Saturday, January 7, 2017

Detective Comics #518 (1982)


Detective Comics #518 (September, 1982)
"The Millionaire Contract"
"He With Secrets Fears the Sound"
Writers - Gerry Conway, Paul Levitz & Barbara J. Randall
Pencillers - Don Newton & Trevor Von Eeden
Inker - Bruce Patterson
Letterers - Ben Oda & Milt Snapinn
Colorists - Adrienne Roy & Jerry Serpe
Editor - Dick Giordano
Cover Price: $0.60

During this October's #boohauntedblog, we discussed a three-part Batman story in which he was infected with vampirism... or vampiri-ism.  It ended kinda outta nowhere, bada-bing Batman's cured... at which point I was like "Okay...".  Little did I know that I actually had the next issue in my collection the whole time!  Let's pick up where we left off back 'round Halloween-time.

If you wanna check out the earlier chapters, you can do so here, here, and here.

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We open pretty much where we left off last time... Batman is hooked up to an antidote-laden IV.  Things appears to be going well... why, his fangs have already receded and everything!  Our priestly friend Father Green tells Robin that Batman insisted that he be cured first... and they load the Vampiri DuBois's's's into what appears to be a hearse, and then takes them away.  He seems almost eerily pleased to be taking them with him... makes me wonder just what he's got planned for them...


With them gone, Robin turns to Alfred and discusses his plans to apologize to Vicki Vale for his creepy advances toward her earlier.  Alfred informs him that he's in luck... for Ms. Vale is upstairs at the present.  Dick heads up and is shocked to see Vale alongside... Bruce Wayne?


"Bruce" and Vicki have a date at the Crystal Ballroom, and so they head out.  Dick is unsure what to make of this... but Alfred clears things up by telling him that the stand-in is actually Christopher Chance, the Human Target.  There has been a story thread going on at this point in which Ms. Vale was getting... uncomfortably close to figuring out that Batman and Bruce Wayne are one in the same.  Alfred considers use of the Human Target may throw her off the scent.  Dick thinks this is a rather stupid plan... and it kind of is... because in order for it to work, Vicki will have to see Batman and "Bruce" in the same place at the same time.


Elsewhere... Deadshot is loading cartridges into his "gun-arm blasters".  He is in a darkened office along with Boss Thorne and the new Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department, Hamilton.  They came into possession of Vicki Vale's secret Batman-is-Bruce-Wayne files, and intend to put a bullet in both of 'em.  The Commish is having second thoughts, but the ball is already in motion.  Deadshot takes his leave.  


Thorne then boots everyone from his office... after they split, he is somehow compelled to the window.  When he looks outside, he sees the reflection of Dr. Hugo Strange... at least I think that's who it is...


A phone rings in the Batcave... and a groggy-as-heck Batman stirs long enough to answer it.  It's the Warden of the... er, Gotham Jail?  I don't think it's Belle Reve yet... or maybe it is... dunno.  Either way, he is calling to inform Batman that Deadshot has escaped.  Next thing we know he'll be telling Batman yesterday's weather.  Batman decides to head out, even in his foggy, groggy state... to find one Augustino Coppola, Deadshot's weapons manufacturer.  Dunno how I feel about a half-awake Batman careening down the streets of Gotham, but whattaya gonna do?


We shift scenes to former-Commissioner Gordon and his new P.I. partner Jason Bard.  They are just minding their own business when some crooked GCPD officers corner them... start with the tough talk... then rough the fellas up but good.  Well, that's not cool.


We rejoin Batman as he approaches Coppola.  Ol' Augie tries to get fresh and pulls a gun... but clearly, he don't know Batman very well... that ain't gonna get him too far with him.  Batman lifts the fella up by his collar, and it isn't long before he's singin' like a canary.  Deadshot apparently ordered a new set of blasters because he had a hit at some sort of ball... Batman, armed with all the information he needs, vanishes.


We now join the Human Target and Vicki Vale on their date.  It's important to mention that Chase is not aware that Batman is Bruce Wayne... all he knows is that Wayne himself is in some sort of danger.  Outside, hanging from a line, is Deadshot.  He sees "Bruce" and takes aim... dead center.


Before he can take that shot... and much to his surprise... Batman appears on the scene!  In the distraction, Deadshot squeezes off a single shot... but it is far off target.  Instead of hitting... the Human Target... it hits a chandelier.  Chance pulls Vale away from the falling mass o' glass.


Batman and Deadshot tangle in the sky, until Floyd's able to shake the Bat loose.  Batman plummets to the ground, but is able to finagle a flip to finesse the fall... say that three... hell, say that once!  Deadshot fires a shot at Batman... but misses.  For a cover copy that reads "--and Deadshot™ Never Misses!!", dude sure... ya know... misses a lot.  Anyhoo... he decides to get a closer look at his target, and enters the gala through the large glass window.  Batman quickly follows... and it is here that Vicki Vale sees both Bruce Wayne and Batman!


Deadshot is just as confused as Vale... and decides he'll just kill both fellas just to be sure.  Let's not get ahead of ourselves there, Floyd.  He takes aim point blank at Batman... but "Bruce" throws a sort of shiv into the barrel of his arm-blaster... which causes it to backfire!


