This one starts with Batman viewing a tape of a trial re-creation sent to him by a defendant in a recent trial. The death was ruled accidental and the defendant acquitted, but he admits he really did kill the victim (a guy named Anton Karoselle) … in fact, he claims to have killed him twice. He taunts Batman with the failure of justice to convict him for his crimes, saying his admission is legally useless since double jeopardy prevents him from being tried twice for the same crime. Batman vows to investigate, and if this guy is telling the truth, to somehow bring him to justice. Batman checks he police files and finds the defendant’s name is Carl Ternion, but the facts of the case make it look like Karoselle really did die accidentally. Meanwhile, we see Carl Ternion out for a moonlit carriage ride in the park with a woman named Gilda. She mentions her first two husbands, who were named Harvey and David, both dead now. Ternion thinks to himself that he knew Harvey and David and knows a hell of a lot more than Gilda imagines. At Gilda’s place, she mentions David’s death, which was apparently Karoselle’s fault, and asks Ternion why he confronted Karoselle and accidentally killed him. Ternion says he knew David a long time ago, but they had a falling out. When he heard about Karoselle killing David, he knew he had to confront him, although he insists he didn’t plan on killing Karoselle. As he comforts Gilda, Ternion thinks to himself that everything will be fie once he kills Batman. At that moment, Batman is downtown, asking an informant named Mary Ann about Karoselle and Ternion. She’s not familiar with them, but says she’ll ask around. In the Batcave, Batman fills Alfred in on the facts of the case. Ternion went to confront Karoselle over the murder of District Attorney David Stevens, for which Karoselle was the number one suspect. (In fact, the cops had surveillance on Karoselle, so Ternion had to sneak in.) Karoselle denied killing Stevens, but grabbed a rifle and tried to blow Ternion away. Ternion kept dodging and a stray shot brought a chandelier down on Karoselle’s head. The cops came in just in time to see Karoselle die and it was their testimony that exonerated Ternion. So why did Ternion send Batman a tape saying Karoselle’s death was no accident? Later, Batman interrupts some thugs pounding on Mary Ann and beats the shit out of them. Mary Ann tries to say something, but can only mumble “ekkk … out” before passing out. Batman takes her to the hospital before swinging by the police station. He grabs one of the thugs who beat Mary Ann, but the guy won’t talk. Batman lets him go and follows him to Gotham Dam, where he meets up with Ternion. Ternion realizes right away Batman let the guy go so he could follow him, and blows the thug away. When Batman comes after Ternion, he shoots his bat-line and Batman plunges over the dam. He manages to grab a strut, but Ternion opens the dam to drown him. Batman uses his re-breather and fights his way through the torrent to climb up the dam. Naturally, Ternion is long gone. We see Ternion visiting a doctor about some recent plastic surgery; Ternion is worried the surgery isn’t holding up properly and the doctor reminds him that he warned him of that possibility. Ternion shoots he doctor and the cops fish his body out of the harbour-front the next day. Batman recognizes him as famed plastic surgeon Dr. Eckhart and realizes that’s the name Mary Ann was trying to tell him. He now knows who Ternion really is and heads off to find him. Meanwhile, Ternion is with Gilda when she hears about Eckhart’s death. He comforts her again, vowing to himself that he’ll marry her—for the second time—once Batman is eliminated.
- I think it’s fairly obvious who Ternion is if you add up all the clues: 1) he refers to Batman as “old friend”, but wants him dead; 2) he touches his face while staring in the mirror; 3) he knew District Attorney Dave Stevens rather well; 4) he talks about fate a lot; 5) he’s had plastic surgery; 6) and then there’s the whole “double jeopardy” motif. That’s right, it has to be … Mr. Freeze! No, wait, I mean Two-Face. Ternion even looks a bit like Harvey Dent (which you’d think Gilda would notice since Dent was her first husband).
