Friday, December 6, 2013

A Classic Illustrated? Batman 251


Batman #251 (September 1973)
"The Joker's Five-Way Revenge!"
Dennis O'Neil-Neal Adams

Doug:  One of the all-time greats today, kids.  It's about time we got around to reviewing it!  I'll be reading/scanning from my copy of The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told, (c) 1988.  At the bottom of the post I'll show you a unique feature of the book.  Let's get on with it, then!

Doug: We open with a downright maniacally-visaged Joker driving on the outskirts of Gotham.  Denny O'Neil's splash page script is hyperbolic, but seems fitting to Neal Adams's rain-soaked night.  As we turn the page, we enter a crime scene where Gotham's finest is on the scene of a murder.  Commissioner Gordon discusses the circumstances with one of his officers.  The victim lies prone, a grotesque grin locked onto his face.  The Bat Signal had gone up, and Gordon wonders when the Batman will arrive.  Well, as we would all have assumed, he is already there, and has been -- conducting his own investigiation prior to the arrival of the PD's detective corps.  After a brief conversation, Gordon says he'll get his best men on the case.  Batman basically says "if you wish", and swings away to begin his own investigation.

Doug:  Knowing that the dead man had once been in the Joker's gang, the Batman decides to make contact with another of the Clown Prince of Crime's gang.  As he swings to a local boxing gym, the Dark Knight thinks to himself that the very recent news of the Joker's escape from the State Hospital for the Criminally Insane wasn't going to bode well for Gotham City.  Packy White (no relation to Perry, I'd assume) is hitting the heavy bag when Batman enters.  Packy greets his former enemy, and the two exchange pleasantries while discussing the Joker and his potential doings/whereabouts.  Packy asks the Batman to hold the bag, and then proceeds to "miss" it twice, striking our hero.  But what's funny is that their conversation continues!  Packy moves away from the bag and the two spar -- again, still having their conversation.  Batman begins to pummel Packy White, telling him that maybe a "fist accident" could land Packy in the hospital, where armed guards could protect him for a few days until the Joker is caught.  Packy sort of likes the idea, and moves over to the corner to get some water.  He chuckles that the Batman would take concern for a former tough like him -- and then takes a gulp of water.  He starts to laugh, recoils, and falls on his back, the rigor of a wide grin settling over his mouth.  Batman kicks the water bucket away.  Victory Joker.


Doug:  We cut to a seedy hotel, where the Joker confronts another member of his gang -- a nervous fellow named Alby.  Alby says he's surprised to see the Joker out in the open; the Joker says he fully expects to eventually confront the Batman.  The two exchange awkward words, and then the Joker asks Alby if it was he who was his betrayer.  Of course Alby denies it, so the Joker offers him a cigar.  Alby reluctantly takes a drag, and the says to the Joker -- ha ha, I'll bet this is the ol' exploding cigar trick.  And then VOOMM!  Nope -- it was the ol' Huge exploding cigar trick.  Three of five former associates down; two to go.

Doug:  Batman, now in a race against time, speeds toward Gotham's docks where Bigger Melvin lives on a converted garbage scow.  Batman will make him the same offer he tried to make Packy White -- get into protective custody asap.  But Bigger sees the Batman's boots outside his window and decides to break for it -- he's convinced that the Caped Crusader knows of a mugging he perpetrated.  With great effort, Melvin ends up about a mile from the docks.  And right into the Batman's clutches.  Batman tells Melvin what's going on and makes the offer; Melvin agrees, but asks to go back to his home to get his toothbrush (?).  The Batman agrees, and away they go.  But Melvin, he's not so dumb -- he asks Batman to go in front of him, just in case the Joker is lurking nearby.  And what does Batman do?  He goes for it!  And, a blackjack across the back of the head later, it's nighty-night for the Dark Knight.  Melvin's now feeling pretty good about himself.  As he races into his home to grab some things, he plots how he's going to beat it out of town and lay low.  But up from behind comes the Joker, and the next we see of Bigger Melvin he's swinging from a rope -- his feet 36" off the floor.  The Batman is groggy and frustrated as he arrives, and wonders if the Joker has gotten far away yet.  Careful, Bats -- and then a blindside attack later, it's the Joker on top!

