Greetings, Bat-Fans! I have been ridiculously inactive with this club for no good reason, but hopefully that’s going to start being a little less of a thing.
I’m back with more World of Bats Book Club, and continuing our slow (veeeery slow) chronological look at Batman’s Bronze Age adventures. As before, a lot of Batman issues are missing while Detective Comics is relatively complete, but we’ve got three Batman issues for this batch.
Ah, 'Tec #417 is one of those classic “guy dresses up as Batman and things go bad” stories. If you have to don the costume, at least make sure that Bruce is mind-controlling you as you do. I don’t care much for the Creeper, so I’m meh on 'Tec #418. Batman #237 is one of my favorite O’Neil Batman stories. (Yeah, of course I’m going to praise a story where Batman fights a villain named the Reaper. Deal with it. )
Detective Comics #417 – You know, I get that this is pre-Miller coming in and really grimming Batman up, making him less approachable to the general public. But even still, part of me sees Batman deciding to just let and help this random yahoo writer be Batman for a night and I think:
Plus literally as soon as I saw the bank robbery, I pretty much knew exactly where this story was going to go.
Still, the Batgirl story was solid. Cool to see the first story where it’s confirmed that Jim Gordon knows that his daughter is under the cowl.
So far I’ve just read the first selection, Detective Comics # 417. I felt like the Batman story by Frank Robbins really read well. I like the hook about the reporter that likes to pretend to be a particular occupation for a day to report on it to really walk in their shoes. Robbin’s tends to be kind of a street level tough writer (his artwork style is also very stark in other comics like two issues from this one in issue 420 that features a story written and drawn by Mr Robbins.)
The Batgirl story I thought also really was pretty enticing, the much maligned Don Heck doing what I thought was a very entertaining job with the artwork. He’s basically the style of a fashion magazine illustrator and it shows in comics like this.
Yeah, Denny had really hit his stride at this point. Some of his earliest issues don’t impress me that much, but it just gets better from here. And hey, we also get some fun stories from Frank Robbins!
In the Bronze Age Batman would swing from building to building using what we now call a grapple gun. For reasons I don’t remember anymore I received the postcard in the mail from DC and I’m pretty sure it looked like this back in the sixties:
Batman #236 – The main story is a neat little murder mystery, though the cold open first page was odd because…maybe I was tired and missed it, but he didn’t actually try to kill the murderer at the end to the story. I mean, I understand the covers of this era of comics were basically the clickbait of its time, but I didn’t expect that actually in the issue.
With the Robin story, I really liked this one – it’s rare that we see a story that ends without much violence, but focuses more on our hero working with average citizens to save lives.
Also, I liked the reprint of the Golden Age story – the whole “Batman teaching Robin about the night workers of Gotham” can be a little hokey, but I like the idea of how it shows a more human side to the character, someone who can be both the avenging demon to the criminals he faces, and just a more theatrical part of Gotham’s nightlife to the innocent citizens who have no reason to fear him. Also, the main villain of “Hush-Hush” was kind of funny, especially considering how that name sort of becomes more important later. I kind of want to think that this was Tommy’s great-uncle or something and that partly inspired his name.
Detective Comics #418 – The main story with Creeper was okay – props for doing a team-up we don’t often see, but I don’t know if my preconceptions from say, Beware the Creeper and such, but this felt like a rather common bronze-age team up when I feel like Creeper’s humor could have spiced it up a bit more.
The Batgirl story was a good start. I liked the hook that was probably rather timely, though “The Stepfather” just doesn’t really compare. It was fun seeing Babs in a flapper dress, too.
A nice run of stories, though the Batgirl backups are just not good. While relatively simple, I think my favorite involved the ghost of the bride (On IPad so hard to see issue and titles right now). It was very early 70s with a street level Batman and at the end we’re left with the “was it a ghost” Batman challenge.