The Arms of Orion

Today’s Bat-Post revisits a rather unusual giant: Batman 208 from Feb 1969. It’s unusual because, firstly, it features a framing device and is a patchwork of complete reprints and extracts from longer stories. Secondly, the framing sequence is drawn by Gil Kane.

Batman_208

 I’ve read one Kane Bat-tale from the 60s: Hunt for a Robin-Killer reprinted in 1974’s Batman 257.  Kane drew other Bat-covers but I associate his work at DC with GL, Atom and Captain Action- and in the early seventies, with the sensational Captain Marvel, Adam Warlock and Conan for Marvel. His Dynamic Duo are very dynamic indeed and his Batman/ Bruce Wayne is to be found railing at storm-filled skies.

The issue is narrated to the reader by Mrs. Alice Chilton, leafing through her scrapbook which, oddly enough, lists Batman/Bruce’s female acquaintances.

We begin with actress Julie Madison, vicitimised by the original Clayface, Basil Karlo, in a Dark Shadows-ish sequence.  Julie was portrayed on screen by Elle McPherson in Batman and Robin.

This is followed by The Secret Life of the Catwoman (1961), the story of Selina Kyle’s amnesia and reformation; I’d previously seen it in the second Secret Origins/Supervillains tabloid.

 Superadventure 1971

With a little contrivance, scripter Bridwell fits in one of my favourites from the 1971 Superadventure annual,The Crimes of the Catwoman (1954)- an older tale which portrays Selina’s return to crime.

Linda Page, the socialite-turned-nurse who featured in the 1943 Dr. Daka movie serial is followed by Vicki Vale’s Secret (1952). The snoopy redhead photographer (and smoker!), portrayed on screen byKim Basinger, tries to trick B&R into revealing their identities.

One of my favourite Bat-women, the circus daredevil heiress  Batwoman has a fragment given over to her 1956 debut. This is followed by The Menace of the Firefly (1959). Here, Kathy Kane falls in love with the alter ego of the criminal Firefly, leading to a battle on a prop Mayan temple. This is probably my favourite story in this collection.

Kathy was killed off in the late 70s but Grant Morrison revealed a new, complex and noirish backstory and depicted her as very much alive in Batman Inc. where she was headmistress of a girls school. I wish she had been the second female member of the Fox/Sekowsky JLA to be a confidante for Wonder Woman.

Novelist Kaye Daye of the Gotham Mystery Analysts – a dull group of amateur detectives- appears in some panels from 1967’s Problem of the Proxy Paintings . TV star Aunt Harriet Cooper debuts in the conclusion of 1964’s Gotham Gang Line-Up, the story which (temporarily) dispatched Alfred.

Of course, Dick’s Aunt Harriet was no love interest. Bruce Wayne had a tentative romance however with feisty police academy graduate Patricia Powell in 1964’s Dilemma of the Detective’s Daughter; meanwhile Batman fell for Marcia Monroe, the Queen Bee: masked operative of CYCLOPS in Batman vs. Eclipso (1966). Marcia is not to be confused with Zazzala, the JLA villainess.

Poison Ivy

Another Bad Girl made her entrance in  Beware of Poison Ivy (1966). In those days, she was little more than a costumed seductress with no super powers, not unlike this pop art trio glimpsed in a gallery.

 Batman181st_poison_ivy

Her sway over Batsy was shown in the sequel, A Touch of Poison Ivy (1966). As seen above, Ivy was played on film by Uma Thurman.

 21_148960_0_TheMillionDollarDebutOfBatgirl

The debutante with most staying power in the 60s was of course Titian-tressed Babs Gordon in The Million-Dollar Debut of Batgirl (1967). Like the Eclipso and Ivy tales, this was a surprisingly recent reprint, given the 40s and 50s vintage of previous giants.

 batman-139-001

As a librarian, a politician and a wheelchair user, Babs has been an inspirational figure for decades. Having also been a tv star in the Sixties, Batgirl has eclipsed her predecessor, pesky Betty Kane, despite the latter’s reworking as Flamebird in the 80s. Betty strangely makes no appearance in this giant-or indeed, any other I own.

The final pages of the giant reveal that Mrs. Chilton, housekeeper to Uncle Philip Wayne, was present at Bruce’s graveside vow (in one of those characteristic stormy, tearful Kane images). This is hugely ironic because she was the mother of the Waynes slayer, Joe Chill *choke*!

 45 years later, we could fill a couple of posts with the bevy of beauties in Bruce’s current Little Black Book. Holy inspiration! So…

Coming soon:  Bronze Age Gotham Gals

All images considered copyright of their original owners

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