Thursday, February 14, 2019

Love For Richard And Barbara

Dick and Babs had plenty of history together, but it took years for them to find time together alone, away from Batman....

...and in that time the two went from close, to closer.

Here's a quick look back at how things evolved, from the days of their first solo team-up, that started in the pages of Detective Comics #400.

Batman Family

Dick Grayson had gotten away from Batman, taking his Robin act as the Teen Wonder to Hudson University (which seemed to be a little closer to Washington, DC, where Barbara Gordon was still working as Batgirl).  The two started on and off pairings in the pages of Batman Family, with the Jim Aparo cover of Batman Family #11 (May-June, 1977 by Bob Rozakis, Curt Swan and Vince Colletta) showing a good place to show that Robin and Batgirl might be getting closer (and over the next few issues, Dick even tried telling Babs about his feeling for her...but, things didn't quite work out, and Robin and Batgirl only had a few more adventures together, then were having separate adventures by the time Batman Family moved over to Detective Comics). 

Robin eventually went to work with the Teen Titans as they came back as the New Teen Titans, with Cyborg, Starfire and Raven, and Batgirl mostly kept to herself, being in semi-retirement.

Dick eventually changed his identity to Nightwing, then parted from the Titans for a while, landing in Bludhaven, while Barbara had been shot by the Joker, being confined to a wheelchair, and helping the Suicide Squad, Batman, the new Robin (Tim Drake) and Azrael as Oracle (an online personality Barbara created to help heroes against the ever growing legions of villains).

Birds Of Prey

Barbara had also rescued the Black Canary (Dinah Laurel Lance) who had been suffering depression and a lack of direction since the apparent death of Green Arrow (Oliver Queen).  Oracle used her as her field agent, allowing Barbara the ability to have someone working directly to right wrongs (and giving Dinah a chance to do good and get on with her life). 

Nightwing also used the services of Oracle, but, on one particular day, Dick decided to help his friend, Babs, relax, taking her up in the air for a special time (helped with a harness) allowing Babs to swing through the air (all in the pages of Birds of Prey #8 of August, 1999 by Chuck Dixon, Greg Land and Drew Geraci, under a cover by Land and Brian Stelfreeze). 

This led to a relationship between Dick and Babs that continued for some time....but, for Valentine's Day, the focus will just remain on the happy times of their relationship!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Original Batman

Gotham City only had one Batman.  

Keeping his secret at Wayne Manor, Bruce Wayne was the original Batman, right?

Well, no, not really, as readers found out in Detective Comics #195 (May, 1953) under a cover by Win Mortimer!

But, who was this masked man?

The Original Batman

In a story drawn by Dick Sprang and inked by Charles Paris (with the writer lost to history),  circus acrobat, Hugo Marmon, who had used the name of "Bat Man" in his circus act, could lay claim to being the original Batman....a problem for the head of the dynamic duo, as Gotham law only allowed "the original Batman" to wear a Batman suit (or anyone he allowed).  

For a while, Marmon allowed Batman to operate, but a conniving criminal, John Vulney, worked on Marmon's vanity, convincing him to have him petition Commissioner Gordon to keep Batman from working in Gotham City (as Marmon then did, first just to showcase his acrobatic talent, then trying as an incompetent crime fighter).

Batman then took off with Robin, outside the city.  Finding a circus, Batman planned to take over as their acrobatic act, while he had Robin do a little research around local circuses (due to Dick's connection to them from his Flying Graysons days).

Batman then did the circus act....horribly, making sure Marmon found out.  Outraged, Marmon demanded to take Batman's place at the circus, allowing Batman to again wear the costume in Gotham City for one more day.  Batman was then able to capture Vulney.  Robin returned with news, the circuses Marmon performed in never worked in Gotham proper, only outside the city, thus Marmon was never Batman IN Gotham, making Batman the original Batman again.

Of course, readers later found out that Bruce Wayne wasn't the first Batman in the Wayne family later (told here!), but, that Bruce Wayne WAS the first Robin (told here!).