- There’s an interlude where Lucius Fox tries to resign from Wayne Enterprises because he’s having personal problems, but Bruce won’t let him quit. Instead, he gives him a leave of absence at full pay, and says if he needs any help, he just has to ask. I assume this is setting up a future story, probably something to do with Lucius’s son and the company he’s been keeping.
“A Tale of Time Past” – Marv Wolfman/Don Newton/Kim DeMulder
Batman returns from patrol to find a disturbed Alfred, who informs him the Batcave is haunted. Apparently, Alfred heard voices and other noise from behind a wall in the Batcave. Batman hears the same noises and rams the Batmobile through the rocky wall, which was quite thin at that point. He finds Commissioner Gordon tied up in an abandoned subway tunnel, which the Batcave was once connected to. Gordon’s captor runs down the tunnel and Gordon tells Batman why he’s there. When he was a rookie patrolman, his friend (who ran a jewelry store) was killed by a robber. Gordon chased the guy into the subway tunnel and as wounded. He heard an explosion and caught the killer, but the guy was nuts and couldn’t (or wouldn’t say where he hid the loot). Tonight, Gordon got a call saying he should come to the old tunnel if he wants to know where the loot is, but when he got there, he was jumped by the original robber’s son. He and Batman track the guy down (who’s also kinda whacko), but Gordon is upset he still can’t find the jewels … he figures he owes it to his dead friend. Batman realizes the robber must’ve used blasting equipment to hide the loot, so he digs in the Batcave, finds the jewels, and sends them to Gordon. It’s a neat little story, though superseded by later retcons: Gordon was never a rookie in Gotham and the Batcave was around for hundreds of years.
This one starts with a partial playback of last issue’s climax. Batman is knocked out by thugs robbing a drug company and Crime Doctor (who the thugs called to “advise” them on their robbery) refused to let them kill the unconscious Darknight—he takes his Hippocratic Oath very seriously. The robbers take off when they hear sirens, locking Crime Doctor inside the building, which they’ve rigged with explosives. Seems they’ve gotten tired of paying a percentage of their haul for Crime Doctor’s services. Oh, I almost forgot … thanks to a bandage Crime Doctor put on Bruce Wayne, which he later recognized on Batman, Crime Doctor knows the Caped Crusader’s secret identity. Batman wakes up in time to get himself and Crime Doctor out of the building just before it blows up. Batman shields Crime Doctor from the explosion, knocking himself out again. That impresses Crime Doctor, but he figures he’d better get as far away as he can, since the secret identity knowledge goes both ways … Batman knows Crime Doctor is really Bradford Thorne, the doctor who treated Bruce Wayne the other day. Batman recovers quickly but Crime Doctor is gone; Batman wonders what Thorne will do with the knowledge of his secret. A Rolls Royce Silver Cloud drives by on the street and heads uptown to a fancy penthouse. It turns out to be the mastermind behind the drug theft, Sterling Silversmith. As his name implies, he has something of a fetish about silver. The thieves tell him they blew Batman and Crime Doctor to hell, but Silversmith knows better, and shoots two of them to show his displeasure. The last thief begs for his life and mentions overhearing Crime Doctor blurt out that he knows Batman’s secret identity. That piques Silversmith’s interest and he allows the last robber to live. Batman finds Thorne’s secret hideout, but the doc is already gone, leaving indications that he disguised himself. Batman figures Thorne will go to the best forger in town (Elmo) for false identity papers, but when he gets there, Elmo is dead. Obviously, someone else is after Thorne and Elmo wouldn’t give him up, so they beat him to death. There’s no trace of who Elmo’s killers might be, except a vial clutched in his hand … a vial labeled AgNO3. At the airport, Thorne is in disguise and waiting to board his plane, as Silversmith’s men search for him. An old lady has a heart attack and her husband calls frantically for a doctor. Thorne is tempted to ignore it, but that pesky conscience of his kicks in again and he goes to help. That gives him away