In my youth, I never liked these “solve-the-mystery-yourself” stories. To the degree, I negatively associated them with writer Bob Rozakis. However, I got over it eventually, instead associating Rozakis with bland, cloying stories, much like the feature he contributes to this issue.
The art’s from John Calnan, and the inks are Vince Colletta. I’m unfamiliar with Calnan, so I don’t know how Colletta’d he’s getting, but Bruce Wayne looks like a forty-something accountant, which can’t all be Colletta.
Bruce is going to narrate the story for a mystery visitor. Now, I won’t spoil—because it’s one of the mysteries you can solve—but it’s a white guy with brown or black hair. This comic is pre-Crisis, meaning every DC superhero knows Batman’s identity, and they look alike. Could be Clark Kent, could be Hal Jordan, could be anyone but Green Arrow or Flash; they’re still blonds at this point.
Batman sits down with this mystery visitor and rings for Alfred to bring them breakfast. Then, Batman’s going to tell the visitor a story and see if he can guess the conclusion.
Now, at this point, I still had vague hope for the comic. I figured it’d at least be a puzzling mystery. Then the title of the story– Pick-Up on Gotham 2-4-6!—references Pelham 1-2-3 so I thought we were in for an elaborate heist story.
Nope. Batman’s in disguise on the subway, and some guy dressed as Batman runs through the train car, then exits the train. Batman follows him, chases, fights, fights, chases, returns to train for resolution, then poses the mystery question to his visitor (and the reader). But it’s an eleven-page story, and three or four pages are used on the framing. The mystery doesn’t relate to the fight scenes either, so all the mystery stuff occurs in a page or two. And then some of the solution is less about deductive reasoning than reading comprehension.
As a result, I’m concerned about my youthful reading habits. Or maybe this one’s just not a great Rozakis who-dun-it.
Rozakis’s also writing the back-up, which is more of the Calculator messing with various superheroes. This time it’s Hawkman, who’s running a courier service of sorts. Except, oh, no, the Calculator turns out to be his package. And so they fight, with the Calculator using some of the powers from previous foes, like Elongated Man’s extended bendy arm punch. Coming out of Calculator’s forehead thing.
That costume design is weird.
Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin do the art (though Austin later said Neal Adams inked some of the pages; I wonder if they were the better or worse ones). The art’s better than last time, but still a bit of a disappointment from Rogers. His best panels are all design-work, too, like they’d make great T-shirts, but comic panels… not so much.
The next issue promises the Calculator story will be important, just like every one before.