Tag Archives: Joe Giella

Batman 214 – Batman the eligible bachelor


Batgirl plays a role in the Robbins, Novick and Giella story in Batman 214 (Aug. 69).


A criminal organization decide to get Batman out of the way by getting him married off, figuring that no wife would allow him to spend so much time out fighting crime.  They choose a woman, Cleo, to put their plan into action.


The mob clearly has a lot of money behind them, as Cleo is able to hire an ad agency to promote the idea that Batman should get married.  It becomes a huge media blitz.


Batgirl gets suspicious of the situation, and so she joins the group of women demanding that Batman get married, trying to find out what is behind it.


Once the media blitz has taken hold, and every woman in Gotham is throwing herself at Batman, Cleo steps up the game, encountering Batman a couple of times, and showing herself to be strong and independent, while remaining aloof.  As Cleo planned, this makes her seem far more appealing than any of the other women.


But as these stories tend to go, Cleo winds up really falling in love with Batman.  She turns on the mob when they move in for the kill, and Batgirl also helps out, exposing Cleo’s schemes.

It’s painfully sexist, but a bit better than many of the other stories along the same lines.

Batman 210 – Catwoman trains her crew


Neal Adams did the cover for Batman 210 (March 1969), and designed her new costume.


Robbins, Novick and Giella spin this tale, which sees Catwoman recruit a number of women about to leave prison.  I really love the names these women call themselves by.  Florid Flo is my favourite.


Catwoman trains the women to be more athletic, making them her new gang.  There is a weird “women’s lib” element to this, forming a gang that is all female.  Batman and Robin have already deduced Catwoman’s goal, a large pearl being brought to Gotham by Nepalese royalty.


While on the cover we see women dressed in a variety of cat-suits, in the story itself, Catwoman garbs her gang in costumes identical to hers.  This is actually a bit more practical, as the goal is to make it more difficult for Batman and Robin to determine which one really is Catwoman.


As it turns out, her decoy gang is not really that important for the climax of the story, as Batman has laid a trap for her, with a fake pearl, and then telling her the real one is in a ball of yarn, which she traps herself with trying to unravel the sticky twine.

Catwoman next appears in the Black Canary story in Adventure Comics in three years.

Batman 209 – animals in the Batcave


Frank Robbins, Irv Novick and Joe Giella share the story that works hard to justify the bizarre cover for Batman 209 (Feb. 69).


The story begins as Batman and Robin take the elevator down to the Batcave, and find it a jungle, filled with wild animals.


The story then jump backwards, allowing the reader to see how this all came about.  We meet Brainwash, and see how he planted a subliminal device under a podium, which prompted Commissioner Gordon to call Batman and Robin late that night, sending them to a non-existent break-in, where Brainwash could plant a similar device on the Batmobile.


It take Batman far too long to figure out that they are hallucinating.  Did he really think that the Batcave had become a jungle?  Apparently so.  He forces himself to work through the hallucination, even though he almost runs down Alfred while doing so.


Batman and Robin find the device on the car, and realize that ear plugs will stop the subliminals from working on them.  The ear plugs also come in useful when Brainwash tries to deal them in a bank vault, jamming the door and preventing it from closing.  Brainwash get unmasked as Mr. Esper, who next appears, in the mid 70s, in Teen Titans.

Batman 202 – Alfred collapses, and Robin begins


An evocative cover for Batman 202 (June 1968), but not a great story to suit it.


Fox, Stone and Greene spin this story in which Batman and Robin deal with a series of robberies that seem to involve floating weapons and hidden enemies.  Alfred knows something about what is going on, but when he tries to tell the heroes, he collapses, after muttering about an “Eternal Gate.”


Following that clue, Batman and Robin head to the Eternal Gate Cemetery.


They find and defeat the bad guy.  Alfred wakes up, and give a long explanation about how he knew that the villain must be a mind reader who he knew years ago.  The man saved his life once, and Alfred’s internal conflict about turning him in caused his collapse.

I would happily have skipped over this tale, except I had to write about the back-up story.


After a number of stories in which Robin had played the lead, but not received the billing, he finally ascends to his own back-up series, which will jump back and forth between Batman and Detective over the next few years.


Friedrich, Stone and Giella open this story as Dick Grayson heads out to run for school council.  Bruce is impressed, and agrees that he needs to devote a bit more time to his life as a teenager.


On the way to the school, Dick gets attacked by a biker gang.  Switching to Robin, he follows, and then infiltrates them.  He succeeds in taking down the entire gang himself.


But it proves to be a hollow victory.  He has missed the student council debate, and, as a result, lost the election.  Alfred and Bruce try to cheer him up, but it’s clear they do not succeed.

Dick Grayson has discovered the cost of playing the hero.

Batman 201 – villains protecting Batman


Fox, Stone and Giella craft a really off-beat story in Batman 201 (May 1968).


The story opens as the Penguin assembles a collection of Batman’s enemies, and tell them of a gangland plot to kill the hero.  Feeling that Batman is theirs to deal with, the Penguin enlists the Joker, Catwoman, Mad Hatter, Cluemaster, Johnny Witts and the Getaway Genius to work as secret guardian angels, helping keep Batman safe.


It’s a strange grouping, of big name and really minor ones.  Sadly, the big name get the least play in this tale.  It also doesn’t really show Batman in a very good light, both because he needs the help of the villains to survive the various death traps, but also because he never figures out what is going on.


Batman’s villains do succeed at their goal, and keep Batman alive until he can bring don the mobsters.


The conclusion has another twist, as we discover that the mobsters hired Mr. Esper as part of their scheme, and he, in turn, prompted the Penguin to gather the villains to prevent it from coming off.