to Silversmith’s men, who grab him and hustle him out of the airport. At Silversmith’s penthouse, Thorne refuses to give up Batman’s secret identity. He’s still pissed off that Thorne’s men tried to kill him, plus he learned the secret in his capacity as a doctor, so confidentiality is in effect. Silversmith pretends to admire Thorne’s principles, but slips some mercury (aka quicksilver) into Thorne’s tea. If Thorne doesn’t give up Batman’s secret within ten minutes, it’ll be too late to pump his stomach and the mercury would kill him. I think it might be too late anyway … I think mercury absorbs through skin, so swallowing it would pretty much be a death sentence. Before Thorne can figure out what to do, Batman busts through the window and starts pounding Silversmith’s men. Batman explains the silver nitrate clutched in Elmo’s hand, plus seeing the Silver Cloud outside the drug factory, led him to the penthouse. Batman decks Silversmith and rushes Thorne to the hospital, but it’s too late … the mercury has left Thorne a vegetable, unable to speak. The doctors speculate that Thorne’s memory is probably irrevocably lost, which is good news for Batman. But he can’t help wondering if Thorne passed on his secret to anyone else. That’s left as an open question, but I don’t think anything ever comes of it.
Tales of Gotham City – “Into the Fire” – Bob Rozakis/Dan Spiegle
Another morality tale with an O. Henry-type ending. A petty criminal named Runner Perkins returns home to find his apartment building on fire. He rushes up to his apartment, heedless of the danger. Turns out his mattress is stuffed with cash he’s been skimming from his job as a numbers runner for some mobster. The mobster found out and wants his dough back, but Runner figures he might be able to get away rich. Unfortunately there’s still the small matter of the roaring fire around him. Finding himself trapped, Runner tosses the mattress out the window and jumps, landing on it. Runner is fine except for a broken leg, but what hurts a lot more is seeing the mobster grab the mattress full of money and take off with it.
Last issue, Batgirl got a mobster arrested, but was upset to learn she’d been manipulated into it by another mobster (Beeler), who used her to eliminate the competition. Batgirl is making up for it by going to war on Beeler’s illicit operations. This story opens with her busting up a protection racket, but as usual the thugs won’t say who hired them. Commissioner Gordon tells Batgirl to slow down, and wonders if her zeal to get rid of Beeler has something to do with Tracy, the paralyzed kid who lives in that neighbourhood. Tracy was used as a hostage by an assassin who almost killed Batgirl and the experience gave her hysterical paralysis; Barbara Gordon has befriended Tracy, hoping to help cure her condition … plus, Barbara seems kinda hot for Tracy’s dad. We get a quick interlude with some shadowy dude on the phone examining some photos of Barbara and saying that she’s a murderer; I guess this is set-up for the next story. At HRD, the think tank where Barbara works, one of her co-workers (Richard) asks her out and another one (Bill) treats her like crap. She has to turn Richard down since she’s planning on going out as Batgirl later, which makes him feel like crap. That night, Batgirl checks the police files to get a line on Beeler’s right hand man, Shades. She trails Shades as he makes pick-ups for Beeler and sees that Shades keeps everything in a little black book. (No PDAs or cell phones back then.) She trails Shades back to his place and breaks in to examine the book, but he catches her and almost blows her away. Thanks to her photographic memory, Batgirl saw where Shades would be collecting tomorrow and tells the cops, so they can send an undercover man to make the payoff with marked bills. Shades falls for it and Batgirl trails him back to Beeler’s place. Beeler heads for his nightclub to launder the money and Batgirl makes sure the cops are there with a warrant. But when they check all the cash at the club, none of it is marked. Batgirl realizes the marked cash must still be in Beeler’s car (which the warrant apparently covers) and finds it hidden in a secret compartment. That’s enough to put Beeler away for good, although Batgirl wonders how many more like him are still out there.
