Wednesday, October 19, 2016

MB11: Detective Comics #459

Detective Comics #459 (May 1976)
cover: Ernie Chua (signed)
title: "Scream of the Gargoyle!"
writer: Martin Pasko
artist: Pablo Marcos
editors: Julius Schwartz & Bob Rozakis

Man-Bat wakes up, tied and hanging upside-down from the bell of the Cathedral. He asks Dr. Thanatogenos what is going on. The doctor waves his wand around the burning cauldron, then explains that the Cathedral was originally built in Paris one hundred years ago, then brought to Chicago and rebuilt there by Maurice LeBlanc and his wife. They did not know why it was called "the Silent Cathedral," so they arranged for a new bell clapper to be installed. When it rang, a demon gargoyle came to life and transformed both the architect and his wife into gargoyles so that he could siphon off their mystic energy.

One hundred years later, the energy is almost depleted and the demon needs two new power batteries. Man-Bat looks and sees the unconscious woman who had been She-Bat and is confused. Dr. Thanatogenos tells him that this is Helene LeBlanc, who he switched with Francine and then magically transformed into She-Bat to lure him there.
Man-Bat has heard enough, and breaks free from his bonds. Unfortunately, in doing so he rings the bell, and begins to change into stone. He grabs the bell clapper and rips it off so that the bell can not ring.

Suddenly, a real gargoyle attacks him, and they fight fiercely. Man-Bat realizes that the gargoyle must be Dr. Thanatogenos, the demon itself. Man-Bat grabs a cross off the roof of the Cathedral, throwing it at the demon gargoyle. Man-Bat then throws the bell clapper at him to disarm him. The clapper and the magic wand both fall into the cauldron and are destroyed. The gargoyle turns back into stone, and the LeBlancs return to normal.

Later, Kirk and Francine talk about whether they really have any "mystic energy."

This is a good wrap-up to the thriller begun last issue. Where the first chapter was mostly talk and set-up, this story is mostly action. Which is usually good, but this time out I had to read the story twice to understand what exactly was happening, and to get clear who was who! The plot leaves a bit to be desired (a cursed bell that turned people into gargoyle statues for 100 years?) but the art makes up for it. Last issue Pablo Marcos was teamed with Tex Blaisdell. This time he inks himself, and the improvement is dramatic.

As mentioned last time, the villainy of Dr. Thanatogenos bears more than a passing resemblance to the villainy of Baron Tyme from Man-Bat #1. Still, I like the visual of a living gargoyle as a bad guy. If he had come back with *that* appearance I think he would have worked.

Man-Bat Trivia Notes:  
  • Chicago was incorporated as a town in 1833. It became a city in 1837. 
  • In a rarity, both Julius Schwartz and Bob Rozakis are listed as editors on this story. 
  • Man-Bat would not appear again in Detective Comics for three years.  
  • Because this story is only six pages long and has never been reprinted, I am re-presenting it here in its entirety.  

This story has not been reprinted.

Man-Bat was created by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams

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