Batman Family Reunion #488 – Spooky Switches and Vanishing Cars!

Holy Bat-Pod! This month, J. David Weter drops by the Reunion to visit with the Batman Family!  Batman is mistaken for a murderer, Robin solves a mystery, and Batgirl finds herself in the middle of a gang war! But we also get Elongated Man stuffed into a tire at a racetrack, and a Tale of Gotham City (on the subway)!  Hang on to your apple pie!

This month's Bat Family History links for Mike W. Barr:

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15 responses to “Batman Family Reunion #488 – Spooky Switches and Vanishing Cars!

  1. Yep, they DID make a Plastic Man in the Mego Elastic Heroes line! It’s the only Plas they made, and he was hard to come by. Oddly enough, I never wanted any of these, because I didn’t know Plas existed, and Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Hulk didn’t stretch! But I love the ad! And I did have Stretch Armstrong and Stretch Monster from Kenner, who sued Mego over these!

    Elastic Plastic Man

  2. Johnny Craig was best known for his work in the 1950s at EC Comics, particularly in the titles “Vault of Horror” and “Crime SuspenStories,” where he was the most frequent lead-story and cover artist. Even if you haven’t actually read any EC Comics, you may be familiar with Craig’s cover to Crime SuspenStories #22, which shows a man holding a bloody axe in one hand and a woman’s severed head in the other. This cover was so gruesome that it was singled out when EC publisher Bill Gaines testified before a Congressional committee about horror and crime comics, with Gaines attempting to defend the cover as being in “good taste” by arguing that “bad taste” would have been if the head was held higher to actually show the bloody neck-stump. Needless to say, the committee was not impressed… Anyway, even if you haven’t seen that actual cover, it’s been homaged and spoofed several times, so you may have seen a second-hand version of Craig’s image.
    Johnny Craig also had a brief run on Iron Man, starting with issue #2, but he didn’t last too long because he was a relatively slow-working artist, and he wasn’t especially well-suited to super-heroes.
    While I’m a big fan of Craig’s EC work and even his Warren Magazines and Iron Man stories, I do have to admit that the story in Detective #488 was far from his best work…

  3. I hate to say anything bad about Joe Giella, who was one of the last Golden/Silver Age artists standing, but he was one of the most heavy-handed inkers in the business. A newcomer (at least to DC) like Barretto was especially prone to get his work reworked by Giella. Barretto was an underrated artist in many ways, doing a solid run on New Teen Titans during one of Marv Wolfman’s less-inspired periods writing-wise. But he also drew some of my favorite Masters of the Universe storybooks, as well as The Shadow Strikes. This is far from his best work, and Ralph’s hair does indeed look rather odd and off-model.

    I still have my childhood Corgi Jr. Superman Van (which is actually silver), and I have since got a replacement for my Supermobile (and I have the larger version of that as well). Even as kid, the Daily Planet truck, which I also had, REALLY flummoxed me, with Clark revealing his secret to the world! If a four year old calls foul, Corgi, you may want to rethink that! I had the Daily Planet copter too (everything but the police car, at one point), and I have to agree, THAT is THE best scene in any comic book movie. It’s magic, it’s iconic, and it’s perfect.

    Oh, and just to clarify, I don’t remember EVERYTHING from when I was 4, just random stuff like Robin’s stretchy leg, and my Mom’s explanation for it. However I did forget that Ma Murhder was actually on an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold! She is in the opening of “The Menace of the Madniks” where Batman gets help capturing her from…The Haunted Tank and the ghost of Jeb Stuart!!!

  4. Hey old chums this is cousin Bucky back agin
    I bought black bean and ground turkey tacos served in blue corn taco shells . Jeremy is setting the movie screen we are doing Adam west movie marathon the live action and both animated. Chris Franklin is already in the front role I know it him he and his wife have Batman and batgirl matching PJ’s and mego dolls . Jeremy is playing with them he. Brought captain marvel and Mary marvel and Frankenstein monster for sir Marian grey who is also playing them . The dogs seems to have shag in a honor guard formation oh I see he has nachos my dogs Reese Kai and Yuki love cheese and chicken and shag made spicy chicken wing nachos.