This one starts with Jefferson (Black Lightning) Pierce and his ex-wife Lynn taking in the “Suicide Slum Olympics”, a Garfield High School tournament that lets kids channel their aggressions into something positive instead of violence. Right now, a girls team is beating the guys at roller-skate hockey, which Jimmy Olsen finds amusing, though Inspector Henderson doesn’t seem quite so tickled by it. Lynn tells him to take it easy and it seems like he’s kinda sweet on her. After the match, some of the girls are in the school changing when a gang of punks busts in and grabs them. The gang’s leader (Ice) sends a message outside about the hostages and demands a reporter be sent in to see him. Jimmy volunteers and Jefferson sneaks off to change to Black Lightning. Henderson says he’ll wait five minutes, then go in with guns blazing. Lightning figures that’ll gt somebody killed, but Henderson says the gang members are animals and don’t deserve any consideration. Lightning says the system has ground them down their entire lives and taken away any hope they might’ve had, so their frustration is understandable. In the school, Ice slaps Jimmy around a bit and compares himself to the terrorists at the Munich Olympics and Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon. Jimmy reminds him that Pacino died at the end, but Ice says he’s gonna get it right. He tells Jimmy to pass on his demands: a million bucks, a helicopter to the airport, and a flight to Switzerland, or he starts wasting girls every ten minutes. Jimmy tells Henderson and Lightning what Ice said and Henderson says they’ll have to go in before the first ten minutes is up. Lightning heads inside and starts taking out Ice’s gang members—silently, so Ice doesn’t start wasting the girls early. Outside, Henderson says trying to empathize with these guys is a waste of time … some people are beyond hope. Lynn says if you don’t take into consideration what made them that way, you’re the real animal. Inside, Ice gets impatient and is ready to start slicing. Lightning fights his way into the office with the hostages and it looks like Ice has just killed one of them (although it’s hard to tell). Lightning freaks out and pounds the rest of the gang members before confronting Ice. Ice is ready to jump out the window and kill himself rather than be taken in. Lightning is tempted to let him, saying Ice is an animal who doesn’t deserve compassion. But when Ice tries to jump, Lightning comes to his senses and pulls him back in, saying even a lost cause deserves compassion.
Robin – “The Gotham Connection” – Jack C. Harris/Charles Nicholas/Vince Colletta
This one starts with Robin interrupting a dope deal at Hudson University. He catches the small-time dealer, but the big fish gets away in a van. Later, as Dick Grayson, he has to explain another absence to his girlfriend Jennifer, and gets a notice that he’s flunking Business Admin … ironic, since he trained under Bruce Wayne. Robin talks to Chief MacDonald about the dope coming to campus from Gotham. Robin is tired of going back and forth between Hudson and Gotham, and Chief ac Donald is getting nosy about his secret identity. The next day, Dick learns he can save his failing Business grade if he completes a huge research paper by the end of the week, which means less time as Robin and less time with Jennifer. She’s actually pretty understanding, but when he sees the van the dope dealer was driving earlier, he sneaks out to follow it as Robin. He manages to bag the driver and find the dope hidden in the back of the van (it was being shipped in text-book crates). Robin realizes he can’t investigate the Gotham connection and worry about his research paper and all the other crap at Hudson at the same time … so he decides it’s time for a momentous decision. I think this story is just setting up Robin’s involvement with the New Teen Titans (the preview came out this month and issue #1 in November), so I assume the big decision is him quitting college to go back to crimefighting full-time.