Doug:  As Batman lay unconscious, the Joker placed his shoe right on his sworn enemy's throat.  He ponders the ease with which he could end this life, and then thinks better of it.  In his twisted mind, the endgame must come from a battle of the Batman's detective skills in combat against the Joker's mania.  No -- not this way.  And the Joker walks out.

Doug:  Batman awakens, and he wipes some oil and sand from his face.  Having traced the whereabouts of the Joker's gang, he knows that the only member left alive is Bing Hooley (hey, I gotta hand it to scribes O'Neil and also to Zany Bob Haney -- these guys could sure come up with some names for underworld types!), and he is in a Catholic home for the elderly.  But as Batman arrives, a nun tells him that Hooley had checked out some time ago -- under the supervision of a Mr. Genesius.  Batman can hardly contain himself, and asks the sister if she doesn't know that St. Genesius was the patron of actors and comedians -- a joker?!  Batman walks away, but is suddenly beset with an epiphany -- he knows where the Joker is!

Doug:  Jumping into the Batmobile, Batman races to the distant shores of Gotham where the day before an oil tanker had run ashore, spilling its load.  With the entire area closed, the Batman knew the Joker would hole up there.  Assuming he'd find the maniac in the Gotham Aquarium, Batman marched right in, flashlight beaming.  The Joker announces that he knew Batman was on the grounds, and almost immediately steps into the light.  The two engage in a weird dance of laughing gas grenades and chemical antidotes.  The Joker lures the Batman into the main exhibits area, where we see Bing Hooley trussed up in his wheelchair, several feet above a tank -- the chair attached to a chain, the chain attached to a lever the Joker now holds.  The Joker assures Batman that Hooley won't drown... the sharks circling in the tank will ensure that!


Doug:  The Joker says he'll spare Hooley, if the Batman will allow the shackling of his hands behind his back -- yep, shark bait.  Batman asks why the Joker wants to end this with a shark.  Simple, the Clown Prince of Crime cackles -- he and a shark resemble each other!  Batman climbs to the top of the tank, where the Joker kicks him into the water.  As the Batman struggles to tread water, the Joker then kicks Hooley in!  Sinking, the wheelchair and Hooley's bright red robe attract the big fish.  Batman struggles against his restraints.  Managing to step his legs through the chains, he ends up with his arms at his front, albeit still chained.  However, this newfound mobility allows the Dark Knight to swim after the shark and loop the chain into its mouth.  Now struggling to steer it away from Hooley, Batman pulls back on the big fish, killing it.  Somehow, the manacles also come off and Batman swims to Hooley to try to get him up to the surface.  But the best way to save them both is to break out -- so Batman takes Hooley's wheelchair and strikes it again and again against the container -- until it breaks, spilling the salt water and the two men across the exhibit floor.  By the way, how large do you think that tank had to be to support a 12-foot shark?  Larger than what Adams drew, I'll wager.


Doug:  The Joker decides it's over, and hightails it out of the aquarium.  Outside, the Batman sees a getaway car, equipped even to ride on the oily sand.  Still dazed from the two blows to his skull as well as the underwater ordeal, Batman fears that the Joker's head start may be too much.  But in one of the more anticlimactic endings I've ever read, the Joker slips.  He slips on the oily sand, falls, and rises to a pummeling at the hands (fists) of the Batman.  And that's basically it!  End of story as they walk off together into the sunset, and no doubt to a more heavily-guarded padded cell!


