Tag Archives: Frank Chiaramonte

Batman 346 – lots of disappointed people, and what Catwoman’s dad did in the war

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Two-Face is back, a couple of months after his last appearance, in World’s Finest Comics, in Batman 346 (April 1982), in a story by Conway, Newton and Chiaramonte.

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Two-Face escapes from prison to the mystification of two guards, who cannot figure out how he vanished right in front of them, but Batman figures out he had hypnotized them with a special coin.

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Barbara Gordon spends some time consoling her father after Gordon is forced to resign a Commissioner by Hamilton Hill.

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Batman has decided that being Bruce Wayne is getting in the way of his activities, and has placed Lucius Fox in control of the Wayne Foundation.  Lucius is dismayed to see Bruce now acting like a worthless playboy.

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Dick Grayson is having a bad day as well, as Dala has dumped him, and is now avoiding him.  This makes Dick curious about who Dala is spending her time with, which is exactly what she intended.

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And Vicki Vale is none too happy either, when Bruce gets rid of her in the middle of a date, after something she says sparks his Batman brain.  But then, Vicki just takes the whole thing as further proof that Bruce is really Batman.

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Batman figures out where Two-Face is hiding out, but falls for a double when he arrives.

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As the story ends, Boss Thorne meets with Hamilton Hill, and introduces him to the new Police Commissioner, a man completely in Boss Thorne’s pocket.

The story continues in the next issue of Detective.

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Jones, Von Eeden and Marcos conclude the Catwoman story from last issue, as she finds herself a captive of Nazis.

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The disappearing trains were done in a pretty cool way, but the entire thing was done to lure her into a trap.  The government agent who approached her is the son of a Nazi killed by Catwoman’s father during the war, and he has been setting all this up to get revenge.

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His death trap is somehat old-fashioned, having her run over by a train.  Catwoman escapes, and it’s the Nazi who winds up getting crushed instead.

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.

Superman 372 – blackmailed into time travel, and Superman 2020 ends

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte crank out another unexciting Superman story in issue 372 (June 1982), which also sees the final installment of Superman 2020.

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The lead story has Superman pursuing a ball of anti-matter that suddenly appears in Metropolis. He traces its path back to a semi-deserted island, inhabited only by a scientist who freely admits to creating the destructive blob.  He will send out more unless Superman takes him back in time, and rescues his two children, who died in a tidal wave.

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Superman does bring the man back in time, but only to show him that they are phantoms in the past, and cannot affect anything.  But Superman realizes the children are actually androids, even though the scientist does not realize this.  Investigating further, he learns that the government set up the phony deaths to keep the man isolated and working on secret projects for them.

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So Superman re-unites the scientist with his real children after all.

Looks like sending out destructive balls of anti-matter is a perfectly acceptable way to get Superman on your side.

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Superman 2020 (now 2021) gets its final story by Rozakis and Gil Kane.

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The story centres on Jimmy Olsen, now the editor of the world news service.  He faces a man who threatens to kill Jimmy’s grandchildren unless Olsen inserts a phony news item, which will drive up the price of a worthless stock.  But Jimmy still has his old signal watch, and uses it to contact the new Superman.

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It’s not a bad story, and great to see another older version of a current character, but at the same time there is little to it.

Superman 2020 (or 2021) does not appear again.

Superman 368 – Superman under the spell of the Revenge Squad, and New Years Eve for Superman 2020

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte conclude the Superman Revenge Squad storyline in issue 368 (Feb. 82).  Superman heads to Earth with the mission to kill himself, but also changes back along the way.  It’s not really clear what he is planning to do now that he has infiltrated the Revenge Squad.

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And to a degree, his plans scarcely matter, as he turns out to be under the mental domination of the Squad.  Uncertain if he really was Superman, they placed a hypnotic mind control on him, which I suppose worked because he was not in his real body.

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Frankly, for the big finale, this is oddly messy and confusing.  Superman tries to pretend to Lois Lane that he is really an android sent by the Revenge Squad.  But she does not believe him, and to prove him wrong, jumps off a cliff.  As bizarre as this is, it does work to break the mind control, and Superman becomes himself again.

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He heads back to the world of the Revenge Squad, and surrounds it with a gas that removes all murderous impulses – so they will never again be able to send someone out to kill him.

It seems that this gas works very well, as the Revenge Squad do not appear again until an issue of DC Comics Presents that is a crossover with Crisis on Infinite Earths.  With all the time and reality warping taking place at that time, easy to explain getting past the gas.

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Superman 2020 becomes Superman 2021 as Rozakis, Saviuk and Chiaramonte bring back the Purists for another round of terrorism.

