Friday, January 04, 2013


Why We Love Detective Comics

(In which the blogger discusses a story that isn't from Detective Comics, but the continuity between "Batman" and "Detective" at this time was so tight that he mistakenly believed it was.)

So, let's talk a little more about the Langstroms. After a decade or more of crazy adventures following the first appearance of Man-Bat in Detective Comics #400, the Langstroms - with their little daughter in tow - appeared in Batman #348, with a cover date of June 1982. Here's the cover:

The cover art is Jim Aparo, but the interior art is Gene Colan and Klaus Janson. (Artwise, this comic book is all-around awesome. The Catwoman backup feature is drawn by Trevor von Eeden.)

This wasn't the first time I had ever seen Man-Bat - I had a Brave and the Bold #119 in which Batman and Man-Bat go to the Caribbean and fight drug dealers or zombies or something - but it was definitely the first time I ever saw Man-Bat in a comic book that wasn't 3 or 4 years old when I first got it and, frankly, I remember being kind of surprised that Man-Bat was still part of the DC Universe. He was just so silly!

Batman #348 starts off with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson moving the giant penny back into the Bat-Cave. This whole scene is mind-boggling. You see, Batman didn't use the Bat-Cave for a period in the 1970s and the eraly 1980s. He lived in a more urban part of Gotham City and he operated out of a skyscraper or a penthouse or an artist's  loft or something. (A houseboat?) And eventually, he decided to move back to the Bat-Cave and to open up Wayne Manor again.

And for some reason, Batman moved the giant penny from the Bat-Cave to the Wayne Building and back again.

We all know what the giant penny is, right?

It's one of the trophies that Batman has kept from his earliest cases. You usually see it next to a robot of a dinosaur and a giant Joker playing card.

Here are some pertinent musings on the giant penny.

The blasted thing is, like, 20 feet tall and it's made of copper and it must weigh several tons. And Bruce and Dick are rolling it around like a couple of colllege kids who found an old couch in an alley that they think will look great in the living room!

They do not write them like this anymore!

Batman couldn't get Superman or Wonder Woman or Green Lantern or anybody who wouldn't be instantly crushed to help him move? (I especially find it hard to believe that J'onn J'onzz was too busy to help.)

OK, OK, enough about the giant penny.

Francine Langstrom shows up at Wayne Manor carrying her little daughter Rebecca. It seems that her husband Kirk - the Man-Bat - has gone a little crazy from turning into a giant bat all the time and he's been missing for months. And he's distraught because he think his daughter Rebecca has died and he blames Batman. And he's also been prowling about the Bat-Cave.

Francine says things like:

You promised you'd help me -- that you'd find a cure for Kirk's sickness --! ... You don't care about us! You're rich -- You don't care about anyone but yourself ... 

And Rebecca says things like:

Please bring back my daddy ... please?

She's so adorable you want to puke. You should see her little bear!

Francine passes out, so Batman gets the bright idea to take Rebecca into the uncharted regions of the Bat-Cave fissure system to use her to convince the Man-Bat that she's OK and maybe get him to come off the ledge for treatment. (Get it? Off the ledge? Like a ledge llike you might find in a cave? Har.) So he hoists Rebecca onto his shoulders, and heads off for the furthest reached of the cave system. (And she still has the little toy bear!)

I probably don't need to describe the next few pages in any detail. Man-Bat appears and abducts the little girl. He doesn't believe it's Rebecca! Rebecca is in considerable peril! Batman is in considerable peril also when Man-Bat attacks! The reader is in considerable peril because he or she may wet him- or herself from the excitement!

Eventually, Batman gets a good hold on Man-Bat and gives him the anti-Man-Bat serum and Kirk becomes his old self - he's human, but he's still a FREAK! - and the whole family is reunited at the end. (Except the bear, which was lost in the cave.)

It's so beautifully drawn by Colan and Janson that you hardly notice that it makes no sense.


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