Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bring on the Bad Guys: Bugs Norton

Real name: Bugs Norton
A.K.A.: none
First Appearance: Detective Comics I#43 (September 1940)
Abilities:  knows politicians
Weapons: city government
Quotes: "If the Batman comes looking for trouble, he's going to get it!"
Worst Act: Corruption
Created by: Bill Finger (writer) and Bob Kane (artist-credited), Jerry Robinson/George Roussos(inks)


Superheroes tackling corruption in politics wasn't new (Superman made pretty much his first year going after lobbyists and others), so it's a bit odd that Batman would take so long before going after such a figure.

The story has been before (and after too), hero blows into town run by  a corrupt boss figure and by various means ends up saving the simple townsfolk. That's pretty much the entire story, as Bugs Norton is the power behind the mayor Harliss Greer and Batman takes them down. The use of messages via bat is a fresh twist though.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Bring on the Bad Guys: The Prophetic Killer

Real name: Wylie
A.K.A.: none
First Appearance: Detective Comics I#42 (August 1940)
Abilities:  Just a normal murder
Weapons: poison darts, knives
Quotes: "I've killed so many one more won't make any difference!"
Worst Act: Assault, murder
Created by: Bill Finger (writer) and Bob Kane (artist-credited), Jerry Robinson/George Roussos(inks)

Another proper mystery this time out. Mr. Ryder is your typical starving artist who has been forced to make portraits of various members of Gotham society just to keep the lights on.

Things are going fine, that is until the subjects of his paintings end up dying in ways that mirror the way the paintings are defaced. Can Bat man solve the case? He's better solve it fast, as Bruce Wayne's portrait has just been defaced...

Decent yarn all told.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bring on the Bad Guys: Hackett & Sneed

Real name: Hackett and Sneed
A.K.A.: none
First Appearance: Batman I#2 (Summer 1940)
Abilities:  Crooked businessmen, poor business sense
Weapons: Guns
Quotes: "If we could exhibit that giant we could make a million dollars! "
Worst Act: Assault, murder, stealing a giant
Created by: Bill Finger (writer) and Bob Kane (artist-credited), Jerry Robinson/George Roussos(inks)

Bit of an odd caper here. The whole story has a scientist named Drake being attacked by pygmies. Why is he being stalked? Because he stole their god, a giant living in the wilds of Africa that Drake believes is the missing link.

Naturally Drake does the most responsible thing and steals him away to America and makes him wear tuxedos. Crooked promotors Hackett & Sneed hear of this giant and think he'd be the perfect act, and they intend to get him be it hook or crook.

Not the worst Batman story ever, but at this point certainly the oddest. Hackett and Sneed are simply too plain to really stand out, although their plan to kidnap the giant and (somehow) make him work for them is original if not particularly thought out.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bring on the Bad Guys: Clubfoot

Real name: Ward
A.K.A.: none
First Appearance: Batman I#2 (Summer 1940)
Abilities:  Just a normal murder
Weapons: Fake hook hand
Quotes: "Where are your smart quips now boy?"
Worst Act: Murder
Created by: Bill Finger (writer) and Bob Kane (artist-credited), Jerry Robinson/George Roussos(inks)


Now here we move back into the traditional murder mystery. The story kicks in when Harley Storme is murdered by a clubfooted man with a hook in lieu of a hand. The victim's will is read and that's when the other killings begin in earnest. Can Batman and Robin solve the case?

Pretty good, and the mystery actually plays pretty fair (if simple as there are only so many suspects).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Bring on the Bad Guys: Wolf the Crime Master

Real name: Adam Lamb
A.K.A.: none
First Appearance: Batman I#2 (Summer 1940)
Abilities:  Criminal genius at night
Weapons: Walking stick
Quotes: "No one can help you now!"
Worst Act: Murder, theft
Created by: Bill Finger (writer) and Bob Kane (artist-credited), Jerry Robinson/George Roussos(inks)


Certainly an interesting case here. Adam Lamb, meek curator for a private museum, is heading home one night when he trips on a rug, the last thing he sees before passing out is a portrait of a bat and a mystery novel called the Crime Master. When he comes to, he's now Wolf, a homicidal maniac and criminal genius.

Lamb is unaware of this though, only transforming at the stroke of midnight. Can Batman and Robin put a stop to his rampage?

A nice twist on the werewolf/Mr. Hyde archetype. This would be revisited a few more times at DC throughout the years, but I believe this was the first one.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bring on the Bad Guys: Dr. Hugo Vreekill

Real name: Hugo Vreekill
A.K.A.: none
First Appearance: New York World's Fair#2 (July 1940)
Abilities:  mad scientist
Weapons: steel melting machine
Quotes: "With my machine I can become the most powerful man in the world!"
Worst Act: blackmail
Created by: Bill Finger (writer) and Bob Kane (artist-credited), George Roussos(inks)


Here may be one of the more obscure villains. For a brief period of time DC made special time in comics to promote the World's Fair. When it was held in New York in 1940, a group of heroes were included to talk about how neat everything was, Batman included.

While visiting New York to take in the World's Fair, the Dynamic Duo hear about the Great West River Bridge collapsing. Investigating, they discover a scientist (Vreekill) who's developed a machine capable to melting steel. Vreekill is blackmailing the city by threatening over bridges plus he's going to free all the prisoners in the local pen. Can our heroes stop him in time?

Not terrible, but Vreekill is pretty much your standard mad scientist. He's motivated by money (and not 'making those fools pay') and that's it. He doesn't even survive the story.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Bring on the Bad Guys: The Masked Menace

Real name: Graves
A.K.A.: none
First Appearance: Detective Comics I#41(July 1940)
Abilities:  Counterfeiter
Weapons: knife
Quotes: "Yeah, and now so that this kid won't talk I'll fix him!"
Worst Act: Murder and sabotaging a movie
Created by: Bill Finger (writer) and Bob Kane (artist-credited), Jerry Robinson (inks)

This particular yarn is the first Batman story where Robin takes the focus. After hearing of a murder at a boy's prep school, Dick Grayson goes undercover to ferret out the killer. Is it the local escaped lunatic? Or is the faculty hiding a secret?

Not a bad little mystery, with more than a few red herrings thrown in for good measure.