Thursday, May 31, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Batman Family #18!

I don't wanna be a crook! I wanna be a fireman!
Because I'm obviously insane, I have 80-Page Thursdays written almost six months (!) in advance. So, this was written in January, and I can only hope I'm still diligently blogging away and haven't been lured away by something shiny or abducted or anything. Today, from 1978, Batman Family #18, featuring stories by Denny O'Neil, Bob Rozakis, and Paul Levitz; and art by Michael Golden, Joe Staton, Juan Ortiz, and more.

"The Monstrosity Chase!" opens with Batman gunned down by the Gargoyle Gang. Well, a Batman; an actor working security guarding an aging actress and a golden mask. That, and a brief scene of Batman saving a radio DJ from being mugged, is mostly just setup, for a rather exciting chase through the sewers--the gang took a hostage, the sewer plans are out of date, and severe flooding is coming. There's a lot going on for a 20-page story, but it comes together nicely.
I'm guessing the forty-year old with the streak in her hair, Dick.
Next, in "The Fine Art of Murder," Dick Grayson is snoozing through his art history class, when a student is killed by a sniper. Quickly changing to Robin--Dick apparently wears at least three layers of clothes--he catches the sniper, but someone knifes the killer to silence him. Getting the clues to a Rembrandt smuggling ring leads to some friction with Dick's love interest Lori, which appears to be setting up something for the next issue; but aside from Barbara, did Dick ever have a halfway decent girlfriend? (I know he was with Starfire for a long time in Teen Titans, but that seems to be handwaved away as a phase or something.)
Wait, she was wearing her Batgirl outfit, under her clothes, on a date? That date was either going nowhere, or somewhere great...
Speaking of the "Dominoed Daredoll," (and man, Gail Simone needs to bring that back) the next story Batgirl defends against "Assault on the Pentagon!" Congresswoman Babs is out parking by the Potomac with Senator Tom Cleary, but before anything crosses party lines (hey-o!) she spies a commando group on the river, and has to slap Tom as fresh to excuse herself.

One of the commandos is wearing an amusingly garish skimask and scarf, but for a reason! It's Madame Zodiac, who plans on using "the largest man-made pentagram in the world!" on this night of mystical confluence or something, to give herself mighty astral powers. Like optic blasts, for instance.

When the army is gassed out of commission, Batgirl uses a dropped pistol briefly, but that seemed more to underline the uses of her utility belt then anything: she uses at least four different items from it in 12 pages. I kinda liked this one.

In "Man-Bat No More!" Kirk Langstrom mopes over his scrapbook of cases, since as a new dad, he's resigned himself to giving up super-heroing. Although he's a zoologist who created a pill to turn into Man-Bat, he's had a harder time parleying that into cash money, so he's working at a factory. His wife Francine feels bad, and thinks Kirk should go ahead and be Man-Bat, but he feels it would be too addictive and too hard to work full-time days and flap around nights.

Meanwhile, another Man-Bat is seen nights, stopping a robbery and vandalism of a school. Kirk swears it isn't him, but worries he may be sleepwalking; as he see a report that his old villain SNAFU has broken out of jail. (It was him or the Ten-Eyed Man; Man-Bat hadn't built up a deep rogues' gallery.) The...ugh..."razzle-dazzle villain" terrorizes Madison Square Garden, but as Man-Bat arrives, Kirk is home, asleep, alone...! I liked this version of Man-Bat, as solid family guy with a decent head on his shoulders; since numerous other versions make him out to be a loon or a loser, with assorted creepy personality problems as needed.

Lastly, we visit Earth-2 and the Huntress in "A Choice of Destinies." Helena Wayne's day job as a lawyer at a public interest research group, is not leaving her especially satisfied; she feels enforcing the law as the Huntress is more necessary. Costuming up, she helps save some people from a burning building, but then sees a man give a small child cash and a bomb...more so than the Man-Bat one, this reads like a chapter rather than a full story. Still, a solid, solid 80-pager here; although in retrospect I'm not sure the cover has much to do with the contents, save a reference to Gotham's sewers!

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

"Crossing party lines" Nice one Goo.
Perhaps giving stand-up a go? Ha ha, you know you're the shiznit man.