DennisDaMennis
Golden Age
Joined: 5:56 AM - Mar 31, 2007

3:44 PM - Oct 09, 2017 #2681

Reading along with AH1. . .
 
One of the Most Perfect Frame-Ups
This is the first Penguin story. . . He steals some paintings from under the nose of the police, and uses this to gain entry into the Gotham underworld, eventually killing the gangster's boss and taking over himself.
My dealings with the Penguin during the late Silver Age gave me the impression that he’d always been a pat gimmick-criminal who committed two or three crimes per story, then ended up with Batman putting him in a cage. I thought his more recent role as Crime Boss of Gotham was new territory. Little did I suspect that this harkened back to his debut.
 
Penguin escapes, starting a trend that will last for several appearances.
Again, as a kid I didn’t realize that it was the Comics Code that captured the crooks, not Batman.
 
Stone Walls Do Not a Prison Make
The Batman brings down Big Mike Russo, Gotham crime boss, and sends him to prison.
Dang! Russo is a greasy character! His slimy face and liver-lips just cry out for Batman’s fist!
 
However Mike has arranged with some of his gang members who are still free to kidnap the warden and replace him with an impostor, so that Big Mike can start running his crimes from inside the prison.
Over the decades, this plot has seen a lot of mileage. I had no idea it was so old. Since nothing new pops up in comics, the idea must have been around even before that. Probably, the Shadow faced the same situation earlier on. But still, it makes a good tale.
 
Also, at one point Batman visits the prison with Commissioner Gordon. As he walks the hallways, all the convicts “boo” him. Gordon comments, “Batman – you don’t seem very popular!” to which Batman replies, “Perhaps it’s because I sent them here!” So this one time “superstitious and cowardly” lot who skulked in fear of the shadowy form of the Batman now sees the Commissioner’s lapdog in the harsh prison lights and jeer at him. The price he paid for respectability!
 
Batman figures out what's going on and infiltrates the prison as "Killer Sykes". When he and Robin try to bust up the gang they're captured and Batman is put in the gas chamber.
Sigh! Most criminals would give their eyeteeth to know Batman’s secret identity, but it doesn’t occur to them to peek under his mask. Maybe they figured he’d be dead in a few minutes, so it didn’t really matter.
 
 
Overall, this was an enjoyable read.

The Strange Case of Professor Radium!
Professor Ross uses radium to develop a formula that will bring the dead back to life. . . He decides. . . to test things out on himself. . .  Ross becomes radioactive, and everything he touches dies instantly.

This macabre story fits perfectly into Batman's world, and Professor Radium is something of a tragic villain, having started out with good intentions, only to make a prideful and foolish mistake that turns him into a monster.

Ross’ descent into madness was indeed tragic, especially the scene where he accidentally kills the woman he loves. This was a really, really good story, IMO, one of the best Batman stories thus far.
 
Interestingly, the Batman daily comic had a completely different version of this same story. . .
To save me a little digging, AH1, do you recall the approximate dates of the Prof. Radium comic strips?
 
The Superstition Murders!
A play about superstitions is about to open in Gotham, and the cast and director decide to have a "breaking superstitions" party. . . Soon afterwards, the cast begin to die one by one, with Batman and Robin investigating the murders.
After two really good stories, this one didn’t do much for me. However, I have to say the solution to the murder was not as obvious as usual in a comic book plot. There were so many suspects with varying motives (with some very confusing artwork which muddled things even more), I was at sea throughout the story.
 
We see them in Gordon's office, consulting with him on a case, for the first time, and Batman even participates on the interrogation of the main suspect.
As you opine below, again, we’re on the fast train to Batman appearing on the Tonight Show.

The Cross-Country Crimes!
I never get used to Batman being an open public law enforcement figure. To me, it undermines the whole basis of the character as a vigilante, sneaking around in the shadows and scaring criminals to death. But a public figure is exactly what Batman is now, and he's actually contacted by the FBI director for help in capturing the Joker.
 
A really lame story wrapped around the lame acrostic premise.
 
At one point, Batman finds a clue: A Joker playing card with an outline map of Ohio. Robin asks, “Where’s the Joker?” and Batman replies, “Gone – to Ohio! It looks like we’re going to have a rendezvous there!” Fine. I was born in Ohio. I live in Ohio. I’m typing these words in Ohio, and I can tell you it would be hard for even the World’s Greatest Detective to find one man who is at large somewhere in a state that is 44,825 square miles in area. But somehow, Batman chances across the Joker’s crime in the Buckeye state.
 
