"The Mystery of Christmas Lost!"
Story by David V. Reed
Art by Romeo Tanghal and Frank Springer
Dr. Tzin-Tzin escapes from jail by hypnotizing and mobilizing a horde of ants. Once free, he uses his sorcery to wreak havoc on the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at City Hall Plaza, where Batman fights an imaginary bear high in the branches of the Christmas tree. Tzin-Tzin swears to Batman that he will rob Gotham City of something precious and intangible. The Dark Knight soon discovers that everyone but he is unable to concentrate and cannot remember that it is almost Christmas; the intangible item Tzin-Tzin stole was the knowledge of the holiday! Batman confronts and defeats Tzin-Tzin, thus saving Christmas just in the (Saint) Nick of time.
Jack: I have made no secret of my affection for Christmas tales, but this is one of the weakest we’ve seen in the 1970s. The art is passable at best, with Dick Grayson suffering the most from the drawing style. Dr. Tzin-Tzin seems to have almost unlimited power, yet Batman never has much trouble beating him, despite Batman’s belief that he barely prevails against the villain time and again. The scene where Batman fights the bear high up in the Christmas tree is almost laughable.
PE: Couldn't agree more, Jack, though I'd argue the most laughable aspect of the story was the ants eating through the prison cell wall in no time flat. I don't have to tell you that it brought back very bad memories of Ant-Man's adventures in Tales to Astonish. The whole thing has a Rankin-Bass vibe to it as if it was to be adapted into a "How Tzin-Tzin Stole Christmas" holiday cartoon.
|Dr. Tzin-Tzin's brilliant plan|
was foiled by a can of Raid.
"Battle of the Thinking Machines"
Story by Bob Rozakis
Art by Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin
A time capsule containing the original "$24 in trinkets used to purchase Gotham" has been dug up on a construction site in Gotham. The Calculator, fresh out of jail
PE: Writer Bob Rozakis must have thought every kid that read 'tec also read Justice League as there are no little asterisk boxes to explain things like how Batman gets up to the JLA satellite. Does he take a rocket? Does it blast off from the Batcave?
Jack: At last, Rogers and Austin tackle Batman! This is really worth getting excited about. The art is crisp and inventive and it really elevates the story. Throw in a cover by Jim Aparo, and you have a very strong issue of Detective. This is also a full-length Batman story (17 pages), making it (I think) only the second time in 468 issues that this has happened; the first time was the conclusion of the five-part Talia story in Detective 448 (June 1975).
PE: The art's great but I'm just glad we're done with this silly Calculator arc. Did we really need six stories (seven if you count this one) with the exact same outline? So Calc could only develop immunity from the heroes by being captured and sent to jail? Batman gets beat by Calc and then changes clothes for a day of work at The Wayne Foundation? With this multi-part "epic" out of the way, maybe we can get down to some good stuff delivered by Steve Englehart.
"The Joker's Playground of Peril!"
Story by Denny O'Neil (with help from Julie Schwartz and E. Nelson Bridwell)
Art by Irv Novick and Bob Wiacek
The Joker escapes from Arkham Asylum yet again, this time killing his psychiatrist by shrinking him to the size of a doll. Having heard that the Joker is on the loose, Robin motorcycles home from Hudson U. to help out his old pal. Together, they trail the Joker to an amusement park, where they are distracted by his attorney, who has disguised himself as the fiend. Batman figures out the Joker’s disguise and confronts him in a hall of mirrors, disarming him and sending him back to jail.
Jack: A Joker story by Denny O’Neil and Irv Novick is a welcome sight after so many issues of crime bosses, Underworld Olympics, and Dr. Tzin-Tzin. Despite the fact that Robin has now been away at college for about seven years, it’s nice to see him team up with the Caped Crusader to fight their old foe, and Novick’s art is a welcome sight as well. This is not one of the best Joker stories I’ve read, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.
|That chin looks awfully familiar!|
|I don't know who he is behind that cape|
and cowl, but I know that we need
him, and we need him now!
|Welcome, Ms. Kahn!|
(from Detective 468)