Monday, August 27, 2012

Batman in the 1970s Part 33: 1974 Wrap-Up

by Jack Seabrook
& Peter Enfantino

The Year of the Reprints

After a shaky 1973 that found Detective changing to a bi-monthly publication schedule and lower sales across the company, 1974 began with a bold new experiment. Both Batman and Detective Comics, along with many other popular DC titles, expanded to 100 pages per issue with a fifty cent cover price.

The 100-page Super-Spectacular format lasted all through 1974 and into 1975, resulting in only six issues each of Batman and Detective Comics being published with 1974 cover dates. They alternated months, with Detective starting in January and Batman in February. The dates in the indicia were always two months--a February cover date had a January-February date inside.

The fifty cent cover price did not last long--as of the May issue of Detective, the price went up to sixty cents. Julius Schwartz stayed on as editor of Batman while Archie Goodwin continued as editor of Detective. As a result, Batman was aimed at younger readers than Detective. To fill the extra pages, about five reprint stories were featured in each issue, and E. Nelson Bridwell, a fan turned pro, was credited as assistant editor of both series, in charge of selecting reprints.

All 12 covers were by one or another of four artists: Nick Cardy drew 5 Batman covers while Neal Adams drew one; Adams also drew one cover for Detective, Mike Kaluta drew one, and Jim Aparo drew four. Every issue of both series featured a new Batman lead story, which ran from a short 11 pages to a full-length 20 pages. When the Batman lead story was not 20 pages there was also a new backup story. In Batman, this happened only once, and it featured Robin. In Detective, this occurred five out of six times, and the backup stories featured the serial concerning Manhunter. The sixth issue of Detective, and the only one with a full-length lead story, included a Batman-Manhunter crossover, the only time a new story in the 1974 Detectives included a guest star.

Batman, on the other hand, was rife with new stories featuring guest stars: Man-Bat, Catwoman, the Penguin, Talia, Two-Face and the Shadow all appeared. The year of 1974 in Batman was when the Rogues' Gallery came back in a big way after having been nearly absent from both books since the beginning of the 1970s.

The new lead stories in Batman were written by Denny O'Neil (4), Frank Robbins (1), and Len Wein (1). The only backup story was written by Elliot Maggin. The new lead stories in Detective were written by Archie Goodwin (5) and Steve Englehart (1). All of the backups were written by Goodwin.

The new Batman lead stories were pencilled by Irv Novick (5) and Neal Adams (1) and all were inked by Dick Giordano. The new Detective lead stories were drawn by six different artists: Jim Aparo, Alex Toth, Vin & Sal Amendola, Sal Amendola alone, Howard Chaykin and Walt Simonson. The Amendola issues were inked by Giordano while the other four artists inked their own pencils. The backup stories in Detective were all drawn by Walt Simonson, while the Batman backup story was pencilled by Dick Dillin and inked by Murphy Anderson.

The reprints, which filled the bulk of the space in these 1200 pages (!), were from the 1940s through the 1960s. All of the reprints in Batman featured Batman and Robin, Robin, or Alfred, while the reprints in Detective featured Batman and Robin (usually one story per issue) and a plethora of other heroes, including the Atom, Hawkman, Green Lantern, Dr. Fate, Elongated Man, Kid Eternity, Manhunter, the Spider, Doll Man, the Newsboy Legion, Plastic Man, Black Canary, Ibis the Invincible, The Spectre, Eclipso, and the Creeper.

Letters columns continued to appear in Batman (Batman's Hot Line) and Detective (Letters to the Batman); there was an additional page in one issue called Rally 'Round Robin. The issues were padded with extras, such as Batman Oddities, The Story of the Batmobile, If Bruce Wayne Had Not Become the Batman, Bat-Puzzle, Bat-Maze, The Catwoman, The Penguin's Unique Umbrella, Casey the Cop, Man Without Fingerprints, A New Look for Robin and Comedy Cover Capers.

One of the most interesting developments in 1974 was the appearance of new names from fandom in the pages of these professional comics. Fan artist Pat Broderick drew some Table of Contents pages and other short features, while letter writers Martin Pasko and Guy H. Lillian III provided some filler material and edited letters columns.

Batman continued to appear in other DC comics in 1974: he was featured in six issues each of the Justice League of America, World's Finest, and The Brave and the Bold, as well as an issue of Secret Origins. Finally, four $1.00 treasury editions appeared with Batman reprints. They were Limited Collector's Edition C-25, which reprinted five Batman stories, Limited Collector's Edition C-34, which included one Batman reprint, Famous First Edition C-28, which was a facsimile reprint of Detective Comics 27, and Famous First Edition F-5, which was a facsimile reprint of Batman 1.

In short, there were fewer individual Batman and Detective comic books issued in 1974, but the increased page count and the $1.00 books meant that over 1500 pages of Batman comics came out this year, allowing readers and fans to read many old stories that had not been easy to find.

Jack: The end of 1974 marks the halfway point of Batman in the 1970s. I am heartened by the improvement in the comics in 1974 compared to what seemed like a decline in 1973. My favorite period remains 1970-71, when Neal Adams was drawing most or all of the covers and many interior stories. Archie Goodwin's work in 1974 was a landmark, as was the variety of art by such new names as Amendola, Chaykin and Simonson. I'm looking forward to 1975 and the eventual return to normal-length books. I love the 100-pagers but they take a long time to read one after another!

Peter: I hope the quality continues despite the huge loss of Archie Goodwin. I'm cautiously optimistic since we'll see the arrival of Len Wein and Michael Fleisher, writers whose work I've been fond of for years. Obviously, to me, the paucity of the name Frank Robbins is a big plus but the worst aspect of the year was the fumbling of The Rogue's Gallery by writer Denny O'Neil after the phenomenal resurrection of The Joker in Batman 251. As I've commented in past posts, O'Neil may have had his hands tied by editor Julius Schwartz. If not, his "Legendary Writer" status was built on exactly one stellar script.

Jack: Don't forget that he also wrote Green Lantern/Green Arrow, a pretty memorable series.