Friday, February 8, 2019

Secret Origins Of The Super DC Heroes

Certainly the best collection of Secret Origins, bar none, was the Crown Publishers collection of origins for the Secret Origins Of The Super DC Heroes from 1976, with cover by Neal Adams, an introduction by Carmine Infantino (who was DC's publisher at the time) and a little historical text before each hero by Denny O'Neil, all of which made this an incredible package, designed to thrill youths of all ages!

Let's dive right into the stories reprinted here!

Superman...He's The Key, The Granddaddy Of Them All

Superman was the one that started it all, in Action Comics #1 (June, 1938) by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and the one page origin they provided was reprinted here.

It had the young Superman launched from his exploding planet, to end up in an orphanage, where he exhibited extraordinary strength.  Later, he also had superb speed and incredible endurance, all of which allowed him to take up his career as Superman.

A pretty bare bones origin, to say the least, but more would be added to the legend of Superman and his history.

Carmine Infantino was said to have wanted a longer origin for Superman, so getting E. Nelson Bridwell as the writer, himself doing the layouts, with Curt Swan providing finished pencils and Murphy Anderson the inks, readers got the Superman origin presented in The Amazing World Of Superman, Metropolis Edition (1973), the 17 page origin reprinted here, lengthening that Golden Age origin, including Jor-El's fight with the Science Council to save Krypton, Jor-El and Lara's tearful farewell to young Kal-El, his landing in Smallville and being found by the Kents, being raised and taking the identity of Superboy, then watching his adopted parents pass away, leading him to Metropolis, and the Daily Planet, where, as reporter Clark Kent, he continued the neverending battle for truth, justice and the American way as Superman!

Probably the best of all Superman origins, this was expanded upon to make the story in Action Comics #500 (and even included a mention of Superboy's history with the Legion of the Super-Heroes!).

Batman...He Was Unable Not To Fight Criminals

Batman's origins were different, starting in Detective Comics #27, but not getting an origin until Detective Comics #33, with the 2 page version reprinted here the slightly altered version from Batman #1 (Spring, 1940, which also saw the first appearances of Joker and the Catwoman) with words by Bill Finger, art by Bob Kane (with backgrounds by Sheldon Moldoff), with the story of how a mugger shot and killed Bruce Wayne's father and mother, Thomas and Martha, with young Bruce dedicating his life to strike fear into criminals' hearts as the Batman.

A simple enough origin, and the basis for every origin that followed.

This origin was pretty much the origin readers saw in Batman #47 (June-July, 1947) by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Charles Paris, with a few subtle alterations, like Martha dying from seeing her husband shot (and having a weak heart), young Bruce glaring at the mugger, and the mugger being given a name, Joe Chill, with Batman hunting him down, getting final vengeance (though it was Chill's own men who killed him, having heard that Chill was responsible for creating the Batman).

Both of these origins did fit under the umbrella of the Golden Age Batman, but a much longer origin for Batman (as well as his friends) did surface later, in the Untold Legend of the Batman, which added many details added to Batman's origin from the Silver Age (like his father being a Batman, as well as Bruce's stint as Robin).

Wonder Woman...The Female Sex Is Assuming Day By Day A More Dominant Role In World Affairs

Wonder Woman herself got a special condensed version of her origin, after premiering in All-Star Comics #8, then headlining starting with Sensation Comics #1.

In Wonder Woman #1 (Summer, 1942, the tale reprinted here), the story of how Hippolyta carved young Diana from clay, raised her on Paradise Island, saved pilot Steve Trevor, and competed to go back with Trevor to the mainland to fight in World War II (and taking on the identity of military nurse, Diana Prince) was summarized by William Moulton Marston (under the pen name of Charles Moulton) with art by Harry G. Peter.

This would be the definite version of Wonder Woman's Golden Age origin, and the one that formed the basis for the many that followed.