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They attempt to disrupt the New Years celebrations and create riots against non-humans, but Superman III rounds them up again.  Not much of a tale, really.

Superman 367 – Superman wins the right to kill Superman

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte continue the Superman Revenge Squad saga in issue 367 (Jan. 82).

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To the surprise of Morgan Edge and Lana Lang, Clark Kent is abruptly back at WGBS and ready to do the news broadcast.  The reader, however, is cued in that this is not the real Clark.  It turns out to be Batman in disguise. Supergirl has arranged for various Justice League members to take turns filling in for him.

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It’s Green Lantern who gets the next shift, taking the place of Clark as Lois Lane comes to visit, all wet and distressed.  Considering this is Hal Jordan, it’s amazing that Lois makes it out safely.

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Superman gets a tour of the world of the Superman Revenge Squad. Despite killing all the members who fail to kill Superman, they also build statues of them in tribute to their efforts.  As had been established long ago, the members vie to be the next ones sent out on missions, so Superman has to battle other Revenge Squaddies.  His skills raise the suspicions of some of those in charge, who have been monitoring Earth, and know that Superman is off in space somewhere.

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When Superman, in disguise, wins the right to kill Superman, there are some extra measures that the Revengers take to ensure that, even if this is really Superman, Superman will still die.  I’m sure I have never written the word Superman four times in one sentence before.

The story concludes in the next issue.

 

 

Superman 366 – Superman joins the Superman Revenge Squad, and Perry White gets the story

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Superman heads out to join the Superman Revenge Squad in issue 366 (Dec. 81).  The Revenge Squad had been useful villains for nearly twenty years, but this was the first storyline to really delve into them, thanks to Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte.

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Expecting that his plan to infiltrate the Revenge Squad, who he is sure was behind the manipulation of Supergirl in the previous issue, Superman begs off work as Clark Kent, to the dismay of both Morgan Edge and Perry White.

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Supergirl plans to look after Earth while Superman is gone.  We see Linda on the set of Secret Hearts, the soap opera she was performing on at this time.

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Superman makes use of the Metamorphosis Machine, introduced a few months earlier in the pages of DC Comics Presents, to change his form, concealing his identity, and then heads out to where the Revenge Squad hang out.

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Since they always kill the members who fail to kill Superman, it’s not too hard to join the team, always in need of new members.  Superman still has to prove himself battle worthy, but they have a Superman android to practice against.

He makes it through the initiation, and becomes a member of the team dedicated to killing him.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Rozakis, Schaffenberger and Chiaramonte conclude the In-Between Years story begun in the previous issue, as Perry White tries to prove to his editor, George Taylor, that Superboy has moved to Metropolis.  This is the first time we have seen George Taylor as editor of the Daily Planet before Perry White, though it is not clear if this is the same Earth-1 George Taylor who is the editor of the Daily Star in the Green Arrow series.

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Two rival gangs are competing for turf in Metropolis, and Superboy tries to break up their negotiations.  Perry has been following the Smallville students at Metropolis University, so he winds up in the right place at the right time, but does not know that Clark is Superboy.

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Perry gets his front page story, and Superboy even comes to the Daily Planet to meet Taylor.  After a period of mystery, the world now knows that Superboy has moved to Metropolis.

Superman 365 – Superman vs Supergirl, and Superboy underestimates Perry White

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Two multi-part stories begin in Superman 365 (Nov. 81).

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The lead story, by Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte, opens with Superman finding his cousin collapsed, a victim of Virus X.  But thanks to his own exposure to it years ago, he knows he simply has to use white kryptonite to nullify its effects.

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But then Supergirl begins acting very aggressive and irrationally towards Superman, shrinking him with the ray once used to enter Kandor, and trying to kill him.  We see that some mysterious aliens are behind this, but do not learn the whole story as yet.

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Superman gets the upper hand.  The two may be theoretically equal in power, but Superman is far more experienced.  It turns out all that Supergirl really needs is sleep, as she has been kept artificially awake for days. The Virus X infection was merely a decoy to cover what had really been done to her, and to her mind.

The alien behind this plan rushes to the heroes for help, but gets killed before he can explain.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Rozakis, Schaffenberger and Chiaramonte begin a two part tale as well in the In-Between Years.

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Clark and Lana go sightseeing in Metropolis, and Clark winds up spotting intrepid reporter Perry White on the ledge of a building, spying on some bad guys inside.  Perry almost falls to his death, but Superboy rescues him at super-speed, assuming that Perry will think an updraft saved him.

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But Perry is much smarter than that, and is now even more certain that Superboy is in town.