Doug:  Classic.  I believe I said at the top this is "one of the all-time greats".  And it is/was... until that ending.  At over 22 pages, there was plenty of room to either come up with a worthy ending to what had built up a lot of promise, or at least leave us with a decent cliff-hanger to carry into the next month.  But instead we get slipping on oily sand?  Was that supposed to be some sort of dazzling irony?  I just don't know.  I've often been critical of Denny O'Neil's Bronze Age DC work, and I really thought he was spinning a quite-nice yarn here.  Of course Adams was at the top of his game (you'll notice that this hardcover collection predates the new coloring processes that Adams has fallen in love with), including the iconic splash page that I presented above.  So while I'd like to leave you gushing all over this story, I can only say that I liked it.  It was pretty good.  But I didn't love it.  The O'Neil/Adams combination seems to often leave me feeling like maybe I slipped and fell just a hair short of the finish line.  On oily sand.

EXTRA:  I mentioned at the top that my copy of The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told has a nice feature.  Back in the early 1990s I took the book with me to the Chicago Comicon.  Below you'll see the fruits of that labor -- autographs from Denny O'Neil, Shelly Moldoff, and Julius Schwartz.  The conversation I had with Julie Schwartz led me to write a letter that was published in the Comics Buyers' Guide.  Seeing that, Julie sent me a postcard.  I wrote back thanking him for taking the time to do that -- and he sent another!  Very cool...

31 comments:

david_b said...

Alas the day has arrived.. Long mentioned previously as a fav of mine and Doug's, for not only this iconic cover, but the majestic art inside.

Yes, this day has arrived.

I've mentioned on occasion my Summer of '73, on a hot grueling cross-country vacation with my parents in the front seat. We had stopped at a Kmart (somewhere..) and I picked a bag of 3 comics for 49cents. This one one of the comics..

It was actually my first inkling of Batman since watching the '60s show, and my first Mego's were just around the corner (removable mask Batman and Robin..). Reading this issue in the backseat for what felt like weeks was truely incredible. It felt like each panel told a tidbit of story, overall a nice build-up to the spectacular near-end splashpage of Batman running in the sand.

O'Neil certainly had his gameface on. Not one line of text was wasted or seemed superfluous, not one Adams panel overdone. You see a clear example of beautiful, non-deluded storytelling, literally no filler at all. I recall being quite impressed at this comic at the time; while I considered myself more in the Marvel world, this comic paled every Batman comic I would decide to buy later.

The fact that the Joker was so well-written in this story made shine even brighter. A favorite Bat villain along with the Riddler, I doubt any villain could be showcased better. Decades before 'Killing Joke', this story was regarded as the definitive statement regarding the extent/level of Joker's depravity, yet it was still done stylishly, discreetly and clever (no excess gore or blood shown, other than in the shark tank, still good with the comics code police).

One of the best Batman/Joker stories ever done, and I'm buzzed that it was indeed one of my first.

Matt Celis said...

The autographs are the best part. I never understood the revisionist "Joker = maniacal mass murderer" take everyone seems to buy into. Having read the various Bat-Archives, I call it bogus along with "Batman = tortured and brooding." This seems like a fairly good story otherwise until that ending. This is considered one of the greatest Batman stories EVER told? There are at least a dozen better ones just in the first Batman Annuals collection!

Doug said...

So with three precincts reporting, we have my better-than-average grade, David's glowing endorsement, and Matt's always-empty glass assessment.

This will be a fun one to see how people's overall impressions turn out.

Doug

Karen said...

I think the art is outstanding. This was Adams also inking himself? It's just terrific. But based on the pages and your review, Doug, I'd have to agree, the story is not anything amazing. I have yet to be awed by Denny O'Neill. A good writer, sure, but a great one? I don't know. That ending does seem very much a let-down. Still, I could see enjoying this book, particularly with that Adams artwork to stare at. Batman fighting a shark? That's got to be worth a half-hour of anyone's time.

Edo Bosnar said...

Great review, Doug!
I first read this story in reprinted form in DC digest in the late '70s, and I still thought it rocked - even in that physically compressed format. I'm leaning more toward David's glowing assessment than otherwise, but I admit Adams' lovely, crisp art has much to do with my own fondness for the story. In fact, even that last supposedly anticlimactic scene doesn't bother me, because it's so well drawn by Adams.
Anyway, I can see why this is considered among the greater Joker stories.
Also Doug, the signatures in your book are quite excellent, and that's a great story about Julius Schwartz.

