Batman Family Reunion #17 – Scars, Zodiacs, and Demon Babies!

This month, we welcome our Bat-Cousin, and another Batman Family letterhack, Martin Maenza, to the Reunion!  The Huntress meets her Uncle Bruce and the rest of the Bat Family!  Man-Bat meets the Demon!  Bat-Cousin Shawn’s apple pie wins an award (4th place)!  But the big news is that Batman Family is now a DOLLAR COMIC!  We bite off the tasty morsels of stories, as Batman and Robin team up to save Lori, the Bat-Ladies take on Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Madame Zodiac, and we await the arrival of Baby-Bat!

Check out Martin’s work at the 5 Earths project:

This month's Bat Family History link for Dollar Comics:  Back Issue #57

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27 responses to “Batman Family Reunion #17 – Scars, Zodiacs, and Demon Babies!

  1. Martin was a great guest! Knowledgeable and good humored,

    I understand Shawn’s criticisms of Mike Kaluta’s cover, BUT HE IS WRONG. This is a beautiful image, and should have been used on a poster, placemat, something. But I can also understand if, compared to merch artists like John Romita and Dick Giordano, Kaluta’s work was considered too idiosyncratic and “weird.” Still, it’s so gorgeous, even if it is a little reminiscent of the opening credits to THE LOVE BOAT.

    I know I go on about Michael Golden every episode, but his work here is even more dynamic than usual. As you mentioned, Madame Zodiac deserved to return as a foe for Madame Xanadu (Maybe she did in some Veritgo book). So,,,Michael Golden AND Jim Aparo in ONE issue? Best dollar anyone could ever spend.

    Speaking of Catfish Hunter (and when do you get to say that), he had at least another fan named Bob–in this case, Dylan, who wrote a tribute to the pitcher with 1976’s “Catfish.”

    I’ve never seen that Dollar Comic ad, what a find!

    This is show is always good, but this was one of my favorites, Well done.

  2. OK i GOTTA SAY the multiverse is totally theoretical but assuming the theroies here are correct breaking into other dimensions takes a lot of energy. If that’s what Doom was doing im afraid his face looks like a half eaten denver omlettle

      1. The multiverse is a strange place my friends.
        I wonder where doom eats in New York .and what his go to breakfast order . Perhaps a Denver omelet or maybe he’s a biscuits and gravy man

        1. I’m sure Doctor Doom hangs out in Coney Island. The Nathan’s hot dog eating contest, the Mermaid Parade and visiting the Aquarium all seem like things a visiting ruler would enjoy. “Doom shall watch you ingest this pork product because Doom wills it!”

          1. I’d never heard of a Denver Omelette until I was on a cruise the other week. It’s just an omelette with a few bits and bobs in, hardly worthy of being tied to a city. Just saying.

  3. BATMAN FAMILY #17 was the first comic I remember ever having! I was only 4 years old at the time when this came out and I remember finding it under my pillow as my dad, who was in the military at the time, was leaving for work. Unfortunately, I no longer have that copy but since 2001, I’ve bought several replacement copies. Last time I bought a copy was at Megacon last year. In 2011, Michael Golden signed one of my copies of #17 at Megacon. I’m looking forward to listening to this episode!

  4. Wonder full guest and great show .
    This cousin Bucky along with Jeremy , Mario ,Jericho and the dog we are dog sitting a golden retriever his name is Juggy . He is currently on cousin sisco’s lap . It’s own fault juggy loves butter milk biscuits. We brought biscuits and gravy except for Mario his running the omelet station. Mario says sorry we just ran out of bell pepper , we still have plenty of banana peppers thou , step right up and Jerchio and Jeremy have the tea tent set up rob is having honey lemon , sir Martian gray is having earl gray what else , and shag is having orange tea with shot of something I can’t see the label but says Turkey something?

