Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MB20: Batman Family #18

Batman Family #18 (July 1978)
cover: Jim Starlin (unsigned)
title: "Man-Bat No More!"
writer: Bob Rozakis
penciller: Danny Bulandi
inker: Romeo Tanghal
letterer: Milton Snapinn
colorist: Jerry Serpe
editor: Allen Milgrom 

Kirk Langstrom is looking over his Man-Bat scrapbook (because that's a thing) as Francine nurses their newborn daughter, Rebecca. Kirk is upset because he promised to either make a living as Man-Bat or to give it up and get a "real job" when Rebecca was born. He now works all day at a blue-collar factory because he could not find any work as a zoologist. He is frustrated, but thinks being Man-Bat is an addiction, and must give it up "cold turkey" if he is going to have any hope of providing for his family. Francine tells him she will stand by him no matter what.
Later that night, Man-Bat stops three burglars. The press covers the incident on the next day's news shows, but Kirk swears he did not go out. He considers that perhaps he was sleep-walking?

That night, Man-Bat spoils four juvenile delinquents from vandalizing their school. On the morning news the next day the vandals report that it was Man-Bat who stopped them. Francine thinks Kirk is secretly going out, but he swears he isn't.

Then, on the news they hear that Snafu has escaped from jail. Kirk initially wants to go after him, but then remembers his promise to give up being Man-Bat and decides not to.
However, later that night as Snafu attacks Madison Square Garden again, Man-Bat flies towards him. At the same time, Kirk is asleep in bed....alone! 

This is a nice "day in the life" type story. Man-Bat as a character now has a daughter as well as a wife, and he needs a steady income. How many new parents take a cold, sober look at their lifestyle when a little one comes along and decides to make changes? So that part really works. I do find it hard to believe that renowned zoologist Kirk Langstrom could not find a job somewhere, though. Even if it was something that wouldn't pay what he was getting in Gotham or Chicago, I think he could have found something.

The mystery here is a bit transparent, especially for all of us die-hard Man-Bat fans. Pants-on: Man-Bat. Pants-off: She-Bat. And can I just say that even in a G-rated comic, it seems odd that DC can have She-Bat fly around naked, but not Man-Bat? I mean, let's put it out there: breasts are less noticeable than a penis? I mean, come on. If Kirk transforms but keeps his pants on, I don't understand how or why Francine can change but lose her nightgown. This is silly and mildly misogynist, isn't it?

Still, I wonder at the reason for Francine's regression. Previously she seemed to realize that her metabolism and the bat-serum don't mix. I hope the conclusion to this story pays off both emotionally and logically. 

Man-Bat Trivia Notes:  
  • Although it isn't clear until the last page, this is the first Man-Bat story that does not actually feature Man-Bat.  
  • The cover scene does not appear in any of the stories in this book (unfortunately!) 
  • Joe Staton provides a "table of contents" type poster page that features all of the Batman Family. It's represented below. 
This story has not been reprinted. Because it is only nine pages, I re-present it to you now in its entirety. 
For the sake of nostalgia, I have also included the letters' page from Detective Comics #481 which features commentary on this story.

Man-Bat was created by Frank Robbins and Neal Adams

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