Tag Archives: Dick Sprang

Batman 133 – Kite-Man debuts, and Batwoman teams with Bat-Mite

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Ah, the chilling intensity of Batman 133 (Aug. 60) is clear from this disturbing and dark cover.

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The issue opens by introducing the Kite-Man, a notably one gimmick villain, in a story by Finger, Sprang and Paris.

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As one might guess, the Kite-Man uses kites for his crimes.  Big ones, little ones, strap-on ones.  If there is a kite, he’ll use it.

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Batman even gets in on the fun, making a bat-kite of his own.  Kite-Man would probably have fallen into obscurity, if not for this story being reprinted in an early issue of Batman Family.  This prompted the return of Kite-Man is the late 70s.

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Batwoman joins forces with Mat-Mite in this Finger and Moldoff tale.

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While Batman is on a case with Robin and Batwoman, Bat-Mite shows up to use his magic and take down the bad guys.  Bat-Mite publicly reveals himself, so Batman no longer has to make up explanations about his magic.  Batwoman agrees to take on Bat-Mite as her partner.

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This goes well at first.  Bat-Mite is restrained in his use of magic, actively helping Batwoman, rather than trying to make thing more exciting.

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Bat-Mite even recruits Bat-Hound for assistance, using him to track the bad guys.

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But when the action gets heated in a relatively empty warehouse, Bat-Mite shrinks the heroes and villains, so the normal sized items are suddenly giant props, and Bat-Hound appears to be a giant as well.  After the heroes defeat the bad guys, Batwoman ends her partnership with Bat-Mite.  Pure tragedy.

 

Batman 127 – Alfred becomes the Eagle, if Bruce Wayne’s parents hadn’t died, and Batman vs Thor

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Thor is featured on the cover of Batman 127 (Oct. 59).

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The Joker is back in the first story in the issue, by Finger, Sprang and Paris, though he is not the central character in the tale.

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As they battle the Joker, Batman and Robin are joined by a new hero with super-powers, the Eagle.  They are surprised when the Eagle unmasks, and it’s Alfred under the feathers.  He explains how he gained the powers after an accident with Batman’s machines.

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Bruce and Dick are wary of allowing Alfred to help them fight crime, and indeed, the Eagle proves of little use.  He actually make things easier for the Joker.  Alfred gets more and more determined with each failure, and charges out to fight the Joker hand in hand.  But by then his powers have faded.  But he does distract the villain long enough for Batman to get the jump on him.

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Carter Nichols is back, and with a brand new machine in this Finger, Sprang and Paris story.

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Nichols puts Bruce Wayne into a machine that will allow him to see what his life would have been like had his parents not been murdered.  He grows up to be a wealthy playboy.  Superman gets a small role in this story, battling a villain called the Black Bat, who dresses in the Batman costume.

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Bruce Wayne sets out to find the identity of the Black Bat, showing off detective skills he gained somehow.

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As always seems to happen in these stories, it ends as Bruce Wayne becomes Batman.  He defeats Black Bat, and takes the costume. This seems to imply that the deaths of his parents were not really important in the larger scheme, which is very odd.

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Batman takes on Thor, years before the Marvel Comics version of the hero was introduced.  Finger and Moldoff create a character with some distinct similarities.

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Claiming to be the Norse Thunder God, Thor uses his magical hammer to crack open bank vaults and rob them.  Batman and Robin try to stop him, but are outclassed by his weapon.

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They discover that Thor is really a meek museum curator, who gets controlled by the hammer itself, which first manifested powers after being hit by lightning.  Batman makes sure the hammer gets thrown into some electric wiring, which shorts out its powers, and frees the curator from its spell.

Quite different than Marvel’s version, although the weak man gaining power from the hammer is the same.

Batman 125 – Bat-Hound tells a story, Robin gets bad news from the future, and Batman becomes king

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Batman gets crowned on the cover of issue 125 (Aug. 59).

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Finger, Moldoff and Paris give the story to Bat-Hound to relate, from a dog’s perspective. He joins up with Batman and Robin against King Midas and his gang, and we see what joy Ace take in this.

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Midas captures Batman and Robin, and we see that Batman has a communicator in his boot for the dog.  Bat-Hound obeys his orders, gets into costume, and then heads over to see Kathy Kane, calling her in as Batwoman to help.

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Bat-Hound get a lot of action in this one.  He figures out to knock over a tree in order to cross a ravine.

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And it’s even Bat-Hound that gets all the romance at the end.

Bat-Hound continues to appear, but this is the only story I recall that he narrates.

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Robin sees some bad news on a trip to the future in this Finger, Moldoff and Paris tale.

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Carter Nichols sends Batman and Robin on a trip to Renaissance Venice, but when he retrieves them, a bolt of lightning messes with the controls.  Batman returns, but Robin gets sent three days into the future.  He sees a newspaper announcing Batman’s death.

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Robin does everything he can to prevent Batman’s coming death, even falling into the hands of the villain.  But the only thing plunging to a death is a dummy of Batman.  A bad reporter sees this and runs off to submit his story.

This would be loosely re-written as a Brave and the Bold story, with Batman and Adam Strange, in the late 60s.

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Finger, Sprang and Moldoff send Batman and Robin to another dimension in this cover story, two whole panels into the story.

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Batman winds up competing in some athletic events on the strange world, and finds himself crowned their king at the end of the competition.

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It’s a fairly lame story.  Batman gets dethroned and imprisoned, and then freed thanks to Robin.

In the end, they come back to Earth, along with a human villain they caught, and forget the entire adventure.  It can work for us as well!

 

 

Batman 123 – the Joker’s initiation gags, and Batman on the lam

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Bat-Hound helps Robin track down Batman on the cover of issue 123 (April 1959).