The Best (and Worst) of 1974


Best Single Story: Night of the Stalker (Detective 439)
Best Back-Up Story: Resurrection of Paul Kirk (Detective 439)
Best Writer: Archie Goodwin, Manhunter
Best Artist: Walt Simonson, Manhunter
Best Reprint: The House Where Time Stood Still (Detective 442)
Worst Single Story: Catwoman's Circus Caper (Batman 256)
Worst Writer: Denny O'Neil
Worst Art: Irv Novick & Dick Giordano, The Night of the Shadow (Batman 259)


Best Single Story: Judgment Day (Detective 441)
Best Back-Up Story: Cathedral Perilous (Detective 441)
Best Writer: Archie Goodwin, Batman and Manhunter
Best Artist: Neal Adams, Batman
Best Reprint: Plastic Man (Detective 441)
Worst Single Story: Hail Emperor Penguin (Batman 257)
Worst Writer: Denny O'Neil, Batman
Worst Art: Irv Novick & Dick Giordano, Batman

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ray Bradbury on TV Part Two: Alfred Hitchcock Presents "And So Died Riabouchinska"

by Jack Seabrook

The second episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents to be based on a Ray Bradbury story was “And So Died Riabouchinska,” which was broadcast on CBS on February 12, 1956. Bradbury wrote the original story, titled “Riabouchinska,” in the 1940s and it was first sold to Suspense, the CBS radio series, where it was adapted by Mel Dinelli and broadcast over the air on November 13, 1947. Bradbury and his agent, Don Congdon, subsequently sold serial rights and it was first published under the title “And So Died Riabouchinska” in the second issue of The Saint Detective Magazine (June/July 1953). The story sold a couple of years later to the producers of the Hitchcock TV series, and Mel Dinelli was hired to adapt it once again, this time for television.

The published version of the story begins as a group of people are gathered in a basement room to view a corpse. They hear a voice begging to be let out of a small coffin; the voice belongs to Riabouchinska, the female dummy controlled by ventriloquist John Fabian. Detective Lieutenant Krovitch questions Fabian, his wife, and his agent, all of whom claim not to have known Ockham, the dead man, before the prior night. When the box is opened and the dummy removed, Fabian calls it “my lovely lady” and his wife appears envious. Fabian and Riabouchinska behave as if they are separate people—he admits he is “helpless” while she wants to tell the truth.

Claude Rains and Charles Bronson
 Krovitch learns from Fabian’s wife Alyce that theirs in an unhappy marriage; Fabian lavished attention on the dummy and his wife turned to the agent for companionship. Krovitch investigates Fabian’s background and confronts him with a photograph of Ilyana Riamonova, a beautiful young woman who disappeared in 1934 and is the image of Riabouchinska, the dummy. Fabian admits that Ilyana had been his assistant. He fell in love with her and then drove her away. Fabian searched for her unsuccessfully and eventually carved a dummy in her image. He recalls that his old dummy, Sweet William, had urged him to carve the new dummy, suggesting that Fabian’s practice of acting as if he and his dummy are separate people is a quirk that predated Riabouchinska. Sweet William died and was replaced by Riabouchinska; Fabian experienced her as if she were alive, with warm breath and beating heart. Though he continues to deny knowing Ockham to Krovitch, Riabouchinska whispers “the truth” and confesses that Ockham had sent letters blackmailing Fabian. Ockham had been on a vaudeville bill with Fabian years before. He came and threatened to destroy Riabouchinska if Fabian did not pay him $1000. Riabouchinska tells Krovitch that she heard Fabian murder Ockham from where she lay in her box.

Riabouchinska says that she cannot live with a killer. Fabian says “she’s gone” and it is not clear if he means the girl, years ago, or the spirit of the dummy, whose voice has left his heart and his throat. “Riabouchinska slipped bonelessly from his limp hand, folded over and glided noiselessly down to lie upon the cold floor, her eyes closed, her mouth shut.” His reason for living gone, Fabian goes out meekly with Krovitch, presumably to face the penalty for murder.

“And So Died Riabouchinska” is not one of Ray Bradbury’s strongest stories, but it does have an interesting germ of an idea and some flashes of the lyrical writing that would later mark his best work. When Mel Dinelli adapted it for television, he made changes to extend the length of the story and to increase the dramatic tension (adding dialogue and beefing up the character of Krovitch) but he did not make major alterations to the plot.

The TV version opens with a scene where a couple of aging vaudevillians, Maisie and Dan, banter backstage as Fabian arrives with his dummy in a suitcase. His character is quickly established, as is the fact that he is protective of his dummy. Maisie flips a coin as part of a bet and the coin rolls down the stairs to the basement, where it comes to rest on the body of the dead man, Ockham. Looking for the coin, the two vaudevillians discover the body.

The next scene introduces Krovitch, played by Charles Bronson, as he begins his investigation. Bronson’s performance in this episode is weak and it pales in comparison to that of Claude Rains, who gives an inspired performance as Fabian. The dummy, Riabouchinska, speaks with a Russian accent and Rains moves his jaw and lips when she speaks, even though actress Virginia Gregg supplies the dummy’s voice.

In between scenes of the investigation, we see a shot of the end of Fabian’s stage act, taken from the rafters as Krovitch learns another piece of information from a stagehand. The rest of the show follows the story closely. Rains’s soliloquies are the highlight—he clearly adores the dummy, and there is a well-acted sequence where he relates how the dummy came alive to him. He makes Riabouchinska do each thing he describes: he says that her hand moved, and the wooden hand moves slightly; he says that her eyes opened and they follow suit. This is an excellent example of Rains’s skill at both vocal and physical acting.

 Bronson, who either growls or yells his way through the show, aggressively tells Fabian that “it proves dat you been lyin’ straight down da line!” Riabouchinska delivers the final confession, telling Krovitch that “down, down, down I heard them going,” and as she says this both her eyes and those of Fabian move downward with each word. The conclusion of the show suffers from the same problem as does the story—Fabian’s rationale for having killed Ockham is weak. He says that Ockham threatened to tell the world about the nature of his relationship with his dummy, and this just never seems that shocking or worthy of murder. While it seems more likely that Fabian had killed Ilyana, he denies this and insists that embarrassment over the threat to reveal his love for Riabouchinska was the trigger for his violent action. Sadly, the TV show ends with an inappropriate musical theme, a jaunty vaudeville instrumental that is at odds with the events onscreen.   

