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)!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Batman Behind Bars

True, readers know that Batman is there to uphold the law, but, at times in his career, Batman has ended up on the wrong side of prison bars.

Here's a couple of quick examples from early issues of Detective Comics!

The Outlaw Batman

Batman gets hit in the head fighting some crooks in Detective Comics #228 (February, 1956) by Bob Kane and Charles Paris, with a cover by Win Mortimer

Luckily, Robin gets him to a doctor, who insures he's okay, treating the Caped Crusader.  Over the next few nights, Batman works on his own, committing robberies instead of stopping them!  Robin follows him the next night, stopping him, waking Batman out of a trance.   Taking him back to the doctor, the doctor says there is no way to prevent Batman from being a thief, so he should go to jail.  Batman exposes the doctor as Spade Stinson, a crook who gave Batman pills that that turned him into a thief.  Batman, after a days of not taking the pills, reverts to his normal self.

The Crime Of Bruce Wayne

It is Bruce Wayne working for Commissioner Gordon in Detective Comics #249 (November, 1957) by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris, with a cover by Sheldon Moldoff

Wayne goes undercover in a prison as the criminal Collector, with Gordon as the only one on the outside who has proof of his innocence, so Bruce can find who is planning an escape.  In prison, Bruce finds escape plans with Squint Neely, who dies in an accident....but Bruce is accused of his murder.  Robin, recruiting Batwoman for help, go to find the real Collector, to clear Bruce (when Gordon is incapacitated).  The duo find the Collector in just in time to prevent Bruce from being executed, and he is cleared of all charges and released.

Two issues showing where people jumped to conclusions early, assuming the good guy was a bad guy!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Batman's Classic Old Batmobile

Batman and Robin have to make an old car into a Batmobile for a case!

All the excitement for this special issue is under the J. Winslow Mortimer cover for Detective Comics #219 (May, 1955)...

...with the Dynamic Duo busting out a special version of the Batmobile in a story by drawn by Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris!

Gotham City's Strangest Race

Batman and Robin were spotted a gang of criminals who were driving old cars, and felt they may be using them to commit crimes.  So, the Dynamic Duo fixed up their own 1905 Batmobile, and entered the Millville festival for classic cars.    Bruce Wayne also entered an old car in the race, but the thieves took that car, with Batman tracking it down, but not being able to apprehend the thieves.

The thieves then go after a car owned by Jack Tallant, who has a car identical to the one Bruce Wayne had.  Checking the car, Batman finds it had a gas tank made of solid platinum, worth a fortune.  Batman figures that is their target and captures them.

Best of all, Eaglemoss made a replica of this vehicle as well!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The Adventures Of The Legion Youth

Much has been made about the Legion of Super-Heroes, but one of the defining traits of the group of future heroes is their youth...

....yet, there have been times when they have been too young!

Here are those adventures!

The Menace of Dream Girl

First up is Adventure Comics #317 (February, 1964) by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte, which is the first appearance of Dream Girl, as well as the first mention of the Time Trapper (who hides beyond his Iron Curtain of Time, which doesn't even allow Superboy and Mon-El to break through).

Dream Girl applies for Legion membership, showcasing her powers of accurately dreaming the future (only a few days in advance), and, due to her beauty, quickly gets all the male Legionnaires on her side (earning the ire of the female Legionnaires).   Dream Girl is accepted as a member, and studies the Legion constitution....but for what seems a nefarious purpose.  First, sending Lightning Lass on a mission that removes her lightning powers (which is a removable offense of the Legion of SUPER-Heroes).

Then, coming up with reasons to remove other members from the team, including bringing Lightning Lad, Bouncing Boy, Shrinking Violet and Ultra Boy on a mission which turns them into babies!  Dream Girl confides in Superboy and Star Boy, her plan was to save Legion members that were to die in a space crash, but it was only robot duplicates that were destroyed. 

Fearing the ill will of the team, Dream Girl leaves the team (keeping track of Star Boy, who would later become involved with the seer from Naltor), everyone is reinstated to the Legion, with Lightning Lass now having new powers to reduce the mass of anything (as opposed to lightning powers).  The battle with Time Trapper continues on and off for many issues after this....until....