  5. Great episode, guys. This has long been one of my favorite issues of BF, and you did it real justice.

    Regarding the tiny scar on an otherwise flawless face, it was fairly well known among fans by that point in the Seventies that Jack Kirby had originally wanted to do that with Doctor Doom in FANTASTIC FOUR, but Stan Lee refused to allow it, much to Jack’s displeasure. He discussed that incident in several interviews over the years (and even drew Doom removing his iron mask to show the small scar on his cheek, probably for use in a fanzine, although the image is floating around online now). It was nice to see Gerry Conway put the concept to use here.

  6. Has anyone seen the anime to cute crises ?
    I think it’s a anime people especially fans of this show who love dogs a cats will like .
    Plot : a female alien is sent to earth to destroy it
    But on discovering first cats then dogs is unable to do so . And later in the series even say abandoned cat a punishes those who miss treated the poor creature .
    I think cat woman and Starfire would be ok with that . Later the show shows other wonderful animals like hamster and hedgehogs .

    I thought you guys should know about this anime and to modify a quote from my old martial art teacher “no man stands so straight as when they bend down to a help a child or animal in need.

    Side note : if you ever meet a humanoid alien if you show them a cat or dog and they find super cute . They’re good people .

  7. Impressive podcast most impressive. The cover is cool. Looks like a prog rock 70s album cover. But cool. Awsome Huntress is back. Em thinking Dick sh

    ould dump home girl. She is always mad at him. And now an ex calls out the blue and she’s gone. Almost here Doom despair and agony on me from hee haw as he’s walking around.

    Glad he and bats saved her, but after that as Dick he should have kicked her to the curb played some Alanice Morsete you aught to know and move on. Or what ever a strait man lessons to when they go threw a break up. I just know my go to song. Moving on. The villain was fine. Though Ware Wolf by night did it better. Just a good looking guy warring a scary mask cause he thought he was hideous. Leading an army of out casts because of appearance.

    As did marvel’s Frankenstein’s monster issues ware another guy who was a pretty boy, but ware a mask cause some gal wouldn’t date him. So he lead an army of other folks out casted cause of appearance. He ware the mask . Yada yada. They turn on him when he kidnaps the woman to get revenge when he takes off his mask.

    Still cool enough comic. As for Hela’s outfit. Women probably leave bits of clothing at Bruce’s house “accidentally “ so he will call so they can come back and get it. I have never done that. But, I have heard of it done. Ok fine when I was in my dead name . And dated once or twice it happened to me. What I’m an equal opportunity offender. Any way. He probably has Alfred put them in a room to be sent to them later .

    Since his whole mission and stuff. So yep he’d have women clothes. Or he bought her something before he dropped her off to see Kathy. Also yeah back to hot looking Robin. If we’re going to be pedantic let me show ya how it’s done. How is a human head on a snake body? Some humans can’t live with organs donated from someone who doesn’t match. Yet some how the lugs of a snake and its heart can work together?

    His blood is warm blooded. Yet his body is pumping cold blooded as reptiles are cold blooded. So how is his brain functioning? Oy. I could go on but more things to be nitpicking about. Moving on to the next story. You can roll up spandex leggings. In a skirt easy. Especially if you have guarders . Just unsnap and ya good.

    One time when I had to be around family that don’t know I’m me. And I miss pretending to be he whom must not be named. But, was going somewhere else after. I hid a whole LBD under a black dress shirt. That was short sleeves. Thanks to suspenders and pants. Then when I got away changed out and the clothes in a cutie little back pack and wore the LBD. And wore a gaff to hide my problem area.

    Only had to keep the under gametes in a jacket. Cause the top part wouldn’t hide in the shirt. Spandex leggings are nothing. I’ve hidden so many things in cowboy boots. Also you didn’t show the photo of the drawing of the dress so can’t talk about the difficulty. Still not seeing Babs in her job warring a gogo style mini. I can hide stuff in that. So you the knee length skirt she probably wares she’ll be fine.

    Oh once I went out in the black button down collar shirt a white dress hidden. While warning orange concealer with foundation over it. And no one either noticed or said anything. So hiding simple grey spandex. Not even breaking a sweat. Was it a white skirt? Or dark colors one? That raises how hard it is to hide stuff. Having head this bit covered in the Hunteress podcast. Tim mace have talked about it. Anyway yep this bad gal only appears here. Maybe one more time. But, that was it.

