Batman busts up a million-dollar heroin deal but the dealer, a pimp named Slinky, is killed in a car bombing. The Dark Knight suspects that this is more than a territorial feud and becomes convinced of it when the #1 suspect, the pimp's boss, is shot dead. This time, Batman is able to track down the shooter, a masked vigilante calling himself The Black Spider. The killer at first hopes the Caped Crusader will fall in with him in his nightly street cleanings but Batman scotches that idea fast. Weakened by blood loss from a bullet wound, Batman is easy prey for the Spider and is left helpless on a runway, a plane about to land and put an end to his fabled career.
|Huggy Bear's second cousin?|
|Nope, looks like a completely original character to us!|
Scientist Richard Bagley is discussing his breakthrough invention, The Quake-Breaker, to a less than packed house at Ivy University. Among those in the paltry audience is Ray (The Atom) Palmer. Just as Bagley gets to an interesting tidbit about his gizmo, which would channel the power of earthquakes into "good use," his speech is interrupted by a costumed criminal going by the name of The Calculator. Utilizing the power of computer data, The Calculator can predict events to come. Bagley hightails it but The Calculator is right behind him. Palmer suits up but proves to be no match for the villain. An earthquake opens up a fissure in the earth and Bagley falls to his death. Enraged, The Atom pulverizes The Calculator and sends him to jail. But that may have been what the evil genius wanted in the first place. We'll see.
|Next stop: Main and 5th Street!|
PE: You'd have to look high and low (or maybe just in the Detective lead-ins) for a dopier villain than The Calculator, whose headgear simultaneously shoots out jets of fire and tells you what the next stop on the bus line will be. Rozakis was obviously poring over old issues of The Fantastic Four and figured he could do a better version of The (Mad) Thinker than Jack and Stan. He was wrong. Turnabout is fair play though, I guess, since The Atom was "borrowed" by Stan for Ant-Man. Fifth-tier villain notwithstanding, I enjoyed this goofy little adventure and thought the death of the innocent scientist particularly grim (once Bagley falls into the crevasse, The Calculator closes it). Grell and Austin are easy on the eyes as well.
PE: Barely a pass. It reminds me of one of the 1950s issues and that's not a good thing. Appropriate since Reed got his start writing Batman in that decade. I give extra credit to the writer however since most of the riddles and clues are more clever than silly. The art's awful though and I'd suspect that's due to Blaisdell's inks since we've seen what Chan (Chua) can do on his own (or with another inker).
Escaping death by jet airplane, The Batman once again tries to stop The Black Spider from assassinating a drug dealer. As before, The Dark Knight is just one step too slow and the big-time Parisian junk seller is shot dead as he gets off the plane. Batman decides he has to find out what's motivating The Spider. Thanks to a very well-connected hooker, The Dark Knight discovers that a buddy of the Spider got hooked on horse and accidentally shot his own father. Since that day, the vigilante has tried to rid the world of dope pushers. Later, during a tussle atop a speeding subway train, Batman unmasks The Spider and guesses his real identity as "the buddy." The Spider, attempting to set off a bomb on the train, is killed and Batman is left to wonder who was the villain in this case.
PE: Or the fact that you read too many bad comic books when you were a kid (a habit you've yet to kick, I fear). I wonder if Stan and Jack knew what they were doing when they created The "Black" Panther. How long before an African-American hero (or villain) had a moniker minus the "black?"
Jack: Just ask Black Goliath.
The Black Canary heads to Star City for its tricentennial celebration but gets waylaid by The Calculator, who manages to synch The Canary's sonic scream to a raging heatwave. The Canary uses her super intelligence (and great legs) to once again put the fifth-tier villain behind bars. But how long will his imprisonment last this time? We'll see.
|Exactly two reasons to read The Black Canary.|
PE: The mini-stories starring The Calculator will culminate in a big battle with Batman (and the rest of the Justice League) in Detective #468. In the letters page, Bob Rozakis puts the kibosh on any further adventures of Jack and Peter fave Tim Trench, Detective, explaining that most of the reader reaction was unfavorable. Yet these bozos loved The Olympics of the Underworld? You can't make these things up, folks!
|I'm blowin' town--stay cool!|