Tag Archives: Lew Schwartz

Batman 80 – the Joker makes a movie, and Batman fights big machines

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An ugly cover for Batman 80 (Dec/Jan 53/54), and the story is just as lame.

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The Joker story is not much better.  Finger, Sprang and Paris have the Joker get inspired to make his own movie, when he sees how popular movies about Batman and Robin are.

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It’s not a bad idea.  Batman appears to fall into the Joker’s various traps, all of which are being filmed.

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But Batman’s real purpose is to get the list of criminals who had ordered the film.

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The cover story, by Finger, Schwartz and Paris, has huge, weird looking machines going on thieving rampages through the city.

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Batman eventually finds that the machines are being controlled from afar, and the scientist who created them being held captive.

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Batman 79 – Vicki Vale gets engaged to Batman, and pre-Revolutionary Gotham

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Vicki Vale is pretty demanding on the cover of Batman 79 (Oct/Nov 53), and the story itself, by Reed, Sprang and Paris, feels a lot like a Lois Lane tale.

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A visiting maharajah takes an interest in Vicki Vale, and when she responds to him, he decides that she will become his bride.  Desperate to get out of it, Vicki lies and says that she is married to Batman.

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Batman goes along with the charade for Vicki’s sake, but another reporter, convinced that this is a hoax, tries to expose it by pushing it to the limit, setting a date and sending out invitations.  But then Vicki decides to continue with this, and forces Batman to marry her.

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At the last minute the Maharajah and his people but in, begging Vicki not to go through with it.  They inform her that, as Batman’s wife, she will have to undergo plastic surgery to alter her features.  Vicki is horrified, and backs out of the wedding.  And as the Maharajah cannot marry a woman who was betrothed to someone else, this also saves her from him.

A pure Superman and Lois Lane story.

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Carter Nichols is back, in a story by Finger, Schwartz and Burnley,

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When a shady character claims to have found loot from an infamous highwayman from Gotham’s early days, Batman get Carter Nichols to send him and Robin back to Gotham before the Revolutionary War to see if the gold is real.

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This is the first time we see Gotham in the early days, and there is a scene with a wagon hidden in a cave that could well be the Batcave.

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The story is decent as well, as Batman learns that the highwayman was not really a thief, he was framed to be, and thus the gold is not really from his stash.

 

Batman 78 – the Manhunter from Mars, and Batman in Canada

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Batman’s in Canada in issue 78 (Aug/Sept 53).

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The first story in the issue, by Hamilton, Schwartz and Paris, introduces a Manhunter from Mars, two years before J’onn J’onzz would debut.

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This one, who bears little to no resemblance to the later hero, is named Ron Kar, and comes to Earth to get Batman’s help for a case on Mars.  The story basically reprises the one from 1948.

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The Martians have all sorts of great weapons, and Batman winds up using jets to save Robin, who has been strapped to a rocket ship by the bad Martians.

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Reed, Schwartz and Kaye send Batman up north in this story, to the typical Canada from the comics, all snow and trees and lakes.

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At least the art looks good.  Batman becomes an honourary Mountie as he impresses them with his skills and weapons.

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There’s a good scene with a log flume, and Batman wears his white costume.

 

 

Batman 76 – gay parties, and fictional birds

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A good cover on Batman 76 (April/May 1953).

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Hamilton, Schwartz and Paris spin this tale about a Danger Club, made up of members who risk their lives frequently.  One of them spends too much money on gay parties.  That’s what it says.

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The members start getting killed off, and Batman knows it’s not accidental.

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Sure enough, it’s gay parties guy, and he talks about them again in his confession.  Putting the modern meaning of the word onto it makes even more sense, with his fear of being exposed.

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The same creative team provide the Penguin story in the issue, in which he claims to have found birds considered fictional.

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Batman reveal all of them to be mechanized, but there are still plenty of great visuals along the way, although the Phoenix looks like a dragon.

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There is a Penguin tale from the 70s that I think was inspired by this one.

Batman 75 – Mr. Roulette, and the Gorilla Boss of Gotham City

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The Gorilla Boss of Gotham City makes a cover debut in Batman 75 (Feb/March 53).

