Sunday, December 14, 2008

Single Issue Review: Detective #337

Julius Schwartz, Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino get and deserve a lot of credit for the wonderful comics they produced in the Silver Age. Many stories that these three creative geniuses collaborated on are among the finest of that era, including Flash of Two Worlds, Planet that Came to a Standstill and Planets in Peril.

And so an absolute clunker like this story sticks out among their work like a green barn in Kansas. This is easily one of the most ridiculous Batman stories of the Silver Age, an era that did not lack for contenders.

The story starts out 50,000 years ago, as Klag, a caveman, spots Brugg stealing food from Klag's tribe. They battle and Klag seems about to kill Brugg at the edge of a cliff, when Klag falls into the bottomless pit. We learn that Klag was frozen in a block of ice and hidden in a cave and that minerals dripped on him for 500 centuries until a recent earthquake jarred him loose:

Flexible ice? But that's only the beginning of what we're asked to believe:

A caveman in a block of ice that can fly? When he shows up in Gotham City, Batman treats the news like it happens every other week:

"We'll be there right away?" How about, "Are you sure you haven't been drinking, Commissioner Gordon?"

They encounter and battle the caveman, who calls Batman "Brugg". At first they're even worried he said "Bruce". Klag kayos Batman and removes his cowl, but then realizes it's not Brugg and takes off "over big water", while Robin quickly covers Batman's face again. Some of the ice-coating melted and Batman and Robin retrieve and analyze it, and deduce that it's the source of his powers.

They follow him to Spain, where he is attacking a matador that looks a lot like Bruce Wayne. While Robin battles him, Batman sprays Klag with a plastic sealant which prevents him from moving (but not apparently from breathing), and the story closes with this:

Comments: Good Lord. I didn't think anything could top Bat-Baby for sheer absurdity, but this has to be considered nearly as wacky.

The Elongated Man story, The 20 Grand Payoff, is delightful. Sue Dibney is waiting at the airport for her husband when she sees him getting on a plane with a look-alike. She barges onto the plane after him:

But he denies that she's Sue and they takeoff leaving her behind with a mystery to solve. Meanwhile the fake Sue and Ralph alight at the next airport and:

It turns out that three mob hitmen are planning to kill the Dibneys, but Ralph and the fake Sue (who turns out to be a policewoman) foil the plot. And in the end, the real Sue gets revenge on her hubby (as hinted in the title):

Wow. Let's remember that this story was 1965, back when $20,000 bought a nice house in the suburbs.

Comments: Cute little twist on the usual Elongated Man story, with gorgeous Infantino and Greene artwork.