Furthermore, Batman and Joker do battle aboard a “monorail car” as they go up a “mountain” side. There are some fair hills along the Ohio River in the southwest part of the state, but there’s nothing that rates being called a mountain.
 
At least the Joker is back to his old homicidal self – he gasses two of his compatriots rather than share the swag. Then he sends a busload of jewelers off a cliff to their deaths.
 
The King of the Jungle!
Bruce and Dick enter this story as happy vacationers taking a respite from crime-fighting. It lasts but one panel, because they immediately spot the fugitive Penguin and begin to investigate. Looking ahead, the next story in chronological order has the pair once again on a train to continue their vacation, while the story after that has them “returning from a brief vacation.” So we have a bit of rare inter-story continuity here.

A so-so story, but there is one interesting point: Although there is still no Bat-cave, there is a secret laboratory hidden behind a wall in Bruce Wayne’s home.
 
The Dynamic Duo get conked on their heads twice in this story, and both times the Penguin passes on the chance to look behind their masks.
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AH1
Modern Age
AH1
Modern Age
Joined: 12:29 PM - Jan 05, 2014

9:18 PM - Oct 09, 2017 #2682

To save me a little digging, AH1, do you recall the approximate dates of the Prof. Radium comic strips? - I just went and checked, and it's the last story in the collected volume of newspaper strips, Sep. 23 - early Nov. 1946.
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DennisDaMennis
Golden Age
Joined: 5:56 AM - Mar 31, 2007

9:54 PM - Oct 10, 2017 #2683

Thanks for the info. I just read the Radium strips. The Professor gets the insane idea that his death-touch should be used to end the suffering of unhappy and lonely people. Cool!
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mwiggins
Bronze Age
mwiggins
Bronze Age
Joined: 9:45 AM - Mar 05, 2011

1:40 PM - Oct 11, 2017 #2684

From the Supergirl: The Silver Age Omnibus...

Action Comics #295:  Supergirl meets Lena Luthor for the first time.  Lena has ESP and ends up involved with bank robbers, after her brother's legacy causes the FBI to reject her application.  Lena, however, doesn't know that she's a Luthor (see an issue of Superman's Girlfriend from 1960 that I've never read)

Action Comics #296:  Lena returns, now Supergirl's friend.  Dick Malverne ends up convinced that she's actually Supergirl - which she admits to in a cliffhanger.  The plot is your typical Weisinger-verse hijinks, but I love the use of continuing storylines and how much continuity there is in this strip. 

Action Comics #297:  Continuing from last issue, we find out why Lena confessed to be Supergirl.  Turns out our old friend Lesla-Lar escaped from Kandorian prison and mind-controlled Lena. By the end of the issue, Lesla has released 3 Phantom Zone villains.  They end up killing her for her trouble.  Superman is stuck in the past, so the story ends with Kara turning to Lex for help. 

Action Comics #298:  The finale of this 4-issue stretch of stories centered around Lena Luthor.  Lex betrays Supergirl to side with the Phantom Zone villains, and gets superpowers in return.  But when his super-hearing picks up them plotting behind his back, Luthor hatches a plot to trick them and the villains are returned to the Phantom Zone. 

As much as I enjoyed this run of stories, I had to put the book back on the shelf when I saw the Supergirl story in Action #299 is titled "The Fantastic Secret of Superbaby II"  Come on guys, isn't one Superbaby enough???
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DennisDaMennis
Golden Age
Joined: 5:56 AM - Mar 31, 2007

7:46 PM - Oct 11, 2017 #2685

Reading along with mwiggins. .  .
 
Action Comics #295:  Supergirl meets Lena Luthor for the first time.  Lena has ESP and ends up involved with bank robbers, after her brother's legacy causes the FBI to reject her application.
For some reason, people in the early 1960s were fascinated by E.S.P. Books, magazine articles, and TV shows proliferated on the subject. Lena’s powers reflected this interest.
Incidentally, related to this, I came across this 2001 book title: Quantum Leaps in the Wrong Direction: Where Real Science Ends...and Pseudoscience Begins by Charles M. Wynn and Arthur W. Wiggins. Any relation?
So, Luthor’s parents think it’s better to think her brother died horribly than to know that he’s a criminal mastermind?
And how did Lex get a “space-brain” in his Smallville lab?