The photo of Ilyana Riamonova
 that Krovitch shows to Fabian
Mel Dinelli (1912-1991), who adapted the story both for radio and television, did not write any other episodes of the Hitchcock series. His screenplay credits include The Spiral Staircase (1946) and Fritz Lang’s House By the River (1950). Robert Stevenson (1905-1986) directed “And So Died Riabouchinska” for television. His direction of this episode is unremarkable. He directed seven episodes of the half-hour Hitchcock series in all, and his film credits include the 1943 Jane Eyre with Orson Welles, Mary Poppins (1964), and numerous TV episodes and films for the Walt Disney company.

Claude Rains (1889-1967) was one of the great Hollywood actors of the Golden Age of cinema, appearing in important roles in many classic films. He turned 66 years old in 1955, when this episode was most likely filmed, and he appeared in four other episodes of the Hitchcock series, including “The Cream of the Jest.” Charles Bronson (1921-2003) was born Charles Buchinsky, and appeared in two other Hitchcock TV episodes, as well as an episode of The Twilight Zone. He co-starred in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) but his career really took off in the 1970s, when he became one of the world’s biggest box office draws due to films such as Death Wish (1974). Finally, Virginia Gregg (1916-1986) provided the voice for Riabouchinska, just as she had supplied the voice of Mrs. Bates in Psycho (1960). She also appeared in “A Home Away From Home” on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, as well as five other episodes during the show’s ten-year run.

The real Tatiana Riabouchinska
The name Riabouchinska, chosen by Ray Bradbury as the name of Fabian’s beautifully carved dummy, is unusual, and may have been taken from the ballerina Tatiana Riabouchinska, who was born in Russia just before the revolution in 1917. Her family fled to France when she was a baby and she grew up to be a star with the Ballet Russe, becoming famous in the 1930s. Her photographs show a face that could well have been the inspiration for the dummy of story and show.

“And So Died Riabouchinska” was collected in Bradbury’s The Machineries of Joy (1964) and again in The Stories of Ray Bradbury (1980). The Suspense radio play can be heard online, and the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode can be viewed online. Bradbury himself adapted the story in 1988 for an episode of The Ray Bradbury Theater; it is not available for online viewing but can be purchased as a DVD.

Ray Bradbury provides the final word on Alfred Hitchcock Presents "And So Died Riabouchinska": "It was not a great half hour, but it was such a pleasure to see Claude Rains in something I had done."


"And So Died Riabouchinska." Alfred Hitchcock Presents. CBS. 12 Feb. 1956. Television.

Bradbury, Ray. "And So Died Riabouchinska." 1953. The Stories of Ray Bradbury. By Ray Bradbury. New York: Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1980. 579-88. Print.

Eller, Jonathan R. Message to the author. 20 Aug. 2012. E-mail. 

"The FictionMags Index." The FictionMags Index. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2012. <>.

"Galactic Central." Galactic Central. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2012. <>.

Grams, Martin, and Patrik Wikstrom. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents Companion. Churchville, MD: OTR Pub., 2001. Print.

IMDb., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2012. <>.

Kunert, Arnold R. "Ray Bradbury: On Hitchcock and Other Magic of the Screen." "Conversations with Ray Bradbury" (2003). Ed. Steven Louis Aggelis. Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations. Paper 1.

"Welcome To The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies." The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies: Home Page. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2012. <>.

Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 19 Aug. 2012. <>.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Batman in the 1970s Part 32: October, November and December 1974

by Peter Enfantino
& Jack Seabrook

Batman 258 (October 1974)

"Threat of the Two-Headed Coin!"

Story by Denny O'Neil
Art by Irv Novick & Dick Giordano

Angry at the way he sees America changing, General John Harris pays to have thugs spring Two-Face from the Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Two-Face gets his hands on an atomic bomb and sneaks it into Congress, where he threatens to blow up the seat of the U.S. government unless he is paid two billion dollars. It's up to Batman to use his wits and fists to stop Two-Face and save the nation.

PE: Two-Face is the fourth of the Rogue's Gallery to be resuscitated by Denny O'Neil and the third consecutive one to be mishandled. Maybe it's the absence of Neal Adams that hampers my enjoyment of these revamps. I was the one whining about Batman hunting down tax dodgers and vending machine vandals and I got my wish granted for the old villains to return. It's just not what I had hoped for. I wanted the dark, edgy Joker from #251, not the Catwoman from ABC-TV. There's absolutely nothing new to this story, the dialogue is bland and corny, and the art's not all that great either. Only one scene stood out for me and it was for a wrong reason: bizarrely, very close to the climax, Robin tells Batman that he has to get back to Hudson University immediately to study so The Dark Knight will have to find and dismantle Two-Face's bomb all on his own. Never mind the millions in peril, this kid has to get his homework done or he's gonna get a B in history! Is this Denny trying desperately to tap into the kind of continuity that runs wild over at Marvel despite being told these stories must be stand-alones?

Jack: It's hard to believe that the same Denny O'Neil who wrote some of my favorite DC comics of the early 70s is responsible for dialogue like this: "It's a singing party--and you're the star canary!" and "Okay, chum--warble!" It's almost as if he went to the Frank Robbins school of Bat-writing. The most memorable thing in this story is that it marks the first appearance of Arkham Asylum, which would become such an integral part of the Batman legend starting in the 1980s. And who else do we see in the asylum in a cameo appearance? None other than the Joker, who vows revenge when Two-Face leaves him behind bars.

Attack of the Weird Heads
PE: If nothing else, the Batman reprints this issue give the reader an opportunity to "taste" several of Bob Kane's ghost-artists. Jerry Robinson (who has a problem with head sizes at times), Sheldon Moldoff and Dick Sprang all get to show how hard they worked to earn that ten bucks that Kane would throw their way now and then. In the final reprint, "The Man with a Thousand Eyes," the "Master" himself shows just why he needed those ghosts in the first place.

Jack: The reprints this issue are much better than those in Batman 257. They include five Batman and Robin stories, ranging from "The Three Racketeers!" (1942) to "7 Wonder Crimes of Gotham City!" (1967). As usual, the older the better with the Batman reprints. There is also an extra letters page called "Rally 'Round Robin," in which readers debate whether to keep Robin in solo stories or put him back together with Batman.

PE: Can I have a vote?

Detective Comics 443 (November 1974)


Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by Walt Simonson

After the brutal murder of his good friend, detective Dan Kingdom, and the assassination of the prime minister of Congola at Wayne Manor, Batman teams up with Manhunter to bring down The Council.