Doug said...

Thanks, Edo. Man, you really were a "digest guy" back in the day! I recall the reprints that appeared in paperback books more. I had the first several issues of Amazing Spider-Man, and I know I had a Legion one as well.

I hope everyone is as enthusiastic about my review of Flash #123, which will run two weeks from today. That one was a lot of fun as well!

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Yep, Doug, as I've mentioned quite a few times before, I loved the DC digests and had a whole stack of 'em. When I went through my Archie phase, I mostly read the digests as well. I only wish at the time Marvel had also had a digest program - those pocketbook reprints were great, but compared to DC there really weren't that many.

david_b said...

This ending a letdown..? Hmmm, perhaps. I enjoyed it, I can envision it easily been made into a two-parter, but why pad it..?

Were there backroom disagreements or deadline pressures which necessitated O'Neil to keep it a done-in-one story..?

Reading your responses thus far, no I'd agree there isn't a lot of depth or anything here, story-wise. I'd also agree that the art carries the story much better than it perhaps needed.

But as someone said here long since past, seeing comics are considered more a viusal medium than literary, this isn't a bad thing at all.

I like how stylish Adams got here, with the Joker angles (as shown..), with the light source behind his head, and so on. Definitely Adams went to town on this particular issue.

As for O'Neil's writing..? Other than GL/GA, I'd have to look up a listing of his comic stories to see just how many of his books I actually do have in my collection, but despite faults, I do see his writing rightfully lauded as 'important' and 'social relevant' during that time of late Silver/early Bronze comics. I find both it's influence and notoriety in the industry stretching everything against the Code back then, even though the preachiness didn't age well (ie, his popular GL/GA tenure..).

Still, you can't beat it for a fun way to spend 20 minutes, and in the big picture, provide me a better measurement of success..?

The Groovy Agent said...

I'm in the "I love it!" category. The ending, to me, at the time, was ironic and satisfying because we were going through a huge ecology movement at the time. I had my green lunchbox with the ecology flag at the same time this mag came out. So, no, it's not a timeless story--that's the trade-off with many time-ly stories I s'pose.

And when you said something about this edition having a special feature, I thought you meant Batman's disappearing utility belt! ;D

Garett said...

Great great issue! You can pick any page and nearly any image from this issue, and it's a hilight. Even Batman kicking a can is impressive. : ) The sequence where the dude runs from Batman down at the docks is another cool couple of pages, and Batman somehow miraculously shows up right behind him at the end. Fun to see the surprise on the dude's face.

Adams inking himself in this era is superb. The faces are real people, the lines are a joy to behold. I first read this in the digest like Edo, so it was nice to finally see it larger in the Batman Illustrated books (despite the bad recoloring, especially in book 1).

I don't mind the ending...the Joker lives and dies by chance, so when it works against him, so be it. If it had been another character slipping on oil, that would be a bad ending. Lots of water in this story, from the rainy night, to the water can, docks, shark tank, beach.

One note on the art though-- I do think Garcia Lopez draws a better Joker face. If you check the Batman/Hulk book, you'll see more expression on the Joker, whereas Adams gives him a bit of a pasted-on smile here. How about a review of that book?

Doug said...

Garett, I don't have a copy of the Batman/Hulk crossover. However, my copy of the "Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime" tpb arrived yesterday (it reprints the 9-issue DC series from the mid-70s) and I noticed that there is one issue where Garcia-Lopez is the penciler. Since we just took a 3-issue look at his Superman work, I thought I'd review that Joker story sometime after the first of the year.

And I do need to pick up the Crossover Classics tpbs as well.

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Hey Garett, I recently bought the 1990s reprint of the Batman/Hulk book (you know, the one that's the same size as a regular comic book); haven't read it yet - and I never had it back in the day - but once I do *I* can review it for you ... :P

Doug, I can't believe that Joker series has received the color tpb treatment. C'mon, DC, where's that Ragman book I've been waiting for since, well, forever? And Black Lightning now that we're at it. And... you get the idea.
Anyway, I think I had an issue or two of that Joker series way back when, but don't remember which one(s). Reviews of those could be pretty cool.