Action Comics #296:  Lena returns, now Supergirl's friend.  Dick Malverne ends up convinced that she's actually Supergirl. 
Malverne is a real slug. He dates Linda because he thinks she’s Supergirl, until it appears that Lena is Supergirl, then he dumps Linda for Lena. A slug, I say!

Action Comics #297:  Continuing from last issue. . . turns out our old friend Lesla-Lar escaped from Kandorian prison. . . by the end of the issue, Lesla has released 3 Phantom Zone villains. . . they end up killing her for her trouble.
Yeas, they actually killed Lesla-Lar! This was HUGE for 1963 comics: The Comics Code didn’t like it; DC didn’t do it (unless it was in some worthy pursuit, like Sgt. Rock icing Nazis), and it never happened in the Weisingerverse. It sure knocked my socks off as a kid when she got disintegrated.

Action Comics #298:  Lex betrays Supergirl to side with the Phantom Zone villains, and gets superpowers in return. 
This story is historic for one point that echoed through the DCU for half a century: Luthor steals a costume that befits his new powers, and he randomly chooses one that is purple and green! This color combo was used again and again in every outfit Luthor wore from then on (well, after he stopped running around in his prison jumpsuit, even when he’d escaped from prison).

As much as I enjoyed this run of stories, I had to put the book back on the shelf when I saw the Supergirl story in Action #299 is titled "The Fantastic Secret of Superbaby II"  Come on guys, isn't one Superbaby enough???
I skimmed this story to remind myself what the shocking secret of the second Superbaby was. OMG! The answer was egregious, even by Mort Weisinger standards!
 
I won’t ruin it for you.
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Osgood Peabody
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8:22 PM - Oct 11, 2017 #2686

mwiggins wrote: Action Comics #295:  Supergirl meets Lena Luthor for the first time.  Lena has ESP and ends up involved with bank robbers, after her brother's legacy causes the FBI to reject her application.  Lena, however, doesn't know that she's a Luthor (see an issue of Superman's Girlfriend from 1960 that I've never read)
Lena was introduced in "The Curse of Lena Thorul" in Lois Lane #23... I reviewed it back in the December 1960 TC which you can find over here.  You can see that she was much more grown up in that first tale, then they "de-aged" her to make her a supporting character in the Supergirl feature.

BTW, that 4 part sequence is far and away my favorite SA Supergirl story. It was a cornucopia of Weisinger era goodness... Lex Luthor, the Phantom Zone, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Lori Lemaris, Lesla Lar, Kandor... what more could you ask for?  And Luthor was just building up to the great anti-hero, just before the fabulous Lexor series, and I love that scene where after the PZ villains break him out of prison, he dismisses their help... "I don't take orders from anyone!"

It's too bad that when they wrote the script for the Superman II movie years later, they didn't reference this story... Leo Dorfman had the good sense to know who should have the upper hand between Luthor and the Kryptonians!

.
"As for contentment, that is a myth.  Give a man everything he wishes and he will be unhappy, because he didn't wish for more; give him more, and he will die of his worries.  Only a turtle, asleep on a sunny log, knows contentment!"
-Merlin to Prince Valiant
            Hal Foster 3-7-43
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AH1
Modern Age
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Modern Age
Joined: 12:29 PM - Jan 05, 2014

9:42 PM - Oct 12, 2017 #2687

World's Finest Comics #4
Winter 1942

The Ghost Gang Goes West!
It's another vacation and another western adventure for Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. On the one hand I always chuckle about the vacations, because of course they're going to end up crime-fighting and of course they have their costumes, so the "vacation" is just an excuse to get them out of Gotham and change the scenery. On the other hand, with the type of life they lead, frequent vacations are probably a healthy thing! In any case, Dick is all excited to see cowboys and gunfighters and outlaws, but Bruce tells him that's a thing of the past... until the train is robbed by cowboy bandits. It's the "ghost gang", outlaws dressed like cowboys on horses who rob one spot, and then less than an hour later are robbing somewhere 200 miles away, something impossible to do on horseback. Batman is almost lynched and uses some psychology to calm the crowd down, only to be almost killed by a rattlesnake. In the end the answer to the mystery is a helicopter, hidden in a hanger disguised as a barn, which ferries the "ghost gang" around so they can commit their "impossible" robberies.

