Retro Comics are Awesome

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andersonh1
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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I started reading the Green Lantern Kyle Rayner compendium, and all the early issues collected there are familiar to me. We get Emerald Twilight to open the book, since that's necessary context for why Kyle gets the ring and is the only Green Lantern. The reader is introduced to Kyle Rayner, struggling graphic designer, and his girlfriend Alex, a photographer. Kyle is a bit of an adolescent still, as far as his behavior goes, which led Alex to break up with him, but getting the power ring spurs him to aim higher and attempt to be a genuine hero. The early issues throw a no-name starter villain at him, then in a follow up from Reign of the Supermen, he has to fight Mongul. At the point I quit reading, some shadowy government agency has sent Major Force to get the power ring, and of course I know what's coming. Major Force will kill Alex and stuff her in the refrigerator in a scene that's become infamous over the years. She's a good character, pretty likeable, I'm definitely going to be sorry to see her killed off so early in the series. There's a lot of fill in art very quickly after Darryl Banks becomes the regular artist, and there are some pinups of Hal right after GL #50 which I think were in the original issue. I'd have to dig it out to be sure. Some of the dialogue works, some of it is pretty bad, and of course there are some digs at Hal, or at least the stereotype of Hal they were pushing at the time that he was old school and unimaginative (Kyle: "Think I should make a giant green boxing glove?" Alex: "No, definitely not.").

I'm curious to see what I think of this series now that my unhappiness about Emerald Twilight isn't a factor, since the damage from that story has been repaired. Kyle comes across as very young and full of himself and in need of some maturity, which was clearly intentional. He's not too obnoxious or unlikeable, though he's not the present day Kyle that I appreciate a lot more than this early version, so Ron Marz managed to keep him a sympathetic lead character. Alex is the better of the two, and I think killing her off to give Kyle some angst is rightly remembered as a poor decision. I flipped ahead a bit and she's strangled to death by Major Force in full view, right on panel. It's surprisingly disturbing to see, and could have been handled better. I'm still not enthused about these issues, but maybe they're just too familiar, so we'll see how things look when I get to something that I haven't read before. Without the outer space focus and the Corps as a constant background element, and with Kyle's costume that's very different from the standard GL uniform, it doesn't quite feel like Green Lantern.
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Reading further in the Kyle Rayner compendium:

- Next up is the infamous issue where Alex is strangled to death by Major Force, in three panels, in full view of the reader. It's pretty distasteful. I don't know that I really object to killing the character off to send Kyle off in a different direction, but the way it was done was bad. If nothing else, it does prove that secret identities exist for a reason: the group that sent Major Force after Green Lantern was only able to do so because while they didn't know who he was, they knew he was constantly seen with Alex, so that's who was targeted.
- The book skips the last two pages of issue 55, where Superman and Metron recruit Kyle for Zero Hour, which was going on at this point. I'm not sure why.
- Alan Scott makes his first appearance in the series, back when he had been made young again, and there's a great four page spread by a different artist showing the history of the corps and a summary of Emerald Twilight as Alan fills Kyle in on some of the ring's history.
- None of the Zero Hour issues are included, which is fine, but the book jumps from Kyle resolving to do well in memory of Alex to fighting Hal/Parallax in the zero issue as they arrive on Oa. It's the first time the two of them meet, and since this is before the Parallax fear entity retcon that Geoff Johns introduced, Parallax is just Hal having lost his mind and determined to use his power to make everything right again. There are some more digs at readers who want Hal to be GL, and Kyle does one of the stupidest things he could: he destroys Oa to prevent Hal from being able to recharge his power again, without ever considering that there might be people living there. He even thinks to himself later on in a Legion 94 crossover issue that he'd better not let them know he blew up the planet. I think they later retconned it in that the Mosaic world had been evacuated before this issue, but Kyle didn't know that.
- So Kyle's lost in space and has some adventures with a former GL who ends up committing suicide because she no longer has a working power ring, after she steals Kyle's but finds that it doesn't work for her. Crossovers with other books are included here, so Kyle meets Legion 94 and then returns to Earth, where he leaves LA and moves to New York and gets involved in an adventure with the Titans when he's mentally controlled by Psimon.

So far I've read just about all these issues long before I bought the compendium, though it's nice to have them collected like this. I had been buying back issues recently, and had read through the first Titans encounter, so there should be some new issues for me coming up soon. My impressions haven't really changed, this book is readable enough. It's not a bad comic, and it's not high quality, it's the very definition of middle of the road mid-90s superhero comics. It's a little too self aware at times when it comes to the Hal vs. Kyle debate, and the murder of Alex is in really poor taste. When it comes to Kyle, the book is more successful for the most part. He's not too bright, but he remains mostly earnest and likeable. He makes some dumb rookie mistakes, though destroying Oa is the only really inexcusable one, since for all he knew he could have been killing millions of inhabitants, and it never even occurs to him.
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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I finished up the Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner compendium. Like all of these thick paperbacks, there are a few instances where the art or lettering gets partially lost in the gutter, but overall I like this format because of just how much they can fit into a single volume.
- After his adventures out in space, Kyle gets back to Earth and moves to New York, where he moves into his new apartment. He gets attacked and mind-controlled by Psimon, a telepathic villain, out for revenge on the Titans. While I'm glad the crossover issues with other books are included since the story continues there, the art isn't as good as Darryl Banks, and the characters making up the Titans aren't that interesting at this point. Definitely the second or third stringers, apart from Roy Harper and Donna Troy. Terra, Impulse, Damage, and a couple of characters I'm not familiar with at all make up the team. Kyle ends up joining them at the end of the story.
- One thing I appreciate about this book is that it's definitely not written for the trade. We don't have six issue decompressed storytelling. It's a bunch of done in one or two issue adventures, which is how I prefer comic book storytelling most of the time. There are a lot of crossovers (read cross promotion) with other books though, which had to have been a pain for readers at the time trying to keep up with everything.
- Kyle and Donna start a romance. Feels like she's on the rebound though, she's going through a divorce (and I vaguely remember that she was married and had a young son from reading the New Titans in the late 80s), so Kyle is a nice guy with a listening ear and her teammate on the Titans, so things happen in a way that should surprise no one. I seem to remember that one of the complaints about this series at the time was that though Kyle was supposed to be a Peter Parker-like hard luck hero, he kept ending up with these beautiful women in a way that was not in keeping with his usual status. Of course, that happened to Peter as well!
- There's a three part crossover with Guy Gardner: Warrior, "Capital Punishment" where Kyle encounters Major Force again and helps Guy survive an encounter with his brother Mace. This is during Guy's "Vuldarian" shape shifting phase, which was just a strange direction to take the character. That's what happens when editorial decrees only one Green Lantern, and all the peripheral GL characters have to have a reason to exist. I remember for a while there, Guy was wearing Sinestro's yellow ring, but Parallax destroyed that right before Zero Hour.
- Kyle though Hal Jordan was dead, but of course he isn't, and he turns up right after Ganthet, who had come to take the ring back from Kyle. I had quit buying the book at the time, but I picked up the two issues of Parallax View, which is two issues of Hal ranting about how he's supposed to be Green Lantern, and how he wants his ring and his life as Green Lantern back, and he has to fight all his friends again. In the end he realizes he can't go back and gives up the ring to Kyle. Ganthet merges with Hal, and I don't think that plot point was ever resolved as to why he did that. The other characters shill for the new guy as Hal sits alone on an alien planet and indulges in a fantasy where he's still Green Lantern. I can see why the writers of Final Night wanted to perform a mercy killing on Hal, just to stop the abuse of the character.
- The compendium ends with a five part crossover between the New Titans, Green Lantern, and Damage where they travel to an alien planet and participate in a war against an alien race that consumes everything in it's path. It ought to be a big, epic, space opera, but it's hobbled by inconsistent art and probably too many characters to adequately give all of them something to do. But I had never read any of it, so it was at least something new.

