Victims of a "giant mutant bat" have been found in the streets of Las Vegas, all blood drained from their bodies. When Bruce Wayne gets wind of this, his first inclination is to call Kirk Langstrom (aka the "giant mutant bat" Man-Bat) for his opinion. Just as he's dialing the phone, the scientist pops up on a Las Vegas news station. Now convinced that Langstrom has reversed the process that cured him of his vampiric tendencies (in Detective #416), Batman heads for Sin City. Once there, he convinces the girlfriend of the Man-Bat's latest victim to act as bait to bring Langstrom out of hiding. The lure works and Batman is able to fend off the giant bat before both hurl through a glass ceiling into the casino below. The most important clue as to the bat's real identity becomes a band-aid torn from the its wrist: the same band-aid worn by Kirk Langstrom's wife, Francine while she was being interviewed on TV! Now Batman learns the frightening truth that Francine Langstrom is the blood-drinker.
PE: Holy moley, I feel like the scales of justice. One hand holds Frank Robbins the artist, the other Frank Robbins the writer. I've always been convinced (and the evidence surely backs up my findings) that Robbins is deadlier with a pencil in hand rather than a typewriter. Now I'm not sure. Those scales are tipping back and forth. Robbins doesn't even try to add one whiff of originality to his rip-off of the then-recently broadcast The Night Stalker other than maybe the crazed radio reports of "the smart money has it that the 'Vegas Raider' is a nuclear-created . . . monster mutant vampire-bat!" Really? A nuclear test one week and the next week we've got mutated vampire-bats? The funny thing is that Bruce Wayne scoffs at reports of a mutant bat when he's fought The Man-Bat before so, in his goofball DC Universe, anything should be possible.
PE: Well, let's not forget the clunky dialogue. Kirk Langstrom suddenly talks like Moon Doggie. "Dig?" How about the awkwardly phrased: "Thank you, professor--and your lovely wife, Francine!" And the clunky logic: Francine becomes the She-Bat when the moon is out, right? Well, I'm not sure. She enters a cave (and out of the direct rays of the moon) but retains her vampire form until the moon is covered with clouds. She then reverts back to her beautiful human form until the cloud covering moves away from the moon. But the moon is out regardless, so why the flip-flop? Yeah, I know. It's a comic book. Or the, to put it mildly, abrupt climax? From start to finish this is an all-around disaster.
PE: Utter crap. Julius Schwartz must have owed Frank Robbins one hell of a big favor. Like the Man-Bat lead-off, this has got a very abrupt ending. Usually that bothers me but I'll make an exception for these two "stories."
|The Caped chicken!|
PE: But, Jack, the best thing about that scene is that Batman doesn't actually cut loose Robin once he sees the message from his tormentor! He doesn't even make sure it's another dummy. It could very well have been the bad guy's plan to have Batman assist in the murder. Another nice art job by Novick and Giordano but the length of the cape is really getting ridiculous. Yeah, it looks very cool but is impractical to a running, jumping, flying, and swimming superhero. Batman's sudden awareness of what he's going through and who's doing it to him is confusing and asinine, the worst kind of writing. Well, the worst kind of writing is what makes up the bulk of this 23-page waste of time. Only bright side: no swingin' Robin back-up this issue!
PE: Even serial killers dress as super villains in Gotham. I have no idea what is supposed to be happening to Emil Ravek in the climax. Does Batman kill him?
Jack: It's not clear. Batman swings Ravek around by his hood, which tears off, leaving Ravek to fall and apparently hit his head on a wall, landing on the scales of justice. He looks pretty dead, but maybe he's just out cold.
|Nice Dick Dillin art.|
Detective Comics 430 (December 1972)
When Batman breaks up an assassination attempt, he's conked on the head and loses his memory. Trying to determine exactly who he is under the mask, The Dark Knight takes a quick peek only to find he's a balding redhead with a nasty scar across the bridge of his nose (since we, as readers, don't have amnesia, we're 100% sure this is not Batman's usual secret identity!). Using the bit of master detective still lodged in his brain, the Caped Crusader uses the police master identification file to discover that his "true identity" is petty car thief Jobo Larch (again, if you're a regular reader, you know something irregular might be going on!). The only way to get to the bottom of the mystery is to retrace the steps of Jobo Larch.
Jack: Nick Cardy inked this story and the combination of his inks and Bob Brown’s pencils makes for some strange variations in art quality. Cardy began in the Eisner/Iger shop at age 18 in 1939, so he certainly was in the comic biz for a long time, and he was a DC mainstay. He is still kicking at age 91 and he still makes appearances at conventions.
|We both have had this feeling!|
|Get me some of that cream!|
PE" Seriously. Amnesia or no, wouldn't you feel make-up on your face? And wouldn't it begin to melt after a while in the humidity of that suit? I'm beginning to wonder if my nostalgia for the "wonderful Batman comics of the 1970s" should be filed next to "Gosh, those Bay City Rollers were a great band, weren't they?" Nice imaginative twist there in the end when The Dark Dope removes the, by now, several layers of make-up and looks at his true self in the mirror, immediately lifting the veil of amnesia. If only our top amnesia therapists read Batman.
Jack: Does this mean you are having second thoughts about the Bay City Rollers blog? What should I do with my YouTube link to "Saturday Night?"
Ralph Dibny (aka The Elongated Man) and cutie wife, Susie, decide it's a beautiful day to jump the fence at an abandoned Hollywood studio where, the following day, millions of dollars of movie props will be auctioned. Once they get into the sound stages they find something very peculiar: exact reenactments of famous scenes from the studio's films. Well, almost exact.
PE: I love the fact that Elongated Man has no problem breaking into the studio lot and, when questioned by his wife, says "Hey, there's no sign around that says, 'No Trespassing, right?'" By that logic, half of the bad guys he goes after should be let free.
PE: I checked my brain at the door for this one and found it charming. The expository is one of the dopiest I've ever read but I loved all the dopey name-switches for the famous Hollywood stars (The Hartz Brothers are comprised of Beppo, Banjo and Gruffo!) and Ralph Dibny's sense of self-importance and inflated ego is a breath of fresh air. He certainly seems to be more fun than his Marvel counterpart. Out with Bard, in with Dibny, I says.