The Menace Of The Super-Babies

The final appearance of Time Trapper in Adventure Comics was in Adventure Comics #338 (November, 1965) by Jerry Siegel and John Forte, where the Time Trapper sends his agent, Glorith of Baaldur, back from his headquarters at the End of Time, to face the Legion, supplying her with a device to breach the Iron Curtain, to go along with her hourglass, which reduces anyone in age to protoplasm.

Saturn Girl gathers Legion members to prepare them for a final battle with the Time Trapper, as Saturn Girl has been contacted by Glorith, who meets with the Legion at an abandoned amusement park in the 30th Century.   Glorith shows the team her ring which can penetrate the Iron Curtain, and gets them to touch the hourglass, but, thanks to chemical mist from a nearby fountain, the Legion members present (Saturn Girl, Chameleon Boy, Invisible Kid, Ultra Boy, Matter-Eater Lad, Element Lad and Light Lass) into infants! 

The Time Trapper, observing Glorith's failure, comes back in time himself, exposing her to the hourglass (without chemical protection, reverting her to protoplasmic slime), then, convinces the unknowing infant Legion to commit crimes for him.

Brainiac 5 and Superboy follow the Trapper and the youth, eventually convincing him to restore the ages of the afflicted Legion members (and thanks to a mischievous baby Star Boy and the wisdom of Brainiac 5) are able to trap him behind his own Iron Curtain (for a time).

The Five Legion Orphans

The last of the youthful adventures of the Legion is Adventure Comics #356 (May, 1967) by E. Nelson Bridwell, Curt Swan and George Klein, and this story started on a happier day....for some members of the Legion.

It was Parent's Day, with the various members of the Legion celebrating with their parents.  But, that excluded the orphans....Superboy, Brainiac 5, Mon-El, Element Lad and Dream Girl.  The five, responding to an alarm on the planet Zinth, try to retrieve a crystal from a pond, but all five regress in age after exposure.  They end up in an orphanage, and are all adopted by parents from the planet Baskh.  Brainiac 5, whose intellect is unaffected by the de-aging, works on a cure for himself and his friends, eventually coming up with one. 

After being cured, the Legion find that the people of Baskh lost their kids after a radioactive meteor passed through their solar system, and came up with the idea to regress and adopt the Legion members.  They regretted their actions, but Dream Girl gave them hope....she dreamed that they would soon have children again, due to the fallout fading from their planet.

Now, it is true that Superman had many other adventures where he was turned into a Superbaby, but....

...those are adventures for another time!

Friday, January 11, 2019

Celebrate Milk Day With Wonder Woman

Today is Milk Day, and time to celebrate it with Wonder Woman.

Wonder Woman was involved in a little caper with milk all the way back in Sensation Comics #7 (July, 1942) in a story by William Marston and Harry Peter (with Peter also drawing the cover).

Diana finds out the International Milk Company run by Alphonso De Gyppo had bought all the nation's milk, and was running up the prices on consumers.  Investigating, she found this was a plot by her foe, Baroness Paula Von Gunther, who was not as dead as she had appeared in the previous issue.  The criminals dumped Diana in a milk vat to drown, but she escaped as Wonder Woman, putting an end to the villains' schemes, and restoring good fresh milk to kids at affordable prices! 

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Batman Becomes Bat-Baby

"I shall strike fear into men's hearts, using my image as a bat, striking in the least after I've had my nap."

True, not exactly the tagline for the classic tale from Batman #147 (May, 1962) with a cover by Sheldon Moldoff...

....but it very well could have been!

Batman Becomes Bat-Baby

In a story by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris, Batman and Robin are recovering jewels from a heist by Nails Finney.  The Dynamic Duo bust into the deserted warehouse that the hoods are using, to find renegade scientist Garth there as well...who baths Batman in a strange energy beam, that reduces his age to that of a baby!  With the gang releasing a photo of Batman in this predicament, Batman trains to use his new stature as Bat-Baby to his advantage, tracking down Garth and the machine, and reversing the strange transformation.

