had a hat shop, and as a child, he would wear the hats and imagine himself living all manner of different lives, which gave him his desire for collecting hats, no matter what he had to do to get them.

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The Mad Hatter tries to switch sides in the tale, wearing hats of heroic figures, and even does some crime fighting. But he find he is always driven to commit crime anyway.

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While I don’t mind the story, the way he is driven to crimes against his will hardly seems suited to this character, who had never been shown to be on the crazy side of obsession.

Jason Bard gets a small role in the story, between appearances in Batman Family.

The Mad Hatter returns in Detective Comics a few years down the road.

Batman 296 – the Scarecrow’s straw men

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The Scarecrow is coming after Batman in issue 296 (Feb. 78).

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David V Reed is joined by Sal Amendola on this story, one of the first to have the Scarecrow talk like a professor, listing and explaining the various phobias that get manifested in the course of this story.  Aside from that, the tale is a fairly standard one, although Amendola’s art makes it a visual treat.  The Scarecrow has developed straws that contain chemicals that induce a person’s own individual fears, and tests them on his Straw Men gang.

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The Scarecrow is making other thieves his victims, scaring them into revealing the location of stolen loot that has been too hot to fence.  But Batman can also scare people into telling him the same information, without any chemicals.

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And, as often happens at the climax of Scarecrow stories, Batman finally become a victim of the villain’s latest fear gimmick, but is able to overcome it through sheer force of will, and triumph.

The Scarecrow returns in a few months in an Injustice League story in Justice League of America.

Batman 294 – Where Were You on the Night Batman was Killed? concludes

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Reed, Calnan and Blaisdel brings “Where Were You on the Night Batman was Killed” to a clever conclusion in Batman 294 (Dec. 77).

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The trial has been drawing a lot of Batman’s lesser known villains.  Captain Stingaree, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Getaway Genius, the Cavalier, Killer Moth and Cluemaster all have cameos in this final issue.  Not to mention the jury of the Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, Spook, Poison Ivy, Signalman and Mr. Freeze, and Ra’s Al Ghul as the judge.  The Joker testifies in this issue, and as it’s the final chapter, it’s fairly clear that his testimony will have an importance than none of the others had.

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The Joker tells a story about Batman foiling a robbery one night.  The Joker returned to the same location the next night, and was surprised to find Batman there again.  This time, Batman was no match for the Joker, who killed him, and used acid to destroy his facial features.  Two-Face demands some proof of this, and the Joker states that he has a picture of Batman’s face before he used the acid on it.

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The Joker leave to get hi proof, to the cheer of the other villain.  But then the tory take a major tit, a Two-Face remove his diguie.  He was really Batman all along.

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He follo the Joker, and they have an enjoyable fight scene, with Batman subjected to a hallucinogenic effect during the battle.  He still manages to win, of course.

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At the end, Batman explains the whole story to Commissioner Gordon.  The real victim was a man who liked to dress up as Batman, and re-enact his feats. That was why he went to the location of the robbery the following night, and fell prey to the Joker. Batman had Two-Face put into solitary, to take his place and set up the trial, to root out whoever it was that committed the murder.

A clever and fun story, providing many minor villains with, in some cases, their only appearances during the 70s.

Batman 293 – Lex Luthor’s testimony

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Lex Luthor makes his first appearance in this book in Batman 293 (Nov. 77), the third installment of “Where Were You on the Night Batman was Killed?”, by Reed, Calnan and Blaisdel.

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Lois Lane has a cameo as well, and Luthor wears the most garish outfit he ever has, as he explains to Two-Face and the court how Batman was merely a sidelight in his plot to kill Superman.

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Using a satellite and a gang to lure Batman into the right location, Lex Luthor claims to have switched the minds of Superman and Batman, leaving Superman in a powerless and vulnerable body.

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Then, using his amped up gloves, Luthor beats Batman to death, in order to kill Superman.

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Unlike the previous two stories, we learn, from Superman, that all this did occur just as Luthor explained.  At least, so far as Luthor knew.  Batman had infiltrated Luthor’s gang early on, and learned the entire plan. He kept his eyes insulated from the satellite’s effects, so the heroes brains were never switched, and Batman only pretended to let Luthor kill him, with his suit also reinforced against the power gloves.  Superman gives the rest of the villains present immunity (which is a darn good hint that something much bigger is really going on in this story arc), but takes Luthor away.

The storyline concludes in the next issue.