Friday, June 15, 2012


Why We Love Detective Comics


It was 1970, and DC must have thought they had the great comic-book find of the decade!

Watch out, world! Here comes Man-Bat!

Stan Lee, eat your heart out! We got Man-Bat! Ha!

Spider-Man? What a SQUARE! We got Man-Bat!

The Silver Surfer? The Hulk? The Fantastic Four? Bunch of has-beens! We got Man-Bat! 

DC introduced Man-Bat in Detective Comics #400 in 1970 and he became a semi-regular supporting character for the next few years.

I got Detective Comics #407 (January 1971) right here, and it's Man-Bat's third appearance. It looks like this:
Nice art. That's Neal Adams art on the cover. He drew the insides as well. And that's not something you can scoff at too forcefully. It looks nice. As a matter of fact, it looks so nice that it almost doesn't matter that the story is kinda dumb. (You'd better be prepared to get used to some pretty dumb comics if you have a hankering to collect Batman in the late 1960s and the 1970s. It's OK to love them despite their faults. But that doesn't make them any less dumb.)

Let's see. Kirk Langstrom was a scientist who studied bats and somehow he injected himself with a serum of some kind that turned him into a flying bat-dude, for some reason. And he would fight Batman until the Caped Crusader figured out how to get him to take the anti-bat-dude serum and he would change back to human form ... until next time! (And in this period, "next time" was seldom more than a few months away.)

In this issue, Man-Bat persuades his girlfriend Francine to marry him. Batman tries to put a stop to it, for some reason, but Francine knows all about Langstrom's other identity, and she's perfectly willing to be Mrs. Man-Bat. She even takes the serum and becomes Woman-Bat for a few pages. For some reason. But Batman somehow saves the day and turns them back to regular people. (Really nice-looking regular people, as drawn by Neal Adams. I don't know why they would want to be bats. Those Gothamites are a bunch of FREAKS!)

So, yeah, that's Man-Bat. He had his own series for two issues in 1975. The first issue is drawn by Steve Ditko, and Batman guest-stars. So Man-Bat #1 is one of the few times where Ditko drew Batman. That's gotta be super-cool!


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