That Wonder Woman origin more or less stuck, but Wonder Woman #206 (June-July, 1973) by Cary Bates, Don Heck and Vince Colletta (under a stunning Nick Cardy cover), added a current battle with Ares to the mix (as well as Diana Prince's job at the United Nations), as well as Hippolyta withholding some memories from Diana, of how Ares came and kidnapped her sister, Nubia, from Hippolyta, and was used as a pawn by him to have the two battle (and Hippolyta's revelation of his history to her daughter, with Nubia coming to stay on Paradise Island).

Sadly, this little era of Wonder Woman, fitting between her time as a powerless Wonder Woman and the twelve trials of Wonder Woman to rejoin the JLA (including one issue of Supergirl with Hippolyta and the Amazons) has not been reprinted elsewhere.

The Flash...You Can Do Almost Anything With Him...

Now, with the Flash, the distinctions between the Golden Age and Silver Age become clearer, as it was student Jay Garrick who first became the Flash in Flash Comics #1 (January, 1940) by Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert.  Jay accidentally inhaled "hard water" and spent a year of college in a coma, before awakening with super speed (which he mostly kept secret, though he did show off for his girlfriend, Joan Williams).

Eventually adopting the identity of the Flash, he saved Joan from the Faultless Four, eventually helping to found the Justice Society of America, and being there when it ended in the 1950s (and having many stories)....then getting revived with the help of the next young man....

Barry Allen, who first appeared in Showcase #4 (September-October, 1956), became the Flash after exposure to lightning striking a wall full of his police scientist chemicals, or at least that was the story Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert gave readers.  Barry made his own identity as the Flash (based on a comic he read), and beating the Turtle to save Iris West in this first go around.

Sometime after this, Barry would help found the Justice League of America, and later, finding the original Flash, Jay Garrick, on an alternate Earth (which would eventually lead to Earth-1/Earth-2, with Barry on 1, Jay on 2), and later, so many other Earths, as well as a Crisis, but it all started with Barry and Jay, and the Flashes of Two Earths.

Green Lantern...No Evil Shall Escape My Sight

Alan Scott was a train engineer who nearly died in a crash, except that he was holding onto a strange green lantern as related in All-American Comics #16 (July, 1940) by Bill Finger and Martin Nodell.  That green lantern related its history, bringing with it power that Alan could focus after he made a ring of its metal to wear, useful against all items but wood, with Alan taking on the identity of the Green Lantern.  This Green Lantern would go on to found the Justice Society as well, having many cases with them as well as many solo cases, facing foes like the Gambler, Vandal Savage and the Icicle.

Green Lantern was a part of the team when it ended the first time, and being there for its first revival.

Hal Jordan was the man to become Green Lantern in Showcase #22 (September-October, 1959) by John Broome, Gil Kane and Joe Giella.  Hal was a test pilot in Coast City, who gets a Green Lantern ring from a dying Abin Sur to make him into the Green Lantern of Earth.  Hal uses his ring to fight crime, giving himself the identity of Green Lantern (and adding a mask to the Green Lantern uniform), with a ring that can make anything he can think of, but needs to be recharged every 24 hours, and is useless against yellow.

Hal also helps to found the Justice League of America, finds out about the Green Lantern Corps (and that he is the protector of Sector 2814), and works for the Guardians of the Universe (who know a little bit more about the beginnings of evil, as well how the magic that formed Alan Scott's ring, than they let on).

The Green Lantern Corps are the successors of the Manhunters as well. 

Hawkman...The Weirdness Seems To Be Part Of Hawkman's Appeal

Carter Hall was an archeologist researching the dagger of Khufu, when he bumped into Shiera Sanders (fleeing from an electrified railroad) in Flash Comics #1 (January, 1940) by Gardner Fox and Dennis Neville.  Turns out Carter was Khufu reincarnated (as Shiera was the reincarnation of his wife, both murdered by Hath-Set....who was reincarnated at Doctor Hastor, the man behind the electrical menace).  Carter uses information he had gotten on a dig to clothe himself as Hawkman, using ancient weapons and the secret Nth Metal to make wings so he could fly.  Hawkman defeats Hastor, saving Shiera.