      1. Sorry sir Martian gray if spelled your name wrong . Sometimes i think faster
        Then i type or you have confused gender bent clone from dimension x .
        (See what I mean )!

  5. DETECTIVE 488

    Hope everyone else is bracing themselves! They’ve been talking on the news about how next week we’ll be facing Eclipso! A pretty serious villa– huh? Oh! An eclipse? Whew, that’s a relief!

    A quick historical note – this issue was released 4 days into the Iranian Hostage Crisis.

    Batman – “Borrowed Time” by Styx – opens with the line “Don’t look now, but here come the eighties”, since after this issue we are officially out of the 70s. Oh, and from the cover that’s what it looks like Batman is on.

    This is a decent enough story, but I’m not that crazy about the Spook. He seems like a villain that the writers will use so it doesn’t seem like other villains are overused.

    Why do they need Thatcher for a sequel? If any town has material for death row memoirs, it’s Gotham!!

    Back then, storylines didn’t seem to cross very much between the Bat-books, so seeing Selina and Lucius seemed like a big change at the time. Silver St. Cloud only made one appearance outside the Englehart/Rogers run, and that was in an issue of Justice League that Englehart wrote.

    Tales of Gotham City – “Andy Griffith Show” theme

    This was a nice, simple story. The title “The Last Duty” is a little ominous, almost like Clem is going to die before he can officially retire.

    I’m surprised that Clem never had to pull his gun on anyone in 25 years in Gotham City. You do feel his disappointment that he didn’t get the excitement he wanted when he was younger, but instead got a steady, boring routine.

    Maybe it’s me, but it looks like the artist took the time to make the noses look different on “the lady” and “the nut”. The nut has a more pointed nose at first, but after the tunnel it looks more like that seen on the lady. And unless he could master faking voices, Skinsky really took a big chance talking to Clem as the lady and then as the nut.

    Batgirl – “Beat It” by Michael Jackson

    No wonder Barbara lost the election. She’s coming around to her opponent’s argument about societal issues having an effect on crime.

    Of all the professions for a superhero, “elected official” always seemed like one of the more difficult to do and maintain a secret identity. Can you imagine if Barbara were to run today, with all the cable news channels, blogs, and online outlets?

    Still, she brought two rival gangs to a truce. It’s not peace in the middle east, but still a victory. Maybe that’s what she needed after losing re-election.

    The Elongated Man – “Drive” theme song from “Hardcastle and McCormick” because the car in the story looks like the car from the show

    I like Ralph! Unlike the other superhero detective in this book, he’s not grim and serious all the time. Being married AND with a public identity definitely made him stand out from other characters.

    This must be one of Mike W. Barr’s earlier stories. It’s a decent little mystery, considering he only had 8 pages to work with.

    Robin – “Jenny 867-5309” by Tommy Tutone

    Dick’s wearing a safari shirt because he’s hunting a fox named Jennifer Anne. Aah, if only he knew who was coming for him from outer space.

    The real hero of this story is – Dick’s libido, for keeping him from being kidnapped. Usually it gets him in trouble.

    And if anything is screaming 1970s, it’s Thatcher’s collaborator and his combover on page 6 of the Batman story.

  6. Fun show, Uncles gentlemen, as always.

    And “call to action” received, Uncle Shawn. Let’s see if your Richie Rich Best of the Years Digest has those character first appearance stories you had asked for…

    Richie Rich: Richie Rich first appeared as a backup feature in Little Dot #1 (“The Dancing Lessons”, September 1953). He would be an ongoing backup strip in Harvey’s Little Dot and Little Lotta comics FOR SEVEN YEARS before the publisher decided to give him his own title…

    Cadbury: Richie Rich stories first showed a butler in the first issue of Richie Rich (“For the Birds”, November 1960), but the butler’s name was Hawkins.

    The butler in issue 3 (“Richie Rich and His Cousin Skinner”, March 1961) was named Jarvis.

    We finally have a butler named Cadbury in Richie Rich #5 (“Un-roughing It”, July 1961).