PE: Unlike previous installments of Manhunter, this chapter never gels. It always feels like two separate Archie Goodwin scripts, one for a Batman story involving Kingdom and Congola and the other, an attempt to wrap up the Manhunter series before Archie heads to Marvel. Because of that, it's a very confusing read. Simonson's art, as usual, is a plus with the exception of his awful rendition of Bruce Wayne. Even though it appears that Manhunter is killed in an explosion in the story's climax, the character was resuscitated in 1999 for Manhunter: The Special Edition. In this later story, we find out that it was actually one of Paul Kirk's clones that was vaporized. In the letters page, Goodwin allows that there was never enough room to tie together all the plots and threads he and Simonson and concocted and, alas, some of those threads are left to dangle.

Jack: I thought that this was a terrific conclusion to the Manhunter saga, with the extra bonus of having Batman get involved. The art is nothing short of spectacular, with page after page of creative use of panels. The subplot involving the newly emerging African nation ties the story in with then-current events, something I had really liked about Batman stories in the early '70s but something they had gotten away from by 1974. All in all, this is a very enjoyable story and I'd recommend Simonson as a regular Batman artist. Archie Goodwin will be missed both as a writer and an editor.

PE: If I didn't know better, I'd say that ol' Bob Kane was responsible for the primitive art found in "Dr. Mephisto," a 1941 Spectre story actually penciled by one Bernard Baily (who co-created the strip with Jerry Siegel). In the story, a fake spook is stealing jewelry from the audiences at a magician's show and The Spectre manages to elicit important information from one of the crook's henchmen by zooming him up to the clouds, where they are both swallowed by a purple dinosaur. Evidence that marijuana was used even in the early 1940s to heighten the comic book writer's "artistic tendencies."

Jack: You won't catch me criticizing Bernard Baily or The Spectre! I love this strip and its primitive art. I have also been reading the All-Star Comics Archives, where I get more of The Spectre, and I am fascinated by his seemingly unlimited powers. He can get big, he can zip up into outer space, he can walk through walls--he is one crazy dude. I recall that when Mike Fleisher took over the character in the '70s things got pretty gruesome. By the way, did you catch the caption where the Spectre is referred to as "The Dark Knight"?

PE: The longest reprint, and probably the most important, would have to be Steve Ditko's "The Coming of the Creeper!,"a barely-written, badly-illustrated origin story that first appeared in Showcase #73 (March 1968). The character's moniker is derived from the old Marvel chestnut: the bystander (in this case, a beat cop) who makes an offhand remark (to himself, no less) about this guy being a "creeper!" Two pages later, half the city is calling him "The Creeper" despite the fact that Joker, Jester, Laugher, or Howler would have been more appropriate. The Creeper's costume looks a bit like one of Ditko's other creations, Kraven, the Hunter.

Jack: Barely written? Badly ILLUSTRATED? This is classic Ditko! I love a good origin story and this one fits the bill. The Creeper's costume is so colorful and the other characters are so crazily drawn that I can't help loving this story. With the benefit of hindsight I can see early signs of Ditko's Objectivist politics creeping (sorry) in around the edges of this story, but this is the introduction of a major DC character and thus a key story. I admit that it's funny that whenever the Creeper makes his costume invisible there is a handy fern for him to stand behind.

Other reprints include a Golden Age Green Lantern tale that is not one of Alex Toth's better efforts, and a very early Batman story notable for a rotund Alfred who calls Batman "Mawster." The really sad news in this issue comes from Archie Goodwin, who announces that he is leaving DC and turning the editor reins back over to Julius Schwartz. Farewell, Archie--it was a terrific year!

Batman 259 (December 1974)

"The Night of the Shadow!"

Story by Denny O'Neil
Art by Irv Novick & Dick Giordano

It's 1939 and young Bruce Wayne is traumatized by the gunfire that erupts when he witnesses the Shadow defeating a jewel thief and his henchmen. Flash forward to 1974 and the jewel thief has been released from prison. He attempts vengeance on Bruce Wayne and a nurse who had been at the scene of the earlier crime, but he fails to reckon with the Batman and his mysterious helper, the Shadow.

PE: Simultaneously a sequel and a prequel to "Who Knows What Evil--?" (#253), "The Night of the Shadow" takes us back to Bruce Wayne's childhood and a close encounter with a shadowy legend. It's noted that the encounter takes place 25 years earlier but Willy Hank Stamper looks no older when he's released from jail than when he went in. A lot of silly coincidences collide here: though Bats and Gordon have been working together for years, it's only on this night that The Dark Knight reveals he has a hatred for firearms, as if Gordon wouldn't know by now; on this night, Bruce Wayne decides to visit "poor old Mildred" who "never quite recovered from the shock of that gunfight 25 years ago," only to find Stamper heaving the old broad off the roof; and on this night, luckily enough, the jeweler involved in the heist a quarter century before is right by Mildred's side.

The plot's not all that's pedestrian here: the dialogue is dreadful (Stamper tells the jeweler, "I seek revenge, not your paltry goods") and Novick and Giordano seem to have given up the good fight they've waged these past five years. Their characters are barely distinguishable from each other and most backgrounds consist of a solid color and not much else. Bruce's escape from atop a plunging elevator (he steps onto an access ladder while the car is hurtling down the shaft!) stretches all credibility, even in a strip about an ancient gunman who can cloud men's minds and disappear into the shadows. The only positive is a dedication to Bill Finger, who had passed the previous January.

Jack: OK, Bat-grouch, this is MUCH better than the past few issues of Batman, which have featured less than stellar returns of Catwoman, the Penguin and Two-Face. The Shadow's use of guns is a refreshing change for the Batman strip and any time we get a flashback to the 30s and a little addition to the Bat-mythology it's fine with me. Bill Finger died January 18, 1974, and this issue was released at the end of August of that year.