Karen said...

Edo, I actually have the first three issues of Black Lightning, so I guess there's no excuse -somewhere down the line, we'll have to review them!

Edo Bosnar said...

Karen, once upon a time I had the entire run of Black Lightning - wasn't actually a bad series, although the last time I read any of those I was about 12 or 13, so that may be coloring my memory. I wouldn't mind some reviews, just to see how well they hold up (which is why a nice, handy reprint volume would be nice...)

Hoosier X said...

I bought this (about 1976 or 1977) at a used bookstore that had a small room at the back of the store that had three walls lined with newsstand racks stocked with comic books. Most of the comics were from one to three years old, but there were always a few from the 1960s and a bunch from the early 1970s. They were 2 for 25 cents.

And that's where I got Batman #251 for twelve and a half cents! (I still have it!) Probably my first exposure to Neal Adams outside of the covers on Tarzan paperbacks.

Such a great book, if different from what we're used to in 2013. I'm trying to remember if they ever revealed which one of the Joker's old gang gave him up to the police or if that was a plot element they just left dangling.

One thing I'd like to point put is that Batman #251 was where the Joker was sort of introduced back into the Batman comics after three or four years where he didn't appear. He was in Detective #388, Justice League #77 (where he got Snapper Carr to betray the League or something like that)and a Jimmy Olsen issue in 1969, then nothing ... until Batman #251. I guess they wanted to make his comeback something special after stories like "Alias the Bat-Hulk" and characters like Gaggy the dwarf.

Doug said...

DC seems to be doing a good job of getting those mid- to late Bronze Age short series into color reprint form. As I think I mentioned earlier, I also recently bought the Secret Society, vol. I tpb. It's just really great to be able to have these things again, and in relatively affordable ways.

I have never read an issue of Black Lightning...

Doug

Doug said...

His "reappearance" was certainly a splash, then, Hoosier X! At one time I had the first Silver Age appearance of the Riddler after having not been used in around 15 years. Carmine Infantino drew a fabulous cover on that one (think it was an issue of 'tec, but I don't recall the number).

Doug

Garett said...

Sounds good Doug! I've never read any of the Joker series, but I'm curious about it.

Hey Edo, as a fellow Garcia Lopez fan, I'll look forward to your review! : ) I didn't know that Batman/Hulk book came out in regular size. I bought my oversize book when it came out, then sold it years later. When I wanted it again, I found 3 copies for the price of one on sale at ebay--so I bought them, and when they showed up, 2 were ripped up inside, and the last one.... was in perfect shape. So my 3 for 1 deal ended up being 1 for 1. I hope the art looks as good in the small version! Ragman tpb would be good...intriguing character, and I haven't read much of the series.

Hoosier X said...

Doug,

That nine-issue Joker series from the 1970s is one of my favorite things ever! I got #7, #8 and #9 when they were brand new, I got #3 to #6 at used book stores when they were still recent, and I got #1 and #2 within the last few years.

I can never decide on my favorite! #4 has great guest stars Black Canary and Green Arrow. #5 has the Royal Flush Gang. #6 has Sherlock Holmes (sort of). #7 had one of my very favorite Luthor appearances. #9 has an extravagantly silly Catwoman appearance.

And the Joker has a supporting cast! His henchmen are Tooth, Southpaw and Blue Eyes and they appear in most stories.

Edo Bosnar said...

Garett, re: the Batman vs. Hulk reprint - yeah, it came out in 1995, and it's kind of oddly packaged. Like I said, it's regular comic-sized, and has this brown frame around the original cover image, with "A Special Collector's Edition of the Crossover Classic" written under it. I've flipped through it, the art looks absolutely fantastic, nothing was lost due to shrinkage as far as I can tell. Like you with the original (too bad about the ripped up pages), I found my copy on eBay for a few bucks from a seller in Germany.
As for the Ragman tpb, man, I want that to happen so bad. I used to have the whole series (all whopping 5 issues) and really liked it. Ideally, a tpb would collect his original series and all of his subsequent appearances in the late '70s (Batman Family, Brave & the Bold).

