Friday, March 8, 2019

100-Page FAKES! presents: DETECTIVE COMICS # 455

100-Page FAKES! imagines mid-1970s DC 100-Page Super Spectaculars that never were...but should have been!

The chief memory I associate with this issue comes courtesy of Detective Comics editor Julie Schwartz. I attended the Super DC Con in New York City over the Leap Year weekend in February of '76, a few months after this issue was published. During one of the convention's Q & A sessions, someone asked Schwartz about artist Mike Grell's use of actor Christopher Lee's likeness as the vampire in this story. Christopher Lee played Dracula in some memorable Hammer Films horror outings, and the fan asking the question seemed appreciative of Grell using Lee's image as a tribute. Schwartz was less impressed, insisting that Grell didn't use Christopher Lee's likeness as a tribute; he used it because he was too lazy to draw his own vampire without copying something else.

The opinion expressed above was solely that of legendary editor Julie Schwartz, and does not necessarily reflect the view of Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do).

Although the idea of The Batman facing a vampire seems a natural, I don't think it happened all that often. There was The Monk, who fought Batman in a two-part Detective Comics thriller in 1939, and...well, I'm not sure there was another vampire adversary for The Darknight Detective until our Christopher Lee lookalike Gustav Decobra in the '70s. A Hawkman backup completes the original real-world issue.

Leaving the real world behind, our 100-Page FAKE! adds a backup story from the sixth and final issue of DC's licensed Hot Wheels title, a Batgirl two-parter from 1969, some Golden Age goodness with The Phantom Lady and the original Atom, and a Batman-Black Canary team-up from a 1970 issue of The Brave And The Bold.

A few words about that Brave And Bold story. This was the first issue in a short B & B run drawn by Nick Cardy; we saw Cardy's second B & B job in our 100-Page FAKE! edition of Detective Comics # 454 last week. Cardy's work on The Brave And The Bold was just stunning, incredible, among my favorite works by any artist on any title ever. To understand how highly I regard Cardy's work on The Brave And The Bold, consider the great artists who preceded him and followed him on the book. Cardy's brief B & B stint followed an acclaimed short run by comic book superstar artist Neal Adams, a run which redefined the look of The Batman, moving away from the camp image of the 1966-68 TV show into the Dark Knight we now know so well. After some interim issues by Mike Sekowsky & Dick Giordano and Ross Andru & Mike Esposito, Cardy took over the title for issues 91-92 and 94-96 (Adams returned for # 93), a mere five issues in all. Bob Brown drew # 97 and 99, bookending the great Jim Aparo's B & B debut in # 98. Aparo would draw the vast majority of the remaining issues until the title's cancellation with The Brave And The Bold # 200 in 1983. Aparo is rightly considered the definitive Brave And Bold artist.

Adams. Aparo. These are giants of comic book art, among the best there ever was, and their work on The Brave And The Bold was nothing short of gorgeous. And I still like Cardy's little run even more.

The Batman in "Heart Of A Vampire," Detective Comics # 455 (January 1976)
The Batman and The Black Canary in "A Cold Corpse For The Collector," The Brave And The Bold # 91 (August-September 1970)
The Golden Age Atom in "Disaster At Hairpin Turn!," Flash Comics # 99 (September 1948)
Hot Wheels in "Super Chick!," Hot Wheels # 6 (January-February 1971)
The Phantom Lady in "A Shroud For The Bride!," Phantom Lady # 14 (October 1947)
Batgirl in "Tall, Dark, Handsome...And Missing!," Detective Comics # 384 (February 1969)
Batgirl in "Hunt For The Helpless Hostage!," Detective Comics # 385 (March 1969)
Hawkman in "Battle Of The Backfiring Weapons," Detective Comics # 455 (January 1976)

Hot Wheels is copyright Mattel Inc., and all other properties are copyright DC Comics Inc. The Phantom Lady story is public domain, the rest is not, and can only be shown here in sample pages. My $2-a-month subscribers see the whole thing. We have one more Hot Wheels story to reprise in our next faux Detective Comics (following another 100-Page FAKE! edition of Adventure Comics), and we have one of THE all-time classic Batman stories coming up a little bit after those. For now, it's Batman versus Drac...Gustav Decobra in Detective Comics # 455.


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