Wednesday, September 14, 2016

MB10: Detective Comics #458

Detective Comics #458 (April 1976)
cover: Ernie Chua (signed)
title: "Peal of the Devil Bell!"
writer: Martin Pasko
penciller: Pablo Marcos
inker: Tex Blaisdell
editor: Julius Schwartz 

The story picks up immediately after the events of Man-Bat #2, as the Welcome Home party has ended and the guests have gone home. Kirk's sister Brittney walks into his and Francine's bedroom to talk to them and finds Francine strapped to their bed. She starts to unstrap her when Francine begins to turn into the She-Bat again. Kirk bursts in and throws a sheet over her, incapacitating her long enough for him to give her a hypodermic antidote.
Kirk has no choice but to tell his sister that he is really Man-Bat, and that Francine is still suffering from the effects of being bitten by a radioactive spider bat. As they look at Francine, who is working herself free of the sheet, they are shocked to see that she is not Francine, but a totally different woman!
Elsewhere in Chicago, Dr. Thanatogenos rings the bell of the so-called "silent cathedral," which has the effect of transforming the unknown woman into She-Bat again. She flies away, and Kirk takes the bat-serum again to go after her. His sister faints.
Man-Bat flies after her as she lands at the Cathedral of St. Aloysius of the Doves. Dr. Thanatogenos, instead of speaking to Man-Bat, blasts at him with his wand. Man-Bat goes over the edge, and the doctor thinks he might be dead. When Man-Bat attacks again, Thanatogenos blasts at him again. Then Man-Bat is distracted by a stone statue of Francine, and Thanatogenos finally gets him, knocking him unconscious.

On the one hand, this is an interesting "sequel" to Man-Bat #2. Re-reading it brought back bittersweet memories of how cool Man-Bat could have been if given the chance.

On the other hand, this story is a mess. Francine switching to She-Bat is used as a plot device (again!) and she is a slave to some mystical menace (again!). In several ways, this story reminds me of the story from Man-Bat #1. We do get some more characterization of Kirk in his relationship with his sister, which is nice. She might have made a good supporting character, given the chance...

The art is good, but not great. Man-Bat looks down-right ugly in several spots, which I guess is the point, but doesn't make us really appreciate him as a hero.

There isn't much to the story itself (six pages) so it does read like a rush-to-the-finish, set-up for the conclusion. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, but doesn't leave much to review.

Man-Bat Trivia Notes:  
  • Thanatos in Ancient Greek mythology is the personification of Death. Genus is a group of related animals that includes different species.  
  • Because this story is only six pages and has never been reprinted, I decided to re-present it here in its entirety. 

Next Issue On-Site the 3rd Week of October! 

This story has not been reprinted.

Man-Bat was created by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams

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