    Ah the sports ket- ball. Stuff I have no idea who catfish guy is. Reggie Jackson is about the few sports ket- ball people I know of. Save boxing, kick boxing some wrestling and a bit of MMA. Any way. The art was fine. Great for Heck outside of horror. Not a back looking suit on the catfish guy. Looking All sexy in the turtleneck and mustache. Mmmm. Moving on. The last story. The art is cool. Mat Bat has a cool logo.

    Oy demon … not a fan. But, I was watching a review of the Sandman book. Mostly got into the retro speck cause of the storyline “A story of you.” Anyway on an earlier issue Morpheus goes to heck cause he left stuff there. And he ran into Etragan . Any way Eddie there had been recently been promoted to riming demon. Not into demons. But anyway the story was fine.

    Why Lefaye is using demons I have no idea. She’s a fey. Also near the end of Author story she turned good. Even helps a knight fine Lancelot. I think. Fine the green man was her messing with GwenAvire but still. Ok around the first retcon ware Mordread is now Authors son. And he nephew before he becomes her and Author’s son.

    She wasn’t a demon user. Her other son is the king of the Fey. Overom. What he couldn’t help his dear sweet mom? She has to out sore minions? Oy kids today. Anyway it was a cool team up. Em this is not Morgan’s best out fit. Morgona deserves better. The hair… why just why? Helen Mirren played her for crying out loud. Ok the outfit is … fine, but the hair. Not as bad as what the JLA cartoon did to her… but meh. Marvel gave her a better look.

    The story is fine. Who cares what the hero looks like? It’s the heart of the hero that matters. Though again Eddie is standing there looking like Ronald McDonald in red with yellow skin and that cap… Oy. Red blue works, but not if your skin is yellow. What y’all don’t like Kirby? He’s the king of comics for a reason.

    Look try drawing like him. Copy at least a page of his work. See how he tells a story with pictures. How he makes expressions. How he creates for shotning . How the images lot like they leap off the page. Especially if you look at the art in comics before him. He inspired greatness. His style was unique but he was a great draftsman. And helped create a lot of great stuff in Marvel and DC. Ok he needed Stan Lee’ s help as we see after he went to DC, but still.

    He made a ton of characters that are still big time today. Including Dark Side . He could make you understand the characters emotions and you could tell what was going on in a story he drew just by looking at it. I get it. It’s like The Beach Boys and Beatles so many great artists ware inspired by them so you don’t realize how much they revolutionized the industry as Kirby and Ditko with Stan Lee revolutionized comics.

    – [ ] Any way moving on. The Bat Man drawing for the poem. It’s Fine. He always had horror poses. Kind of what worked for him. Most of his stuff was a lift from the Bela Dracula movie or the Christopher Lee one. So this probably just one of those. Or Abbot and Castillo meet the Universal monsters movie. Who knows? Ah the order forms for comics in the mail. I remember having on to Detective Comics as a kid. I was a big fan of Much’s run on Bat Man as a kid. And got those in the mail. G. I. Combat was a cool comic impressed in ran the longest. I was more of a Sargent Rock fan. But still.

    M.M. And Unknown Soldier teaming up cool. I liked his comic a lot. And remember her as Alfred’s daughter’s mother. Whom I liked in the comics. Too bad Crissis removed her when they rebooted DC comics ah well. Bat- Girl was given a way better run as Flame Bird after the Crisisis can’t wait to hear the next podcast.

    1. Er…sorry. I realized art is subjective and it’s fine you don’t like Kirby’s art. Didn’t mean to over do it. And be like an over opinionated fan girl.

      Also glad to see the Langstons had their kid. Yeah no idea why Kurt couldn’t think of a fake name. Maybe use Livingston. Karl Livingston. Their Karl after the what ever doesn’t kill ya makes you stronger. And Dr. Livingston after the book character. His wife could even joke when it’s just the two of them. Her,” Dr. Livingston I presume?” And she could take the fake name Lucy after the first cave woman skeleton found. It fits the 2 Doctors humor since they both worked in a museum.