So, good hefty collection of early Kyle Rayner. I had read about half the issues collected in this book from browsing the back issue bins, but I appreciate a collection that's easy to read and which includes all the crossover issues from other series. Some of the art in those other books just lacks any appeal, at least for me. I can see why most of them didn't last very long. Kyle's not a bad character though, and he definitely grows into the role, though you can tell that all the writers were pushing him by the way the other superheroes talk him up. They never seem all that eager to track down and help their old friend Hal either, they just fight him when he turns up and then forget about him.
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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I ran across another book I've wanted a copy of for some time: Batman from the 30s to the 70s. I have the Superman volume covering the same era, both were published in the early 1970s, a few years after the 30th anniversary of both characters I'd imagine. Back in the days before the comprehensive reprints of every story in the omnibus collections, or the Archives, these were a great sampler of old DC stories that were impossible to read in any other way. Of course in flipping through the book I'd already read most of them, and in color too (most of the book is black and white). There are a few with the original Batwoman and Batgirl that I haven't read, and some early Bronze Age, including the issue where Dick Grayson goes to college and Bruce and Alfred lock up Wayne Manor and move into Gotham. So there's some new material there. For $5, it was a nice find.
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Green Lantern #71
September 1969

The City that Died!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Joe Giella

It's been a long time since we had two stories in an issue, and we've got the classic combination of Broome, Kane and Giella on this first story. Interesting to see Broome give Hal this dialogue in the splash page: "I'm the most powerful man in the world...." So it's not Superman? I know it's a bit of dramatic hyperbole to emphasize Hal's helplessness and to hook the readers who will want to know just what is going on here, but it's still interesting. I also like the little skull and crossbones in the word "died", but I am going to disagree that Hal's new role as toy salesman is "exciting".

Hal is now selling toys in Florida for the Merlin Toy Company. Hal has donated some toys to a school for handicapped children. As he talks with the principal, the man mentions that the school is in bad shape due to a lack of funds. Are we seeing the first hints of social issues in this series? I think so, in a small way at least. Hal has been promised a bonus by his boss if he sells the toyline to Wilsons in Solar City, and if he gets that bonus he plans to turn it over to the school director. I can't imagine it would be enough for a new school, but still, it's a generous gesture by Hal. He's got to get the sale first though, and his competition is the red-headed Olivia Reynolds, and I have to admit to being surprised that Broome was actually allowed to get away with a scene where Olivia essentially uses her sex appeal to make the sale as she strips down to a "futuristic outfit" (a one piece swimsuit essentially), leaving Wilson grinning at her while Hal looks forlorn in the background.

But the superhero part of the plot finally kicks in as all the mechanical and electrical devices in the city stop working, and Green Lantern has to investigate. All the power in the city is out. The first thing GL does is use his ring's energy to power the emergency generator at the hospital, which again is not an issue I'm sure we'd have seen in the past. Hal wishes he could power the entire city, but the ring doesn't have enough power for that, and even now it's running in a weakened state as he keeps the hospital powered up. He takes out some crooks using his fists (nothing new there!) and then runs across the scene we saw on the splash page, as people are now being affected rather than just machinery. Hal flies up into orbit to try and pinpoint the source of the power drain, which turns out to be a fissure in the earth filled with "boiling metal" which is giving off radiation. Hal's struggling to use his low-powered ring to stay alive and at the same time to collapse rock into the fissure to seal it off. He heads back to the surface to see if he was able to solve the power drain problem, and it worked. Everything is returning to normal. The downside is that Hal lost the sales contract and thus does not get his bonus, which he would have donated to the children's hospital. But when the city council offers Green Lantern a reward for saving the city, GL says that he normally doesn't accept money, but this time he will, only it should be given as an anonymous donation to the children's school. Good for him, he doesn't even want any credit for the charity.

Not a bad story, and it honestly benefits by being shorter than usual. The problem turns out to be probably something natural rather than a threat posed by some crooks or supervillain, and the story allows Green Lantern to be heroic and do some problem solving and just be selfless in general, as befits a hero. He sacrifices a lot of his power to keep the hospital running, which makes his job harder, and he turns down both the money and the credit. We expect that from him as a matter of course, but it doesn't hurt to remind the reader from time to time.

Hip Jordan Makes the Scene!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Dick Dillin Inks - Murphy Anderson

Hal has to have one of the biggest extended families in comics, and we get one last John Broome-written story with most of them at an annual Jordan family reunion, held at the "palatial" home of uncle Titus. So we have Titus Jordan, Jim and Sue, Hal, and some other unidentified members of the Jordan clan, including a smiling man in the foreground beside Uncle Titus, a boy named Steven and his mom, who fusses at him for picking up a Ming vase. There are some other unidentified Jordans on the last panel of the story as well. Into the reunion comes a hippy-looking fellow with wild hair and a beard who introduces himself as their cousin Doug Jordan, with the nickname "Hip", from Tennessee. I'm not sure what kind of accent Hip is supposed to have. They all know him as the black sheep of the Jordan family. Titus won't turn him away since he's a Jordan, but insists that he get a bath. Sue thinks Hip is only there to steal, and demands that Jim stop pretending he's not Green Lantern and put a stop to whatever Hip is up to.