PE: There's a theme for the five reprints this issue ("impersonators of Batman"), though the most interesting could only tangentially fit that theme. "The Strange Costumes of Batman" is admittedly very silly but it at least gives the readers an answer to the FAQ: "What ever happened to that gold uniform Batman wore during "The Case of the Midas Touch"? Bats rolls out his wardrobe rack and relives many of his more colorful adventures. Dopey but not as entertaining is "The Great Batman Swindle" (from Detective #222), wherein a quartet of villains have the bright idea of impersonating a host of Batmans in order to con Ned Judson, "Wealthy Yachtsman" and "real Batman fan," out of thousands of dollars. What stops the narrative from being completely believable is the fact that the crooks go to great lengths and expense to convince Judson that The Dark Knight is actually four different people (after all, "one man couldn't survive so many dangers and get about to so many places") and Robin only hangs out with Batman #1 (ostensibly because they couldn't find four comic book readers/juvenile delinquents to masquerade as The Boy Wonder). One of the faux-Batmans wears a natty mauve three-piece suit.

Jack: "The Great Batman Swindle" was written by Bill Finger, to whom this issue's new story was dedicated. He also wrote  "Two Batmen Too Many!" where the Atom and Elongated Man wear Batman costumes to help the Caped Crusader, and "The Failure of Bruce Wayne!" the last reprint this issue. It's nice that the editors paid tribute to Finger by reprinting four of his stories; it's odd that they continued to perpetuate the illusion that Bob Kane drew stories that he obviously didn't draw by adding new boxes crediting him as the artist! I'm surprised you did not mention the two pages of suggestions by readers for a new costume for Robin. The various outfits appear to have been drawn by the readers as well.

PE: I didn't mention the fanboy feature on Robin's new threads because you were already complaining about my grumpiness. Putting a new uniform on Robin is like putting a dress on a pig. It's still a pig.

The Natural Trading Company???

And it was a good fanzine, too!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Batman in the 1970s Part 31: July, August and September 1974

by Jack Seabrook
& Peter Enfantino

Detective 441 (July 1974)

"Judgment Day"

Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by Howard Chaykin

On a lonely country road, Robin is ambushed and taken captive by a mysterious robed figure. Before too long, Batman is delivered an ultimatum: meet "the Judge" at an isolated and abandoned hotel or Robin dies! Once there, Batman quickly discovers "The Judge" is the father of Melissa, an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire of Batman and a heroin dealer named Snow. Melissa is blinded and her father wants his revenge.

PE: A story that has a few too many plot holes, way too much exposition in its climax, and a few too many roads that wind up at dead ends. The Judge rigs the hotel with "hundreds of booby traps" and then brings his blind daughter along for the ride? I normally love Howard Chaykin's art (some of my Chaykin favorites, in no order, are Black Kiss, The Shadow, and American Flagg!) but here it's just too sketchy and indistinct. I can't figure out from that penultimate panel if Melissa accidentally detonates an explosive or if she drowns (I'm assuming the former) as the squiggly lines could be water or smoke. "The Judge" complains that Bats is a vigilante and should not have taken on Snow (a heroin dealer named Snow!) but rather waited for the police and yet it's "The Judge" himself who is responsible for the shot that blinds Melissa. None of this makes sense. And is "The Judge" blindfolded symbolically or has he blinded himself as well? How the heck can he maneuver through the "hundreds of booby traps" when he's got that silly scarf over his eyes?

Jack: I had a completely opposite reaction to this story. I thought story and art were both outstanding! This is the first (and possibly only) Batman story drawn by Chaykin, and I love his noirish approach. It's too bad his style, so well suited to early graphic novels, did not get used more on Batman. Goodwin's theme of Batman as vigilante would only continue to resonate in the years and decades that followed. The Judge's anger does have a basis in fact, since Batman's actions did indirectly lead to Melissa's blindness.

"Manhunter Chapter 5: Cathedral Perilous"

Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by Walt Simonson

The Manhunter and Christine St. Clair descend on The Romulus Cathedral in Istanbul where a meeting of the mysterious Council is taking place. St. Clair is able to tape record their leader, Dr. Mykros, addressing his followers and hopes to get the tape back to Interpol in order to prove that she and Manhunter are innocent.

PE: The framing of the story, a family visiting the Cathedral at the same time the secret meeting is being held, offers us something we haven't seen in this series as of yet: humor. The thread is that a little boy, with a toy gun, is trying to convince his mom and dad that something strange is going on but the parents will have none of it. In the end, the boy saves Manhunter's life by dropping his toy pistol on the head of one of the clones, enabling MH to escape. I thought the final twist, that one of the "monks" is actually Christine's father, was a bit much but maybe Archie has another ace up his sleeve.

Jack: Excellent work by Goodwin and Simonson. Almost 40 years later, some of the panels in the strip came right back to me. I found the framing device with the tourist family to be kind of Eisneresque, which is always a good thing in my book.

PE: In the reprint department we're treated to the usual highs and lows. I don't even have to consult the Grand Comic Book Database to tell me that Bob Kane was responsible for the chicken scratch disguised as penciling that inhabits "The Case of the Prophetic Pictures" from 1940. All of Kane's characters look alike, the only discerning feature being girth in some cases. It's no wonder he had to find other artists to ghost for him. Fairly soon, even the ten year olds would have complained about the lack of depth, backgrounds, facial features, etc. The story's not much either but it does contain a couple of noteworthy scenes, chief among them the climax, where Batman and Robin watch the killer commit suicide and then muse that it's "much better this way!" Definitely, a different era for The Batman. If this had been reprinted a couple years before, under Julius Schwartz's regime, I assume that comment would have been censored as not being "very Batman-like." There's also a wacky and enjoyable Plastic Man story by Jack Cole (but then aren't all of Jack Cole's contributions to comics enjoyable and wacky?) and a just plain wacky Ibis The Invincible installment with Ibis fighting a three-headed giant (one of the heads is a skull!).

Perhaps the most bizarre reprinting this issue is of "The Spider," a yellow and blue clad hero whose specialty is the bow and arrow. Originally published by Crack Comics (a very appropriate title, you'll agree, if you've read the story), the series featured playboy millionaire Tom Hallaway who moonlights as The Spider, an archer who uses a special arrow called "The Spider's Seal." Anyone with rudimentary knowledge of the pulps knows there was a very similar character with the same moniker in the 1930s-1940s and this strip may have been a way of cashing in on the popularity of that magazine. "The Spider" was another of the Quality characters that were acquired by DC when that company went under after the big Comics Code implosion. This story deals with Mouse Malone, a card shark who's taken for a ride one night by the henchmen of an angry mobster. When the two goons turn up dead, necks broken, The Spider investigates. Malone is naturally ruled out as he's a 98-pound pipsqueak and couldn't do the amount of damage done to the burly gunmen. But not is all it seems as The Spider reveals that Mouse actually has one arm three times the size of his other, rippling with muscle, and therefore had the strength to strangle his captors!