    This story also revealed that the Rich estate had several servants, which likely included Hawkins and Jarvis, though Cadbury eventually becomes the primary one featured in later stories, with the exception of…

    Irona: The robot maid first appeared in Richie Rich #100 (“Nice to Have Along”, December 1970), but she had a very spartan robotic appearance.

    She has a more humanoid look in her second appearance in Richie Rich #103 (“Maid of Iron”, March 1971), but egad! Put some clothes on!

    She finally does in her third appearance in Richie Rich #104 (“Richie Rich and the Rude Robot”, April 1971), and with the new clothes comes a new attitude.

    Dollar: This one is trickier than Cadbury. A “dollar-matian” (Dollar’s breed) first shows up as a cover gag for Richie Rich Dollars & Cents #19 (June 1967)…

    …and then appears in a story one month later in Richie Rich #59 (“The Dollar-matian Dog”, July 1967), except that dog is named Buck, and it belonged to Richie’s Aunt Moola.

    Richie is shown feeding a dog of his own in a cover gag for Richie Rich #65 (January 1968), but the dog is not a dollar-matian (and was not shown in this comic or in any other Richie Rich story as far as I know).

    It would be a few years before a dollar-matian named Dollar would appear as Richie’s dog, in Richie Rich #118 (“Richie Rich and the Stradivarius”, January 1973), which is for another gag.

    Hopefully the stories in your digest line up with these. If not, then good luck finding these comics on eBay…

    Oh, wait, you meant the Spook! Yes, he boasted about his “suspended animation” trick in his fourth comic book appearance in Batman #276 (June 1976), which he studied in India…

    Oh, and Batman is not really dead in this scene—he had studied in India too.


    The “Batman: The Peril of the Penguin” book that was released the same month as Detective #488 was an 18-page promotional mini-comic found hermetically sealed inside specially marked boxes of Post Super Sugar Crisp cereal that was sold at the time. My understanding is that kids would likely had gotten more of a buzz from the super-sugared-sounding cereal than from the comic book story… though you do get to see “cowboy Penguin”, likely because, as Uncle Shawn said about DC Comics in the late 1970s, he was “trying to make Terra-Man happen.”

    I don’t blame him. My dad tried to make Terra-Man happen in the late 2010s…


    I don’t see why THE PODD MAN show would be so short-lived. You just cover that one story with a different guest each episode. It will be a different show each time!

    1. Thanks for info and Richie rich history lesson as this one of my brother Jeremy the Ice-man’s favorite characters.

  7. If Charles D Brown and Kent Phenis are still around I’m sure they would love to be a guest on the show. These two, along with Uncle Elvis, were the top three writers I remember seeing in the letters pages in the 80s. I think I heard recently that Unclr Elvis had passed away, but hope the other two are still with us and maybe listening to some of the Fire & Watet podcasts

  8. Thanks for another fun show, far more fun than the issue itself. This book is getting blander by the month. It’s good to hear J David on the show, and the features were as great as ever, especially the creator focus.

    What caught my eye – not much. I liked the characterful Johnny Craig art on Tales of Gotham City, it reminded me of those old Just a Story stories; I enjoyed the Spook showing up and ignoring the rule that all comic book robes must be purple; Kurt Schaffenberger putting paid once again to the idea that he was ‘old-fashioned’ by being the only artist to draw contemporary clothes; and the idea of Batgirl and Robin stories, if not the execution.

    I know Ben Oda was a revered veteran letterer, but goodness me, his title lettering is almost always so throwaway, so ratty looking. This time he does make an effort with the Batgirl strip, then mispells ‘Ed Barreto’ in the Elongated Man story.

    Shawn, regarding the feedback, you really do have to watch The Traitors – the US version isn’t the best, try the British or the Australian.

    The shadow of the bat in the last panel of the Batgirl story is pretty subtly done, I don’t think anyone mentioned it.

    Re: that Robin story. I hate tales beginning in media res at the best of time, and it’s even worse when we’re talking short stories. Let’s start at the very good beginning, it’s a very good place to start.

    Oh, and I’m bringing Yorkshire puddings filled with jam to the barbecue, yum.

  9. Sure wish the cover blurb was true. “The Entire Batman Family”, sadly not even close. No Huntress, no Man-Bat. Hey I like Ralph Dibny but unless he starts wearing a cape and cowl… he doesn’t qualify for this book!