Hip hears part of the conversation through the fireplace and gets out, not wanting to tangle with Green Lantern. But when Jim, in last year's Halloween GL costume, comes through the yard, having just said "yes, dear" to Sue's demands, Hip turns into a hillbilly stereotype who thinks about how his pappy fought off the "revenoo" agents and he clubs Jim over the head, hoping to use him to get into the Black Scooter gang. When Jim doesn't come back, and Titus's Rolls Royce is missing, Hal suits up as GL and goes to look for them. He finds Hip and Jim at the headquarters of the Black Scooter gang, about to kill Jim, and he intervenes to save his life. When Hip demands the ring or else he'll kill Jim, Hal tosses him the ring after giving it a command to paralyze Hip, then he punches out the remaining gang members. All's well that ends well, with both Hip and the Black Scooter gang jailed, and the party in full swing at Uncle Titus's house, with Sue still convinced that her husband is Green Lantern, and Hal secretly laughing at the situation.

Grant Morrison may be the only writer to ever bring back Doug "Hip" Jordan. He's in The Green Lantern Annual #1, where he is once again a villain, and Hal gets to punch his lights out. He's definitely a hillbilly stereotype without much to his character but a dim-witted desire to steal and prey on his relatives. We get a number of unidentified Jordan relatives in this story, and a few that we do know about, such as Uncle Jeremiah and Hal's brother Jack, are not present. It's like the first story in this issue, lightweight and fun, though most of the fun comes from adding to the list of Jordan family members rather than the crime fighting. Sue will learn the truth one of these days, that Jim isn't GL. I wonder when?

Green Lantern #72
October 1969

Phantom of the Space-Opera!
Script - Denny O'Neil Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Joe Giella

I like the new cover logo. It's sort of a throwback to the same idea as the Golden Age logo, with the lantern in the middle and Green Lantern "shining" out on either side. The standard Silver Age GL logo is on the splash page though, and we're back to Denny O'Neil writing, and considering his track record so far, I'm not filled with confidence about the quality of this story. It does start out well though, in deep space, as the nomadic Verdees ride their horse-like, open-topped spacecraft like some outer space biker gang. Hal is headed their direction to the "Berliotz" system and a Guardian advises him to take a lantern along, and we get the first real hints of the jerks that the Guardians will become under O'Neil's pen as this one tells Hal "take this battery, and do not weary me with further arguments."

Well, the kind, thoughtful and encouraging Guardians of the Universe were good while they lasted.

So Hal has to wrangle the Verdees, who don't take well to being ordered to break up their rowdiness. Their weapons don't penetrate the protective field that the ring creates. Hal uses the term "Green Lantern Corps", and I'm wondering if this is the first usage or if I missed an earlier use of the term. I had been watching for it, but it slipped my memory recently. We get to suffer through some of O'Neil's trendy dialogue as Hal thinks of the Verdees weapons as "squirt guns" and he thinks of his punches as "love taps". I guess the western analogy and the "Lonesome Lantern" as a reference to the Lone Ranger got a smile out of me. The gang are no match for Hal and his power ring, but he's forced to take one of the Verdees on board a nearby ship when his bike malfunctions. There he meets Captain Hektor and his space opera troupe, and we learn that the Verdees were told that the opera singers were going to turn everyone against them, so they were out to scare them away.

Turns out the Wagnorians (and yes, I get that O'Neil is borrowing names for groups and places from various composers, which is more irritating than clever) wants the Verdees to attack the opera, in order to give them an excuse to invade. Hal figures that much out, but tells the opera company that Batman could figure this out, but GLs aren't use to playing detective. They are persistent though. He recharges his ring, and the story skips ahead to the opera itself, where the Wagnorians have sabotaged it, and the brawling they wanted breaks out. To stop the invasion and give himself time to deal with the enormous problem, Hal freezes everyone within a 1,000 miles into place, an effort that tires him out. But he's worked it out, the opera troupe's lead singer is a spy for the Wagnorians. While the Verdee that Hal questioned earlier punches out the spy, Hal arrests the Wagnorians while quoting an old Philip Marlowe radio episode. I don't think I've ever seen another mention of Hal being an old-time radio fan. Too bad, it's an interesting bit of characterization.

So there's a bit too much cribbing of composer names for alien people and places, and probably a bit too much counter culture seeping into the story, but it's refreshing to read an issue with Green Lantern out in space, dealing with proper Green Lantern issues like conquest and crime among alien races. Hal is the only human in this story, and we never see Earth one time. It's one of O'Neil's better efforts. Three more issues to go, and we're done with the Silver Age.
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Green Lantern #73
December 1969

From Space Ye Came - And to Space Ye shall Return!
Script - Mike Friedrich Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Murphy Anderson

Hal returns to Earth and his job as toy salesman, and while at a gas station near Coast City, he runs into Tom "Pieface" Kalmaku, his old friend and confidant. Turns out that Tom has left Ferris Air and now owns a chain of six gas stations. Hal promises to come visit as soon as he's settled in, and he reflects on the changes since he left Coast City, including a black mayor, oil drilling off the coast and three kids for Tom and Terga. Looking over the first few pages, I'm not sure I'm a big fan of Gil Kane's "giant faces filling the panel" style he's adopted here. He's definitely picking more dynamic angles to compose his panels, and I enjoy that. He draws his human figures differently as well. He's definitely adjusting to the times.

An oil rig starts spouting oil everywhere and Hal is forced to go into action as Green Lantern. This is the first time he's been in Coast City since issue 49 I believe, not counting flashbacks, and my guess is that everyone knew the revamp into Green Lantern/Green Arrow was coming, and they wanted to give us one last story with the classic cast in the classic setting.

