Monday, December 26, 2016

Detective Comics #32 - pt. 1

Batman returns in part 2 of his adventure vs. The Monk. He's in Hungary, or the Latin Hungaria, as it's called here. Batman uses another sleeping gas pellet, thinking that he's using it on The Monk. It's unclear if Batman suspected The Monk was a werewolf yet, though the reader certainly had plenty of clues.

It was actually a woman named Dala that Batman gassed and, not being at all suspicious that Dala was in The Monk's carriage, he brings her to his hotel and lets her bunk with Julie Madison, who is safe now and under Batman's protection. But no one is safe from Dala; she bonks Batman on the head with a statuette and stuns him "momentarily." This would be 2nd ed. Hideouts & Hoodlums' new rule about head blows doing more damage in a surprise attack, Batman being brought down to zero hit points (he is still a low-level Mysteryman at this point), but making his save vs. plot to avoid a longer spell of being unconscious.

It turns out that Dala is a vampire, from which Batman (correctly) infers that The Monk is one too. Dala tells Batman where to find The Monk -- Gardner Fox plays fast-and-loose with geography here, saying that The Monk's castle is by the Dess River, which isn't an actual thing in Hungary.

Batman's autogyro is referred to as a "Batplane" in this story, making it the first Batplane.

The Monk uses a magic silver net that can stretch into the sky, snag the Batplane, and pull it to the ground. Now, the autogyro is just over the tree tops, so maybe the net can only stretch 100-120'. And it stretches pretty fast, because it was probably going at least 30 MPH. And it's plenty strong too; if it can pull a plane out of the air, then non-superhero Heroes will likely be pulled down without so much as a saving throw.

Vampires (or at least The Monk) are shown to be able to hypnotize others and control their charm victims over many miles, but the vampire's control is measured in a broad range of turns (he can control Julie for days, but Batman only for hours). He can also change into a wolf (which is why The Monk still calls himself a werewolf, even though the cat's out of the bag now that he's also a vampire -- vampiric werewolf?). In wolf form, a vampire can summon at least 1-4 wolves. Like vampires, vampiric werewolves have to sleep in coffins during the daytime. Like werewolves, they can be killed by silver weapons.

Batman's gas pellets can affect up to four targets in a 10' radius. He can toss his silk rope upwards about 15' alone, or more like 30' with a Batarang attached to it (though it took him about 12 hours to figure that out).

In Spy, Bart Regan is trapped in the back seat of a car that can fill with sleeping gas (likely stolen from the Raymond Chandler story "Nevada Gas"). Then his death trap is being placed in a giant bell jar that can have the air vacuumed out of it. The spy who trapped him is stupid and let's Bart out when he promises to talk. Bart, in turn, uses the same trap but keeps the spy inside until after he's talked.

Later, when Bart is being shot at, he ducks behind a desk. Somehow, he is able to sneak around the desk without being seen, come up behind the two spies shooting at him, and get surprise on them. Without being able to turn invisible, I don't see that as being possible in H&H.

I don't have much to say about this month's Buck Marshall story, except that Buck makes a disparaging comment about some outlaws, calling them "mail-order bad men."  Which is actually a better story idea than the counterfeiting scheme he really stumbles into.  But the real mystery in this installment of Buck Marshall is the curious use of the word "jigger" to refer to someone Buck knocks out. I am having trouble finding any cowboy-related use of the term. It could refer to a certain type of fisherman, but that's not relevant to the story. It was also once a variation on a certain offensive term for blacks, but the man in the story is colored white, so...

Larry Steele, Private Detective, rescues a damsel in distress on the road and takes her to an old man's house in the country. When Larry goes to call the police, the man says he'll be lucky to catch the operator awake. Back in the days before switchboard automation, this could have been a legitimate concern. Maybe Heroes who need to connect a call quickly should have to make a save vs. plot to succeed when away from the major cities.

Once again, the villain does something stupid to make it easier for the Hero -- this time, a killer implicates himself by accidentally driving to the scene of the murder when he was asked to, without being told where to go.

Speed Saunders, Ace Investigator, starts on a mystery with a great hook -- young women are being found dead on seashores, always with an ivory skull lying somewhere near the body.  And Speed gets a pretty cool villain to battle too -- Skull-Face, who even has a caveman right-hand man. Skull-Face is a mad scientist with a potion that makes women prettier, but it also compels them to immerse themselves in water. The more of the potion they buy from him, the more they are compelled until they eventually drown themselves.

(Batman story read in The Batman Archives v. 1, the rest read at

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