blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Detective Comics (1937) #478

Detective Comics  478

When Steve Englehart started his Detective run, he quickly settled on a fascist, macho narration style to describe Batman and his male perfection. When Hugo Strange showed up and proved to be just as cut, the two men complimented each other’s physiques and prowesses, with Strange’s evil assistant lady making fun of them.

At the time, I thought Englehart was self-aware.

Turns out he more likely was making fun of the lady for not knowing how to appreciate men appreciating men.

Englehart’s been off Detective two issues now, for some reason taking inker Terry Austin with him and leaving penciller Marshall Rogers with Dick Giordano to ink. Giordano’s an odd choice for Rogers, unless they wanted someone with the technical skill to turn Rogers’s pencils into inks without any personality or agency.

Len Wein’s writing now, and in Englehart’s fascist, macho style. This issue takes place the evening of Englehart’s last issue (which means the previous issue, a reprint with bookends, took place earlier in the same day). Batman’s pissed off because Silver St. Cloud left him, so he takes it out on some punks, beating the shit out of them like Frank Miller’s writing.

After going home—Wein’s got some weird narration details, but Batman deciding the one burglary was the only crime in Gotham for a night is something—Bruce Wayne gets mad at his parents’ portrait; if they hadn’t died, he wouldn’t have lost Silver!

Bruce Wayne yell whining, and breaking things is obnoxious.

Pretty soon, the cowl’s back on because there’s still the actual comic—there’s a new Clayface II. This one’s not a criminal but a scientist who tried to cure his congenital disabilities, which went wrong, of course, and left him a science supervillain. He occasionally has to turn people into protoplasm, blood lust a side effect of the procedure.

The Clayface II origin’s not great, but it’s so much better than Wein sorting through the Englehart refuse; it gets the comic to a barely tolerable but not terrible cliffhanger.

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