And speaking of the classic cast, who does Green Lantern encounter on the beach but Carol Ferris, last briefly seen in issue 69 on the day before her wedding... which, we find out, never took place. GL is introduced to her by the mayor, and he rather rudely flies off with her in the middle of the mayor's remarks! All his feelings for her are still there and come rushing back, and he has to talk to her. So much for Eve Doremus... it doesn't bother me though. I'm definitely a Hal/Carol shipper. Carol broke off her engagemen to Jason Belmore and GL can't resist a kiss, though he takes off afterward, not wanting the old two person love triangle to start again. He decides to go talk to Tom about it, just as the oil derrick ruptures again. He gets that under control, but the hotel residents start acting crazy, and then "ghosts" of past celebrities who stayed there appear. It turns out to be Star Sapphire who caused all of this, in an attempt to "weaken GL's resistance" so he'll marry her. We saw Carol still had the sapphire right before GL took on the oil derrick's second rupture, so Star Sapphire's appearance is no surprise. Hal attempts to use the ring to revert Sapphire back to Carol, but Sapphire gets one last strike in by doing the same thing to GL, reverting him to his "other identity" (which Star Sapphire does not know) and sending him into outer space.... and we get a cliffhanger ending to what I think is only the second multi-part story so far.

So I'm not a big fan of parts of Gil Kane's revised art style, but I liked the story. It is refreshing to return to Coast City and to see Carol and Tom again. I just don't think the book has been the same since Hal left Coast City. I thought a status quo change might have been a good thing at the time to add something new to the book, but the series turned into "The Fists of Hal Jordan" with cameos by Green Lantern, and having Hal go into insurance adjustment and then toy sales sucked all of the novelty that we got from his test pilot job out of the series. I didn't mind his other love interests, but he and Carol have been a part of each other's lives for so long that no one else seems quite right. This is easily my favorite issue in some time, and I'm going to say that I think taking Hal out of the Coast City setting was a mistake. It didn't have to be, if handled differently, but it just wasn't as good as it could have been.
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Detective Comics #212
October 1954

The Puppet Master!
Script: Bill Finger Pencils: Dick Sprang Inks: Charles Paris

This is the third "Puppet Master" that Batman has encountered. The first was back in Batman #3, where a man named Dimitri used a chemical to control people, including Batman, in an attempt to steal a Voss Rifle. The second was in Detective Comics #182 from April 1952. In that story, the Maestro, the Puppet Master, uses puppets to plan out his crimes, so it's a completely different M.O. from the first. Both stories were written by Bill Finger, so this is the third time he's used the same name for a different character.

Jonathan Bard starts down his path to crime when he's very young. He obsesses over puppets, because he envies the control the operator has over them, and Bard wishes he could control people in that same way. Yikes. He does not get better as he grows up. He wants to win the Gotham Arts Festival contest and sabotages his competition, something witnessed by Bruce Wayne, who is helping officiate the festival. Bruce's report gets Bard kicked out of the competition. Bard swears revenge and starts using life sized puppets to carry out a train robbery. It doesn't take Batman and Robin two minutes to figure out the bitter Puppet Master is probably involved, and they attempt to track him down through his use of balsa wood to create his puppets. He gets one of his men, but not Bard himself.

Bard next commits a robbery using literal giant puppets, which look to be 20 or 30 feet tall. I think even made from balsa that those would be really heavy, and one man on a rooftop could not use strings to control them. And how did he get these puppets to the street without someone seeing them? They look too big to fit in a truck. So the scene is a little hard to buy. At any rate, Bard uses one of the puppets to kidnap Robin. Batman sets a trap using his Bruce Wayne identity and telling the news that he's bought a silver soup turreen that once belonged to Henry VIII for $20,000. Bard steals it, but it's a giant tureen, and of course Batman is hiding inside and jumps out at Bard's hideout. Batman is forced to give up because Robin is tied to strings like a marionette. Bard strings Batman up the same way and plans to kill the two of them in a "puppet show" in front of Gotham's crime leaders. Batman escapes and puts a couple of Batman and Robin puppets on display so that he and Robin can surprise Bard and the other crooks and round them all up. The last panel has Dick turning off the tv (have we seen a television in the Wayne house before? I think this may be the first time) because he never wants to see puppets again.

I was glad from page one to see Dick Sprang drawing this one, as I always am when he's drawing Batman. There are several recycled ideas here: the crook who has an obsession that started in childhood, and the "Puppet Master" who uses puppets of some sort to commit crimes. That being said, the story still works reasonably well, though the giant puppets are a step too far and leaving the tied Batman and Robin unguarded is a typical dumb criminal mistake. The cover makes it look like the two people in the foreground have been hanged rather than making me think of puppet feet, but maybe that's down to watching a lot of Westerns this past year. This feels like a middle of the road effort from Bill Finger: not bad, but not a lot of originality and not his best work.


Batman #87
October 1954

The cover of this issue is great, with a frantic Robin pointing at the Bat-signal. "Batman, can't you hear me?" Nope, he's got flowers and chocolates and a big smile on his face for the beautiful Magda as "Batman falls in love!" But we'll have to wait until the last story in the issue to find out how this plays out.

Batman's Greatest Thrills!
Writer: Bill Woolfolk Pencils: Bob Kane Inks: Stan Kaye

A perfect plan - ruined by that caped interloper!

The bat-signal alerts Bruce and Dick to a problem while Alfred grumbles about them always being summoned at mealtime. Batman and Robin are sent to the Gotham Opera House, where in a surprise turn of events (not really, the splash page gave it away) GCTV is putting on an episode of "This is Your Life!"... I mean, the totally unrelated "Your Life Story", where an unsuspecting celebrity is essentially tricked into going somewhere, where the host would run through their life and introduce people they knew in front of an audience. Turns out Batman knew this was coming since they had phoned Bruce Wayne to appear in the program.

The first guest is Commissioner Gordon, there to talk about "Gotham's most prominent citizen". Yep, he's been public figure and respected establishment authority for a long time now, but it's still odd to me to see this masked vigilante portrayed this way, even though it's very much the status quo at this point in his history. Gordon presents Batman the key to the city and the audience forms the Bat-signal. Next up is Vicki Vale, who apparently thinks she's still Bruce Wayne's girl, even though the two of them haven't been seen together on page for a long time. Then there's "the prisoner in the iron mask", King Zabot of Morbania, rescued by Batman in an adventure we've never seen until now. Vicki introduces Janie, two years older than when Batman met her, when he recovered her stolen doll that had a half-million dollar pearl hidden inside it. Then there's Johnny Taylor, who Batman gave a blood transfusion to when the plasma he was taking to the man on board a ship was lost during a story at sea. The producers even include the Joker from prison... except he's escaped and attacks the stage with laughing gas at that very moment. Batman captures him in eight panels.

And of course the final moment arrives, where the problem of maintaining his secret identity has been hanging over his head the whole time. Bruce Wayne walks on stage to shake hands with Batman. I had expected someone, probably Alfred, to be masquerading as Bruce, but the story gives us a slight twist on that idea. It actually is Bruce, appearing as himself. During the confusion of the Joker's attack Alfred switches places with Bruce in the Batman costume (complete with fake muscles for Alfred!). Dick notes that they were going to have Alfred impersonate Bruce, but the end result was even better.