This early 1960s tale was a throwback to the 1950s, a time when Batman experienced a few odd transformations, like getting old, or being a mummy (though that last one was in the pre-New Look days too, as well as a few more, in both Batman and Detective Comics).

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Superman Inspires Batwoman

Batwoman only had two appearances before appearing in World's Finest Comics #90 (September-October, 1957) with a cover by Curt Swan and Ray Burnley.  

In those two previous appearances, Kathy Kane was a socialite that Batman felt was playing at heroine to try to figure out his identity, and, in those appearances, Batman tried as hard as he could to discourage Kathy from permanently taking up the mantle of Batwoman.

That changed after she helped the World's Finest Team.

The Super-Batwoman

With writer Edmond Hamilton (her co-creator), and artists Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye,  Batwoman shows up to help track down criminal Elton Craig (who had faced Superman, Batman and Robin before with pills that gave him super powers).  Escaping prison, Elton tried to track down the last of his pills, but Batwoman found it just before him, and to prevent him from taking it, she did!

Trying to prevent her from continuing, Batman tells Batwoman to go home.  Batwoman vows to spend her 24 super powered hours to discover Batman, Robin and Superman's identities. 

The trio keeps ahead of Batwoman (barely, including a visit to the Daily Planet by Batwoman, to see Perry White, Lois Lane and Clark Kent; as well as a Bat Cave). 

The boys do manage to hide their identities from her, but Batman backs down on his objections to Kathy being Batwoman.

Better still, this tale has been reprinted many times, including in the Giant World's Finest Comics #161, the second World's Finest Comics Archives, and in the first Batman and Superman in World's Finest Comics Omnibus and tradepaperback.

Batwoman then had many future appearances, usually with another member of the Bat-family (like Bat-Mite, Ace the Bat-Hound, or her niece, the Teen Titans' Bat-Girl) or even with Superman fighting Luthor in World's Finest Comics!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Lois Lane Tries Out Being Batwoman

Lois Lane has assumed some pretty interesting jobs over the years as an ace reporter for the Daily Planet, but she really tried something different with a new look in Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #14 (January, 1960, under a cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye)..... she tried out Batwoman's look in a ploy to hook Batman?

Lois Lane's Secret Romance

To be fair, this story by Jerry Siegel and Kurt Schaffenberger doesn't really feature Batwoman (or even Batman), but it does feature her costume, and it's Supergirl's fault! 

Supergirl tried to help out her cousin, who wasn't getting any closer to Lois Lane, and figured if Clark married Lois, the two could adopt her and get poor Linda Lee (who was Superman's secret weapon at this time) out of Midvale Orphanage.

Supergirl first tries painting Lois' face on billboards for Clark to see, then works on a dinner, then a relaxing boat ride, but, Superman's super responsibilities tend to get in the way of any romance between Lois and Superman.

Supergirl even tries copying Batman's handwriting and sending love letters to Lois as Batman (as well as a Batwoman costume for her to wear....).  None of this really works, and Supergirl girl tries subliminal programming on Clark to get him to propose to Lois...but it works too well!

Supergirl realizes her efforts are too much, and stops trying to interfere in her cousin's life.

This story was reprinted in Lois Lane Annual #2 in Summer, 1963, and many of Supergirl's main life events were reprinted in Supergirl Action Giants!  Sadly, the original Batwoman and Supergirl seemed to have never met!


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Putting Superman In Action For The New Year

Starting a new year with a recent classic cover from David Bullock, on Action Comics #810 (February, 2004), with Superman "Leaping Into The New Year!"

The story of the issue has Superman busy all New Year's Eve, going around the world, helping people, standing for truth, justice and the American Way, in a story by Joe Kelly, and art by a small army, with pencils by Pascul Ferry, Kano, Dave Bullock, Duncan Rouleau and Renato Guedes, and inks by Mario Alquiza, Keith Champagne, Jorge Correa, Jaime Mendoza and Cam Smith!