Dark Detective

Today’s post concerns the final 100-page issue of Detective Comics featuring Goodwin and Simonson’s Manhunter to join my collection.

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Night of the Stalker:  The Dark Knight is almost a proto-Punisher in  this moody crime story.  With art  and storyline  by Sal Amendola  (whom I know best for Weird Worlds and his 1971 map of Krypton), this is possibly Steve Englehart’s earliest Batman tale. Considering how influential his approach was in shaping the Nolan iteration, it’s interesting to see Bats depicted as an unspeaking figure in a drama about retribution.

Englehart’s writing is a bit florid here: Batman is variously a “predator”; “rage-driven”; “a creature of Hell”; “This haunter of darkness”. However, I can imagine again a market for a black-and -white magazine starring the Dread Batman and “his dark work”. After all, Marvel had Englehart write a b/w strip for Thor.

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Riddle of the Clown: a third outing for the Golden Age Ghost, this time in Paris. An exciting and scenic adventure of the original Hawkman by Kanigher and Kubert. This is one of the highlights of the issue.

The Gold Hunters of ’49: a Fox/Kane /Giella Time Pool story, this  educational little tale teams a pugilistic Atom with an adorably pop-eyed Edgar Allan Poe. This is a rare instance of a Ray Palmer story that didn’t bore me senseless or that was a curdled, camp pastiche of Smilin’ Stan’s narrative voice. 

Doctor Fate: Helen the Leopard Girl is a victim of a bizarre  fraud in this Howard Sherman tale from 1941. Dr. Fate announces himself like Donnie Dunagan: “Well, hello!” He also announces that vampires and ghosts don’t exist but are rather hypnotic suggestions. Talk about biting the hand that feeds. Also, this is the first time that Fate removes his golden mask for Inza- although readers saw him without it in May 1940 .

Batman’s Bewitched Nightmare: a broomstick-riding witch steals the senses of the Dynamic Duo. This is really a ploy by the mysterious Outsider but the strip itself by Fox and Giella is unconvincing and juvenile. I have no time for the Batman comic of this period; only the Infantino stories appeal to me

Tanatalizing Troubles of the Tripod Thieves:  and speaking of which, this is undiluted Infantino from the Go-Go checks era with slabby, muddy inks. This story of Oriental magical curios features Zatanna’s team-up with the absurd but loveable Elongated Man.

Kid Eternity: an erudite and educational Golden Age tale about a suicide’s stange will; quite worthy but dull, however.

The Resurrection of Paul Kirk: another moody and epic vignette, with glimpses of the 1940s Manhunter; a montage depicting the Cold War; and the super-science of the Council.The approach to the character is highly readable.

With his ninja skills, Manhunter is something of a transplanted Marvel character in the 70s DCU. An earlier example might be Metamorpho, who could be read as a parody of the Thing. More obvious instances would be Conway’s Starman, Firestorm and Steel, who recall Mar-Vell, Nova and Captain America.

We’re approaching the 150th post on the ‘optikion, where I intend to review a very recent example of the Treasury Edition. I am having problems with Blogger again, but on Some Fantastic Place, I plan to write about “The Wolverine”.

Coming soon: Super-Spectaculars of 1975.
All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners

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