This is a Batman story that would only work in this era, when Batman is a respected public figure. I can't decide if I'd have preferred a look back to actual Batman stories instead of newly invented "past cases" when the important figures in Batman's life are called on stage. The story works both ways, and we do get new adventures this way. The Joker would never be caught this quickly in most of his appearances, and again, only in this era would the producers of this television show want to include a dangerous criminal as part of Batman's life story! I guess "This is Your Life" was a big hit at the time, inspiring Bill Woolfolk to allow Batman to appear on the program in the only way he could.

The Synthetic Crime King!
Writer: Unknown Pencils: Sheldon Moldoff Inks: Stan Kaye

This has to be one of the earliest examples of Batman taking on a super-powered criminal, an "artificial man" to use the opening blurb's terminology. It's a matter of course for him to take on far more powerful individuals in the modern day, but a rare thing in these early decades. The story is told from this man's point of view, and he's a sort of modern day Frankenstein's creation, a man created by Professor Vilmer from artificial tissues and named Adam Newman. Adam is stronger and faster than everyone else, and Vilmer controls Adam by means of the elixir he needs to stay alive that only the professor can make. Vilmer uses Adam to commit crimes, but the young and unknowing synthetic human doesn't even know it's wrong. He encounters Batman for the first time when he breaks into a train to rob it of a safe with iridium. Adam insists that he cannot go to jail and has to obey orders, and he slows Batman by pushing a bunch of crates on top of him and running off carrying a very heavy safe. He even identifies himself to Batman as Adam Newman, the synthetic man.

Batman and Robin encounter Adam a second time when Vilmer has him help rob a bank by using a giant mirror to heat the place up so that no one can stand it, except Vilmer in his heat resistant fire fighting suit. When Batman uses the lawn sprinklers to create steam and diffuse the sun's reflection, Adam drops the mirror and runs, only to misjudge and find himself in danger of being crushed by it. Batman and Robin knock it over, saving his life, which Adam recognizes. Vilmer decides he has to kill Batman, but Adam doesn't want to do it. Vilmer forces him into it by once again threatening to withold the elixir. Meanwhile Batman has his suspicions about the "synthetic man" which he is discussing with Robin in the Batcave when the "bat alarm" goes off. I guess when they can't look out the window and see the Bat-signal, this is the alternative.

Vilmer's plan is to use Adam to lure Batman to the top of the Monarch building and trap him. Adam is not happy about this, and even though Batman wants to talk, Adam follows orders and attacks him... or so it seems. It turns out that Adam cannot make himself kill Batman, and with the elixir wearing off, he'd rather just die. He collapses, and Batman switches costumes with him in order to get close to Vilmer and capture him. The plan works perfectly. Batman as Adam is taken back to Vilmer's lab, Robin follows, and the two of them clean up the mobsters who were paying $100,000 to have Batman killed as well as Vilmer (I love Robin's chagrin that they didn't offer up a similar bounty for him!). The story ends with a twist, hinted at back in the Batcave: Adam is not synthetic at all, but a victim of Vilmer who had used drugs to both take his memory, and temporarily increase his strength. Batman, who always notices these small details, saw a scar on his face and then later a vaccination mark on his arm, confirming that he could not have been a newly created synthetic man. "Adam's" identity is revealed as athlete Johnny Marden, and all ends well with Marden grateful to Batman for helping him.

Just a note about the final panel of the story, it's a distant shot with Batman's shadow on the wall as he and Robin say goodbye to Marden. It feels very modern and isn't something that I remember seeing often. I like it quite a bit. Nice twist ending to the story, and it has a bit of a tragic feel to it as the relatively innocent "Adam" is forced into doing things he doesn't understand and doesn't want to do. Batman, as always, is an intellectually active character, questioning what he sees and looking for the truth, and he's always ready to protect lives at the risk of his own. I like the rare first person narration to tell this story, that and the "Batman vs. superhuman" made it stand out from the typical Batman story. This one was pretty good, all things considered.

Batman Falls in Love!
Writer: Bill Finger Pencils: Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff Inks: Stan Kaye

Batman! Will you stop mooning over that Magda! There's a crime wave on! - Robin

I love that opening splash page with Batman holding flowers and chocolates while little hearts swirl around his head as he stares at a poster of Magda, toast of two continents, while Robin tries to talk some sense into him. No time for love when there's a crime wave going on! The story proper begins and at Vue Magazine, workplace of Vicki Vale, the male photographers are gushing over Magda, much to Vicki's disgust. She is interviewing Magda later (and glad to see that Batman is keeping his mind on business and not Magda) when an attempt is made on Magda's life as revenge for turning in a smuggling ring to the French police. The gang members in Gotham want revenge. Gordon calls Batman to his office (clearly also smitten by her charms... shame on you Gordon, you're a married man!) and assigns Batman to guard her. Vicki tells him he'd better not get any romantic ideas, but Batman assures her it's strictly business.

Batman saves Magda from a murder attempt, and she plants a big kiss right on his lips in gratitude. Vicki's attitude is hilarious, and very Lois Lane of her. "That she-wolf! Look at her crawling all over Batman!" Dick can't believe that with the job done and the would-be killers caught, Batman is still hanging around with Magda, having apprently fallen head over heels for her. It's a celebrity romance followed by the tabloid press, since Batman is a public figure right now. It's absurd, and it's a lot of fun at the same time. Gotham's underworld are delighted, because once Batman's married, "she'll take him right out of circulation!" Their troubles will be over! Poor Robin doesn't see his pal much any more, and Vicki is heartbroken, though to give her credit, she's more upset about Robin than herself.

But of course, the whole thing has been a ruse to draw out the believed to be dead Jacques Terlay (I had forgotten they explained who he was back on page 2 and had to look back through the story so I understood why he was important here) and capture him, with Magda willingly helping Batman with the plan. Vicki about ruins the whole thing by literally trying to knock some sense into Batman by hitting him over the head. Terlay leaves Batman and the two ladies to die when he leaves the gas stove running, but Batman is able to get free, get everyone out, and run Terlay down at the airport. All the crooks are in jail, and Batman explains the faked romance to Robin. Meanwhile Vicki declares that one day she'll be "Mrs. Batman", so he'd better watch out.