Detective Comics #60
February 1942

Case of the Costume-Clad Killers
A criminal gang is dressing up as police to rob banks, or as firemen to rob charity balls. In other words, disguising themselves as whoever they're planning to rob, and therefore being able to get very close before being detected, at which point it's too late to stop them. Batman figures out pretty quick that the Joker is behind this, and once again he decides to lure the Joker in and trap him with a story about a famous jewel, which of course the Joker can't resist trying to steal. At this point, this feels like a fairly typical Joker runaround, because the Joker has now appeared in the series just that often.
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mwiggins
Bronze Age
mwiggins
Bronze Age
Joined: 9:45 AM - Mar 05, 2011

9:08 AM - Oct 13, 2017 #2688

You piqued my curiosity, Dennis, so I read the Supergirl story from Action Comics #299.  It was better that I expected, but it was disappointingly not as crazy as your post made me think it was going to be.  Love seeing the rich world they've built around Kara.  Kandorian culture (including having to file a police report on the events of the last story arc), Supergirl Emergency Squad, and a trip back to the Midvale orphanage.
Action299_21.jpg
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mwiggins
Bronze Age
mwiggins
Bronze Age
Joined: 9:45 AM - Mar 05, 2011

9:27 AM - Oct 13, 2017 #2689

Also, I'm currently doing a re-read of All-Star Squadron (Category: Should Have Been Archived) and am now moving into 1984.  Man, Jerry Ordway's covers from this era are just pure DC Comics (and Quality Comics) Golden Age goodness. 
All-Star_Squadron_Vol_1_26.jpg
All-Star_Squadron_Vol_1_31.jpg
All-Star_Squadron_Vol_1_29.jpg
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DennisDaMennis
Golden Age
Joined: 5:56 AM - Mar 31, 2007

11:22 AM - Oct 13, 2017 #2690

Reading along with AH1. . .
 
The Ghost Gang Goes West!
It's the "ghost gang", outlaws dressed like cowboys on horses who rob one spot, and then less than an hour later are robbing somewhere 200 miles away, something impossible to do on horseback. . . In the end the answer to the mystery is a helicopter, hidden in a hanger disguised as a barn, which ferries the "ghost gang" around so they can commit their "impossible" robberies.
Actually, I thought it was one large gang, split into two groups to fool eyewitnesses into believing they were the same men. I like my solution better.
 
Batman is almost lynched and uses some psychology to calm the crowd down. . .
If I were already whipped into a hanging-frenzy, being outsmarted by my intended victim, it would have just made me madder! I thought the whole scene was almost comedy relief:
The Batman (with noose still tight around his neck): “Listen! Look closely and carefully at my costume! What does it resemble?”
The Mob: “Sorta like wings. . .Yeah, like bat-wings!”
The Batman: “Exactly! I’m The Batman!”
The Mob: “Shore thet’s him, alright! And to think we almost strung up The Batman!”
Idiots.
 
The big tip-off in every kid-oriented adventure series from The Lone Ranger through The Batman:
“Meet Lafe Brunt! He owns about the biggest ranch around here!” – of course he’s the head of the gang!
 
With our guys chasing ghosts, and the gang leader railing, “Blast you! I almost got away with it!” – it was like a Scooby Doo episode.
 
Case of the Costume-Clad Killers
A criminal gang is dressing up as police to rob banks, or as firemen to rob charity balls. In other words, disguising themselves as whoever they're planning to rob.
This is the most satisfying Batman story I’ve seen in a while. The Joker’s use of official uniforms to pull off holdup is brilliant – and in 1942, it was probably quite original. The post-office puns during the fight scene in the mail room were actually funny.

At this point, this feels like a fairly typical Joker runaround, because the Joker has now appeared in the series just that often.
Actually, if you remove the Joker-playing card clue, this story could have been about any clever crook. There was nothing clown connected, and the Joker only let loose with a lame “HA-HA!” in a mere two word balloons. But yeah, Mr. Rekoj has already been seen way too often.
 
The Batmobile and Batplane have been evolving over the years. By this point, they have arrived at their final forms (at least until the 1950s’ revamps). Having said that, I see that in this story the Batmobile sports red stripes, and in the following tale so does the Batplane. I’ll be interested in seeing how long they last.
 
