Monday, October 26, 2009

Single Issue Review: Detective #389

By this time, all the camp elements were gone, and Batman was returning to his roots as a creature of the night. The story begins with Batman and Robin greeting a new parolee: Jonathan Crane, aka the Scarecrow. Batman is hoping that Crane will reform and has even given him a job (as Bruce Wayne), but Robin is a little jaded:

As far as I know, that's the first time that the dual crime-fighting nature of Batman/Bruce Wayne is mentioned, with Bruce as the carrot and Batman as the stick.

Driving back to Gotham City, Batman and Robin muse that the old days, when Batman's very appearance would "strike fear" into the hearts of criminals, have passed. But when they encounter a gang it's just like the good old days:

And the next evening Batman has a similar effect on some jewel thieves:

The Scarecrow calls Batman and dares him to attend a meeting in a warehouse to find out why he terrifies villains. Batman turns up, and when he does, the trap shown on the cover (a ring of mirrors around him) is sprung. Suddenly Batman is frightened of himself. Crane had managed to inject him with a fear-inducing drug. Of course, this doesn't make much sense, as the drug affected nobody but criminals before. Batman had interacted with Robin, several cops, and Commissioner Gordon in between without frightening them.

The Scarecrow warns him that he can only take six exposures to the sight of himself before going insane. But Batman tricks him into thinking he's used up the six, when in actuality he's only seen himself five times, and so he's able to defeat the Scarecrow and his henchmen.

Comments: Way too short a story, although it's entertaining, especially the part where Batman and Robin are reminiscing. Art by Bob Brown, story by Frank Robbins.

The Batgirl story is part II of a two-parter. We learn quickly that Batgirl had attended an airline hostess' costume party in place of a stewardess, but it turns out that the flight attendant had ripped off some crooks after smuggling diamonds into the country. Amusingly, the crooks are dressed up as various members of the Justice League, giving us the opportunity to see Babs in action against DC's stars of the Silver Age:

Since the stewardess had given Babs the excuse that she was attending a party for her grandfather, Babs locates the old man's house. It turns out that he's not exactly a kindly old codger:

Comments: The story (by Robbins) is nothing special, but the art by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson is terrific.