The writers weren't giving us anything too serious here, and I can't say I was surprised to find that the whole romance was a ruse to capture someone, though as I noted I had forgotten the passing reference to Jacques so I was a bit confused when he turned up. I liked Batman's trick with the radio, catching the "clicks" as Terlay dialed the phone so he could learn where Terlay was going. Batman does not miss a trick. Poor Robin is once again the victim of necessity, and not for the first time. Bruce really does need to confide in him more.

Detective Comics #213
November 1954

The Mysterious Mirror-Man!
Script: Bill Finger Pencils: Sheldon Moldoff Inks: Charles Paris

Floyd Ventris is put into prison, but while in the prison doctor's office for a routine examination, he "accidentally" breaks a mirror. He hides a piece of the broken mirror, and that night he breaks out of prison by using the piece of mirror to reflect the searchlight back into the prison guard's eyes, causing him to drop his rifle. We're not told where the rope Ventris used to scale the prison wall came from. At any rate, Ventris decides that since a mirror helped him escape, they will become his new means of committing crime. We've seen this type of plot device from Bill Finger a number of times now, where a criminal fixates on a particular thing, so it's a familiar storytelling device by now. Ventris calls himself "Mirror Man" and claims to be the smartest crook of all, and he's going to prove it by unmasking Batman. His tool for accomplishing this is "an invention I hijacked from a dead scientist's personal belongings... a two way electronic mirror that x-rays anything covered by cloth". Ventris is not one of these genius crooks that makes items himself, clearly, so he's not quite as smart as he thinks he is.

At any rate, his first crime is to use the mirrored surface of a giant solar mirror at an army research station to melt the ice at a skating rink and steal the box office receipts. The Batplane puts a smokescreen between the mirror and the sun to foil this attempt, and Ventris escapes capture through a nearby hall of mirrors, narrowly missing his chance to see beneath Batman's cowl when Robin enters. Batman, very familiar with this type of obsessed crook by now, anticipates the next crime as a giant mirror is being delivered for the telescope at "Mt. Malador" observatory. I'm sure this is meant to be a riff on Mt. Palomar, which is of course in California rather than New York. Batman has guessed correctly, and Robin has to abandon pursuit of the Mirror-Man to save the expensive mirror from being smashed. Batman catches up with the crooks and while he's fighting them, Ventris uses the device to learn that Batman is Bruce Wayne. Bruce is aware of this because he sees Ventris in the Batmobile's side mirrors.

Ventris is delighted, but does not get the reaction he hoped for when he tells his gang. They all laugh at the idea that Batman is Bruce Wayne. This is actually a nice bit of continuity here since we've seen several very public attempts to reveal his identity as Bruce Wayne foiled by Batman in past stories, so the idea that people would be aware of those and not take the link seriously any more is a good one. Ventris is determined to prove that he's right, and his next crime is stealing silver to be used at the Apex Glassworks to make the world's largest mirror. When Batman has again guessed his next crime correctly and intercepts the gang, Ventris attempts to expose his identity live on the television cameras covering the event, but all his machine shows to the watching television audience is an ugly, distorted face beneath the cowl. Batman punches him out, quipping "Now your face is distorted!" Ventris and his gang are sent to jail (and I figured it would be on the third attempt at a crime, as is typical) and we find out that Bruce used a hood made up of tiny mirrors beneath his cowl to distort his features. He defeated Mirror-Man with mirrors.

The story is written around a well-worn formula, but I still found it enjoyable. There's nothing remarkable at this point about a crook with a gimmick, who is obsessed over that gimmick and plans his crimes around it. And there's nothing new about a crook trying to find out who Batman really is. But the story can still work, and this one does. Even while going over some well-worn ground, it's a perfectly servicable Batman case that shows him outthinking a crook who thinks he's smarter than he actually is.
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Green Lantern #74
January 1970

Lost in Space!
Script - Mike Friedrich Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Murphy Anderson

"Whatta change! The most helpless guy on Earth charges a small ring... and he begins to rise... surging with new energy... trembling with awakening power... until he's in a class only Superman can touch!" - Tom Kalmaku

The issue opens right where the last one left off with Hal in his everyday clothes floating in space, sent there by Star Sapphire. He's had his memory of being GL taken away, but the ring still protects him. He's a little worked up about being out in space, and he tries to remember how he got there. He's getting a bit hysterical and when he finds one of the toy rockets that he sells in his pocket and commands it to become real, it does, thanks to his power ring. That shocks him into remembering everything and so the cliffhanger is resolved in three pages and GL is headed back to find Carol. But now Hal has twice the trouble, as Sinestro reveals himself. He gave the Star Sapphire to Carol and does so again, turning her into Star Sapphire and enlisting her aid in defeating Green Lantern. Not only is it two to one, but Hal's ring runs out of charge at that very moment (good thing it didn't happen in space about ten minutes earlier!), so he's down and out.

However, while Star Sapphire is willing for Sinestro to help her defeat GL, she doesn't want him killed. We get a succinct summation of who Sinestro is and what motivates him, and he ends up in combat with Star Sapphire, determined not to lose his chance to kill Hal, while she refuses to allow it. In the meantime, Tom has seen the fight on television and his friend lying on the sand, and is determined to help. Hal's power battery is in his beachside hotel room, and though he tries to get there while Sinestro and Star Sapphire are preoccupied, they stop fighting long enough to prevent him from entering the hotel. But good old Tom has found the invisble power battery and even helps the injured, exhausted GL to recharge his ring and speak the oath. Green Lantern is back on his feet and back in the fight, with his friend probably having quite literally saved his life.

The battle resumes, and Hal is able to out-will Sinestro and turn Carol back into herself. Sinestro, to Hal's surprise, concedes defeat (and he has a really receding hairline in a couple of panels, which just looks odd), and escapes, either teleporting away or returning to Qward. Hal wonders if he was ever even there at all. He heads down to find Carol and finally tells her the truth: that she's Star Sapphire. Poor Carol can't take the revelation and runs away, leaving Hal alone. Only he still has his friend Tom Kalmaku, and the last page of the story shows him at Tom's house enjoying some conversation while waiting for dinner.

I'll just repeat what I said the last time here: this is my favorite Green Lantern story in quite some time. If nothing else, it proves to me how vital the original supporting cast is, because no one has ever managed to replace them. I liked having two of Hal's biggest adversaries in the same story, and good use is made of the ring running out of power to allow Tom a moment to shine. Hal couldn't have saved himself from his two super-powered opponents in his condition. I like how for once the sheer power of a Green Lantern is recognized as Tom puts him up there with Superman. For the first time in a long time, I want to see where things go next with Hal and Carol, but knowing what's coming, it won't be next issue.