Later, Shiera becomes Hawkgirl and assists Hawkman with his missions.  Hawkman is also a founder of the JSA, and the only member to be involved in every JSA case in the Golden Age.

Katar Hol came to Earth as a Thanagarian policeman, with his wife and partner, Shayera Hol, pursuing the shape-changing villain, Byth, in Brave and the Bold #34 (February-March, 1961) by Gardner Fox and Joe Kubert.

Using Thanagarian science (including the Absorbascon, which allowed them access to all of Earth's knowledge), ancient weapons and an ability to speak to birds, the duo took up crimefighting as Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and Earth alter egos as Midway City Museum curators, Carter and Shiera Hall.  Hawkman joined the Justice League soon after its founding, with Hawkgirl joining the JLA later.  Unlike Flash, Green Lantern and Atom, the Hawks of two Earths never worked together in the Hawkman title, though the Hawkman of Earth-1 regularly worked with the Atom of Earth-1. 

Hawkgirl later took on the name Hawkwoman, then, after the Crisis on Infinite Earths and Invasion!, Hawk history got confusing (as this history of Hawkgirls will show).

Green Arrow...A Streamlined Robin Hood

Though Green Arrow and Speedy first appeared in More Fun Comics #73, their origin waited until More Fun Comics #89 (March 1943) by Joe Samachson, Cliff Young and Steve Brodie.  Oliver Queen was marooned on the Lost Mesa, where he met Roy Harper, a boy who had been raised by the local tribe of Indians, and the two had to work together using their archery skills against thieves who planned to plunder a local gold mine.

This Green Arrow never joined the JSA, but instead joined the Seven Soldiers of Victory, and had many adventures with them, as well as only with Speedy.

Oliver Queen got a new origin in Adventure Comics #256 (January, 1959) by France Herron, Jack Kirby and Roz Kirby.  Oliver Queen was a reckless millionaire who fell overboard on a yacht, ending up on Starfish Island, alone, and having to learn archery to survive.  Queen even made some trick arrows to pass the time, and ended up getting off the island when he came upon pirates, and crafted a quick disguise to allow him to use his archery to stop them (and get off the island when the authorities arrived).  This was one of many adventures of Green Arrow illustrated by Jack Kirby.  Speedy then got a slightly newer origin as well, though not until Kirby had left Green Arrow.

Green Arrow was the first non-charter member of the Justice League of America, and later became involved with the Black Canary after getting a new costume working with Batman and losing his fortune.

Introducing The Mighty Atom

Al Pratt was a diminutive college student who started on his way to super heroics in All-American Comics #19 (October, 1940) by Bill O'Connor, Ben Flinton and Leonard Sansone.  Mugged in front of his girlfriend, Mary James, Al loses the girl for a bit, but meets Joe Morgan, a homeless ex-boxer, who helps him learn the manly art of pugilism (boxing, as well other athletics).  After a year, and in much better shape, Al goes to visit his ex-girlfriend, and stops her from being kidnapped (though Mary never sees him, as she is blindfolded).  Al decides to take up the identity of the Atom, and fight for justice (having a costume with his next appearance).

Atom is a founding member of the Justice Society of America, and, later, gets actual super-strength as well as a costume change among his many solo adventures.

Physicist Ray Palmer turns himself into the hero, the Atom, starting with Showcase #34 (September-October, 1961) by Gardner Fox, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson.  In the origin half of his tale, Ray has been experimenting with White Dwarf star material to make items shrink.  Problem is, the items become unstable after a time and explode (and Ray is unable to safely enlarge them).  His girlfriend, lawyer Jean Loring, takes him and a group of students on a nature hike into a large chain of caverns, which collapse while they are inside, trapping the group with little hope of rescue.  Ray spots a small hole, and, having accidentally brought the White Dwarf lens with him, shrinks himself to allow him to climb the smooth walls to enlarge the hole, and, while heading back to tell Jean and the kids, accidentally walks under the lens beam again, but grows this time (as cave water had gotten on the lens, bringing along some element that allowed him to grow).  Not explaining his shrinking was a success. Ray then creates a size changing uniform out of White Dwarf material, taking on the identity of the Atom.

