Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Last Batman Story

With Gotham wrapping up its run on Fox tonight, time to look back at "The Last Batman Story" from Batman #300 (June, 1978) by David V. Reed, Walt Simonson and Dick Giordano, all under a stunning cover by Dick Giordano.

Set in the future, with James Gordon retired and writing his memoirs, Alfred Pennyworth just tending to Wayne Manor, Dick Grayson out on his own as Robin, most of the main members of Batman's Rogue's Gallery reformed or adapting to living in prison, Batman begins to question the need for his services in the world.

Such an idea is legendary, and that's how this tale begins! 

Batman questioning his fate....with the three fates behind him.

Heavy stuff for just a man in a bat costume, no?

But, Batman is so much more than that, thus, it must be pointed out that this is not a normal case for Batman.

It begins with doctors rushing a woman to a medical shuttle to take her to an orbiting medical hospital (establishing that this is sometime in the future....about 25 years or so past the current tales in the comic, but sadly not a point reached in the here and now in reality).  Robin, a grown hero on his own standing watch, as men in blue attack....and Robin gets sudden unexpected aid from Batman!

The shuttle safely launches after Batman stopped the last of the blue men...and Batman and Robin plan to compare notes back in the improved Batcave under Wayne Foundation in the expanded mega-city of Gotham (now covering a large portion of the east coast).

The grown Dick Grayson now runs Wayne International, and was approached at a business affair by a man who wanted to buy a classic car Grayson was auctioning off...and threatened him and his enterprises with a prism when he couldn't get what he wanted. 

Then, Wayne International interests were sabotaged and attacked across the globe, leading Dick to send the young lady in to investigate, and she was found, nearly dead in a car wreck.  Dick vowed to get her the best medical care.

Further research by recently reunited Dynamic Duo find a criminal organization working to eliminate the witness, though there seems to be some territorial disputes in the group of who will handle the job, and they go to protect the girl in the orbiting hospital (after a brief meal from the every diligent Alfred!).

Taking their own Batwing into orbit, Batman arrives as the doctors are in the process of helping the girl, yet, the satellite is attacked by an organized group, which Batman must work to fight off....but they are not blue, but red!

This proves Robin's case was so much bigger than even he knew....

......and, as Robin handles Wayne International business for a time, Batman continues his research, leading to a location where this rainbow of crime is meeting (and eliminating the usual suspects of Joker, Two-Face, Catwoman, Penguin and Riddler from contention after a conversation with retired Commissioner James Gordon), takes Robin out to Arizona to face this new multi-colored consortium of crime. 

The Dynamic Duo find the criminals well guarded lair in Arizona, and, after knocking out two green clad guards, take their uniforms to go inside the complex, then to a sealed room where the "prism man" is explaining his failure to get the item from Grayson and his attacks on Wayne International.  While in the chamber, Batman figures out the group isn't a rainbow, but a spectrum....and instigates a fight with the disguised Robin to get out the airtight chamber, then the pair dispatch their newest guards, tracking their way to the hidden leaders of the group...Infrared and Ultraviolet (the two unseen members of the Spectrum).  The pair lead the group in two chairs surrounded by small orbiting devices, and, seeing Batman and Robin in their sanctum, unnerves one, so he makes a fatal mistake, moving into one of those devices, which are small explosives....that kill both criminal leaders.

With all the information found in this headquarters, Batman and Robin are able to take down a major, worldwide crime organization, the end, Bruce Wayne asks if this is enough?  Is he doing enough good as Batman, and how much of his own life must he sacrifice to do it?  Dick is married with two kids, but Bruce wants to have a life of his own...and decides that this might be a time to give up being Batman, and find the courage to get a wife of his own, and perhaps do more for the world by running for political Bruce Wayne.   The issue ends with him contemplating this issue..... heavy stuff for the late 1970s, but something worthwhile considering in an anniversary issue of Batman, and a theme that will be revisited again and again with the Batman. 

In any ending, there is a new beginning... 
...something to consider, with this issue, and as Gotham ends its story of young Bruce Wayne (with his transformation into Batman!) in its last episode entitled "The Beginning".