I actually got a chill when I got to the bottom of page 4 and “Suddenly a gigantic cone of light pierces the dusk of day and etches an eerie symbol against a black cloud – the silhouette of a giant bat!” There it is, for the very first time: The Bat-Signal!!! What a privilege these reprints bestow on us “time travelers” that allow us to witness this sight! I haven’t been so geeked out since reading “The Chemical Syndicate” and seeing the first appearance of The Bat-Man! As I said, the Batmobile and Batplane evolved over the years. For me there was no “OOOHHH Look – it’s the first Batmobile” moment, but the arrival of the iconic Bat-signal is a big deal.
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mwiggins
Bronze Age
mwiggins
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Joined: 9:45 AM - Mar 05, 2011

10:19 AM - Oct 14, 2017 #2691

More with the Supergirl Omnibus...

Action Comics #300:  Really looking forward to when the lead story in this issue ("Superman Under the Red Sun") shows up in an omnibus, but for now we'll have to make do with "The Return of Super-Horse".  The whole story is setup by a long dream sequence about Comet that isn't really explained.  But the main story is Comet regaining his memory and reuniting with Supergirl.  Along the way he's tricked into helping some criminals.  Lena shows up again briefly...is she now a regular supporting cast member at the level of the Danvers?  Things end on a cliffhanger as Comet is summoned to the Fortress of Solitude for a special mission. 

Action Comics #301:  After a fairly lackluster setup story in the previous issue, in this one we apparently get the introduction of Sorcerers World (called Zerox,the Sorcerers Planet in this story).  I had no idea that was introduced in Supergirl.  Due to some issue with the Super's powers, Superman asks Comet to journey to Zerox to help a Prince Endor retain his throne, since Comet's powers are magic based unlike Superman and Supergirl.  In story, Superman references a previous visit to Zerox where he was saved by Prince Endor, but I don't find that that actually happened in any Superman comics.  During this adventure, Comet gains the ability to turn into a human man whenever a comet passes through Earth's solar system, changing into centaur form briefly during the transition.  Importantly, he only has his super powers when he's in horse form.

Halfway through the issue we get a second story, where Comet returns to Earth and assumes the role of Bronco Bill in his human form.  Supergirl has no idea about this new ability, however.  Which leads to a lot of confusion when Lena finds Comet with her ESP, but Super-Horse is no where to be found when Supergirl arrives at the rodeo.  She does get a kiss from Bronco Bill, who just happens to have a comet birthmark on his back just like Super-horse. 

The story ends with Comet being captured by criminals in his centaur form, but escaping from their helicopter in a great panel after he finishes his transformation to Super-Horse. Dorfman and Mooney crammed so much story into 12 pages, but it was a lot of fun. 
Action-301-1200-29.jpg
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AH1
Modern Age
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Joined: 12:29 PM - Jan 05, 2014

7:08 PM - Oct 14, 2017 #2692

DennisDaMennis wrote:I actually got a chill when I got to the bottom of page 4 and “Suddenly a gigantic cone of light pierces the dusk of day and etches an eerie symbol against a black cloud – the silhouette of a giant bat!” There it is, for the very first time: The Bat-Signal!!! What a privilege these reprints bestow on us “time travelers” that allow us to witness this sight! I haven’t been so geeked out since reading “The Chemical Syndicate” and seeing the first appearance of The Bat-Man! As I said, the Batmobile and Batplane evolved over the years. For me there was no “OOOHHH Look – it’s the first Batmobile” moment, but the arrival of the iconic Bat-signal is a big deal.
I can't believe I missed that! I've been trying to watch for firsts, but the first use of the bat-signal slipped by me.

Batman #9
February-March 1942

The Four Fates!
I liked this story quite a bit. Four fugitives plot to steal a massive ruby from the turban of Jafeer, a fortune-teller. Unluckily for them, they move in to rob the man when he's on the air with a Gotham radio station. Jafeer curses the four of them to die in various ways, and as the story unfolds, that's exactly what happens, though not quite as expected. The man who will supposedly die by lightning is electrocuted on the third rail of a subway while fighting Robin. The guy who will die because of water ends up dying of thirst in a desert, and so on. Every time, Batman wonders if it was really the curse, or just coincidence? He and Robin figure they'll never know. All four crooks have names and personality and a bit of history that plays into the plot, so they're a bit more than generic gangsters. Good stuff. 