Atom joins the Justice League after Green Arrow, and faces many foes, including ChronosJean and Ray even marry later on, after Ray reveals his identity to her, but  they later divorce. 

Shazam!...In One Thing A Sense Of Fun And The Whole Sense Of Adventure

Billy Batson was a homeless paperboy who followed a mysterious stranger into the subway in Whiz Comics #2 (February, 1940) by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck.  At the end of the line, Billy met an old wizard, who said he was dying, and wanted to pass on his powers to the lad....who only had to say the wizard's name....Shazam!  Billy then transformed into Captain Marvel, who had the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles and the speed of Mercury.  This gave Billy the ability to fight the evil Dr. Sivana, who planned on blacking out the radio stations of the day.  Billy did this, and ended up getting a job with Whiz radio.

Billy eventually gathered a whole Marvel Family around himself, including his sister, Mary, and their friend, Freddy Freeman, and later, Tawky Tawny and Kid Eternity.  Thrown into suspended animation, they revived in the 1970s, and had more adventures on their own Earth, that of Earth-S, until the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Plastic Man...One Of The Wildest Imaginations...

Eel O'Brian was a small time hood who got pinched in a folied robbery in Police Comics #1 (August, 1941) by Jack Cole.  That ended up being the best thing that ever happened to him, as he was doused in chemicals, and, while recovering in a monestary, found he had the elastic properties of plastic.  Deciding to change his life for the better to follow the monks who had helped him, Eel adopted the identity of Plastic Man, and used his crooked knowledge to find criminals, so his super self could put them in jail.

Later, Plastic Man started working with Woozy Winks (a shifty indiviual himself) and the two stopped odd criminals for as long as Quality Comics lasted.  Later, Plas and Woozy found themselves at home at DC Comics, with a DC Special, reprinting some of their earliest work together.  The original Plastic Man later became a member of the All-Star Squadron, and, long after the Crisis On Infinite Earths, Plas joined the JLA as well (at a time when there was only one Earth).

True, there was a pretty good collection of Secret Origins in 1961, which led to even More Secret Origins, and even a seven issue run of reprints of Secret Origins (all of which included a few origins not seen here), but this 1970s tome was truly the greatest of them all!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Giant Batman

Batman had giant issues.....and issues of being a giant!

There were a few times in his career that Batman was truly larger than life, so let's take a look at the Detective Comics where that happened!

Batman The Giant

First up, the story from Detective Comics #243 (May, 1957) by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris, wherein Batman became truly larger than life!

Batman gets hit by a maximizer ray while trying to stop a thief.  His own growth to 30 feet tall slows down pursuit of the thief, Jay Vanney, who makes away with the minimizer. So, the larger Batman, after finding out from the inventor of the devices that he won't be able to make another minimizer, takes the maximizer with him as he hunts for Vanney.  Finding him, Batman enlarges Vanney, and the two giants battle.  Robin finds where Vanney hid the minimizer, and exposes both Batman and Vanney to its rays, bringing them both to normal size.  Then, since the rare substance that powered them both ran out, the Dynamic Duo figured they'd never have to worry about gigantism again!

The Colossus Of Gotham City

Arnold Drake, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris brought readers the second story of a giant Batman in Detective Comics #292 (June, 1961).

This time around, Batman was exposed to an experimental gas while he and Robin were chasing a criminal, Rockets Rogan, into a laboratory, causing Batman to grow.  Batman still chases the criminals, but again, his size makes this difficult, including getting captured and having his unmasked face revealed (thankfully, Batman had disguised his face previously, fearing that, with Batwoman helping Robin this time, that he may have had to remove his mask, and didn't want to expose his identity to her).  The gas eventually wears off, with Batman catching the crook (and having Superman fill in as Bruce Wayne to help confuse Batwoman).

