blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Detective Comics (1937) #468


At least the art’s better. I can’t imagine how this issue would read without it. Marshall Rogers is still way too design-focused, with most of the action taking place against blank backgrounds, but when there is scenery, it’s excellent. And Terry Austin’s thin, dark inks are perfect, particularly on the Batman pages.

But the writing’s even worse than I was expecting, and I wasn’t expecting much.

This issue concludes writer Bob Rozakis’s Calculator story, which had been running in Detective backups for the last five issues. The Calculator does some crimes, gets arrested by a superhero, hits a button on his chest keyboard, then escapes from prison immediately after. Neither the backups nor the feature explain the Calculator’s powers, but his computer can apparently create physical matter as well as do omniscient computer stuff.

In other words, silly seventies computer shit.

The issue begins with Batman fighting Calculator, beating him, but Calculator confidently going to jail. See, once he hits the magic button, his computer figures out how to forever beat the superhero he’s been fighting. Computers, am I right?

He escapes from jail, and Batman goes to consult all the Justice League members who’ve been fighting him in the backups. They have a big team fight, with some competent but not engaging art; only Calculator still wins. Of course, since it’s a Rozakis comic, he’s going to tease the reader with the solution, but it’s such a silly solution it’s hard to believe Rozakis was talking about it. Until Batman explains, yes, indeed, the ridiculous solution was the inspired gimmick the whole time.

There’s a subplot about Morgan Edge wanting Bruce’s vote for something and Bruce blowing him off. It’s a strangely grown-up plot for a comic otherwise written for eight-year-olds, though all the senseless computer jargon wouldn’t work for an eight-year-old either.

Doesn’t matter. This inane story arc is finally over, and Rogers and Austin are on a quality uptick. Despite exclusively swinging around during the day, their Batman is pretty darn good.

The finale’s punchline is particularly godawful but not a surprise. Rozakis’s script’s terrible.

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