Tag Archives: Dick Giordano

Batman 359 – the origin of Croc


Sure looks like there will be a lot of well known villains in Batman 359 (May 1983), doesn’t it?  Well, there aren’t.  This cover would have been far more appropriate for the issue of Detective Comics that immediately follows this story.  Gerry Conway is joined by Dan Jurgens and Dick Giordano.


Croc begins this issue thinking that he had killed Batman in their battle in the last issue of Detective, so he is quite surprised when Batman shows up alive and well, and they have to fight again.  And it’s a draw, as Croc manages to get away.


Batman is none to happy about this, but he takes out hi frustrations on Dick, who is worried about the danger the Todds have placed themselves in.  Bruce goes into a very uncharacteristic rage, complaining about how normal people demand so much of him, but refuse to do anything themselves.  Even Alfred is shocked.


Commissioner Gordon fills Batman in on the life of Waylon Jones, who has come to be known as Killer Croc.  Born with a severe skin problem, he was picked on and abused, and then, when he tried to fight back, beaten by the police and tossed into a reform school.  His life has consisted of incarceration and attacks, and as he grew stronger, he also grew angrier and more bitter.


The issue ends as Robin heads to the circus, finding Jason Todd and Waldo Flynn, but not Jason’s parents.  They saw Croc’s men, and tailed them, but wind up Croc’s prey.

The story concludes in the next issue of Detective.

Batman 328 – Gilda’s bad luck with husbands


Another great Kubert cover on Batman 328 (Oct. 80), and the beginning of an interesting two-part tale, by Marv Wolfman, Novick and Giordano.


A man named Carl Ternion was acquitted of the murder of Anton Karouselle, whichwas deemed to be accidental.  But he sends Batman a tape confessing to the crime, which, he says, he cannot be re-tried for, because of double jeopardy.  I’m not sure that is exactly true, considering that he has confessed, but whatever.


Batman begins looking into Karouselle’s death, as Carl starts romancing Gilda, the widow of a man who Karouselle supposedly murdered.


Lucius Fox also gets a brief scene, tendering his resignation so that he can deal with some personal issues (his son?  it’s not made clear).  Bruce refuses to accept this, and puts Fox on a paid leave of absence.


There are a lot of subtle hints as to who Ternion really is. We see that he had plastic surgery on his face, although the surgery is coming apart, and Ternion kills the doctor who performed it.


With a mention of the doctor also having operated on yet another of Gilda’s husbands, and Ternion’s dreams of marrying Gilda a second time, there are loads of clues, both in the text and the art, as to who the villain in the story really is.

The story concludes in the next issue.

Batman 321 – the Joker’s birthday party


I knew Batman 321 (March 1980) was destined to be a classic the day I first bought it and read it, and indeed, to date this tale has been reprinted five times.


Wein, Simonson and Giordano have a ball with this tale, in which the Joker decides to throw himself a big birthday party, kidnapping a number of Batman’s friends and allies to decorate his cake with. Commissioner Gordon is the first one we see get taken, though chronologically, Robin had been captured earlier.


Lucius Fox and Selina Kyle appear in the sequence in which the Joker bursts into the Wayne penthouse to grab Alfred.  The Joker recognizes Selina, but assumes she is there undercover, as part of some scheme as Catwoman.  The Joker takes her out, but leaves her behind.


The Joker lures a huge crowd to an auditorium on the harbourfront, offering free cake.  Once the building is filled to capacity, he seals the people in, and drugs them into submission, providing himself a captive audience, as he reveals his giant cake.


Batman shows, as the Joker expects he would, and even offers himself in exchange for the other captives.  The Joker agrees to the deal, but quickly reneges once he has Batman tied to a giant candle. But Batman was expecting that, and had already rigged the centre candle to fire as a rocket.  Some nice batarang action cuts the fuses on the candles the others are tied to, and frees Robin, allowing him some action in the tale.


A great story from start to finish, quirky, funny and deadly.

The Joker returns the following year in Detective Comics.

Batman 319 – the Gentleman Ghost returns


The Gentleman Ghost is back, and once again gets a Kubert cover, inked by Giordano, in Batman 319 (Jan. 80).


Wein, Novick and Bob Smith are the creative team on the tale itself, which plays up the element of Batman refusing to believe that the Gentleman Ghost is really a spirit.  As with many of the character’s Hawkman stories, Batman finds various tricks that the Ghost uses, projections and dummies, but can never quite prove that everything is being faked.


Early in, the story has a set-up for the forthcoming Joker tale, as his henchmen kill some policemen, leaving them with deathly grins, as they retrieve one of the Joker’s men from custody. The Joker will not actually appear in the following issue, which takes place almost entirely in Spain, but does show up in issue 321.


Wayne Manor is used again for the bulk of the tale.  The Gentleman Ghost does fit this locale better than urban Gotham.  Bruce Wayne is hosting a costume ball, and showing off a collection of gems, which he expects the Ghost to go after.  Bruce is dressed as Henry VIII, with Selina Kyle as Katharine of Aragon.  Lucius Fox is dressed as Lincoln, and even Alfred gets into the spirit of things, going as George Washington.  Bruce makes peace between Selina and Lucius, who find out that they have something in common – a curiosity as to why Bruce keeps disappearing.


The Gentleman Ghost has his men dress up as well, in his own costume, making it much more difficult for Batman to determine which of them is the real Ghost.


And though Batman unmasks the fakes, stops the robbery and even finds a projector that the Gentleman Ghost is using, he is incapable of actually capturing the spirit, or even proving that he is not really a ghost.

This is the last time the Gentleman Ghost and Batman will face each other, though the character does have a cameo along with a host of other Batman villains three years down the road, in the story that sees Jason Todd become Robin.  It’s kind of a shame, I really enjoyed the Ghost’s two stories with Batman.

