Welcome to my first comics reviews. Today I’m looking at Batman 283 and Detective 467, both cover dated January 1977. Neither of these is what I’d call spectacular, but they’re both okay stories. So, without further ado …
Batman #283 – “Omega Bomb Target: Gotham City” – (David V. Reed/Ernie Chua)
Batman heads to Gotham where a ransom demand awaits from a group called Omega. They’ve stolen a ship (the Miramar) and placed a nuke aboard. If their demands aren’t met, they’ll detonate it in Gotham harbor.
Batman knows a nuclear physicist (Professor Nagy)has recently gone missing, so he concludes the threat is genuine. He goes to see Pamela Drew, who first tipped him to Omega’s plot, but she turns out to be working for Omega too. Bats slaps her down, pounds her crew of thugs, and finds Nagy, whose mind is gone—all he can say is “Nembomba”. Batman boards the Miramar, fights a couple of thugs in a psychedelic room, and bags the leader of Omega. He later explains that the bomb threat was a ruse. Professor Nagy didn’t break, so Omega pretended to have a nuke, figuring they’d still get their money. How did Batman know the bomb threat was fake? Apparently, “Nem Bomba” means “no bomb” in Hungarian. I’ll have to take Bats’s word on that one.
- The issue starts with Batman being shot in the head as he’s piloting a plane. Where can you possibly go from there? Turns out he was wearing a magnesium crash helmet under his cowl and that saved his life; good thing they didn’t shoot him literally anywhere else. But I suppose a head shot would make sense when someone’s sitting in a pilot seat, so I’ll let it slide.
- Batman was supposedly heading for Panama to find the Miramar, but after defeating the would-be killers, he dumps them (with parachutes) over Angola; either he’s a little off course for Panama, or that is one hell of a Great Circle.
- Gordon and the others conclude that “Nembomba” must refer to a place in Africa; is that racist? It feels racist.
- On board the Miramar, Batman stumbles into the chamber used to brain-fuck Professor Nagy and fights a couple of guys in weird “circle suits”, like on the cover. The chamber seems to be a sensory overload kind of place, with disorienting lights and sounds. I’m not sure why they’d need guys in suits designed to blend into the background … how would that help disorient the Professor? Maybe they’re supposed to blend in, like kuroko—more likely Batman just needed someone to fight.
- Omega’s leader looks like a reject from the Manson Family.
- There’s a weird little epilogue in the last panel where the mayor says they can sell the ransom plane and the Miramar and turn a profit on the whole mess. I guess that’s just a larger version of the police auctions that you see everywhere, but the mayor seems a little too excited by it. Ah, he’s a politician, he’ll probably end up wasting the money anyway.
Detective #467 – “Pickup on Gotham 2-4-6” – (Bob Rozakis/John Calnan/Vince Colletta)
This issue starts with Batman returning from a case. He’s returning to the Wayne Foundation building, which was his base of operations at the time. Bats is greeted by a visitor waiting for him, someone who knows his secret ID. Batman tells his guest (and us) about the adventure he just concluded. Bats was tracking Benny the Rat, who works for a gambling ring, and watched him hand over his … betting slips, I guess, to a guy called Danton. Batman tracks Danton to the subway and changes into his Matches Malone disguise (which he apparently already had on under his costume for some reason). The lights go out for a few seconds when the subway car switches tracks, and when the lights come back on, Danton has disguised himself as…Batman! The fake Batman gets the motorman to stop the car and bails out onto the tracks. The real Batman (again in costume) chases him. They struggle and Danton gets zapped by the third rail—accidentally, of course. But Bats can’t find the evidence on him, and it isn’t hidden in the tunnel, so he must have passed it to someone on the subway. Rozakis challenges us to guess who, on a subway car full of people, was Danton’s connection? This one I guessed right…it’s the motorman. He was only person Danton had physical contact with, and the fact that he tried to run Batman over sealed it. Bats is at least as smart as I am, so he figures it out too and pounds the subway driver, finding the evidence on him. Bats wraps up his story and we find out who his mysterious visitor is…it’s Hawkman.
The reveal of Hawkman as Bats’s visitor leads into the back-up story (by Rozakis, Marshall Rogers, and Terry Austin) about Hawkman fighting the Calculator. This is long before Calculator became the criminal counterpart to Oracle; here he’s a (supposed) genius who gets his ass kicked by crimefighters, then claims that he can never be defeated by those particular heroes again because he’s analyzed their fighting style or something. So far, he’s fought (and lost to) Atom, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Green Arrow, and now Hawkman in the last few Detective back-up stories. He looks like a big goof, by the way, so it’s hard to take him seriously. Hawkman seems to think Batman is Calcy’s next target, which sets up the next issue.
- I guess Wayne Manor and The Batcave were still “closed” at this point?
- The visitor’s identity isn’t revealed until the end of the story, but Rozakis challenges us to guess. Hey Bob, you’re supposed to be the Answer Man, shouldn’t you just tell us? The first time I read this, I guessed wrong, thinking of the obvious…Robin; but that’s a little too obvious for Bob.
- In the letter column, Rozakis gives a list of the clues the readers could use to figure out the mystery; in my defense, I think most of the clues (including Hawkman using the phrase “a little bird told me”) could point to Robin.
- They didn’t still run numbers in the 70s, did they?
- The pick-up man is Sneaky Danton; is that his given name? His parents must’ve been real pessimists.
- Batman says Danton wouldn’t recognize Matches Malone, but if Danton’s an underworld guy, wouldn’t he know Malone? I always had the impression that most hoods knew who Malone was (though none knew he was Batman, of course).
- The way Calculator talks about being able to anticipate random events (like a car smashing into the police van that was transporting him to jail) makes him sound kinda like the Mad Thinker at Marvel. The Thinker’s plans always got derailed by some unforeseeable event, but the way Calculator talks, he’s able to foresee pretty much everything. If that’s the case, it sounds like he’s conquered Chaos Theory, so why isn’t he collecting a Nobel Prize or playing the stock market instead of robbing banks and shit?