The White Whale!
You might expect, as I did, that this is going to be a takeoff on Moby Dick, and that Batman and Robin will once again be visiting another genre. A white whale is sinking ships, and the insurance company is desperate to find the animal and kill it, because they're losing so much money on the ships they've insured. Bruce Wayne is on the board of the company, and he decides to investigate. He's shanghaied by the evil captain of the whaling ship, with Dick Grayson sneaking on board the ship. After Batman makes an appearance to put a stop to the cruelty of the captain, the ship takes on a whale and kills it, with the captain taking the chance to turn the tables on Batman. At that moment, the crew rebels and puts the captain adrift in a rowboat to die. When Batman protests that it's murder, the crew toss him and Robin in the boat as well. And of course, that's when the genuine white whale appears... only it's not a real whale at all, but a submarine, run by one of the insurance company's board members, who skims a nice profit off every insurance payout for lost ships. A timely intervention by the coast guard puts an end to the scheme. This story took a strange left turn from whaling to insurance fraud, but it was certainly entertaining and not what I expected.

The Case of the Lucky Law-Breakers
The Joker escapes from prison, and sets up a series of scams where he and his gang rob banks, and the stolen money is publicly presented to the ex-cons as prizes on various game shows in order to give the gang alibis for suddenly having money. At the end of the story, the Joker appears to have been run over by a train, but since his body is nowhere to be found, Batman figures he'll be back yet again.

Christmas
Bruce Wayne hands out Christmas gifts at a Gotham orphanage (which made me wonder who raised Bruce after his parents died, in these pre-Alfred stories), when he runs across one boy who insists his dad is on a long trip, and will be back for him. Bruce decides to investigate, and learns that the boy's father is in prison for murder. The man insists that he was framed, and when Batman looks into the case, it turns out that the true murderer is gangster Hal Fink. Batman solves the case, and the boy and father are reunited. Poor Dick Grayson wishes he could be a part of a fun Christmas like that, and Batman surprises him with a Christmas party with Commissioner Gordon and Linda Page. I think Dick would rather have partied with all the other kids his age. Still, it's a nice feel-good storyline for Christmas, with Batman once again helping a down on his luck man who cannot help himself.
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DennisDaMennis
Golden Age
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10:41 AM - Oct 15, 2017 #2693

Reading along with AH1. . .
 
The Case of the Lucky Law-Breakers
The Joker escapes from prison, and sets up a series of scams where he and his gang rob banks, and the stolen money is publicly presented to the ex-cons as prizes on various game shows in order to give the gang alibis for suddenly having money.
This was a clever, though unworkable in practice, plot. And again, this was not an example of what would become the classic (and repetitious) Joker M.O. (clowns, jokes, cryptic clues, etc.) – OOPS, wait. . . there were exploding mechanical clown dolls.
 
Sure, this is still way back in 1942, but already it’s becoming an obvious mistake to allow arch-criminals access to prison machine shops, pharmacies, and such. James Bond must have read this story -- At the beginning of the movie Goldfinger, he used the Joker’s gimmick of snorkeling around with a water-fowl on his head.
 
Again, here we have the Batman, former Creature of the Night, appearing in newsreels.
 
That was a nice escape from the Joker’s death-trap. I suppose all wealthy playboys and their wards carry “silver pencils” around with them; and these items were mighty well-made if they could handle the weight of a “ton-heavy slab of rock”!
 
And it seems that in every story, Batman and/or Robin get knocked unconscious and/or get captured. At this rate, they’re not going to see the end of the War.
 
And speaking of WWII, we haven’t heard reference to this recently, have we?

Christmas
Bruce Wayne hands out Christmas gifts at a Gotham orphanage (which made me wonder who raised Bruce after his parents died, in these pre-Alfred stories). . .
I vaguely recall in the ‘50s reading a reference that Bruce was in the care of an uncle – but I wouldn’t put money on it.
 
. . . when he runs across one boy who insists his dad is on a long trip, and will be back for him. Bruce decides to investigate, and learns that the boy's father is in prison for murder. The man insists that he was framed. . .
Bruce, the prison is full of guys who say “I was framed!”. Don’t waste your time.
 
Still, it's a nice feel-good storyline for Christmas, with Batman once again helping a down on his luck man who cannot help himself.
Without going back to check, is this the first Batman Christmas story?
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AH1
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8:47 PM - Oct 16, 2017 #2694

I think it may be the first Christmas story, but I'm not sure either. 