      As for a name for the villain in last issue maybe 4 d man. Or Quick Change?

  8. I really dont know any fans my age who liked Kirby when they were young. if you go from a Jim Aparro Brave and bold to a reprint of Hulk 1 that hulk is gonna look funny.
    as to the Batman poster. I dont like it ethier. and Jim starlin drew my fave series of all time so i’m a fan! I see what he was going for, that’s some thug’s mental image of Batman but without narrative setup it’s just WTF HAPPENED TO HIS LEG?!

  9. Thanks for another great show Paul and Shawn, and how splendido to hear Bat-Cousin Martin in there to add to the insightful news and all-around fun.

    What a change to hear a different kind of history lesson. I don’t tend to think of Giants, special issues and annuals as dollar comics. OK, some, such as the Superman and Wonder Woman Spectaculars, had the branding but others, eg the fantastic Jonah Hex Spectacular and Action Comics #500, didn’t. To me, it’s the regular series line that were the Dollar Comics.

    Where Martin thinks of Mike Kaluta, as a Western cover artist, for me, he was the spooky mystery books guy. Either way he’s still a very unusual choice for the launch issue of a new dollar comic. It doesn’t half declare that there’s a change coming. It works so well, heck, in my memory this image is by Neil Adams. As for that mild objection, none of the heads look like they were in action, the nearest was Robin looking like he was sneezing.

    How clever to introduce Huntress to the Batman Family of Earth One by having at least a bit of her in every story.

    I don’t mind him guest starring in a terrific tale, but and I know he lives in Gotham (although this issue’s excellent Man-Bat fable was New York set), the Demon is not a member of the Batman Family. It’s fine him being here but what’s he doing getting a few strips later on? The space should have been given to, perhaps a villain, or Alfred, or Aunt Harriet – see also the Human Target, Roy Raymond, the Odd Man…

    For Steel: the Indestructible Man talk, you need to listen to me and Billy D wittering on at length on his A World on Fire show!

    Robin is the worst Super Friend this issue, as Huntress literally says, in the opening strip, can we talk, and he replies, after I beat you up. Dick

    ‘I always wondered what it would be like to have a daughter’, thinks Batman. No, you didn’t, we have seen thousands of thought balloons, you never thought that… On the other hand, it is nice that this implies that Batman thinks of Dick as his son, something which wasn’t really stated at this point.

    That panel of Robin’s shapely calves on page 10 of the opening story is certainly one for the special interest group…

    Madame Zodiac came back in the Trinity maxi-series 27 years later. I guess someone demanded it!

    Regarding story three, as you asked, the Manbat and Demon logos may not be their normal ones, but they are still better than the usual fare in early Batman Family

    Even though I’m not a big fan of Barnum, the musical, I do like the story title, ‘There is a Demon born every minute’. Is it too late for a rendition?

    Finally, as you have room for more guests, I’ll have to get a request in – perhaps for a Detective Comics issue when the beautiful white cover borders return!

  10. I still have a collection of Direct Currents, from April 1978 through June 1979. Also have a black and white Batman paperback. I’ll tweet my pics to you

    1. That first edition of DC Currents (which was dropped from The Amazing World of DC Comics when the feature became its own publication) was pretty cool because they unfold to reveal poster-sized covers. I hope you will show all of them, Mr. Wallin. My dad had only a couple of them featuring a Joe Kubert Batman #310 cover with the Gentleman Ghost, and the cover to DC Comics Presents #8 featuring Superman, Swamp Thing, and Solomon Grundy drawn by José Luis García López (praised be his name).

      1. Isamu, your wish is my command. I just tweeted the March 1978 issue (with a poster sized cover of Batman 300). You can find it in response to the Batman Family Reunion tweet announcing this episode.