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Giant World's Finest Origins With Superman And Batman

To be fair, Neal Adams only drew the Superman and Batman figures of this cover, and the entire issue is not devoted to the origins of the World's Finest team of Superman and Batman, but the 80 Page Giant of #G-52, otherwise known as World's Finest Comics #179 (October-November, 1968) was a key issue for fans of Superman and Batman, and their adventures in World's Finest Comics, giving readers who had missed these classic tales the first time around a chance to read them (in the days before the internet and collected comics editions!).

Let's look back at these tales!

World's Finest Comics 94

What better place to start than with "The Origin Of The Superman-Batman Team" from World's Finest Comics #94 (May-June, 1958) by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye, all under the original cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye.

This case has Superman hunting down Lex Luthor, but keeping Batman and Robin at a distance, instead working with a new hero, Powerman.  Batman and Robin recall the first time they worked with Superman, where they handled criminals for Superman because of the criminals having Kryptonite, and Superman's protestations of their actions, because of his worry the Dynamic Duo would get hurt.   This parallels this current case as well....when Batman and Robin help capture Luthor and Powerman's secret is revealed!

This tale was also reprinted in the Secret Origins collection of 1961 (and in its various recollections as well, and in the World's Finest Comics Archives, Tradepaperback and Omnibus, and even in Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years).

Superman 76

Next up, is the first meeting of Superman and Batman from Superman #76 (May-June, 1952)  by Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan and John Fischetti (under a cover by Win Mortimer), with "The Mightiest Team In The World".

To be fair, this wasn't really their first meeting, but, Superman and Batman did learn each other's alter egos (of Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne) as they worked to solve a crime on board a cruise ship, with Batman saving Lois this time, while Superman stopped a fire (though, at the end, Robin got the best prize of all!).

To be fair, this wasn't the first meeting of Superman and Batman (it gets complicated, as revealed here), but it is a key story, worthy of a Millennium Edition reprint (as well as a few more, including being in the Superman: A Celebration of 75 Years).

World's Finest Comics 71

"Batman -- Double For Superman" from World's Finest Comics #71 (July-August, 1954) by Alvin Schwartz, Curt Swan and Stan Kaye (under a Win Mortimer cover) was an important issue as well, starting the Superman-Batman team-ups in stories for World's Finest Comics!

This time around, after Superman rescues Batman and Robin from a Bat-Plane crash caused by criminals, he's a little careless, and Lois sees Superman change into Clark Kent!  Superman and Batman disguise themselves as each other as part of a plot to confuse Lois, but Clark as Batman gets felled by Kryptonite, with Bruce as Superman going to his rescue (after trying to convince Lois that Bruce Wayne is Superman).  Lois also shows up, and sees Clark as Batman, and all the confusion gets Lois to back off from identity snooping for bit.

This issue, along with leading up any collection of Superman-Batman team-ups has its own Millennium Edition reprint as well, including the Green Arrow and Tomahawk stories as well. 

World's Finest Comics 76

"When Gotham City Challenged Metropolis" is up next, from World's Finest Comics #76 (May-June, 1955) by Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan and Stan Kaye (under yet another Win Mortimer cover).

Metropolis and Gotham are competing to host a science convention, so Superman and Batman switch cities to see who can perform the most good deeds in a night, with the winner getting the convention in their city.  Superman does 4 in Gotham, with Batman getting 5 in Metropolis, so the convention goes to Gotham.  Good thing, as Batman needed it because an invention at the convention radiates Kryptonite, weakening Superman (though, thankfully the machine self-destructs).  Superman then reveals he did a fifth feat in Gotham, so the cities will share the convention.

World's Finest Comics 100

Next up is a big issue for Robin, World's Finest Comics #100 (March, 1959) by Bill Finger, Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye (under a cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye), when the Boy Wonder deals with "The Dictator Of Krypton City".

Luthor invents a device allowing him to shrink to tiny size, and gets Superman to bring him to the Fortress of Solitude, wherein Luthor gets into the bottle city of Kandor.  Superman pursues, but gets captured by Luthor and his gang of Kandorians, as Superman has no powers.  Batman and Robin arrive at the Fortress, and go into the bottle city, freeing Superman, but Luthor flees Kandor.  The heroes follow, with Superman's powers returning but neither Batman nor Superman can enlarge as their belts were they have to capture Luthor (eventually fixing their size problem).

This is just one of many times the World's Finest team faces Luthor!