  10. Impressive podcast most impressive. The cover isn’t bad. Yeah the Spook has a crappy costume. But he looked cool in WHO’s Who. Even if he is warring a sheet and slacks with Stacy Adams Truly a scary look. Oh sorry this is late I went to Field Gay on Saturday. Yep all us Transgender people and Gays hang out in an Ozzy and Harriet type park.

    – [ ] With small children around. Moving on. Sorry to see Gordon having a heart attack in this issue. Though geez did that woman get dressed in the dark? Cop story isn’t to bad. As a slice of life it kind of fun. Ah Bat girls back. Ah she probably has the same tunnels through the city. ah cool. Who knows?
    Though I’m digging Comish Gordon’s swinging bachelor pad. And his cool smoker’s jacket. I’m shocked no one mentioned it in Gabriel’s horn. You can’t get more 70s than a smokers jacket. Not sure about Babs green woman’s smoker jacket. It’s still a cool look. Or are those bath robes? Not sure.

    It’s a decent combo of shades of green so I’ll allow it. It’s just not as cool as Jim’s. He just wares it better. Onto Elongated Man . I’ve know a few guy who could use that name… well for part of them any way. Moving on. It’s an ok story and good art. Though geez Ralph what is with the green Checkered board jacket? Supreme tacky. Could they not guess his weight at the fair and they gave him this jacket? Is he sponsored by Chuck wagon dog food now? Is he toying with becoming the chess man if he loses his powers? The story it’s self isn’t bad.

    Even though I hate this costume on Ralf. The story is good. Yep Sue is definitely the brains of that team: The story is fine. Glad it was the reason the Mays industry came into being. It looked cool. Any way can’t wait for the next podcast.

  11. Hey, Bat Cousins, sorry I’m late. I was watching the Black Hole, which I totally did watch for real. It had, like, robots and a black hole and stuff… and that one scene… man, what a scene. Also, here’s some Turkey Hill iced tea.

    Not gonna lie, this issue was a rough one. Don Newton saves the first story with his usual amazing art. I love the collection of ghoulish publishers. Each character is so unique, which is the antithesis of a lot of artists back then. Just incredible work. I thought a nice twist to the story would have been if all the cops thought Batman was Margaret Thatcher instead. I’m not sure how that would have helped the story, but it would’ve at least shown the Spook had a sense of humor. But, judging by his bed-sheet-as-a-costume look, I don’t think he was very creative.

    Another tough outing for Batgirl. Although I’d like to learn that move where she can nerve pinch a guy’s neck and his entire body flips into the air to double kick his fellow gang members. Speaking of this gang, what year do they think it is? I was waiting for them to start snapping their fingers while they encircle Batgirl for a musical number. That is if she’s not too busy casually riding her motorcycle through police headquarters. And my god that Gordon residence! I know real estate comes cheap in Gotham but that’s above and beyond! Is Gordon on the take? Is he actually Hugh Hefner? That might explain the last panel. I know a Gordon never quits, Babs, but something you SHOULD quit is standing like that in your robe with your dad. Levitz may have been wrong about Batman having a ménage à trois with Ra’s and Talia, but I bet the Gordons are down.

    I so remember that Corgi ad. I had the Daily Planet helicopter and the Supermobile. I’m sure I put them in my pocket at some point. The Supermobile fists would pull out a little. Just enough to, of course, break off. Which did happen to mine.

    The only thing I’ll say about the Elongated Man story is it made me miss Roy Raymond.

    The Robin story was okay. Dick may have found a new one semester college girlfriend in Jennifer Anne. Unless he admits to following her and asks her back to his van parked in the woods. I’m surprised the kidnappers didn’t see his van while they were driving through. Why are there so many vans driving through the woods? Maybe report that to the local cops who all look exactly alike. Robin is doing some cool parkour up the wall. Good thing he had that comic panel border to lean against so he could get through the window. Why does a new college sports stadium have prison bar windows?

    Well, this issue was exhausting. I’ve gotta run, Great Aunt Ethel took a stroll in the woods and got hit by four vans at the same time! That doesn’t sound like fair play to me!


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