Green Lantern #75
March 1970

The Golden Obelisk of Qward!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Joe Giella

We've reached the final issue in Green Lantern Silver Age Omnibus vol. 2, and we get one final story by the original writer and artists who kicked all of this off back in Showcase #22 as a bookend before moving on to a major shake-up in the series. John Broome, Gil Kane and Joe Giella take us back to some of Green Lantern's earliest enemies by returning to Qward, though it's a let down because the Qwardians look completely different than the bug-eyed, winged helmet wearing weaponers of old.

The story opens with Hal completing a sale and beating his main rival, Olivia Reynolds. Turns out she was rushed to the hospital and though Hal isn't let in to see her, Green Lantern can go around security. Olivia's doctor, Eli Bently, can't diagnose her illness, but GL knows what's wrong. In a reference to a Flash issue that I have not read, Olivia has a "U-Mind" that keeps an entire alien race, the Lenglyns, alive. It would no doubt be helpful to have read the Flash story to really understand what's going on here. I remember this plot point coming up in the 1990 Green Lantern series as well, and I didn't quite understand it then either. In any case, Hal traces some energy leading directly to Olivia back to the anti-matter universe of Qward, and takes Dr. Bently along when he insists on going.

The Weaponers intercept Green Lantern as he enters their universe, and he uses the ring to tangle them up in some "unearthly trees". I do not like the redesign of the weaponers, it's far less distinctive than the original look, and I don't know why the change was made. Hal beats the first group, but the second knocks him out with their weapon. Hal is rescued by a member of the resistance, who only lasts a few panels before he himself is killed, much to Hal's dismay. Rather than risk another fight, GL and Dr. Bently disguise themselves as wandering minstrels (in Qward? Seriously?). They sing for their supper and infiltrate the capital city of the Weaponers. And here we come to the explanation for the title: there is a golden obelisk on Qward that holds a great secret, and no one has been able to open it, but the current leader thinks he has found a way: the energy that is present in Olivia Reynold's mind.

It works, and the golden obelisk is shattered. While the Qwardians are searching through the rubble, Hal grabs the doctor and Olivia and heads for the passage back to their own universe. Hal holds off the pursuit while the others escape, thinking all the while about the weapon the Qwardians used on him earlier that could overcome the reserve power in his ring that protects him and actually kill him. He follows and erases the memory of these events from Olivia's mind. Turns out that it was the U-mind that powered the weapon that nearly killed him, but Hal would save Olivia all over again under the same circumstances.

This is a fairly simple "in and out, hit and run rescue" plot. The main problem I have with it, aside from the Quardian redesigns, is that it follows up from a story that was in another title. We get enough information to follow the plot, so that's not a problem, but there's no real sense of stakes here, other than Olivia's life. This is only the second time she's appeared in the series, so I can't say I have much of an attachment to the character. I do like the courage of Olivia's doctor who insists on going along on a very dangerous adventure if it will help his patient. And of course, this gives Hal someone to talk to so he doesn't have to constantly be giving exposition during an internal monlogue. This isn't a bad story by any means, just fairly middle of the road.

And that's it, we've made it through the Silver Age and the entire decade of the 1960s with Green Lantern. In looking back over all that we've read, I think I enjoyed the first half of the Silver Age the most, where Hal was in Coast City at his test pilot job, trying to win Carol's affection and relating his adventures to Tom. Each issue would introduce us to something new, either an issue with the ring as Hal learned to use it, an adventure with his brothers or in the 58th century, or something new about the outer space world of the Green Lantern Corps (not yet called by that name) or a new enemy that Hal had to cope with. It was a world building book that moved forward and built on what came before. There's a pretty clear line of demarcation in issue 49 when Hal leaves Coast City, and the book becomes more about Hal being angry and trying to cope and punching enemies more than using the ring, and it feels like a lot of the joy was sucked out of the book. There were still some good issues, but the book was just not the same, and I can see why sales declined. I get the need for a change of pace after years of the original formula, but readers needed Hal to get through his understandable unhappiness that Carol was gone, and get back to some positive, hopeful superheroing, and we didn't often get that.
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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I wanted to start the GL/GA run while the issues that came before were still fresh in my mind. And I have to say, our main character is about to get folded, spindled, and mutilated by Denny O'Neil...

Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76
April 1970

No Evil Shall Escape My Sight!
Script - Denny O'Neil Art - Neal Adams

I've been looking forward to reviewing this famous run. I've read it many times over the years, but I've never sat down to review it in context with what came before, both for Green Lantern and to some extent for Green Arrow, given that I've read the Golden Age omnibus and his appearances in Justice League and the Brave and the Bold that are chronologically right before this. The cover proclaims "this is the new Green Lantern co-starring Green Arrow", so it's no longer a solo title, and we have two characters who are pretty much polar opposites sharing the book. Yeah, they've both been a part of the cast of Justice League of America for years, but things have changed.

So Hal is flying along just above street level in Star City with the caption boxes proclaiming that he's about to "end... his grandeur and begin... a long torment." Soul-searching time, in other words. He's in the area and decides to look up Green Arrow when he runs across some street punks roughing up a well-dressed overweight man. Hal decides to teach the punk a little respect and sends him off to police headquarters for assault. The man is okay, and Hal grandstands a bit when he's hit in the head with a can, followed by a rain of debris. GL is understandably angry and is about to lay into one of the locals, when Green Arrow steps in and takes their side. He shows Hal how the people in the neighborhood live, in a run down building owned by the man on the street they were roughing up, name of Jubal Slade. The dynamic between Hal and Ollie is set up in these scenes with Hal as the naive but good intentioned law and order guy, and Oliver the self-righteous jerk who takes the side of the downtrodden, also with good intentions. Comparing Hal to the Nazis is crossing a line, however, and in any other era, Hal would have pushed right back. But what is also clear here is that Green Arrow is Denny O'Neil's pet character and he's going to come out on top more often than not.