This sets up Mr. Esper’s return in a few issues.

Batman 200 – the Scarecrow’s fear serum


Batman 200 (March 1968) features the Scarecrow, but he is not the only villain to appear in this anniversary issue.


Mike Friedrich, Chic Stone and Joe Giella are the creative team on this Batman and Robin story.


The tale opens as Scarecrow gets terrified by Batman – but in fact this is one of his own men, and the Scarecrow has been testing his new chemical creation, which makes whoever takes it induce fear in those who see them.


It works well, the Scarecrow take his own potion, and Batman and Robin are so convulsed with fear they cannot stop him, and by the time they return to the Batcave are ready to hang up their capes and retire.


Making the most of the fact that this is an anniversary issue, Alfred restores the confidence of the heroes by re-telling Bruce and Dick their origins.


Both are faithfully retold, with nothing substantive about them changed.


Batman and Robin build up their strength by facing other villains before they take on the Scarecrow again.  The Joker, Killer Moth and the Penguin all get small roles.  For some unexplained reason, these villains also are carrying straws on them, clues to the Scarecrow’s next crime.


In the end, when Batman faces the Scarecrow he happens to use the exact same words that were used in the test Scarecrow underwent at the opening of the story.  This triggers the fear reflex in the Scarecrow, and Batman has little trouble taking him down.

A very good anniversary issue.

Batman 195 – a good villain with two terrible names


A great cover for Batman 195 (Sept. 67), and an interesting villain, created by Fox, Moldoff and Giella.  But sadly, the title calls the character the Spark-Spangled See Through Man, while the story itself calls him Bag O’Bones.


The villain with two bad names is also called Ned Creegan, a thief who breaks in to a radiation chamber to steal some gems being used int he experiment by Nevil Logan.


Batman and Robin track Creegan when he tries to sell the jewels, but he winds up affected by the radiation, his skin turning invisible, and acquiring an electric charge that holds off the heroes.


Distressed, Creegan returns to Logan, who gives him pills to control his changes.  He keeps Creegan’s crime secret, so that he can use him in his experiments to create a cure for radiation.  But he also informs the thief that when he is in his “Bag O’Bones” state, his life gets shortened dramatically.


Unsure as to whether Creegan’s electric charge is positive or negative, Batman and Robin each arm themselves with some neutralizing gloves.  The charge turns out to be a positive one, but the power is so intense that Batman has to release his glove, or be stuck to him for good.


They trail Creegan back to Logan’s lab, where the scientist pits the radioactive animals against them.  Batman and Robin manage to stick the oppositely charged animals together, and capture the thief and the scientist.

Creegan is sent to prison for ten years, but knows he will die during that time.  Which I suppose he does, as we never see him again.

But the look of the character, if nothing else about him, will come back with the introduction of Dr. Phosphorus ten years down the road.

Batman 194 – Blockbuster hates everyone


A great cover for Batman 194 (Aug. 67), as Fox, Moldoff and Giella bring Blockbuster into this book for the first time, following his encounter with the Justice League and Justice Society in recent issues of JLA.


The Justice League story ended with Blockbuster and Solomon Grundy having pounded each other into a state of happiness.  Blockbuster is in prison as this tale begins, but in a cheerful state, until he sees a cut out of Batman.  This sends him into a rage, and he busts out of prison.


Batman tracks down Blockbuster, which isn’t really the hardest thing to do.  He tries the various techniques that have worked before to calm him down, unmasking to reveal that he is Bruce Wayne (who had saved Mark Desmond as a child), or duplicating the voice of Mark’s brother.  But neither of these work this time, and Batman keeps getting pounded while he tries to come up with a way to calm Blockbuster down.


After Blockbuster tosses Batman into a swamp, he gets the idea to emerge looking like Solomon Grundy (apparently he had the make-up in his utility belt).  Grundy is the one person that Blockbuster still likes, and he calms down.  Batman then tosses him into the swamp, and then rescues him as Grundy, to ensure that Mark will continue to trust him.  It makes more sense than it sounds.  It also has the added benefit of making the confused Blockbuster believe that Batman is really Solomon Grundy, rather than Bruce Wayne.

Blockbuster is not seen again until 1976, when he appears alongside many other villains in a Justice League issue.

Batman 190 – the Penguin’s futuristic crimes


I like the cover for Batman 190 (March 1967), but the Penguin story inside, by Fox, Moldoff and Giella, is not so hot.


The Penguin decides to go futuristic for his new crime spree, even to the degree of forcing his gang to eat food pellets instead of real food.


The Penguin does have some impressive gear for Batman and Robin to deal with: a robot duplicate of himself, mentally controlled trick umbrellas, and a gravity beam.  Makes for some good scenes, although it all seems a bit out of place with this character.


Alfred shows that he has totally recovered from being dead, and is the one who manages to take the Penguin down, while Batman and Robin are dealing with the robot double.

Batman 189 – the Scarecrow returns


The Scarecrow, not seen since the early 1940s, makes his big return in a story by Fox, Moldoff and Giella, in Batman 189 (Feb. 67).


Since the character had not been seen in so long, the first few pages of the issue recap the origin of Jonathan Crane, and how the university professor turned to crime.


This is also the first story in which the Scarecrow uses chemicals to induce fears in Batman and Robin, keeping them off balance while he and his men escape with their loot.


Alfred, having recently come back to life, after a period as the Outsider, makes a small appearance in this story.


It’s a good story, solid and serious, and the Scarecrow proves what a good villain he really is.  Batman and Robin have to overcome the various fears he induces in them in order to triumph.