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Finger, Sprang and Paris bring back the Joker for another mediocre tale.  This time around, he uses the gags one plays on new employees as the theme for his crimes.

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The “cable stretcher” cobweb to catch the armored car is the best scene in the story, but one wonders why they kept on churning out lame Joker stories.

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Bat-Hound gets a small role in the cover story, by Finger, Moldoff and Kaye, as the dog helps Robin and the police hunt down Batman.

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The first half of the story sees Robin join Commissioner Gordon is tracking down Batman.  Mention is made of the fact that John Wilkers has gone to Europe and left Ace with Batman and Robin.

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Once everyone believes that Batman really is wanted by the police, he has no trouble joining up with a criminal gang with a mysterious boss.  And it’s really no surprise that this was his plan all along, with Gordon and Robin just playing along.

Batman 113 – False-Face, and the Batman of Zur-en-Arrh

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It’s super-Batman on the cover of Batman 113 (Feb. 58).

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False Face, best known from the tv series, makes his only appearance in the comics in this story, by Moldoff and Paris.

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As in the tv show, False Face is a master of disguise, and Batman and Robin have no idea who he really is, or what he looks like.

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False Face always gets the people he intend to impersonate out of the way first, which give Batman a way to get the jump on him.  Batman also disguises himself, anticipating False Face’s attempt to unmask him.

Though the character never returns, there is a mention of him in more recent years, and Black Mask’s followers would be known as the False Face Society.

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The cover story is a bizarre outer space tale by Herron, Sprang and Paris, largely ignored until brilliantly interpreted by Grant Morrison during his run.

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Batman goes through an experience, which somewhat feels like a dream, that sees him transported to another planet, meeting the strangely dressed Batman of Zur-en-Arrh, who has brought the original Batman to his world for help.

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This Batman give the original a strange weapon, the Bat-Radia, which has the ability to cause molecular disruptions, which sounds an awful lot more powerful than the way it gets used.

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On this world, Batman can not only fly, but also has strength on the scale of Superman.

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Batman saves the alien world, and is then transported back to Earth, getting to keep the Bat-Radia.

The Batman of Zur-en-Arrh, and the Bat-Radia return during Grant Morrison’s run on Batman.

 

Batman 112 – the Signalman debuts, Carter Nichols travels through time, and Batman questions his sanity

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A good story pays off the intriguing cover for Batman 112 (Dec. 57).

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Finger, Moldoff and Paris open the issue by introducing a new villain, the Signalman.

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Phil Cobb is a small time hood who moves to Gotham City, and decides to make a name for himself.  He chooses the identity of the Signalman, sending puzzling clues, with signals as a loose concept.  Certainly the costume is much more notable than most of Batman’s recent enemies.

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The story is fun and fast paced, with good locales, and some excellent giant props.  It was no surprise when the Signalman made a return just over a year away.

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Carter Nichols decides to go on a time trip himself in this Hamilton, Sprang and Paris tale, which alo introduces a new time ray.

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Nichols winds up heading back to ancient Rome.  When he doesn’t return as scheduled, Batman and Robin use the time ray to follow him.  The action moves quickly from Rome to Rhodes, for a big scene on the Colossus.

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Batman and Robin rescue Nichols, and they all return to the present.  Nichols swears off ever travelling through time again.

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The cover story is quite a puzzler, by Finger, Moldoff and Paris.  Batman wakes up in costume, in an insane asylum. but no one will admit that he is Batman.

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Heading to Wayne Manor, neither Alfred nor Dick Grayson recognize him, and there is no Batcave.  He unmasks, and then Bruce Wayne walks into the room.  What is going on?

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The resolution has quite a few twists.  Indeed, the whole thing was a trick, pulled off by Alfred and Robin.  But their purpose was to save Batman’s life.  He had been gassed by Professor Milo.  The gas would have proved deadly unless Batman was active and challenged, so they created the deception.

This was Milo’s second appearance, a couple of months after his debut in Detective Comics, although the man pictured looks nothing like the one from that book.

Professor Milo does not return until the mid-70s.

Batman 110 – the Crime of the Month Club, Alfred resigns, and Batman becomes a phantom

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The final story in the issue gets the cover of Batman 110 (Sept. 57).

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There is a good Joker story in this issue, by Dave Wood, Sprang and Paris, although the Joker doesn’t appear much in it.

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The Joker auctions off plans to robberies themed by month, getting paid up front, rather than participating in the crimes.  This keeps him offstage for much of the action.

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He does show up for the final theft, so that Batman and Robin can catch him.

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Alfred gets the focus of the issue’s second story, by Finger, Moldoff and Kaye.  The story has Alfred reflecting on his days with Batman and Robin, as he writes his letter of resignation.

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The story behind how Alfred came to work for Bruce and Dick is much the same, except when it comes to how he discovered their identities.  In this new version, the heroes called for Alfred’s help, choosing to let him in on the secret, rather than Alfred discovering it himself.

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The story has lots of flashbacks to how he has helped Batman in the past, including covering his identity for an ever-suspicious Vicki Vale.  Alfred believes that he must have accidentally revealed something to a shady man he saw just after coming to work for Bruce Wayne, and has seen again recently.  In fact,the “man” is just Bruce in disguise, who had been testing Alfred back at the start, to see if he was trustworthy.

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The cover story, by Hamilton, Sprang and Paris, gives Batman the power of intangibility.

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As the result of chemicals Batman was exposed to during a fire, his body looses its solidity.  He can pass through anything, but cannot touch anything.  Robin deals with the physical stuff, as ghostly Batman does the thinking.

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It’s a decent story, some good visuals, and a nice twist as Robin vanishes by hiding inside Batman’s phantom form.