Wednesday, January 20, 2016

MB3: Marriage: Impossible!

Detective Comics #407 (January, 1971)
cover: Neal Adams (unsigned)
title: "Marriage: Impossible!"
writer: Frank Robbins
penciller: Neal Adams
inker: Dick Giordano
editor: Julius Schwartz 

Batman reads in the newspaper that the bat exhibit at the Gotham Museum of Natural History will open today, and then curator Kirk Langstrom will marry his fiancee, Miss Francine Lee. Batman is angry because he knows that Kirk is still Man-Bat. He storms the cathedral and pulls off Kirk's life-like face mask, revealing Man-Bat! Kirk then angrily flies off into the rafters.
Francine cries as Batman remembers what happened after the end of part two (in Detective Comics #402). Before Batman could give Kirk the antidote, Man-Bat woke up and flew into the rafter of the Batcave. Batman rushed away to bring back Francine, but it's too late: Man-Bat has escaped.

After Batman drops Francine off at her apartment, Man-Bat shows up. She swears she still loves him, so he asks her to go to the museum to pick up some things for him. The next day, Francine goes to the museum to finish the bat exhibit and to work on something else.
We return to the the present, and Francine dramatically shows Batman what Kirk had been working on: a bat serum for her, to prove her love for him! She then flies off into the rafters of the cathedral, too.
Batman swears to catch Man-Bat, who drops a chandelier on him. Batman climbs up to try to catch them, but the cathedral's bell hurts Batman's ears. Batman is eventually able to grab both Man-Bat and She-Bat separately and administer the antidote. Finally, they are returned to normal.

At the end, Kirk and Francine embrace, still in love.

And thus ends the first great Man-Bat trilogy by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams. Man-Bat obviously came back, but (in my opinion) he was never quite as sympathetic or interesting as he was shown to be here. Of course, this story shows Francine to be just as, if not more, bat-shite crazy as he is for 1) standing by her man and 2) flying by his side, as well! It's one thing to be The Bride of Man-Bat; it's another to take the drug and become She-Bat (or as I liked to call her, Ms. Bat).

There definitely is a sense of 1970s Gothic Horror to this trilogy. And the art is just amazing. There is definitely a reason these stories keep getting reprinted over and over.

This is Neal Adams' final story featuring an actual DC comic.

Man-Bat Trivia Notes:  
  • The cover blurb is "The Bride of Man-Bat!" which is a much MUCH better title than "Marriage: Impossible!" 
  • There are no wedding guests. And after Batman interrupts the ceremony, the minister and oen other man (the museum curator?) disappear from the story completely.  
  • The back-up in this issue stars Batgirl in "One Of Our Landmarks Is Missing!" by Frank Robbins, Gil Kane, and Vince Colletta. 
  • A notice in this month's Direct Currents ad mentions this actual issue. It also mentions that Jack Kirby is working on Jimmy Olsen (#135), and the debut of Aquaboy in Superboy #171

  • There is another letter in this issue's letter column by fan Alan Brennert, who grew up to write some of the most-loved Batman stories of the Eighties, as well as becoming a best-selling novelist and television screenwriter and producer. If you haven't read Time And Chance or Palisades Park, I recommend them. 
This story has been reprinted in the following books:
Man-Bat vs Batman (1984 reprint collection)
Batman Illustrated by Neal Adams vol 2 
Showcase Presents Batman vol 5
Batman in the Seventies    

Man-Bat was created by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams

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