Hoosier X, thanks for the rundown on Joker. Now you've got me interested in that as well...

Graham said...

I loved this when I bought it as a kid. I remember being disappointed at the ending because I figured it would be a two-parter until the big slip at the end. It was still a fun read anyway.

Thanks, Groove. I was thinking that the Batman was missing his utility belt during the shark tank and chase scene in the original. It's been a long time since I read the original.

Edo Bosnar said...

By the way - and back to the issue at hand (sorry for all of the digressions, Doug) - I found it interesting that O'Neil worked in some of his famous social/environmental commentary in a kind of understated way: an oil spill is used a backdrop for the story, and, perhaps ironically, it ends up helping Batman nab the Joker.

Fred W. Hill said...

I got this mag sometime in the mid-80s -- can't remember how much I paid for it, but it was maybe $5 at most. I regard it as a classic, although it also exemplified significant differences in the style of storytelling in DC and Marvel at least through the early Bronze Age. Not just that it was a done-in-one, which as far as I know was still dominant at DC in 1973. But also that this particular yarn doesn't appear to be tied to anything else going on in the Batverse except that Batman and the Joker have been foes for ages, the Joker is on the loose again and on a killing rampage, and Batman is trying to stop him. As far as I can tell, the Joker's former henchmen may have made their first & last appearances in this issue, and there's no note as to the Joker's previous appearnce in a Batman story or that any of those henchmen also took part and that one of them was shown to have betrayed him. Yeah, the Joker was caught due largely to his literal slipup, but only after he'd killed 4 of his targets, 3 of them right under Batman's nose. And in due time the Joker would escape again, kill again, and be caught and go to the asylum again. This comic from 40 years ago could have been published for the first time last month and I'd suspect it wouldn't seem at all out of place continuity wise. This is just the barebones Joker and solo Batman mythos, even if this was the comic that brought the Joker back to his homocide with a terrifying grin roots.

Contrast all that with the Green Goblin's appearance in Spider-Man that same year. That classic two-part story was entirely mired in the ongoing continuity of both Spidey & the Goblin and several supporting characters. It didn't seem that odd to me that Batman never took off his cowl to go around as Bruce Banner and interact with a supporting cast because that seems a rather minute aspect of the Batman mythos. With Spider-Man, however, aside from the Team-Up mag, the few times that Peter Parker and several members of his supporting cast didn't show up at all was entirely at odds with my expectations for an issue of Amazing Spider-Man, or the mag that incorporated the name Peter Parker into its title!
Back to the "Joker's Five Way Revenge", I wonder if Denny really wrote this or if he just provided dialogue to a story concocted mainly by Adams and which could fit anywhere between other stories. I suspect it was at least a strong collaboration rather than O'Neil handing Adams a fully detailed plot & script.

Mike said...

Doug: Batman #171 is the 1st Silver age Riddler with the awesome Infantino cover. I own a really nice copy of it -- its one of my top comic possessions, as well as a copy of this book you reviewed.

Also, my favorite episode of Batman:TAS uses the Batman riding the shark bit. If you haven't seen it you should check that episode out, Doug. I'm betting you'll like the ending of that episode better than this story. If interested, YouTube links follow:

The whole episode in 7 parts

Just the ending with the Bat-shark rodeo ride

Hoosier X said...

Edo, regarding the Joker series:

I'm glad you're interested, and if you're a Bronze Age Batman fan, there's a good chance you'll like the Joker series. But it is weird and not everyone likes it as much as I do.

I guess it's great that there's a high-quality reprint in the works, but I have to say: I hope they reprint the letters pages. The Joker answered the letters himself. It was hysterical! The Joker was frequently rude and threatened the letter writers. It was almost as bad as when Mort Weisinger answered the Superman mail!