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But before that, Reed, Sprang and Paris spin an entertaining tale about a very odd man, Mr. Roulette.

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Vicki Vale is also in the story, although she looks a bit off.  The hairstyle looks strange.  She gets sent two boxes, with a chance to win $1,000, all to peak her interest in Mr. Roulette, who claims to gamble with death.

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Batman shows up as well, curious to see this man, but Mr. Roulette remains hooded and cloaked through the story.  He has exploding telephones, and walls that fire deadly darts.  Both Vicki and Batman are kind of freaked out by the guy.  It’s no surprise when news comes that he has died.

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But Batman has been wary all along, and proves that the whole identity of Mr. Roulette was a set-up to kill a gambler.  A well told story, complete with some giant props for the climax.

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Reed, Schwartz and Kaye introduce Boss Dyke, and execute him right off the bat.

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His body gets stolen and taken to Doc Willard, who removes his brain and implants it in a giant gorilla.

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Using the strength of being a gorilla, Boss Dyke then goes on a crime spree, stealing a million dollars.

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His plan is then to capture Batman, and have Doc Willard switch the Boss’ brain into Batman’s body, and Batman’s into the gorilla.  This appears to happen, but Batman recovered and took out Doc Willard, impersonating him.

Boss Dyke appears to die at the end of the story, and Willard goes insane.  But both return in a World’s Finest story in the mid 70s.

 

Batman 71 – Batman in prison, and Commissioner Gordon can’t stop talking about it

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The cover story in Batman 71 (June/July 1952) pulls out all the stops for a prison drama, by Reed, Schwartz and Kaye.

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There is some really nice art on this story, although much more serious than usual.  The prison is filled with police officers and citizens who helped the law, while criminals are in charge.

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The inmates are put to work making license plates, but a gimmicked kind, sold to other hoods.  All the standard tropes of prison films are here, but turned on their heads.  Batman and Robin are both being held, but work on a prison break, and take advantage of a riot.

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The resolution has a lot to do with switching identities, and is the only really weak part of an otherwise stand out tale.

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Commissioner Gordon gets the focus in this Reed, Sprang and Paris story, which gives some rare background to his life.

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Gordon remembers highpoints from his career in the days before Batman showed up.  He decides to prove to himself that he is still a top detective, setting out to find Batman’s true identity.

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He catches Batman’s reflection in a mirror as he removes his mask.  But then Gordon starts stressing out over the possibility to accidentally revealing the secret.  He sends his wife, who is rarely ever seen in these days, away, as well as his son, who does not appear in the story.  But all he can do is mutter about knowing Batman’s secret, and scribble it on a notepad and such.

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Gordon gets into a car accident, and then wanders around muttering about how he knows Batman’s secret.  There must never have been any secrets in this man’s life before, it’s clearly taking over his brain.  Anyway, hoods hear him saying this, and grab him to find out what Gordon knows.

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But it turns out that Gordon doesn’t actually know who Batman is.  Batman was disguised as one of Jim Gordon’s friends at the time he removed the mask.  So Gordon has sent the bad guys after an innocent man.

Hard to believe how wildly incompetent Gordon has become since Batman went into action, but that seems to be the entire point of this story.  Batman catches the bad guys, and Commissioner Gordon is just relieved that he doesn’t know who Batman is.

 

Batman 70 – the robot cop, and the Penguin’s umbrella factory

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Crime fighting goes high tech in Batman 70 (April/May 1952), in a story by Finger, Schwartz and Paris.

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A scientist comes to Commissioner Gordon, proposing to have his new robots take the place of Batman and the police.  Gordon is skeptical, until he finds out that the man making the proposal is really a robot, being controlled by the inventor, who is in a different room.

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The story plays out in the most expected way, as the robot outperforms Batman at first, but ultimately proves to be inadequate to replace a real human.

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The Penguin is back again, paroled yet again by a system that is clearly too lax. Woolfolk, Schwartz and Paris are the creative team.

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The Penguin opens an umbrella factory, using his expertise in the field.  Batman is suspicious, but the umbrellas he is making appear normal.

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But the Penguin does have theft on his mind, and though the umbrellas are largely normal, they are still central to his crimes.  But a mediocre story nonetheless.