Monday, March 30, 2015

Admittedly, a guy with a skull for a face probably isn't spoiled for choice.

Man-Bat guest-stars this issue, and like a lot of his appearances, there may not be a lot of continuity from the last time. I'm not even sure Kirk Langstrom's human identity was drawn with any reference, or just pictured as a rather nondescript guy. From 1981, DC Comics Presents #35, "The Metamorphosis Machine!" Written by Martin Pasko, art by Curt Swan, inks by Vince Colletta.

This issue, and somewhat uncharacteristically, Man-Bat breaks into Metropolis's S.T.A.R. Labs, because his daughter Rebecca had inherited the super-hearing he and his wife Francine had as Man-Bats. (Superman questions if an acquired characteristic can be passed down like that, but it's written off as a mutation.) Supes knew S.T.A.R. had stopped their research in that area, but he thought he might have something in his Fortress of Solitude that might help. What they hadn't expected, however, was being eavesdropped on by the Atomic Skull! Who had picked up a female partner, Felicia, who wore a costume similar to his, and seemed awfully interested in getting the device Superman was going to use to help Rebecca.

Somehow, the device affects Superman so he could only use one power at a time, partially so the story isn't wrapped up by the eight-page mark.

Man-Bat scuffles with Felicia, and discovers why she wanted the device: she wasn't a human woman, but a hyper-evolved panther! The Atomic Skull had been a scientist before becoming a super-villain, and she had been an experimental animal. That he fell in love with. Well, they say there's someone out there for everyone; but they don't usually mean you have to make her yourself...

Felicia returns to panther-form (and possibly dies, it's not clear) while the Atomic Skull falls to his death because Superman can't fly at super-speed to save him. Recovering the device, Superman is able to help Rebecca and restore his powers; but wonders if the Atomic Skull could really be dead. Yeah, seems sketchy. Still, I thought he had an actual skull for a face; apparently it was just a mask. That may well depend on the artist, though.


Dale Bagwell said...

Wait a minute. So He fell in love with his research animal? And she fell for him? Holy Implied Beastality Batman!
Seriously, someone call PETA 'cause shit got weird quick!

I thought that wasn't a mask, but AS's real face after his accident. I know that's what his WHO's WHO entry said.
Years later his visual would be that of a 'roided up Ghost Rider knock-off, so I guess the whole face-mask/mask debate became moot after all.

Anonymous said...

The Secret Origin of "Bye Felicia"?

Maybe a nod to Val Lewton's "Cat People"?