William said...

I just got my "Neil Adams Batman Vol. 3" in the mail this week, so I haven't gotten to this story quite yet. Looking forward to reading it.

Bruce said...

I had started reading comics a few years before this issue, and was mostly a Marvel fan. This tale was one of the first DC superhero comics that made me go "Wow, DC superheroes can be pretty cool too." As someone else had mentioned, the Joker hadn't appeared in a few years and was mostly known from the camp portrayal on the TV series that was being rerun. So this more deadly version really took me by surprise. I do agree that the ending was a bit of a letdown, though. Great review!

Hoosier X said...

I pulled out Joker #4 last night and read it before going to bed. (It's the one with Black Canary (though she's never in costume) and Green Arrow. Such a great mid-1970s comic book!

The art is credited to J.L. Garcia Lopez and V. Colletta. It's great! I'd forgotten that Colletta was in on the art and I was surprised at how good it was. So much bad Colletta art in the 1980s makes us forget he was often pretty good in the 1970s.

Doug said...

Everyone pay attention, please. Listening (reading)?

THIS IS WHAT THE COMMENTS SECTION OF A COMIC BOOK REVIEW IS SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE -- NOT JUST FOUR REMARKS.

That's what Karen and I have been trying to tell you.

We have commentary on art, writing, social issues, a half-dozen fleshed-out tangents that edified this entire page, reminiscences of comics purchased, discussion of reprints, comparisons to other comics, promises for future reviews... You've made this comic reviewer smile over the past 48 hours, friends!

I am eager to dig into the new Joker tpb -- Hoosier X, you are a great salesman!

Fred, I have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed your comment. The differences between the Spider-Man and Batman casts and our expectations of comics featuring those characters was spot on.

Bruce -- thanks for the kind words. I hope that even when I don't like something about a comic I've read and reviewed, there's a little passion in my words.

William -- stop back by one of our posts on Batman, Neal Adams, etc. in the future and leave a thought about the Adams collection you just got. Personally, I love 'em all, even with the oft-muddy coloring (yuck!). As I've said, love it on Tales of Asgard for the most part -- it does not translate to four-color superhero books, though, in my opinion.

David B -- I always love that story of your travels with your comics in the back seat back in '73. Never gets old, primarily because I can see myself in our big black Cadillac (how we ever had a Cadillac, I have no idea...).

Groove -- always a pleasure when you stop by!

Garett, I liked what you said about the Joker living and dying by chance. True.

Graham -- sometimes the done-in-one philosophy just killed potential.

Mike -- thanks for the links! And yes, that's the Riddler appearance to which I referred!

Doug

Hoosier X said...

I read Batman #251 last night, right before I read Joker #4, but I don't have anything to add about how great it is. It's already been said, in the review and in the following posts. I have read this book so many times over the years (not as much as the 1948 "Origin of Batman," which I have reprinted in Batman #185 (I think)), but it never gets old. One of Denny O'Neil's best stories.

I really hope you enjoy the Joker book, Doug.

Hey, did you ever review that storyline in the late 1970s Batman comic where Catwoman, Riddler, Luthor and the Joker all claimed they killed Batman? That was great! (John Calnan's no Irv Novick, but he's still pretty good.)

Doug said...

David B, I totally forgot to mention: I had that Batman Mego with the removable mask and loved it! Two problems, though as I'm sure you well know: The blue rubber on the mask left spots on Bruce's face -- nose, forehead, and maybe cheeks? I passed that off as bruises, but I'm sure Vickie Vale wondered what the heck he'd been up to! And of course the early construction of the Megos with the explosions of limbs after some playtime was a downer.

Hoosier X -- I've not ever reviewed that particular issue, but did have it back when it was current. Great cover, but I remember next to nothing about it. It's funny you mention John Calnan. Years ago Karen and I did a survey of Bronze Age Batman artists in our "It's a Fine Line" series. Neither of us remembered Calnan's name or his work!

Doug

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