Detective Comics #61
March 1942

The Three Racketeers!
Three Gangsters sit around a table and discuss their clever plots that were getting them easy wealth, until the Batman and Robin put a stop to what they were doing. One man operated a pirate radio station in order to direct his gang on where to rob. One man invented a serum to make someone lazy and kill their motivation, and demanded a ransom for the antidote. The third guy dispensed with subtlety and stole some tanks which he used in his robberies. The twist ending is that while it looks like all three were swapping stories in preparation for getting together to take in Batman, in reality all three men are in the waiting area of the local prison and are taken off to their cells, having enjoyed their talk together. The guard wonders how smart Batman has to be to take on such smart crooks.

World's Finest Comics #5
Spring 1942

Crime Takes a Holiday
We get another story of criminals cooperating as they declare a halt to crime in Gotham, confusing the police and making Bruce Wayne suspicious. Bruce disguises himself as the "Gold Coast Kid", a thief, and manages to get in with the with the mobs. While they're not committing crimes in Gotham, they're traveling to other cities, disguising themselves as local gangs who originate from those cities, committing crimes, and then returning to Gotham to enjoy the loot. Batman uses the same tactics to trap them by pretending to have the gang from another city come to Gotham to rob the Gotham crooks, and then having the Gotham police round them alll up when they come to defend their loot. 

As someone who remembers Bruce often adopting the "Matches Malone" identity in order to get information from crooks, I enjoyed seeing Bruce do much the same thing far earlier in the character's history. 

Detective Comics #62
April 1942

Laugh, Town, Laugh!
Comedian Happy Hanson dies, and leaves a fortune to whichever comedian can figure out the answer to series of riddles that he leaves behind. These five famous comedians are told the terms of the will and are interested. They all have fictional names, but are all clearly based on real people. I figured out Jack Benny, Fred Allen and W. C. Fields, but not the other two. What's disturbing is that the Joker kills three of them. He breaks out of jail, incensed that he wasn't included among the top comedians. He ultimately tracks down the treasure, a necklace of priceless pearls, but is captured by Batman, who only manages to be good enough to save two of them comedians from the Joker. The best scene: at one point in the story, the Joker has Batman captured and starts to unmask him, but then decides that he has more fun matching wits with him and decides not to reveal his identity.
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Mormegil
Modern Age
Mormegil
Modern Age
Joined: 10:36 PM - Jul 17, 2017

8:16 AM - Oct 17, 2017 #2695

My library was able to borrow the first two volumes of the Adam Strange Archives. This is the first SA Dc material i've read. I'm almost finished with Vol. 2. These were better than expected. I'm going to see if they can get the Hawkman silver age material in as well. 
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mwiggins
Bronze Age
mwiggins
Bronze Age
Joined: 9:45 AM - Mar 05, 2011

8:26 AM - Oct 17, 2017 #2696

Mormegil wrote: My library was able to borrow the first two volumes of the Adam Strange Archives. This is the first SA Dc material i've read. I'm almost finished with Vol. 2. These were better than expected. I'm going to see if they can get the Hawkman silver age material in as well. 
I haven't read Vol. 1 yet, but the Infantino/Anderson art in Vol. 2 is top notch. 
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DennisDaMennis
Golden Age
Joined: 5:56 AM - Mar 31, 2007

9:42 AM - Oct 17, 2017 #2697

Mormegil wrote:. . . the Adam Strange Archives. . . is the first SA Dc material i've read. I'm almost finished with Vol. 2. These were better than expected.
I love Adam Strange! To me, though, he ceased to exist when Julius Schwartz left Mystery in Space. Nothing done with the character since then has measured up in my eyes. Arguably, later versions may have measured up in story or art, but attempts to move Adam out of the Silver Age only ruined him.
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Mormegil
Modern Age
Mormegil
Modern Age
Joined: 10:36 PM - Jul 17, 2017

2:46 PM - Oct 17, 2017 #2698

DennisDaMennis wrote:
Mormegil wrote:. . . the Adam Strange Archives. . . is the first SA Dc material i've read. I'm almost finished with Vol. 2. These were better than expected.
I love Adam Strange! To me, though, he ceased to exist when Julius Schwartz left Mystery in Space. Nothing done with the character since then has measured up in my eyes. Arguably, later versions may have measured up in story or art, but attempts to move Adam out of the Silver Age only ruined him.
Thats a shame. I enjoyed these The Archives volumes enough that i started looking into more modern takes on the character. Man of Two Worlds didn't look any good. I don't care for grimdark. 