From here, it's academic.  Batman takes Deadshot into custody... and tells "Bruce" that they're going to have a long talk in the near future.  He also casually drops the word "Chance" into the chatter, so maybe he knows who's wearing his face.  Elsewhere, Boss Thorne figures he'd just gotten some bad intel, and destroys the evidence of Bruce being Batman.


Our back-up story begins with a man named Ward Gilbert being held up by a criminal called the Velvet Tiger.  She intends to steal his briefcase.


In the very same building, Barbara Gordon is wrapping up a long day of researching and developing.  She hears a crash coming from another floor and decides to don her Batgirl duds to check it out.  She arrives just in time to see the whole thing go down.


A tussle ensues, and she is able to take two of the Velvet Tiger's flunkies down.  Unfortunately, the Tigress herself is able to slip away amid the confusion and skull-cracking.  Batgirl approaches Gilbert, and we learn that the Velvet Tiger is actually his sister Lani.  Together they run the computer firm Gilcom, and in the briefcase is a computer system capable of hacking any computer with Gilcom components.  He knows this because... dun dun dunnnn, he invented the system!


Batgirl heads out to try and chase the Tiger... and Gilbert, hoping to find her first, brandishes a gun.  Barbara quickly finds Lani at the Gilcom offices... which, ya know... is a pretty lousy place to hide out, right?  We wrap up this minisode with James Gordon gazing out the window praying for his daughter's safety... and yeah, I guess at this point he knows she is Batgirl.


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What a fun issue of 'Tec.  I complained during my review of Batman #351 that the ending of our Vampiri-Bat story was a bit anticlimactic... and, while it still kinda is... I'm glad to see that it is at least followed up on here.  Not quite sure what Father Green has in mind for the Monk... but, it sure seems... weird.  Dude was almost frothing at the mouth to have him in his clutches.

Alfred deferring to the Human Target to act as a stand-in for "Master Bruce" is... I dunno... like, it seems like it could be a good idea on the surface... but at the same time, do you really want a dude like Christopher Chase sniffing around the Manor... so close to the Batcave?  And, c'mon Dick... you almost let it slip that "Bruce" should be in the Batcave hooked up to Bat-IVs... was he really gonna finish his sentence with that with faux-Bru and an already suspicious Vicki Vale right there?  Hell, you'd think Alfred might've prepared him a bit better.

Deadshot is one of those characters that I have very little experience with... as a full-blown villain.  I've read plenty of him in Suicide Squad and Secret Six... and while he's not really a hero there, he is a protagonist.  I gotta say, I was pretty surprised to see just how... sloppy he was.  I was expecting a much more professional approach... kinda like a Deathstroke... instead, he missed every shot he took (so much for the cover copy, eh?) and bungled the gig!

Another fella I don't have a whole lot of experience with is... Don Newton... damn, he does him some nice Batman.  I really enjoyed the art here, much more than I thought I would.  The juxtaposition between his pencils and Gene Colan's on Batman are surprisingly complimentary.  Really such a great time for the Bat-books!

The back-up story... well, it was there.  I will never slight a comic for having a less than stellar back-up.  If the back-up is great, I might remember the overall package a bit more fondly... but I can't hold a lackluster back-up against a whole issue.  After all, the back up is just gravy.  It's just that it's that tasteless diner gravy that only exists to give flavor to three-day old mashed potatoes.  I am a fan of Trevor Von Eeden, so I was definitely glad to see some of his art... the story though... ehhhh...

Overall, definitely worth snagging.  I can't seem to locate it digitally, otherwise I would definitely drop a link here.  I do not think it has been collected either... so this one be a like an online dating site... singles only... Har har har.  Anyhoo... I think it's probably just a good rule of thumb that if you come across any Batman/Detective Comics from the early 1980's at a good price, you might just wanna grab it!

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1 comment:

  1. Newton and Colan were 'my' Batman and Detective artists when I was a callow youth, although I caught them near the end of their respective runs. (Tom Mandrake, iirc, took over Batman from Newton.) Both are what I'd call 'proper' comic artists. Their stuff is dramatic and really quite beautiful. Bard is the same guy who shows up in Batman Eternal, isn't he? I hadn't realised Snyder was using an old character, although I probably shouldn't be surprised. And I'm pretty sure that 'Arrow' just riffed off this issue with Christopher Chase showing up to perform much the same function as he does here, although this time he knows all about Oliver's dual identity.

    I do like this era of Batman a lot - less overtly 'dark' as many of the post-The Dark Knight Returns stories, but still an awful lot of fun with, on the whole, well-told stories. Good stuff.

    The Batgirl backups had gone by the time I started collecting Detective, although I seem to remember Green Arrow running for a while in the book. Anyway, I'm waffling. Another great review, Chris. Thanks again! :)

    Oh, on digital books from this era, there are a few being released here and there on Comixology, but there doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to the release schedule. (I'm inclined to think there isn't a schedule at all.) That said, I did pick up Detective Comics 527 (first appearance of Jason Todd, apparently) for £1.49 which, for a big celebration issue (and I did love those golden Anniversary logos at the top of the cover), is pretty good value, I think.

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