  11. Hey a pleasure to hear from Bat-cousin Martin! It made for a great discussion as always, and I’ll save a piece of cherry pie for you!

    About the first story, we finally have Aparo doing the interiors, and get his depiction of Huntress to boot! Already well worth the 4 shiny quarters.

    The third story was definitely wild. The interdimensional transporter must not be up to code if it’s leaking that level of radiation. How many other threats have been inadvertently released? Not a good look, JLA.

    I think my first Demon story was Blue Devil #12, which was fun and not at all a typical representation of Etrigan, but lead to collecting his series in the 90s for a long time. Pairing him with Man-Bat was really great, especially since they aren’t heroic looking. But you know, they both would have fit well in the Gargoyles animated series.

    Michael Golden’s artwork is pretty amazing, but I must be in the minority thinking the inks were too heavy, dulling some of the details. Not a deal-breaker, there’s plenty I love in it.

    And in the second story, I love getting three Bat-heroines together! I wish we’d had more panels with Huntress and Batwoman together to compare their pointy masks, which I love as an homage to Helena bringing Kathy’s look into the modern era and sort of a legacy from Batwoman, while also hurting my head as I don’t see an in-story explanation for why she’d do so. I’m overthinking it, right?

    Speaking of overthinking, let’s not forget Madame Zodiac. A couple of years after this story, she’ll return in World’s Finest teamed up with… wait for it… Doctor Zodiac, and they almost beat Batman and Superman with magicky doodads. Now, am I a big MZ fan? No, but she just appeared this year in Batgirls #13, pulling a Freaky Friday mind swap on Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, so I did research her a bit and read that WF story on DCU Infinite. With this issue featuring multiple Bat Girls (Babs and Helena), that may be the reason she returned to plague the present day Batgirls.

    Last but not least, I still have my box set of the DC paperback books, all 6 of them! I can’t recall, but think my parents gave them to me for Christmas. Boy, I read them a lot, and somehow they haven’t fallen apart.

    Thanks for another great reunion, cousins!

    1. Madame Zodiac was in World’s Finest?! That means she had three comic book appearances. She should have had a Who’s Who entry…

      To the templates…!

      1. Template like the wind, Isamu! For anybody who’s interested, her Pre-Crisis appearances include this issue and next one, then World’s Finest 285-288, and I was able to read them all on DCU Infinite.

  12. Sorry for the delay on responding cousins! This is one of my favorite issues of Batman Family. I remembered seeing ads for it in some of my earliest comic purchases, but didn’t get the issue until combing back issue bins in the late 80s.

    We didn’t get a lot of Batman and Robin stories at the time, so this was a special treat. Add in the Huntress appearance, the creepy villain, and the gorgeous Aparo art, and you have a real winner here. Of course Gerry Conway would return Dick to living home at Wayne Manor during his run on Batman and Detective in a few years, the true last hurrah of the original Dynamic Duo.

    I believe Jack Kirby posited that Doctor Doom had a tiny thumbnail-like scar, whereas Stan thought he was horribly disfigured from the get-go. Byrne ran with Kirby’s idea, but as you said, when impatient Victor asked for that hot faceplate a bit too early…either way his face looks like 8 miles of bad Cobblestone Latverian road.

    I LOVE that poem! I can recite it without even looking at the comic. I can’t remember the Gettysburg Address, but I remember this. I first read it in Best of DC (digest) #51, the Batman Family digest. I guess Shawn was too put off by the art to remember to plug a digest appearance! I get the leg thing, but I like the spooky Batman myself.

    Letterhack Mike Tiefenbacher went on to write for DC Comics, including one of Rob and Shag’s favorites, “Whatever Happened to: Johnny Thunder?” from DC Comics Presents #28.

    I didn’t have the DC puzzle books, but I remembered the ad. I still have my childhood copy of the Batman pocket-sized paperback with Batman and Robin swinging at Two-Face (art by Adams and Giordano). Unfortunately, I decided to treat it like a coloring book!