Planet Heist and Rann Thanagar war looked better, but i wanted to get some background on hawkman before i read those. 
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DennisDaMennis
Golden Age
Joined: 5:56 AM - Mar 31, 2007

3:06 PM - Oct 17, 2017 #2699

Actually, over on the Adam Strange Omnibus thread, the guys speak well of Planet Heist, which I've never read. And I just remembered really liking the Adam Strange story in the first Wednesday's Comics.

Man of Two Worlds borrowed its grim-dark from the Swamp Thing series where Swampy traveled to Rann and Alan Moore savaged the entire premise of the old Mystery in Space series. Oh, it was a good story, highly original and such, but I couldn't stand seeing my Silver-Age heroes being trashed one after another back then in the post-Crisis era.
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DennisDaMennis
Golden Age
Joined: 5:56 AM - Mar 31, 2007

4:46 PM - Oct 17, 2017 #2700

Reading along with AH1. . .
 
The Three Racketeers!
Three Gangsters sit around a table and discuss their clever plots that were getting them easy wealth, until the Batman and Robin put a stop to what they were doing. . . The twist ending is that while it looks like all three were swapping stories in preparation for getting together to take in Batman, in reality all three men are in the waiting area of the local prison and are taken off to their cells. . .
I first read this when it was reprinted in the wonderful 100-page Batman #258 in 1974. My only recollection of the story was the twist ending. That was the best thing about the story, IMO, but the three rackets the three gangsters perpetrated were pretty clever, too.
 
Batman leaves a box for “Crafty” Cal Clate containing a live bat as his “calling card.” One of the first Batman stories I ever read in the ‘50s was one “Body in the Bat-Cave!” in which the Caped Crusader sent a boxed-bat to a newly arrived gangster as a warning not to cause trouble in his city. I later learned that this was part of the earlier-Batman’s schtick. Having a live bat fluttering around the room pretty much struck fear into the hearts of the superstitious, cowardly lot.
 
I don’t recall this happening before in our readings. Did it, and I missed it? And in these pre-Batcave days, where did Batman wrangle a bat?
 
Incidentally, “Body in the Bat-Cave!” was a really good story. In it, when the bat flew out of the box, the gang got the message and fled – all but the resident electronic genius, Alec Wyre, who puts a tracer on the bat’s leg, then turns it loose to fly back to the Bat-cave. Batman returns later and finds Wyre bludgeoned to death – in the Bat-Cave! Who killed him? The murderer must also know Batman’s secret identity. I really liked this story as a kid. There were some obligatory sci-fi electronic devices in there, but at the core it was a solid who-dunnit. It was reprinted in Batman #218 (1970).


Crime Takes a Holiday
We get another story of criminals cooperating as they declare a halt to crime in Gotham, confusing the police and making Bruce Wayne suspicious. Bruce disguises himself as the "Gold Coast Kid", a thief, and manages to get in with the with the mobs.
As someone who remembers Bruce often adopting the "Matches Malone" identity in order to get information from crooks, I enjoyed seeing Bruce do much the same thing far earlier in the character's history. 
I thought this too was a clever plot, something out of the ordinary. Also, there were plenty of fisticuffs in locations with “lots of props for spectacular action!” (as Bit-Mite later said): a silk warehouse, a gymnasium, and a supermarket. Cloth bolts, barbells, and canned goods were flying aplenty.

Laugh, Town, Laugh!
Comedian Happy Hanson dies, and leaves a fortune to whichever comedian can figure out the answer to series of riddles that he leaves behind. These five famous comedians are told the terms of the will and are interested. They all have fictional names, but are all clearly based on real people. I figured out Jack Benny, Fred Allen and W. C. Fields, but not the other two.
“Freddie Banter” is Eddie Cantor (more an all-round entertainer than a comedian). “Buster Parks” is beyond me.
 
What's disturbing is that the Joker kills three of them.
Yep. The Clown Prince of Crime reverts to form and starts racking up a body count. Must be my Silver-Age upbringing, but murdering them seems a bit much.
 
Batman and Robin in air-inflated raft-shoes? Please! I’m glad they didn’t become standard Bat-equipment.
 
The best scene: at one point in the story, the Joker has Batman captured and starts to unmask him, but then decides that he has more fun matching wits with him and decides not to reveal his identity.
When I saw the suspenseful panel at the bottom of Page 10, I thought, “Finally! Someone has the brains to peek under the cowl!” Of course I fully expected something to stop him on the next page, but I never thought Joker would just change his mind.
 
I’m really enjoying this trek through Bat-History!
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