World's Finest Comics 89

Last, but not least, is World's Finest Comics #89 (July-August, 1957) by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye, under a cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye, with Superman and Batman being asked to join "The Club Of Heroes" (which predates the Justice League of America).

An international gathering of heroes is forming a club under the watchful eye of rich philanthropist, John Mayhew, and is to include Superman, Batman, and the Legionary (from Italy), the Musketeer (from France), the Gaucho (from South America) and the Knight and the Squire (from England; all of whom had previously appeared in Detective Comics #215).   Superman's membership to this group is held up as he keeps failing in his missions, which get accomplished by an unknown hero, Lightning Man.  Batman investigates, thinking Lightning Man is behind Superman's problems, but instead finds Superman is the problem (thanks to a rogue orbiting Kryptonite meteor, which causes Superman to assume the identity of Lightning Man).  Mystery solved, and the end of Lightning Man (and Superman's problems.

Of course, there are more problems for Superman, Batman and Robin to face, and they are collected in various 80 Page Giants. both in and out of issues of World's Finest Comics!

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Life Of Christ The Easter Story

Looking at Easter and the life of Jesus....from Marvel Comics?

Yes, in 1993, Marvel brought fans The Life of Christ: The Easter Story, covering Jesus' life, death and resurrection, following the teachings of the New Testament, all under a cover by Scott McDaniel, and adapted by Louise Simonson, with art by Mary Wilshire and Colleen Doran, and inks by Bill Anderson.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Hunchback Of Notre Dame Comics

In light of the tragic events this week at the Notre Dame Cathedral, it seems worthwhile to look back at a few comics that focused on Victor Hugo's tale of hunchback Quasimodo, and his love for that building, as well as for the gypsy woman, Esmeralda, who he loved because of her kindness to him.

So, here's a look back at a few comic book adaptations of this story over the decades at various comic book companies!


The first adaptation of the novel was in Classic Comics #18  in March, 1944...

....with Evelyn Goodman as the writer who adapted Hugo's book...

....and the art was by Allen Simon from the publisher Gilberton.


Next up, Gilberton published the story again as a part of its Classics Illustrated series, all under the issue number 18....

....with the same story by Goodman and Simon, but different dates for this issue reprints, and this cover by Henry C. Kiefer from June, 1949.

This issue was reprinted again in December, 1950, and yet again, with a new painted cover in September, 1957 (though the artist was not identified).


Dell got into the business of movie adaptations, and did an adaptation of the Anthony Quinn/Gina Lollobrigida movie version from the 1950s, with this adaptation by writer Hal Kanter, and art by Andre LeBlanc, with a photo cover from the movie... well as information on the life of Victor Hugo as well as the history of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

This was in July, 1957, under the title of their Four Color #854.


Gilberton tried again, doing a Classics Illustrated #18 (yet again) in September, 1960 and July, 1968...

...this time with a painted cover by Gerald McCann, and adaptation by Alfred Sundel, Reed Crandall and George Evans.


Marvel jumped into the classic comic game, with their Marvel Classics Comics.  

Issue #3 (1976) with a cover by Gil Kane and Klaus Janson was wrapped around a reprint of the Pendulum Press version of the comic, by Naunerie Farr and Jon Lo Famia...

....with a little history of Victor Hugo in the issue as well.


H. Smith Publishers did an adaptation of the Hunchback of Notre Dame (but, could not find more information of the interior content of the book) in 1991.

This is a wonderful volume of the Hugo classic.


Pendulum Press published a version of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, representing the Farr/Lo Famia version they originally presented in 1974, under a painted cover by Mark Hannon...

...along with a biography of Victor Hugo as a part of their "Hooked On Phonics Classic Achievement Series".


The last of these (at least covering here), is the Marvel Comics adaptation of the Disney animated movie of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, with the issue being done in July, 1996 with script by T. Jeannette Steiner, and art by Orlando de la Paz, Brian Mon, Denise Shimabukuro, Dan Spiegle and Scott Tilley, and inks by Horacio Ottolini, Dan Spiegle and Scott Tilley.

This is just a fraction of the appearances of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in comics, showing its lasting history, in the comics and in history in general.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Detective Comics Stars Besides Batman Robin Batgirl and Man-Bat

Batman was the main feature in Detective Comics for so long, but every once and a while, the rest of some of Batman's family of crime fighters got to be a feature there as well.