This is an Earth-2 story, set during World War II. It starts with Batman interrupting some undercover Nazis in Gotham, who are taking something from a warehouse. He pounds some of them, but the others get away, saying they have to deliver their contraband to someplace called Ice Station Alpha. Meanwhile in Poland, the Blackhawks land near an occupied village where an Allied agent (Carmichael) was recently captured (and who was investigating rumours about a new Nazi project called, you guessed it, Ice Station Alpha). They kick the shit out of the Nazis and pump them for info on the missing agent. They’re directed to the Sahara Desert, where they find Carmichael encased in a block of solid ice. In Gotham, Commissioner Gordon tells Batman that the feds have ordered his men to stop investigating the recent robberies of scientific equipment. Batman says he’ll check it out and plans to go to Washington as Bruce Wayne to see if he can do anything through official channels. In Tunisia, Blackhawk bargains for information in the bazaar (while Andre hits on a local woman) and learns who Agent Carmichael’s kidnappers were. The Blackhawks report back to Command, where they’re told the Nazis’ new Ice Station Alpha could be the most deadly weapon ever devised. In Washington, Bruce Wayne is told to fuck off, even though he owns stock in the companies that were robbed. He now knows there’s a cover-up of some kind, so he comes back later as Batman to rifle through the files. He learns about Ice Station Alpha, but not enough to do anything about it. Later, a Nazi hovercraft/submarine surfaces off Gotham and whips up a tidal wave that inundates a factory, killing 63 people. Batman is incensed, but has another appointment to attend. He shows up at a championship boxing match and takes the place of the champ so he can pound the German contender. (Inspired by the Louis/Schmeling fight, maybe?) Batman accuses him of being involved in the warehouse robbery and with Ice Station Alpha, but the guy denies it. Which is fine with Batman, since it gives him an excuse to keep pounding the Nazi pug. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks have been interrogating Nazis in Austria and have found out where Ice Station Alpha is located … inside the Arctic Circle. At the Nazi base, we see the General in charge boasting about the weapon and finally learn what it does: Ice Station Alpha takes water from the polar ice cap, turns it to vapour and transports it south, where it’s turned back into water to flood the coast. The factory they drowned as just a test; now they plan to submerge the entire Atlantic coastline. But the Blackhawks show u and attack the base; the Nazis fight back by shooting freeze rays at the planes. Olaf’s plane is hit, but he’s saved when Batman swoops in and catches him in the Batplane. The General wants to launch the weapon, but the head scientist tells him it has to properly warm up. The General thinks he’s a coward, so he shoots him and activates the weapon just before Batman and the Blackhawks bust in and start pounding Nazis. Batman decks the General and the dying scientist warns him that Ice Station Alpha is going to explode because the weapon wasn’t powered up properly. Batman and the Blackhawks take off, leaving the Arctic base to blow itself to smithereens.
This story tells the origin of Nemesis and his quest for justice. Tom Tresser and his brother Craig were raised by their father after their mom died. Their father’s best friend was Ben Marshall, head of a national crime-fighting agency (probably the FBI, though it’s never mentioned). Ben was like a second father to them, so when their father died of a heart attack, they asked Ben if they could become agents for his organization. He agreed and over the next few years, they were educated and trained at the highest level. Craig became a field agent, but Ben asked Tom if he would work in Research and Development,since he showed such an aptitude for it. Tom had wanted to be a field agent too, but figured he should do what his country needs, so he agreed to work in the lab. Tom was great as his job, coming up with innovative new equipment, like a quick-change mask and outfit for undercover work, a miniaturized transmitter, and a new type of bullet that paralyzes instead of killing. Craig wasn’t enjoying his field work quite so much; he was on a case to take down a notorious gang, but couldn’t make any inroads. He blamed Ben Marshall for his failure, saying Ben made him do all the dirty work while he took the credit. When Ben was chosen as new head of the organization, Craig was really pissed off, but Tom figured it was just frustration and he’d get over it. Unfortunately, Tom was a little off-base on that one; at Ben’s promotion ceremony, Craig went nuts and shot him, then was gunned down by other agents in turn. After that, Tom became a pariah among his fellow agents and the rest of the community. He figured there was more to Craig’s crazy actions than he knew, but if so, Craig took that secret to his grave. After seeing Ben’s widow on TV talking about justice, Tom decided the best way to honour Ben’s memory and wipe out the stain on his family’s name was to pursue justice. Since the name Tresser was tainted, he left it behind, christening himself Nemesis, and vowing not to rest until he balanced the scales of justice.