The story continues in the next issue.

Superman 364 – Jimmy Olsen’s rival, and why does Grandpa Superman look so old?

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Bates, Buckler and Chiramonte put Jimmy Olsen in the spotlight in Superman 364 (Oct. 81).

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Jimmy wins a journalism award, but gets confronted by Rory Stasson, a reporter with the Metropolis Eagle a rival paper. Rory accuses not only Jimmy, but also Lois Lane and Clark Kent of riding on Superman’s coat tails.

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When Superman faces a new, mysterious foe, both Jimmy and Rory are on the scene to cover it, but while Jimmy just reports what he has seen, Rory’s story incorporates far more information about the “Metro Monster.”  Enough that Rory must know who the man is, but the article doesn’t reveal it.  Assuming Rory is exploiting the situation, Jimmy begins tailing him.

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As it turns out, Rory does not know too much more, except that the “monster” is really a victim himself, a scientist whose experiment has gone wrong, and who has been suffering from amnesia.  Rory genuinely was trying to help the man, while at the same time alerting the public.

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I enjoyed this story, as it did not go where it seemed to be heading.  Though it would be nice to have a genuine rival, it was great to see the two reporters acknowledge each others skills at the end of the story.

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Rozakis, Saviuk and Colletta address the aging that the original Superman has undergone in this Superman 2020 tale.

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We discover that the aging is not natural, that it occurred very quickly, the result of a red sun bomb that Luthor had implanted in the sun many years earlier.

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A similar bomb, also planted by Luthor, goes off in this tale, and while the father of Superman 2020 suffers a degree of aging by trying to fix the sun, it’s the original, now immune to the effect, who saves the day.

Superman 363 – Lois and Lana at death’s door, and Bruce (Superman) Wayne ends

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte pull off one of the better Superman stories from the era in issue 363 (Sept. 81), as they conclude the tale of the deadly disease that has struck Lois and Lana.

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With no cure to be found, Superman intends to put the women into the Phantom Zone, but finds that the projector is not functioning.  Jax-Ur, General Zod and Faora have damaged it, and it will take too long to repair to save the women’s lives.

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Superman even turns to Luthor for help, although Lex refuses.  He even plays Superman cruelly, tossing a vial of the virus against the wall.  If he were infected, he would find a cure simply to save himself, but he knows that Superman would not let Lex take the risk.  It’s a really nasty mind game, well suited to the villain.

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Certain that he will lose them, Superman decides to spend what time he can making them happy.  As Clark, he takes Lana out for dinner, and allows himself to show some of how he really feels about her, making Lana start to get interested in Clark, to her surprise.

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While as Superman, he takes Lois for a jaunt in Paris.

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When the two women fall critically ill, he brings them to the Fortress.  Only then does he get the notion to try a blood transfusion, which passes on a degree of his immunity, curing them.

A bit of an easy ending, but a good story overall.

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Rozakis, Rich Buckler and Joe Giella bring the Bruce (Superman) Wayne story to a conclusion, although I would have been happy to see more. This tale is set quite a while after the previous one.  Bruce has married Barbara Gordon, and revealed his identity to her.

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They are quite happy, until Barbara gets news that her father has been killed.  She insists on accompanying her husband, and creates a Batgirl costume for herself.

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Together they hunt down the killer, Lew Moxon, who dies running in front of a truck (as he did in “reality”).

This strip was much better than most of what was being published in Superman in this era, and I find it a shame that this world was not explored more fully.

 

Superman 362 – Lois and Lana get sick, and Clark’s first day at university

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Bates, Swan and Chiaramonte begin a two part story in Superman 362 (Aug. 81) that brings back the disease that killed the Kents.

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Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Lana Lang are all at a scientist’s lab, covering a story, when Lana accidentally drops a vial containing the deadly virus. She and Lois are infected immediately, but Clark’s body is immune.

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He does recognize what the disease is, though, and we get an extended flashback to the deaths of Ma and Pa Kent, faithfully retold.

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So really this first half is just the set-up and explanation, as Superman realizes he might have to watch two more people he loves die from the same disease.

The story concludes in the next issue.

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Rozakis is joined by Schaffenberger and Adkins as Clark Kent arrives at Metropolis University, in the midst of a bomb scare.  As Superboy, he hunts down and defuses the various devices.

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Inspector Henderson and Daily Planet reporter Perry White are also on the scene, and both suspect the involvement of Superboy.  When there is a later bomb scare, used by some thieves to get people out of the dorms, leaving them free to be robbed, Superboy uncovers the plot, and the two men are now sure he has come to the big city.