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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.