Thursday, August 28, 2014

Back Issues with Issues: Detective Comics #465

Time for me to review another comic book, before I consign it to the collage pile.

November, 1976 (comicbookdb)

We actually get two stories in this issue. An eleven-page Batman story and a six-page Calculator story. That's a lot of ads and less actual story than we get in one of today's monthly titles. Not that I'm complaining about the ads. Sometimes, they're the best part of the book.

Batman and Superman are friends. Until Billy's mood changes.

Especially when we're dealing with THE BEST-KEPT SECRET IN GOTHAM CITY. Written by David V. Reed and drawn by the Ernie Chan/Frank Giacoia team. Julius Schwartz had his finger in there, too.

I should add that there are actually only ten Batman story pages, since the first serves as a sort of "grabber." It's a full-page nightmare sequence where a bunch of generic bad guys are about to unmask The Batman, but his body disappears, leaving them with an empty costume. I wonder if it was the original cover idea. There are also a few text boxes to introduce the concept of his having a secret identity. I'm going to assume that my audience is familiar with the general concept of a rich guy who hides his face so that he can go out and beat up on people, and just move on to the actual narrative.

It's hard for Batman to talk about his emotions.

Batman shows up in the Commissioner's office one night and has a one-sided conversation about the possibility of Gordon's being kidnapped and tortured to provide criminals with our egotistical vigilante's secret identity. If this should ever happen, Gordon is to tell the kidnappers that Batman is really......Neil Merrick, real estate agent.

And so, one day a "Thomas Greer" shows up at the office of ....Neil Merrick, real estate agent. (I'm still waiting for that to be the next 52 title.)

Millionaire, Man About Town and big Grumpy-Grump

Of course, this sets off all kinds of recording cameras and alarms. Or rather, the secretary that Bruce Wayne pays to sit in an empty office all day just in case some gangsters decide to torture Commissioner Gordon does. The "taped telecast" gets broadcast to the penthouse at Wayne Tower, leading Alfred to exclaim "GOOD LORD!" Bruce then goes down to his secret lab under the tower, erasing the facial hair, sunglasses and funny hat from a film still of "Thomas Greer," revealing his true identity. Since the bad guys could murder his beloved friend at any moment, Batman decides to use the fastest, most technologically advanced form of information gathering available to him -- the bulletin board at the local supermarket.

Though, to be fair, Bruce Wayne probably owns the Supermarket

Batman is also, of course, a master of disguise. In order to not attract attention when picking up his messages, he borrows an idea from Jimmy Olsen and dresses up as an old lady. And then gets attacked by Gotham City's most unfortunate mugger.

Always shave your legs before fighting crime

Let's take a moment to salute Ernie Chan. He has only a few pages to work with here, and has to compress the storytelling down as much as possible. This three-panel sequence is actually a bit of a comedic breather before getting on to the next act. I'm not sure Frank Giacoia was the best choice of inker here, however. A bit heavy over Chan's usually lighter lines. But that's just a minor complaint.

Anyway, Batman discovers that Starkey Kell is planning a big robbery for that night. While lurking on the rooftops, our detective sees that a rival gang is also headed to rob the same location! So, he does what anyone would do in this situation. He beats the hell out of them.

Definitely not a crazed vigilante

Yes, he beats up some guys who haven't even committed a crime. His rationale being that he needs to follow Mr. Kell back to this hideout. The appearance of two teams of robbers at the same heist may interfere with that plan. At least that's what Bruce Wayne tells himself so that he can sleep well at night.

Starkey Kell apparently didn't hear all the tools flying around into people's heads on the neighboring rooftop, so he commits his crime and zips off in a bright yellow station wagon back to the hideout. Somehow, Batman has no problem following this choice of getaway vehicle, shows up, and beats up some more people.

...drinking wine...this is a maniac....

Of course, Batman arrives in time to rescue his friend. They end up back at the Commissioner's office, thinking of ways to cover up for Batman's many law-breaking activities and all is well in Gotham City.

friends don't arrest friends for vigilantism

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