Here, we look at the three main members of the "Batman family"; Robin, Batgirl and Man-Bat, and their runs as individual characters as back-ups in Detective Comics.


Young Dick Grayson premiered as Batman's Boy Wonder in Detective Comics #38 (April, 1940), but Batman really wasn't letting him stretch his legs on his own for a long time (at least in Detective, Robin did have a back-up in Star-Spangled Comics)...

....not until Detective Comics #386 (April, 1969)!  It must have worked, as the high school aged Robin returned again in Detective Comics #390 and #391, then moved to Hudson University as a freshman college student for #394, #395, #398-#403, then was a back-up in Batman for a bit, before returning for Detective Comics #445, #447, #450 and #451, then a brief stint with 20 issues of Batman Family, before that title merged with Detective Comics, picking up the Robin stories again with Detective Comics #481 to #495.


....more than a few of those tales of Robin were shared with the Batman family member who had the most back-up appearances in Detective Comics....



Barbara Gordon made her debut in Detective Comics #359 (January, 1967), facing off against Killer Moth (with the daughter of Com. James Gordon deciding to keep at the hero business after that tale with her successes therein after accidentally becoming a heroine).

Batgirl's first solo tale premiered in Detective Comics #384 (February, 1969), with Barbara alternating the back-up spot with Robin, having issues #385, #388, #389, #392, #393, #396 and  #397, then sharing #400 and #401 with Robin, and back on her own continuous run with #404 to #424

Batgirl disappeared for a bit, but after two guest appearances in the Superman title and a tale with Supergirl in Superman Family, returned for 20 issues of Batman Family (mostly teaming up with Robin, but a few solo tales), then back to Detective Comics with #481 to #499, then #501, #502, a full length tale with Batman and Robin in #503, then back to back-up for #505, #506, #508 to #510, #512 to #519, the end of her solo run before the Crisis On Infinite Earths and the Killing Joke, other than one Batgirl Special.

While Robin had also spent his time working with various incarnations of the Teen Titans, Batgirl really just worked with Robin, private investigator Jason Bard, Commissioner Gordon and the last of the features to be mentioned here....



Kirk Langstrom first appeared in Detective Comics #400 (June, 1970), as a scientist who was looking to develop a formula to allow one to see in the dark (but instead unleashed a transformation in himself into the half-man, half-bat creature).

After assorted tales where Batman helped cure Kirk, and even his wife, Francine (who became the She-Bat), and two issues of his own title, Man-Bat had a couple of issues of being a Detective Comics back-up in #458 and #459 in 1976.  

Returning for the last 10 issues of Batman Family as a solo feature (though adding Jason Bard to the mix in the last issue), Man-Bat moved over to Detective Comics with the rest, but only for issues #481, #485 and #492 (and much more on Man-Bat is available here!).

Still, these three filled up pages, having interesting stories, but also keeping alive the feeling of Batman in Detective Comics!

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Mad About April Showers

Already tired of April Showers?

Get Mad!

Oh, wait....Alfred E. Neuman doesn't do that well with the rain either, as shown on this cover of Mad #63 by Kelly Freas from June, 1961.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Shazam! It's Black Adam

Captain Marvel is Billy Batson, a young boy the wizard Shazam found, convincing the lad to say his name and gain his powers.  As Captain Marvel, Billy faced the evil scientist, Dr. Sivana, but while the world's wickedest scientist did keep Earth's mightiest mortal busy....who could match him physically?

Well, the answer to that was in Shazam's past, as he tried to create a champion before Billy, in ancient Egypt, having Teth-Adam say his name, to become the Mighty Adam, later to be known as.....Black Adam!

Here's his story!

The Mighty Marvels Join Forces

In his one and only appearance in Fawcett Comics, in Marvel Family #1 (December, 1945) by Otto Binder, C.C. Beck and Pete Costanza, readers are introduced to Black Adam!

Shazam relates the story of Black Adam to the Marvel Family (Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr. and Uncle Marvel), telling of Shazam's younger days, when he tried to pass his powers on to Teth-Adam, who after saying the wizard's name, became the Mighty Adam....except that the adult Teth then used the wizard's powers against the people of Shazam banished him to the farthest star....and he had just returned to face the wizard and the family in this issue! 