Maybe Kane should have name-tagged all his characters?

Jack: I never forgot that story and have often wondered where I read it. Now I know. That reveal at the end of the one muscular arm always stayed with me, for some reason. I am certain I read somewhere years later that it was an in-joke and that the arm got so built up by--how shall I put this--extensive use involving auto-eroticism. I thoroughly enjoyed the reprints this issue, even the Batman ones. The early Batman stories (the Kane one is from 1940) were so dark and violent that they really seem to show a direct line from the 1930s pulps. I found it interesting that, in the story that was a sequel to "The Case of the Prophetic Pictures," Batman remarks that the earlier story was "our first really big case." The Ibis story features art by Kurt Schaffenberger, who would draw tons of strips for DC in the 1970s, especially Superman and Shazam! The three-headed monster is the type of thing we would see decades later, though his art got much more cartoony, in my opinion. I even liked the Eclipso story--I had not thought of Eclipso in many years, though the art by Alex Toth (I sound like a broken record) is, as always, enjoyable.

Batman 257 (August 1974)

"Hail Emperor Penguin!"

Story by Denny O'Neil
Art by Irv Novick & Dick Giordano

The Penguin is back! He kidnaps King Peeble IV as the 12-year-old monarch tours Hudson University with Dick Grayson. Batman and Robin track the Penguin to his mountain lair, where they rescue the king with a little help from Talia, who was there to learn more about the king so she could rob his treasury and free her father from prison.

Jack: The Penguin never seems very dangerous in this story and his constant "Auuk" expletives are tiresome, as is his elevated vocabulary. I was relieved to see Talia, who looks as lovely as ever, because she made the story more interesting. The twelve-year-old king from the Middle East is too corny for words.

PE: As with last month's Catwoman caper, this return trip to the Rogues' well isn't what I'd hoped for. To be fair, it's a child's medium and perhaps that's what Julius Schwartz ordered up but I certainly wish that Archie Goodwin had gotten a stab at the classic villains in his short run over at 'Tec. This Penguin, a buffoon rather than a serious threat, owes much to the Adam West TV show. I've still got hope, dwindling though it may be, that Denny O'Neil will do the right thing three issues from now and present us with the crazed madman he so brilliantly re-introduced in #251. Talia's presence seems completely random and thrown in simply for a romantic angle or maybe to remind us she's still out there. It certainly wasn't for advancement of the story as she's barely visible, giving a far-fetched reason for being there in the first place. If I was Batman, I'd have been a bit more suspicious. The boy king immediately reminded me of a similar story on, I believe, Columbo in the early 1970s. I'm too lazy right now to look it up so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Jack: The reprints in this issue are terrible! I want my 60 cents back! I know we're only up to August, but this gets my vote for worst issue of 1974. "Hunt for a Robin-Killer!" is from 1968 and features some nice layouts and panels by Gil Kane, but "Ally Babble and the Fourteen Peeves!" may well be the stupidest Batman story I've ever read. "Conversational Clue!" is another weak Alfred solo adventure from 1944, and "Die Small--Die Big!" is a Bob Brown mess from 1969--what was the point of reprinting stories that were only five years old? Finally, the Joker makes an appearance in "Rackety-Rax Racket!," which just proves that not all Joker stories were worth remembering.

PE: I never expect much from the Batman reprints so when something actually catches my eye it's perceived as a bonus. I really liked Gil Kane's pencils on "Hunt for a Robin Killer." It's the classic Kane that we saw on display over at Marvel in the early 1970s. The story, in which Robin gets beat up again and Batman jumps to the wild conclusion--for about three seconds--that he'll have to shop for another partner, is about as dull and cornball as any of the 1960s Batman stories written by Gardner Fox. I can forgive a lot of lapses in logic in these stories (ten-story leaps into car seats, etc.) but, funnily enough, what always stops me in mid-read are the silly things like Batman's etched mask eyebrows expressing sorrow.

Jack: Prolific letter hack Guy H. Lillian III takes over the job of editing the letters column as Marty Pasko has gone back to college! 

Detective Comics 442 (September 1974)

"Death Flies the Haunted Sky"

Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by Alex Toth

A group of three aerial daredevils are being threatened by a mysterious pilot in an old World War I airplane. Turns out the three pilots had threatened to elbow out their fourth partner, the designer of their prop plane and, in despair, the man committed suicide. Now, the man's daughter seeks Batman's help as she's convinced her brother is flying the skies with vengeance in his heart.

PE: As has been the custom lately, there's no scene inside like that on the cover. The ghostly plane on the Jim Aparo cover would have been a welcome addition to this warmed-over whodunit. I was hoping this might have been a return visit from The Enemy Ace (from way back in Tec #404) but it's just another disgruntled and greedy business partner. I've always enjoyed Alex Toth's visuals and he doesn't disappoint here. I can see, however, why he has his detractors. Some of his characters don't seem to have facial features outside of a couple of straight lines. He does have that Golden Age-ish style, though, and it's perfect for a Bat-strip as well as for all the Warren comics he put in time on as well. One little trivial factoid I didn't know was that Toth designed the cartoon character Space Ghost! Nice nod to Hitchcock's North by Northwest, by the way.

Jack: The credits say that this story is done with due homage to Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, George Roussos and Neal Adams--great Batman artists all. However, by this point in Alex Toth's career, it seems to me that his art had grown more "Super-Friends" in style and less like the great stuff we've been seeing in prior issues in reprints from the 40s and 50s. I have to wonder if his work on DC TV cartoons was influencing what he put on the page. Also, the story is oddly short at 11 pages and just seems rushed.

