Tag Archives: Don Cameron

Batman 46 – the Joker’s greeting cards, the prison chaplain, and Batman meets Leonardo da Vinci

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Breaking into prison on the cover of Batman 46 (April/May 1948).

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The Joker is back yet again, in a story by Cameron, Sprang and Paris.

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The Joker uses greeting cards as the theme for this story, using them to send clues to Batman and Robin about his upcoming thefts.

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The story just follows the standard formula, enlivened solely by the visuals.  The greeting cards are all done well, and I really like the image of the Joker as a Halloween witch.

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Batman heads to prison undercover in this story by Cameron, Sprang and McDonald, although the read main character is the prison chaplain, who devotes his life, even risks it, to help the convicts turn their lives around.

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The prison has a fairly remarkable greenhouse, thanks to Sprang’s art.  Batman had been wondering why the ex-cons from this jail tended not to go back to crime, and finds that the chaplain gets most of the credit for that.

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Along the way, Batman stops a prison riot, and learns the location of some hidden loot.

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Carter Nichols is back, enlisting the aid of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson when he comes across a document that refers to Batman in Renaissance Milan.  With the help of Cameron, Sprang and McDonald, the heroes get an adventure alongside Leonardo Da Vinci.

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A lot is made of Da Vinci’s forward thinking sketches and inventions, with Batman and Robin helping out on his flying machine.

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But though the art on the story is fun, the history behind it is a real mess.  It appears that Cameron knew little and less about the time period.

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Batman 38 – Batman at the ancient Olympics, The Carbon Copy Crimes, and the Penguin resents a cartoon

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The Penguin gets the cover for Batman 38 (Dec/Jan 46/47).

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Bruce and Dick decide they want to see the ancient Olympics, and have Carter Nichols send them back in time, in a story by Edmond Hamilton and Jim Mooney.

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There is some really lovely art on this story, and it makes an effort at getting both the visuals and the facts somewhat correct, although the buildings shown would have been from a relatively late era.

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The Carbon Copy Crimes, by Finger and Mooney, is a sequel to one of Batman’s early adventures, the Prophetic Pictures.

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As with that story, people whose portraits had been painted by Pierre Antal are getting killed off, after the paintings are mutilated in the same fashion. The story accurately states that the same thing had happened six years earlier, and spends a fair bit of time recapping the original tale. Considering that reprints were a thing of the future, this would have been absolutely necessary.

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Unfortunately, the story does not play out quite as well. They use the same trap that caught the first killer, but this one turns the tables on Batman, and pulls a gun on him. His intent was to destroy Batman’s confidence by having him fail at what had been one of his first big cases. But when that doesn’t work, he simply kills himself.

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Cameron and Mooney handle the Penguin story in this issue, one of his more entertaining tales.

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The story begins as the Penguin plots an escape from prison. He gets interrupted by the warden, who winds up causing a fire with one of his umbrellas.  The Penguin saves the warden’s life, and is rewarded with a parole.

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Things take a dark turn when the Penguin takes offense at a new cartoon series, Peter Penguin.  There is no real connection between the Penguin and the cartoon figure, but he doesn’t see it that way.

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The Penguin plays nice, and gets himself a job doing promotion for the cartoon figure.  But that’s just a set-up to use the Peter Penguin merchandise in his own crime spree.  Batman and Robin catch him, and he winds up back in prison, where they are showing Peter Penguin cartoons.

Batman 32 – the Joker’s college initiation robberies, how Batman trained Robin, Alfred falls over a turtle, and Batman meets the Three Musketeers

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Batman and Robin visit with the Three Musketeers in Batman 32 (Dec/Jan 45/46).

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But that’s not the opening story in the issue.  The Joker’s tale has that honour, by Cameron and Sprang.  The story has the Joker plan his latest spree on fraternity initiation pranks.

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Batman falls into the Joker’s hands, and he forces Robin to perform humiliating acts, which also helps his crimes.  Of course, Batman eventually gets free and takes the Joker down.

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Robin gets the focus in the second story in the issue, as Finger and Sprang delve into his early days in depth.

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The tale begins with a recap of his origin.  His parents’ deaths, and how he works with Batman to capture Boss Zucco.  We see that Bruce intended Dick to help him on only that case.  Dick pleads to be allowed to continue as Robin, and eventually convinces Bruce to allow him.  But we see that Dick then had to undergo much more, extensive, training.

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Batman winds up getting captured by hoods, and Robin goes into action solo, using the skills and techniques he has learned, to track down and free Batman, earning the right to continue in the role.

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Alfred gets a fun tale in this one, by Samachson and Robinson.  Alfred is walking a friend’s dog, when he hears a cry from a soup factory.

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Checking it out, Alfred finds slugged by thieves, and winds up falling over a turtle.

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Alfred shows a lot more competence in this tale than in most of his adventures.  He deduces that the thieves must be from a rival soup company, and draws the attention of the police, by faking the tracking skills of the dog.  For once, he has done everything right to capture the bad guys, but Bruce and Dick do not believe him, and think he just stumbled through the situation again.

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Carter Nichols is back for another time travelling adventure, by Cameron and Sprang.

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Nichols sends them back to the time of the Three Musketeers, and decide to stop Constance Bonacieux from being poisoned.  Cameron shows his familiarity with Dumas’ novel, which makes this story much more entertaining that it might be.

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With Sprang’s art to help it along, this is one of the best of the Carter Nichols tales.