Batman 312 – Calendar Man’s week of crime


The Calendar Man, not seen since his debut in 1958, makes a return in the Len Wein, Walt Simonson and Dick Giordano story in Batman 312 (June 1979).


The art is exceptional, and the story is pretty good as well, as Calendar Man goes on a crime spree based on the days of the week, wearing a different themed outfit, and using different weapons, for each day.


Thankfully, when he gets to Thursday, the story avoids playing off of Marvel’s Thor in any way, as the villain interprets thunder as sonics.


When Sunday comes, Commissioner Gordon and the police think they have figured out what his crime will be, but Batman suspects that Calendar Man will take this as a “day of rest,” and use it to flee the city, which is exactly what he tries to do.  In their climactic battle, the Calendar Man wears a new outfit, one that will return when he does, a his “core costume.”


Two-Face, last seen in Green Lantern this same month, appears on the final page, setting up his appearance in the next two issues.

A really fun little story, and great to see the obscure villain after so many years.

The Calendar Man returns in these page in six years.

Batman 310 – Batman vs the Gentleman Ghost


Batman 310 (April 1979) was the first appearance of Hawkman’s old foe, the Gentleman Ghost, in four years, following a cameo in Justice League of America, and the first time I had seen the character.  The issue has a very good Joe Kubert cover, though he does not draw the Ghost in the story itself.


Wein is joined by Novick and Giordano for this story, in which the Ghost robs the Wayne penthouse of a number of antiques, which are, nonetheless, not particularly valuable.


Selina Kyle, the former Catwoman, makes a cameo, flirting with Bruce Wayne, under the excuse of discussing her investments.


Bruce discovers that Alfred has gone missing, and goes in disguise to gain information.  There is a wonderfully subtle touch of having Batman’s disguise look like Alfred originally had.  Honestly, I missed this completely as a kid, and only noticed it now.


Batman learns that Alfred had been at a bar, bragging about what a fine estate the closed down Wayne Manor was.  Batman realizes that all the stolen antiques had been from the Manor. Sure enough, that’s where the Gentleman Ghost is, with Alfred in his thrall, and the antiques all restored to the original locations.  The Gentleman Ghost was robbing to furnish his dream house.


The Ghost tries to make Alfred shoot Batman, but of course Alfred cannot do such a thing, and in fact it breaks the spell the Ghost has over him.


There is a brief final battle between Batman and the Gentleman Ghost, in which the villain goes over a cliff in a carriage.

It’s not a bad story by any means, but oddly does not at all play on the question of whether the Gentleman Ghost is a genuine spirit or not.

The Gentleman Ghost returns a few months down the road.

Batman 309 – a very Blockbuster Christmas


Wein, Calnan and Giordano give Blockbuster a Christmas story in Batman 309 (March 1979). You can tell from the garlands surrounding the cover picture.


The story, which continues from the end of the previous issue, has Blockbuster on a rampage through Gotham, now mute thanks to the STAR Labs experiments that they thought had killed him. There is also a young suicidal woman, who Blockbuster encounters early on, after she swallows a bottle of sleeping pills.


By the time Batman catches up to Blockbuster, the girl is completely out of it, and Batman mistakenly assumes that Mark Desmond has attacked her.


But in the end Blockbuster sacrifices himself to save her life.  This heroic side to the character will be built upon when he returns in the pages of Detective Comics, a couple years down the road.

Batman 308 – Mr. Freeze returns


Mr. Freeze, who had not been featured in a story since the late 60s, make his return in Batman 308 (Feb. 79), in a story by Wein, Calnan and Giordano.


After her teaser appearance a couple of months earlier in Detective Comics, Selina Kyle come to visit Bruce Wayne.  She insists that she has given up her career as Catwoman, and now is looking to become a serious investor.  Bruce does not trust her, but goes along with it.


The moment Selina leaves, Bruce heads to Lucius Fox, getting him to investigate Selina.  We also meet Lucius’ daughter, Tiffany.


Then it’s on to the main plot, with Mr. Freeze in a new costume.  He promises immortality through a cryogenic process, and charges big bucks for it – even though it doesn’t really work, turning his patrons into icy slaves.


There is, as yet, no element of a dead wife that motivates Freeze, as in this story he has a girlfriend, Hildy, who is imply using him.


Batman gets on the case, and find Mr. Freeze’s icy buddies a challenge, as they have no functioning nerves, and are not that easy to defeat.


Batman gets captured, and Mr. Freeze puts the hero through the cryogenic process.


But Batman was insulated against it, and just faking being a slave.  Freeze and Hildy turn on each other, and Hildy dies a cold death.


The story ends with a tease for the net issue, as Mark Desmond gets buried, but emerges from his grave.  This Blockbuster appearance must take place chronologically after his appearance in the Justice League story pitting them against the Secret Society of Super-Villains.

As for Mr. Freeze, it’s four more years till he returns again, in the pages of World’s Finest.

Batman 307 – Lucius Fox debuts


Len Wein joins John Calnan and Dick Giordano for Batman 307 (Jan. 79), as Lucius Fox joins the cast.


Lucius is really casually introduced.  It feels like he has already been a part of the cast.  His character not only adds a major black member to the supporting cast, but also give us someone who represents the Wayne Foundation, which had been around for over ten years, but rarely was of any importance.  Lucius talks to Bruce about Gregorian Falstaff, a new power player in Gotham, setting the groundwork for a plot line that will build over the next year.


The story itself deals with a man who is killing off the homeless, using poisoned gold coins.


It’s not bad, although painfully easy to figure out who the killer is.  But as a kid I found the tale really poignant and moving, and the killer so messed up because of his father’s descent into poverty.

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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.