"Manhunter Chapter 6: To Duel the Master"

Story by Archie Goodwin
Art by Walt Simonson

Manhunter heads to Japan to try to convince his ex-trainer Asano Nitobe, a Ninjutsu master, that The Council has murdered Dr. Oka, his own master. Nitobe has been brainwashed though and believes none of what MH has to say. A fight to the death breaks out. Meanwhile, Christine St. Clair is on her way to the Interpol office with a tape recording of the Council's secret meeting at the Cathedral (last issue) when her father enters her compartment. Realizing her father has gone over to the dark side, she tells him that if he wants the tape he'll have to kill her. Some things even an evil villain cannot do and he exits the train, only to be gunned down by one of his fellow Council members. Christine then heads to Japan where she's able to convince Nitobe he's fighting on the wrong side. The warrior swears vengeance on those who killed his master and allies himself with St. Clair and Manhunter.

PE: A little bit too busy and confusing this time around but nonetheless enjoyable. The battle between Nitobe and MH is a good one but ends rather quickly. I knew that Christine's father wouldn't kill her (or rather that the attempt would fail) but I didn't see his murder coming. Archie Goodwin deftly mixes together several genres in this series and, despite this being one of the weaker entries, I love to see what he's going to throw into the blender each installment. I'm reminded of Steranko's Nick Fury strip we're currently examining at Marvel University. It too was a successful melding of Alfred Hitchcock and James Bond.

Jack: I thought this was a very strong entry, with highlights being the sequence on the train and, especially, the big battle between Manhunter and Nitobe. As a lover of Japanese film, this was right up my alley!

PE: The most interesting reprint of the bunch this issue is that of Jack Kirby and Joe Simon's The Guardian and The Newsboy Legion, a series I had never heard of before. First appearing in Star-Spangled Comics #7 (April 1942), The Newsboy Legion were a half-pint forerunner of The Bowery Boys and The Goonies, reformed juvenile delinquents who sold war bonds door to door and solved mysteries. The Guardian, an attempt by Kirby and Simon to cash in on their recent success with Captain America, was the alter ego of patrolman Jim Harper. The blue and yellow clad vigilante, with a solid gold salad bowl atop his head, carried a small bomb-shaped (or goldfish-shaped) shield that, at least in evidence presented in this story, was a bit too small to be of any help.

In "The House Where Time Stood Still," the boys are trying to get a 100% war bond sales rating in their neighborhood, Suicide Slums, but they can't get the Presby Brothers, two elderly recluses not seen by another soul in over 25 years, to answer their door. Taking a page from their juvie days, the boys decide to break in to the house to see what's what. They're confronted by two grey-bearded isolationists who tell the boys to scat or they'll feel the burn of buckshot. The boys can't help but blab the news around the neighborhood and soon a pair of Nazi spies (!) are calling on the Presbys to lighten their monetary load. Luckily, Jim Harper is on to the bad guys and he heads to Presby Manor as The Guardian to save the day. Well, that's the plan anyway. He's actually knocked on the head and spends most of the story unconscious while The Newsboys get the better of the two Germans through childish ingenuity and ankle biting. An absolute joy through its entire 12-page length, with snappy dialogue and gorgeous Golden Age Kirby/Simon doodlings, The Newsboy Legion won me over big time. I see that DC has released an Archive Edition collecting the series and it's heading for my Amazon cart as we speak!

Jack: At this point in 1974, Detective is much more enjoyable than Batman, both for the new stories and the reprints. Other reprints include a solid Hawkman story from 1965 with smooth mid-60s DC art by Murphy Anderson, Black Canary's first solo appearance (from 1948), and an Elongated Man story from 1964. One thing that gets a little bit annoying is the tendency of the writers to use alliterative nicknames for the heroes and heroines: Elongated Man is referred to as the Ductile Detective and Hawkgirl is called the Pinioned Princess. The last two reprints are a Batman and Robin tale from 1945 with great Jerry Robinson art and a lot of hoods spouting Brooklynese, and a Dr. Fate story from 1941 written by Gardner Fox, who had to be one of the longest-tenured and busiest of the DC stable of writers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ray Bradbury on TV Part One: Alfred Hitchcock Presents "Shopping for Death"