This one starts with Travis Morgan and Shakira flying toward Shamballah on the pegasus they acquired last issue. They fly up near the Terminator, the barrier that separates Skartaris from the outside world. Shakira notices a strange-looking boat … strange to her, but Morgan recognizes it as being from the outside world. The boat is being attacked by a plesiosaur and Morgan jumps down and skewers it with his sword. The boat’s captain is in bad shape and one of his passengers (Pat Chambers) is surprised to find Morgan can speak English, and even more surprised to see the bikini-clad Shakira riding a flying horse. (Morgan introduces Shakira as his cat.) But it’s Morgan’s turn to be shocked when the other passenger of the boat turns out to be his estranged daughter, Jennifer. When his wife died, Morgan turned Jennifer over to her aunt to raise, since he figured the military was no place for an eight-year old girl. Jennifer is pissed off about a number of things: that Morgan just left her like that, that he was supposedly killed in Vietnam, and that he resurfaced in Peru three years ago but was branded a traitor. The press hounded Jennifer relentlessly, wanting to interview the “traitor’s daughter” and Professor Lakely (the archaeologist Morgan met in Peru) tracked her down and told her about Skartaris. Chambers was a friend of crazy CIA agent Stryker, who also got info about Skartaris from Lakely … but through less pleasant means. Chambers volunteered to help Jennifer find Skartaris and clear up the mystery around her father. Shakira gets bored with their chatter (she can’t understand them since they’re speaking English) and flies off. The captain dies and Morgan seems suspicious of Chambers, but before he can get into it, they’re attacked by barbarians. Morgan goes into a frenzy and pushes them back, but they return. Luckily for him, it’s a case of mistaken identity; the barbarians are fighting under Morgan’s own banner and are led by his old squire, Aton. Aton says they’re still trying to follow Morgan’s ideals of freedom and justice and it sounds like he wants Morgan to lead them again. Jennifer wonders at her father being some kind of freedom fighter and Morgan fills her in on everything that’s happened since he disappeared in Vietnam. Jennifer says she has to re-evaluate her feelings about him, so Morgan leaves her to think. Back at the boat, Chambers pulls out his Uzi and Morgan says the only people who use those are Israeli soldiers and “Secret Service” (I assume he means CIA) … and Chambers doesn’t sound like an Israeli soldier. Chambers admits he was looking for Morgan to avenge his friend Stryker, who lost his mind pursuing Morgan. Chambers got close to Jennifer because he needed her money to finance the expedition. He intended to kill Morgan when they found him … but he ended up falling in love with Jennifer, so he tosses the Uzi down. Morgan wasn’t too worried anyway, as Shakira was standing behind Chambers the whole time, poised to run him through with a spear. Jennifer and Chambers agree to tell everyone that Stryker was wrong and that Morgan really did die over Vietnam eleven years ago. Jennifer says the outside world is getting darker, crazier, but she figures the least she can do is try to make it better … just like Morgan’s doing in Skartaris. Jennifer and Chambers sail off and Shakira is glad not to have to listen to their unintelligible talk anymore. Morgan says he’ll fill her in on everything one of these days.
- Jennifer says Morgan getting shot down happened eleven years ago; I think it was originally established as happening in 1969, so that fits with the 1980 publishing date of this issue. Jennifer says she was ten when Morgan “died”, so I guess she’s about twenty-one now.
- This isn’t the last we’ll see of Jennifer; she’ll eventually become a pretty important supporting character in the comic, though she’ll look somewhat different.
- Originally, there were OMAC back-ups in these issues, but I don’t have all the originals, and I’m not a big OMAC fan anyway, so I’m not inclined to look for them. When we get to the Barren Earth back-ups, I’ll be reviewing those, since I actually like them.