The three powered members of the Marvel Family could just match Black Adam's power....but it was the old con man, Uncle Marvel, who tricked Black Adam into saying the wizard's name, changing him back to Teth-Adam, who, then aged to dust...and death!

This story had been reprinted a few times by DC Comics (in Shazam! #8 and in Shazam! From the Forties to the Seventies), as well as being included in a villain pin-up in Limited Collectors' Edition #C-39, so, one could tell E. Nelson Bridwell had plans for Black Adam!

The World's Mightiest Villain Returns

But, death can't keep a good villain down as learned in Shazam! #28 (March-April, 1977) by E. Nelson Bridwell and Kurt Schaffenberger.

Dr. Sivana is the reason for Black Adam's return, having invented a resurrection machine, the world's wickedest scientist revived Teth-Adam, who said the wizard's name and became Black Adam again! 

Black Adam went out to menace Billy Batson and his Uncle Dudley (who had been traveling the country in an RV), with Black Adam and Captain Marvel being equally matched again, but, Uncle Dudley used the same trickery to get Black Adam to say the wizard's name again, allowing Captain Marvel to defeat the villain (though with less fatal results this time).

When Earth's Collide

Black Adam ended up being one of the villains who brought about the big battle between Superman and Captain Marvel in the All-New Collectors' Edition #C-58 (May, 1978) by Gerry Conway, Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano which DC had been hinting at.

Immortal wizard Karmang wanted to revive the ghosts of his Mars, and figured the only way to do that was by smashing Earth-1 and Earth-S together to release enough energy to do that.  Using Black Adam and the sand creature from Quarrm to manipulate Superman and Captain Marvel into battle, Karmang almost succeeded, if not for the help of Supergirl and Mary Marvel.  One of the most notable events of this issue was Cap's use of the magic lightning as a weapon against Superman, but the story really only used Black Adam as one of two power beings to manipulate the heroes, sadly a trend that would continue in his early appearances.

World's Finest Comics and the Monster Society

Teth-Adam had a brief cameo in World's Finest Comics #257 (June-July, 1979), as Captain Marvel was verifying that Black Adam was not active (Teth was still in a specially built cell).  But, that was a preparation for his next appearance, when Black Adam joined Mr. Mind's Monster Society of Evil in World's Finest Comics #264 (August-September, 1980) in a story by E. Nelson Bridwell, Don Newton and Dave Hunt, but Black Adam had to share the space with the rest of Cap's foes, and even though this was his individual battle, he also shared it with Oggar, the world's mightiest immortal, so there wasn't much Black Adam in this issue, nor in the finish to the Monster Society of Evil saga, in World's Finest Comics #267 (February-March, 1981), where the villains attacked the Rock of Eternity, but Black Adam was one of the first dispatched there!

Black Adam

Still, Black Adam returned in DC Comics Presents #49 (September, 1982) in a story by Roy Thomas, Paul Kupperberg, Rich Buckler and John Calnan.

This time around, Black Adam had found himself on Earth-1 after his defeat at the Rock of Eternity (with Superman unknowingly freeing him from the Egyptian tomb he had been trapped under), and he planned on taking over that world...

....if not for some help from Captain Marvel and the powerless Billy Batson of Earth-1, who used a variation of the trick Uncle Marvel/Dudley used to defeat Black Adam yet again.  But, whether that Billy ever got to become a Captain Marvel on his own was a point that would soon be rendered moot....

All of these appearances helped establish Black Adam as a major Captain Marvel villain, and this Black Adam appeared in Crisis On Infinite Earths (issues #9 and #10) in the 1980s, before DC's multiverse changed, and, after one brief new beginning, Black Adam returned again, to face Captain Marvel, then later the heroes of the Freedom Fighters and the Justice Society of America as well as Captain Marvel and his family....even getting a six issue mini-series of his own!   Well.....Shazam! to you, Black Adam, and thank for being part of over 75 years of Shazam! history.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Plastic Man Melts The Eiffel Tower

Well, technically, it is Plastic Man's foe, the Snuffer, who is trying to melt the Eiffel Tower, with Woozy Winks a scene NOT from any comic!

No use trying to fool you this April, this was the April sketch for the 1977 Super DC Calendar, by Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith (who did work on the Plastic Man title of the 1970s).