The countdown to The Dark Knight Rises has begun! It opens in Elgin this weekend. The ‘optikon will feature a couple of posts on 1974’s Batman Super-Spectaculars over the next few days. Tonight’s entry features a story originally entitled Moon of the Prowling Wolf. The black, red and yellow masthead really “pops” against the white cover.
Moon of the Wolf: Neal Adams’ last story for Batman in the Seventies. Inked by Giordano, this moody saga has the contemporary appeal of a Marvel horror like Tomb of Dracula, especially with its provocative female victim in the splash page. Scripter Len Wein also revives Fifties villain Professor Milo. It does seem comical that the World’s Greatest Detective fails to spot his hirsute gym buddy Tony Lupus might be a lycanthrope.
Like Marvel’s Man-Wolf, Lupus is a “scientific” werewolf, rather than a supernatural one. His spectacular electrocution even has a movie-style teaser trailer at the end.
The First Batman: the dramatic and tragic tale of Thomas Wayne’s masquerade as the first Batman. This great 1956 story famously reveals Joe Chill’s murder of the Waynes was a deliberate “hit” arranged by gangster Lew Moxon.
The Duped Domestics: In this Forties tale, Alfred courts Catwoman, while impersonating Batman. The “ruthless queen of roguery” is impersonating a ladies’ maid to rob the rich and wears her original cat’s-head mask. Alfred gives her a spanking at the end of the story. Imagine! Batman and Catwoman in a farce. I KNOW!
The Story of the Batmobile: a two-page feature on The Batman’s car. The Futura model I first knew from tv has been replaced in my affections by the sleek 1970 sports model or the mobile crime lab of 1950. Not some armoured tank.
The True False-Face of Batman: the second story of Batgirl Babs in which Batman double-bluffs the brainy librarian over his secret identity. Elegant and idiosyncratic pencils by Infantino.
Crazy Quilt Comes Back: an exciting and concise 1951 adventure for the Boy Wonder featuring the colourful criminal from Jack Kirby’s Boy Commandos.
The Outsider Strikes Again: an incomprehensible, dull story of Batman’s mystery nemesis, who’s using a prehistoric “life factor” to animate Batman’s weapons. A refection of the unseen antagonist suggest he looks like a figure from a Picasso painting. Silly sci-fi from Fox and Moldoff that would have been more appropriate for the Flash or Hawkman.
Letters to the Batman: praise for Denny O’Neil’s first team-up between Batman and The Shadow and Frank Robbins’ new villain, the Spook . I’ve never seen the Spook in action but I saw him beheaded in one of the earliest appearances of the current Robin (Damian). Elliot Maggin receives letters on a tribute to Danny Kaye, which, thankfully, I’ve also never seen.
This is a thoroughly entertaining issue, aside from the Outsider story. The mutated Alfred ( for it was he) was just too bizarre for Sixties Batman. The Gothic setting for Adams’ slick, sophisticated Batman is exactly the kind of material I fantasised about in my imaginary line of DC b/w magazines earlier in the week on Some Fantastic Place. As we’ll see, however, Batman in 1974 was moving in a different direction…
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