Two Batmen Too Many

As a little extra, Batman #177 (December, 1965) by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella (under a cover by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella).

Thief Ed "Numbers" Garvey got away with the Kimber Gem Collection.  Batman is keeping an eye on him to find the jewel collection, to find where he stashed them.  Garvey leaves Gotham, and ends up in a cave in a mountain after being taken off the road by a landside.  In that cave are two figures, one small, one large.  The figures are struck by a light and become a bigger and smaller version of Batman, both seemingly under Garvey's control.  Garvey takes his Batmen back to Gotham to commit more crimes, but they say they need the gems to get recharged.  Suspicious, Garvey knocks them out, finding out they are really Elongated Man and Atom disguised as Batmen....with Batman breaking in to capture Garvey before he can hurt either of them.  Batman, proving his detective prowess, deduces where Garvey hid the gems by where he and the two Batmen had been.


Friday, February 1, 2019

A Cold Freeze For The Flash

Flash and Kid Flash have their hands full in Central City....a cold front is coming in, that of Captain Cold and Mr. Freeze!

This image first appeared in the 1978 DC Calendar of Super-Spectacular Disasters, and is drawn by Irv Novick, no stranger to either Flash or Batman books of the time!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Detective Comics Centennial 600

Continuing on, and starting to rack up numbers for the Darknight Detective, a look back at a few very special issues of Detective Comics....

...this time, focusing only on Detective Comics #600, as well as #598 and #599, as they also include a special 50th Anniversary for Batman as well!

Detective Comics 598

Starting up the run of three issues is Detective Comics #598 (March, 1989), with the first part of the story of "Blind Justice" by Sam Hamm, Denys Cowan, Dick Giordano and cover by Denys Cowan and Malcolm Jones III, which will lead up to #600!

Bruce Wayne finds himself deeply depressed about his mission as Batman, when he stops a villain that's a Bonecrusher (called such because of his use of sonic weapons that crush a person's bones inside of them) but that villain kills himself rather than be caught.  Meanwhile, Jeanne Bowen comes to Waynetech looking for her brother, Roy Kane, and is told by Director of Research Mitchell Riordan that Roy never worked there.  Jeanne gets in touch with Bruce, and the pair find that Roy did work there.

Batman then fights Bonecrusher, who again kills himself instead of being caught, while a homeless man acts out Bonecrusher's fight until caught.  Batman investigates to find out the homeless man is...Roy Kane, and reunites him with his sister (though Roy is amnesiac).  After another confrontation with another Bonecrusher (Alfred taking him out with a tranquilizer), Bruce goes to confront Riordan, who tells Bruce that he runs a secret empire within Waynetech, and a Dr. Kenneth Harbinger has been running the Bonecrusher bodies (via a mind switching device), with Bruce implicated in all the illegal activities (of experiments on homeless men, as well as what happen to Roy Kane).  Riordan also threatens Bruce about his secret, from all the traveling he did as a youth.  After Bruce doesn't stop, Riordan reveals Bruce's secret to the police...that Wayne is a Communist Spy! 

This issue also has special tributes to Batman, with words by Terry Gilliam, Mark Evanier, Thomas M. Disch, John Coyne, Ric Meyers, Harlan Ellison, Will Murray, Tom Fagan and Jim Shooter, and art by David Mazzucchelli, Kevin Maguire, Gene Day/Dan Day/David Day, Jim Aparo, Norm Breyfogle, John Beatty, Howard Chaykin, Carmine Infantino/Joe Rubinstein and Tim Truman.

Detective Comics 599

The second part of "Blind Justice", Detective Comics #599 (April, 1989, by Hamm, Cowan, Giordano and McLaughlin, and cover by Cowan and Jones III), is the only normal sized issue of the three, but it covers a lot of ground.