    Gah, I listened to your feedback and realized I never got back to you on what Bob Rozakis said about creating Titans West right before the book’s cancellation. Here’s what he had to say:

    “The book was canceled rather abruptly, so all the East/West plans were dropped and I opted to do the origin story instead.”

    Rozakis said he planned for the team rosters to be shaken up somewhat, with Bat-Girl going to the East Coast, and developing a love triange with Robin and Harlequin. I wonder where Lori fit into this?

    Kid-Flash would have been on both teams, with stories for each team happening in the book at the same time. The two factions would come together once or twice a year.

    In the Titans’ series final issue, low sales was given as the reason for the book’s cancelation. I did ask him if there was any talk of giving the Titans a berth in another book, like maybe Batman Family. “Duela continued to appear in Robin stories, but there was never any plans to use the rest of the characters. There was no option of moving the series somewhere else. It was, according to stories I’ve heard and seen in print, canceled because some higher-ups at DC considered it ‘an embarrassment.'”

    For the full article, check out Back Issue #65!

  13. Hi, Bat Cousins. Sorry I’m late, I brought generic store-brand ice cream sandwiches with no means of refridgeration. Please enjoy what small portion of it is left after the outside chocolate layers are mostly stuck to the wrapper or your fingers. It’s quite the burden. Bon Appétit!

    Man, I love the old dollar comics! They always made the issue seem so exciting. As a kid I always felt I was getting more for my dollar. This cover with the head shots in stars isn’t the most dynamic, and Man-Bat looks like they used his driver’s license photo, but I’m willing to forgive for all the excitement within the comic. The Batman/Robin story was a good start to the issue, but I kind of miss Robin on his own. This feels like he had to bring in dad to solve his problems. But I’m guessing this had more to do with sales than story. That being said, it was nice seeing the pre-Bat-God days. Back when a Batman could get knocked unconscious, with no lingering after-effects, by a good old fashioned tire iron. That’s the way it was, and we liked it!

    And what have I been saying about Lori? If Dick hadn’t been blowing her off, there’s no way she’d end up tied to a table at a carnival with nothing between her and an acid face wash except one apparently very sturdy, tight-fitting cork. Fortunately, Batman saves her and leaves her to her trauma, until Dick comes in to check on her. By the way, Dick tells Lori if she wants to cry, they have all the time in the world. Really, Dick? You think maybe Worm Man would like to be freed from his cage and get some help for his body horror nightmare? How about Chicken Lady? Read the room, buddy.

    The Batgirl/Huntress story was… well, Don Heck is back. It is the second story in a row where someone pours acid on stuff, so there’s that. That’s your 70’s moment: Apparently, back then vials of flesh-burning acid were readily available at your local pharmacy. It’s good to see Catwoman is making sure the flat-nosed community is gainfully employed. Though she may want to rethink her hiring process after all four are taken out by tiny darts. Especially the guy who yells, “My finger!” She’s not much better after Catfish disarms her by doing “The Twist.”

    Again, the best story is Man-Bat. Michael Golden was hitting it out of the park like Bryce Harper (Shawn, Harper is a 2-time MVP currently playing professional baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies). His two panels of Huntress were enough for me to want him to draw a Huntress series. Just amazing work. It’s incredible to watch his art evolve and improve over just a few issues. The action is free flowing and brilliant. Plus, it led to the other 70’s moment. Back then, hospital delivery rooms were large enough to host a debutant ball.

    Okay, gotta go. Aunt Martha and Granda Martha keep shouting, “Why did you say that name?!” back and forth and it’s making people uncomfortable.

    P.S. I am humbly throwing my hat in the ring for a chance to join an episode of the podcast. We can talk Park City!

  14. Greatly enjoyable podcast, guys. One thing which struck me about this story is that this was the last time Barbara met up with Helena before Crisis on Infinite Earths, if I am not mistaken? Babs was there at the site where Helena was killed along with Dick and Kole. She was there together with Batman and Jason Todd. However, there was no further follow-up on how the Batfamily on Earth-1 felt regarding Helena’s death. It would have been an interesting read, wouldn’t you think?

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