Batman is determined to crack the case of the mysterious crimes that have been occurring in Gotham. Luckily, the North American team is hard at work fulfilling its assignment as the last group to take a turn in the Underworld Olympics. Batman succeeds in foiling their attempt to blow up a ferry and then follows a spotter back to their headquarters, where the entire crew of international bad guys is rounded up.
Jack: The fourth and final Underworld Olympics story is on par with the first three. The North American team consists of a Native American, an African-American, a Mexican bandito, a bald guy with an eye patch (Joey One-Eye), and a cowboy. David V. Reed is using plenty of “bat” this and “bat” that, including the Whirlybat, a nifty one-man helicopter that allows Batman to fly low and follow a crook. Reed is also slipping back into the old tradition of corny Bat-quips, such as this line from the Caped Crusader: “as they used to say in vaudeville, ‘dis must be de place.’”
PE: 4 issues wasted on this garbage? I still have no idea what the point of this arc was. Why were these underworld goons risking life, liberty, limbs and, in one case, a million bucks? For some silly "underworld olympics?" I'd applaud the wrap-up of this detritus but who knows what Julius Schwartz had up his sleeve next? It almost seems, as the 1970s wear on, that the Batman character (and the stories around him) is sliding back into the 1960s.
Story by Bob Rozakis and Michael Uslan
Art by Ernie Chua and Frank McLaughlin
There's a nut loose in Gotham who believes that Batman is actually triplets and he intends to prove it. To his chagrin, Commissioner Gordon discovers someone has placed a bomb in his patrol car. An unknown voice over his C.B. tells him that if he, at any time, decreases his speed below 50 mph, the bomb will detonate. As with all cases large and small, Gordo's first call is to Batman. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is enjoying the company of buxom Barbi Brendan aboard The Stingapee, "Gotham's hottest in-spot for the jet set." The Stingapee is a faux pirate ship (or is it?) run by Karl Crossman aka Captain Stingapee. When Bruce's Gordo-buzzer vibrates, he hightails it to the awaiting Batmobile (courtesy of Alfred) and heads to the open road to help Gordo. After an exciting mid-road transfer, Batman is able to open the hood of the car and defuse the bomb, but Gordon's car is wrecked and Batman is thrown to the road, dazed. An ambulance arrives but the paramedic turns out to be none other than Captain Stingapee himself. The Captain takes Batman hostage but our hero is able to damage a tank of ether and both are rendered unconscious. Stingapee revives first and unmasks Batman, who is revealed to be Michael Courtney. Who?
PE: Not nearly as bad as a/ it sounds and b/ the tripe that's been filling the pages of the two Bats titles lately. There's a lot of credibility-stretching stuff going on here (Bats' climb onto Gordo's speeding car hood, the fact that rich people would spend lots of money in a pirate ship, Bruce Wayne's outfit while aboard said ship) but the oddest to me was that Jim Gordon would be riding home in a patrol car. The surprise ending might have been more effective if the man unmasked had been someone we were more familiar with (no, I'm not suggesting Alfred) rather than a character that, as far as my admittedly bad memory goes, has never been introduced. Co-writer Michael Uslan has lived the dream life of every Batman fan, first as a comic collector, then as a writer, and graduating all the way up to executive producer of all seven of the big screen Bats flicks beginning with Tim Burton's Batman (1989) up through this past summer's The Dark Knight Rises. I'm not sure if this story was ever pitched at brainstorming sessions but, who knows, Hollywood loves Batman and pirates so maybe someday...
|They don't make 'em like this anymore|
Art by Pablo Marcos and Al Milgrom
Private Dick Tim Trench is asked by the beautiful Velma Grayle to hold onto a massive ruby for her friend. Trench smells a rat but agrees. He soon regrets his decision as bullets fly all around him.
PE: I was a bit less entertained by this strip than you, Jack, but I guess I've read more quality detective fiction than you. Your Max Collins reference is spot on and I'd throw in more than a heaping helping of Dirty Harry Callahan as well (that's quite a trick Trench pulls off, firing those deadly .357s without breaking a wrist). I'm open to more cases with Tim for no other reason than it leaves no room for The Elongated Man.
"The Haunting of the Spook!"
Story by David V. Reed
Art by Ernie Chua
The Spook returns to drive Batman crazy with his disappearing tricks. Using subliminal messages, he hopes to get Batman so riled up that he will kill the Spook—or seem to, since the Spook can feign death. The Dark Knight turns the tables, however, and it is up to Commissioner Gordon to figure out a way to keep the Spook locked up this time.
Jack: I think the Spook qualifies for the Rogues’ Gallery by now, after this, his fourth appearance. As before, his tricks don’t seem very plausible and the explanations behind them are pretty far-fetched. It’s almost funny when Batman tries to use the Spook’s methods against him, since the fake Batman ghosts that appear outside a window look completely phony. Still, the Spook is a fun villain and the story is entertaining enough. Like this month’s Detective, Batman is now down to 17 pages of new material.
PE: I should applaud that! Good trick that dolphin leap Batman executes under the Kingsboro Bridge, a move I doubt even a 1976 Gold medalist could pull off. Our favorite cop, Commissioner Gordon, has moved from convincing The Dark Knight he should handle all the dirty jobs Gordo and his donut crew can't to ordering Bats to strongarm their mutual buddy Bruce Wayne!
Gordo: Never mind this Spook menace! Tomorrow the Gotham Assistance Corporation is meeting to consider the department's budget! Bruce Wayne is representing his bank at that meeting! You've got more influence with him than I have! Explain the situation...
Bats: ...about the Spook...
Gordo: Blast The Spook... Now... Get going!
I guess we know who wears the pants in this relationship. The motive behind The Spook's latest haunting is revenge. He goes to amazing lengths to push Batman into humiliation. This is an old plot line, one we've been "enjoying" over at Marvel University time after time. These crooks are such dopes.
|Not very convincing!|
|Limited Collector's Edition C-44|
also came out in June 1976
and featured reprints of
4 Batman stories