Bruce Wayne is dealing with the accusations of being a Communist spy (brought by Riordan and his secret cartel within Waynetech).  Really, Bruce was training to be Batman, but learned from nefarious types, like Chu Chin Li of the Chinese Mafia, Tsunetomo of the Yakuza and French assassin Henri Ducard.  Riordan tries to continue with the mind transfer process, but can't as Harbinger was found dead, Roy and Jeanne get use to life at Wayne Manor, and Harbinger, in a new body, begins to kill witnesses who might find him, including shooting Bruce Wayne!

This issue has a few extras as well...

...with 50th Anniversary tributes by Bob Kane, Kyle Baker, Jeannette Kahn and Mike Mignola...

....all on the way to #600!

Detective Comics 600

The third and final part of "Blind Justice", Detective Comics #600 (May, 1989 by Hamm, Cowan, Giordano and McLaughlin, and cover by Cowan and Jones III) has to wrap up all the craziness, and has extra pages to do it!

Bruce Wayne, now paralyzed and recovering from being shot, also has to deal with Ducard returning (now hired by Riordan to testify against Bruce in his upcoming trial).  Gordon keeps waiting for Batman.  Bruce, sent home to Wayne Manor, is still rattled, and Roy Kane finds him and Alfred in the Batcave, figuring out Bruce is Batman.  Kane wants to help, offering his body for Bruce to use (as he is set up on the body switching network of Harbinger's).  Bruce does this, convincing most of Gotham that Batman is back (but not Ducard, who is now more convinced Bruce is Batman). 

Riordan reunites with Harbinger (using a new body, along with a new power....that of strong suggestion, which only doesn't work on bodies with the Harbinger Roy Kane's).  Batman confronts Harbinger (who is now using a Bonecrusher body), fighting Batman (but Kane's body isn't Batman's, so he gets injured, then killed).  Bruce and Roy's sister, Jeanne, blame Bruce for Roy's death.  Harbinger also died, but had put Riordan under a suggestion to only tell the truth, so he reveals that all evidence against Bruce Wayne is false, making the cartel have Ducard eliminate him.  As Ducard leaves Gotham, he tells Bruce he knows his secret.  Bruce, having recovered from this ordeal, has Alfred destroy the body switching device, and comes to terms with the pain around him, knowing he has the ability to stop some of it.

Tributes in this issue come from far and wide, with words by Alan Brennert, Adam West, Eric Van Lustbader, Stan Lee, Samuel R. Delany, Julius Schwartz and Penn & Teller, with art by Berni Wrightson, Neal Adams, Walt Simonson, Will Eisner, Dick Sprang, Mike Zeck, Keith Giffen/Al Gordon and Sergio Aragones.

This 600th issue was celebrated over many issues, not like the previous 500, but wait until you get a load of the next spectacular in the 700th (and so many more issues).

Friday, January 25, 2019

Strange Adventures Of The Astro Heads

Ever had a day where you have a headache that makes your head feel larger than the moon?

Well, there were a few men in the pages of Strange Adventures who had even worse days than that!

The Man With The Head Of Saturn

Bill Smathers was the man having a strange day in Strange Adventures #156 (September, 1963) under a cover by Murphy Anderson, with a story by Gardner Fox and Sid Greene.

A globe appeared on the head of a scientist, Professtor Bill Smithers, and then teleported him and some of his Korean War Veteran friends to Saturn, so that they could fight in an interplanetary war at the behest of Kandare Ohl, who came up with the device that brought them to the ringed planet.

Better still, the back up story in this issue was a tale of the Atomic Knights!

The Man With The Comet Head

Alton Wright was the star of the cover story of Strange Adventures #200 (May, 1967), with that cover provided by Carmine Infantino and George Roussos, and story by Otto Binder and Jack Sparling.

This time it was an astronomer, Alton Wright, who was bombarded by strange rays from a comet from outer space that turned his head into a comet.

This issue also contained the third of three stories which featured the Enchantress (before she joined the Suicide Squad)!