Batman 30 – the Penguin goes skating, and Batman meets Ally Babble

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World War 2 was drawing to a close, but still made the cover of Batman 30 (Aug/Sept 45).

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Cameron and Sprang open the issue with a Penguin story that isn’t much in the way of plot, but Sprang’s art makes the most of what there is.

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The Penguin has a series of thefts that he carries out in this issue, but they are not specifically themed or anything.  The joy lies solely in the visuals, such as the Penguin skating away from Batman and Robin, who are having a more difficult time on the ice.

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There is a burning mattress death trap for the heroes, who make a return while the Penguin and his men try to rob a museum.

Nothing much special, but fun Sprang art.

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Finger and Sprang add one of the worst conceived characters to the Batman series in this story, as we meet Ally Babble.

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Ally Babble’s main characteristic is that he never stops talking. What editorial meeting decided that a motormouth would be a benefit to the Batman series?

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In his first appearance, Ally Babble is hired by a cranky old man to take petty vengeances on people who annoy him. Unsurprisingly, Ally Babble winds up becoming one of the annoyances by the end of the story.

Sadly, Ally Babble returns within the year.

Batman 28 – the Joker’s secret street, and Alfred plays with handcuffs

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Batman 28 (April/May 1945) has about as generic a cover as it’s possible to be.

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Cameron and Robinson spin a Joker story that should be better than it is.  I like Robinson’s art as a rule, but it just doesn’t make the most of the situation in this story.

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The Joker opens a gambling club on Shadow Street.  It’s as crooked as one might expect, and Batman learns about it and wants to close it down, but cannot find it.

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The Joker runs other clubs on this street, including a Cafe of a Thousand Terrors, where guests hope to meet exotic and deadly people, then complain when they get robbed.  Idiots.

Shadow Street turns out to be located underground, accessible only through a secret elevator that lowers a car while making the driver think he is moving forward, but this is not shown particularly well.

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Samachson joins Robinson for this chapter of the Adventures of Alfred, but it’s not one of the better ones.  Alfred heads over to a friend’s place to show off his new pair of handcuffs.

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But his butler friend is not around, and instead Alfred comes across some safecrackers.  It’s not a bad story, but isn’t as funny as the past tales.

Batman 27 – the Penguin takes an apprentice, and Alfred and the pearl

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The cover of Batman 27 would seem to refer to some holiday, though it’s not really clear which one.

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Cameron, Burnley and Robinson open the issue with a story featuring the Penguin.

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He forces a young boy, who wants to be a writer, to become his apprentice in crime.

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The story never really takes off.  The boy is not good at crime, so the Penguin makes him study it, and he writes a book about it.  The Penguin then decides to publish the book, and steals paper, which gets Batman on his trail.  The one good scene comes towards the end, as Batman and the Penguin fight on the face of a clock.

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Once again it’s the Adventures of Alfred story that steals the show, thanks to Cameron and Robinson.  Alfred spots a shady looking man at a diner, who finds a pearl in his oyster.  A bidding war opens for it among the other customers.

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Alfred notices that the man picked up Alfred’s bill by mistake, and rushes out to correct this.  He stumbles into a mugging, and winds up stopping the whole criminal escapade.  The arresting officer credits Alfred with knowing that the pearl could not have been just found, as it was all shiny, meaning its outer layers had already been removed.

 

Batman 26 – the Cavalier steals a whale, Alfred goes shopping, and the Batman of the Future

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Batman, Robin and Alfred take a ride on the Bat-snowmobile on the cover of Batman 26 (Dec/Jan 44/45).

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The Cavalier, whose identity was exposed in his last appearance, a few months earlier in Detective Comics, returns in a story by Cameron and Sprang.

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The Cavalier adopts a new identity in this story, altering his appearance when not in costume.

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He also garbs his men to all resemble the Cavalier, which works extremely well. At one point, Batman has the real Cavalier in his hands, but believes him to just be another gang member.

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His big crime in the story is stealing an actual whale. Not that there is any sort of black market for whales, it’s more a case of showing that he is capable of such a theft. But Batman and Robin do track him down and finally send him to prison.

It seems that unlike other Batman foes, the Cavalier gets a very long sentence, as he does not return again until the 1970s.

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Schiff and Robinson send Alfred grocery shopping in this story, although he forgets his wallet back at home, which both Bruce and Dick notice.

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So the reader is one step up on Alfred, who believes that he has been pickpocketed by a man who bumped into him at the store.  Following him, he prevents the man from being muggers.  The man turns out to be a French chef, so Alfred returns with not only dinner, but a cook as well.

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Greene and Sprang look into the distant future for this story, which introduces Brane Taylor, and charts how he becomes the Batman of the Future.  I first read this story in a reprint in Batman Family, and Sprang’s art made me just fall in love with it.

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Sprang shows us an idyllic future which gets threatened when Earth is invaded by Saturnians.

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The destruction they cause reveals a time capsule from 1939. Opening it, Brane Taylor discovers film footage of Batman, which inspires him to adopt the identity and lead the forces of Earth against the invaders.

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This Batman hides his identity from his girlfriend, and also has a kid sidekick who takes on the Robin identity.

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Unlike the Batman of the present, Brane reveals his true identity to his followers, to convince them that any of them could be capable of doing what he does.

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The final panel of the story reveals that he is the descendant of Bruce Wayne.

The character proved popular, and returned in a story in 1951.