Here we get the famous three panels where an elderly black man asks GL why he's helped the blue, the orange and the purple skins, but never bothered with the black skins. Never mind that Hal has saved people from crime and supervillains many times over with no distinction on account of race or ethnicity. He accepts the charge (when again, the question was easily answered by "I've saved the Earth and everyone on it many times") and is convinced that he needs to help. This is meant to be a crisis moment for Hal Jordan, a turning point in his life where he realizes things he's never thought about before. I don't really buy it, honestly, but we'll keep moving. Hal attempts to appeal to Slade's better nature, but has no luck with the old greedy cliche, who actually says "you expect me to pass a fat profit 'cause a lot of worthless old geeks are gonna get rained on?" Hal punches out his goons and is about to do the same to Slade, when the Guardians intervene and call him on the carpet. Yes, the wise, thoughtful and compassionate Guardians are gone and the bad boss Guardians have arrived. This is the template we'll be living with for decades. Thanks, Denny O'Neil.

Hal is given busywork, but decides against orders to head to Earth and help out. Meanwhile Green Arrow tries his approach on Slade, putting the old extortion trick on him, demanding money in exchange for Slade's life. His goal is to try and get evidence to convict him of secret underworld activities. Two of Slade's thugs attend the meeting and try to kill Green Arrow of course, though he takes them down easily. But a bullet hit his tape recorder, so no evidence. His method was no more successful than Hal's. The two compare notes, and then pull the old "get the boss to confess" trick, with Hal using the ring to disguise himself as one of Slade's killers. And it works, Slade asks if Green Arrow was killed, with Green Arrow and the District Attorney within earshot. The Lone Ranger pulled this trick all the time, getting one crook to confess in earshot of the local law enforcement, so this is a tried and true technique. Slade is going to jail for a long time, and one assumes a better landlord will do a better job with the tenement, though we're not told.

And now the epilogue, where the Guardians charge Hal with insubordination, and Green Arrow says he's not a hero, he's not a man, he's just a puppet. Yeah, I'm tired of Oliver Queen's sanctimony after only one issue, but there's plenty more to come. Despite the fact that Hal has a power ring and is a member of an intergalactic peacekeeping organization with the power to do good works on a massive scale, Green Arrow brings Hal down to his level, telling him he needs to look at America and solve problems there. There are plenty of Earth-based heroes that could do that, but very few could do what Hal does. And I'm sorry, I just have to laugh when the Guardians chew out their best Green Lantern with his amazing service record in their Corps, but Green Arrow has "wisdom in his words!" See why I call him O'Neil's pet character? The Guardians debate, and in the end one of their number, not named here but it's Appa Ali Apsa, the Old Timer, comes to Earth to experience human life with Hal and Ollie as they set out on a trip across country.... "searching for themselves."

So.... there are lots of directions I could go here. Do I enjoy the issue? I do, quite a bit. Is the agenda and hierarchy of the characters blatantly obvious? Yep. Is Green Arrow a massive jerk and writer's pet? Clearly! Is Neal Adams art as outstanding as ever? It is, and honestly, it's the key to the issue's success in a lot of ways. I'm not sure just anyone could make this script work so well. The people who look like real people, the staging of scenes, the "camera" angles, the variety of distant and close-up shots, the posing... everything that Neal Adams brought to the table makes this a beautiful book to look at. It's an entertaining story, with parts that get my sympathy (the people in the tenement) and parts where the characters are either cartoonish (Jubal Slade) or out of character compared to the way they were written all through the preceding decade (Hal Jordan, the Guardians). I will say that by tackling social issues, the story feels like it has some weight that past issues have not had. and a change in direction for the series was honestly needed at this point. The issue is flawed, but enjoyable.
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Detective Comics #214
December 1954

The Batman Encyclopedia!
Script: Edmond Hamilton Pencils: Sheldon Moldoff Inks: Charles Paris

Crooks are robbing an electrical lab of platinum wire when they are set upon by Batman and Robin. The crooks turn on a a giant magnet which fastens the crime fighters in place due to the steel items in their utility belts, which the crooks were aware of thanks to the "Batman Encyclopedia". When Batman escapes and pursues them in the Batmobile, which is much faster than their car, they again refer to the book so they're aware that the Batmobile has a much larger turn radius than their own car, and a u-turn in a narrow street buys them time. Where did this encyclopedia come from? A certain Herbert Smirt, "a scholar with a shady record", followed and observed Batman and Robin for months, learning everything he could about them. That's one reason why you shouldn't operate in the daylight, Batman!

Smirt writes up everything he's learned and compiles it in a book, the "Batman Encyclopedia" and sells it to crooks, who can now defeat Batman and Robin because so much of how they operate has been recorded in its pages. But they've reckoned without Batman's resourcefulness. A box office robbery is planned with the crooks making their escape across rooftops by counting on the length of Batman's rope being too short to allow him to follow them once they remove the plank they used to bridge the gap (I'm not sure this works, because I'm pretty sure Batman's rope has always been longer than it's shown to be here). Batman is lucky that the movie theater is showing "Robin Hood" and that a giant working prop of a bow and arrow is on top of the marquee. He fires the arrow and bridges the gap between buildings easily in a scene we saw on the cover of the issue. Just as importantly, Batman is able to recover a copy of the Batman Encyclopedia. The story ups the ante here by including a photo in the encyclopedia that is a threat to Batman's secret identity.

Batman disguises himself as "Red Rivers", a crook looking to buy a copy of the encyclopedia. He's taken to meet Smirt, but Smirt is on to him due to rigging a scale and "electronic measuring devices" because he knew at some point Batman would come after him. Smirt ties the disguised Batman to a chair, but Batman is able to escape by turning on the waiting printing press and using a paper cutter to cut his ropes. Smirt is captured, but there's still the problem of all the books already sold to crooks. Batman's plan is to make the encyclopedia look inaccurate by slightly altering his equipment and methods of operation so the criminal underworld will lose faith in their purchase. When they come to demand their money back from Smirt, Batman is waiting to round them up. All the books will be impounded by the police and destroyed, except for one copy that Batman keeps. And the clue to his secret identity? Batman had to rescue "Bruce Wayne" from a fire once and stepped on a scale. The combined weight of two men should have been much more than the 200 pounds that Batman and the dummy he was carrying actually weighed.

So as I joked before, this is what Batman gets for operating in broad daylight instead of sneaking around in the shadows and operating by stealth, as he should. This is another story that probably only works in this era when Batman is a public figure, and Smirt looks pretty clever both in writing the book and selling it, and in successfully trapping the disguised Batman. Batman's plan to get all the copies of the book back relies on the criminal underworld being dumb enough not to figure out what he's doing until it's too late, but that's not really a shortcoming since crooks in this era usually have one good idea and are otherwise not too bright. I thought this was a fun story that gave Batman a decent challenge.
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