by Jack Seabrook

In the ten years that Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour were on the air, seven episodes either were based on stories by Ray Bradbury or featured teleplays by Bradbury based on stories by other authors. The first of these was “Shopping for Death,” broadcast during the half-hour show’s first season on January 29, 1956, and based on Bradbury’s story of the same name that had first appeared in the Canadian magazine, MacLean’s, on June 1, 1954.
As the story begins, Mr. Shaw and Mr. Foxe, retired insurance salesmen, stand outside a tenement in the summer heat, waiting for a woman to emerge. When she comes out they follow her to the butcher shop and observe her behavior, which is coarse and angry. They note the butcher’s hand clutching a silver meat ax as the woman berates him. They follow her as she does her errands; they have been watching her for some time and theorize that her behavior makes her a likely murder victim.
Visiting her tenement they learn that her name is Mrs. Shrike. Her husband is a “big hulking brute” of a longshoreman. Shaw and Foxe argue about putting their theory into practice: Shaw thinks that people cannot be helped unless they want to be helped, while Foxe insists that a word to Mrs. Shrike could prevent a catastrophe. They are engaged in a sociological debate about whether outcome can be altered by risk assessment and risk management; as retired insurance men, this is exactly the sort of activity they spent their careers engaged in behind their desks, but now that they have time on their hands they can try to put it into practice in a novel way.
Robert Harris and John Qualen as Foxe and Shaw
Foxe and Shaw’s statistics have shown that more murders are committed when the temperature is 92 degrees than at any other temperature. (An early title for the story was “Fahrenheit 92”!) They climb to the third floor of the tenement, knock on Mrs. Shrike’s door, and enter. Inside, they find Mrs. Shrike, a “feverish dragon confronting them in a fire-clouded room.” Foxe tries to explain to the woman that her behavior is putting her in danger, but his words fall on deaf ears. Angry at having been watched she orders them out, telling them: “Who do you think you are? God?” She is a primitive being, who speaks “with fire and alcohol and smoke,” immune to the men’s intellectual arguments.
Her yelling overcomes Foxe. “He was in a blazing yellow jungle” and, as the temperature hits 92, he raises his cane to strike her. She slips and falls, “gibbering, clawing the floor.” Shocked by the result of their attempt to turn theory into practice, they withdraw as she continues to spew her venom. Foxe and Shaw are like anthropologists who have come face to face with a member of a primitive tribe and who are wholly unprepared for the experience. Outside the building, they see Mrs. Shrike's husband enter, “a creature with the ribs of a mastodon and the head of an unshorn lion.” Like his wife, Mr. Shrike is seen as little better than an animal by the men of the professional class. As the story ends, Foxe and Shaw wait outside as the temperature hovers at 92 degrees.
“Shopping for Death” is a beautifully written story, mixing crime and theory and demonstrating a good understanding of human nature that makes for high quality short fiction. When Ray Bradbury adapted his story for television, he did not change the plot or alter the theme, but he did make additions to the story that deepen its meaning. The show opens with a montage of accidents—a car crash, a fall from a tall building, and a fire—and we see Foxe and Shaw at each event, with Foxe jotting down notes. They next emerge from a cloud of smoke to approach Mrs. Shrike’s tenement as children play around an open fire hydrant; the scene evokes a New York City street that seems like it is older than a mere 57 years ago.
Jo Van Fleet as Mrs. Shrike
Increased dialogue helps flesh out the characters. Shaw complains (actor John Qualen has the perfect squeaky voice for his whining) while Foxe cajoles (in actor Robert Harris’s hectoring Brooklyn/Jewish accent). Both men’s faces are bathed in sweat, their hats and suits wilting in the punishing heat. They soon observe Mrs. Shrike who, as played by Jo Van Fleet, is a fright: hair a mess, dress falling apart, she yells at or shoves everyone she meets. Director Robert Stevens uses some unique camera angles to increase interest in the show and avoid routine camerawork. The first unusual camera placement occurs as the principals enter the butcher shop; the camera is set at a high level looking down at the action through the rotating blades of a ceiling fan. The second unique camera angle occurs soon after, as the camera is placed at a low level looking out through the butcher’s glass case as Mrs. Shrike peers in at the meat.
Back at the tenement, we see Mr. Shrike leaving in anger, a shot that foreshadows his later return. Mr. Foxe helpfully defines “shrike” as “the butcher bird,” a clarification not present in the story and one which helps explain the meaning behind the uncommon surname. The third and final camera angle of interest occurs in the scene inside Mrs. Shrike’s apartment; director Stevens positions the camera low again with Mrs. Shrike sitting like a queen in the foreground and her visitors sitting in the distance as if they are appealing to her. The men seem old and frail; Foxe slips while trying to get out of Mrs. Shrike’s bathtub after a demonstration of risk. Ironically, they are concerned about her welfare but she seems much stronger than they. Foxe begs Mrs. Shrike to let him open a window in the stifling flat but she refuses, unwilling to allow any new idea to enter or change her mind.
Foxe and Shaw disappear back into the smoke.
In this scene, Mrs. Shrike fans herself with a Donald Duck comic book (Huey, Dewey and Louie, Donald’s nephews, are clearly visible on the page), which is a coded reference in 1955 showing that she is of low intelligence. In the wake of the 1954 U.S. Senate hearings on comic books, they were generally considered to be read by morons and to contribute to degeneracy.
The key change from story to teleplay occurs at the end of this scene and is successful both due to the sensitive script and to the powerful performance by Jo Van Fleet. Instead of yelling at Foxe and Shaw like an inhuman creature, Mrs. Shrike becomes humanized—the tirade turns into an explanation of why their well-intentioned suggestions ignore the reality of her situation. She cannot open the window because doing so would let in the flies and the smell. She cannot turn off the radio because doing so would let in the sounds from outside. She cannot afford to fix anything in her apartment. In a heartbreaking conclusion, she tells Foxe that she will fix it all and clean everything up if he can promise to make her 20 years younger and to make her husband thinner and less angry. Her anger nearly turns to tears and we begin to see her hard-edged personality as a mask for her misery.
Mrs. Shrike throws garbage on Mr. Foxe’s suit and he raises his cane to strike her but she never falls to the floor. Foxe and Shaw rush out of her apartment and Foxe realizes that he is exhausted and ashamed of his own behavior: “I treated her as a kind of specimen when I should have seen her as a lost soul.” Mr. Shrike staggers by, appearing drunk, and the show ends as a police car pulls up and Foxe makes a note in his little book before he and Shaw disappear back into the smoke from which they had emerged. What is the significance of the smoke or steam? I think it suggests that they are like gods (as Mrs. Shrike accused them of thinking themselves)—Greek or Roman gods who observe the actions of humans and occasionally try to intervene.
First edition
Ray Bradbury, who wrote both the story and the teleplay, is one of the most beloved writers of popular fiction in America in the twentieth century. He lived from 1920 to 2012, began writing for TV in 1951, and began writing for the movies in 1953. A very good website is devoted to his work. In a 1972 interview, Bradbury mentioned this episode but had little to say about it.
Robert Stevens (1920-1989) directed “Shopping for Death” with his usual skill. He directed 44 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and five of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; episodes already reviewed include “The Glass Eye,” for which he won an Emmy.
Jo Van Fleet (1914-1996) gives a powerful performance as Mrs. Shrike. She appeared in two other episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and an episode of Thriller; she was on TV from 1949 and in movies from 1955, winning an Oscar for her role as the mother of James Dean’s character in East of Eden (1955).
Mr. Foxe is played by Robert H. Harris (1911-1981); born Robert Hurwitz, he did extensive work on television, including appearances in nine episodes of the Hitchcock series (such as “The Dangerous People” and  The Greatest Monster of Them All”).
Michael Ansara
Mr. Shaw is played by John Qualen (1899-1987). He was born Johan Kvalen and he was in many classic films, such as The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Casablanca (1942), The Searchers (1956), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). A member of director John Ford’s stock company, his movie career began in 1931 and he appeared in three episodes of the Hitchcock series.
Visible in small roles are Mike Ross (1911-1993), as Mr. Shrike, and Michael Ansara (1922- ), as the butcher. Ross was a busy character actor who appeared in four Hitchcock episodes, including “The Night the World Ended.” Ansara did extensive TV work, appearing in three Hitchcock episodes as well as “Soldier” on The Outer Limits and “Day of the Dove” on Star Trek.
Mike Ross
“Shopping for Death” was reprinted under the title “Touched With Fire” in Bradbury’s popular anthology, The October Country, and later collected in the Stories of Ray Bradbury. The dramatization on Alfred Hitchcock Presents is available on DVD and can also be viewed online. The story was adapted a second time for television as part of The Ray Bradbury Theater. Bradbury again wrote the teleplay and it is available on DVD but not online.


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