Batman Family Reunion #489 – Crisis on Multiple Computers, Bogus Butlers, and An Out of Character Robin!

1970s computers have taken over the Reunion this month – get your apple pie before the AI does! At least we get to welcome back podcasting all-star, Chris Franklin, to the Reunion.  Thank goodness he is here to help us get over the terrible treatment of Batgirl by Robin this issue! We also get 2 Batman stories, an Alfred adventure, and see Commissioner Gordon go up against rioting prisoners! Have a seat by the fire pit – you may not like what happens in this issue, but we will have fun talking about it!

This month's Bat Family History links for Irv Novick:

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34 responses to “Batman Family Reunion #489 – Crisis on Multiple Computers, Bogus Butlers, and An Out of Character Robin!

  1. Fun talk, Uncle Paul,Uncle Shawn, and Uncle Chris.

    I have another question from the first Batman story: I presume “Sweet Moon” was the killer in the first scene, and used a dove to make it appear the “vampire” was flying away. But can a mere dove knock the bat-rope out of Batman’s grip? Or was that actually Ivorn, trying to get Batman’s attention so he would notice the murder? I suppose that is two questions…

    Oh, and Uncle Shawn, I just “happen” to have a list of all of the Matches Malone appearances from Pre-Crisis to Zero Hour, which I compiled in part as research for my Super Friends Index project, and part curiosity because I wanted to know the deal behind Batman’s often used “underworld alter ego.” So here they are in order of publication:

    • Batman 242 (introduces the real Matches, who dies, and Batman takes over his identity after his death)
    • Batman 243 (as an alias used by both Batman and Robin)
    • Batman 247
    • Detective 467
    • Detective 487
    • Detective 489
    • Super Friends 36
    • Detective 515
    • Detective 516
    • Batman 353
    • Batman and the Outsiders 10
    • Detective 555
    • Batman and the Outsiders 32
    • Suicide Squad 10 (1988)
    • Batman 0 (1994)

    I can’t tell you much more after that, because Dad didn’t buy a lot of DC comics in the 1990s and early 2000s, But I do know Matches did appear in:

    • JLA 11
    • Nightwing 14 (1997)
    • Batman 588, 589, and 590
    • Harley Quinn 9, 10, and 11 (2001)
    • Batman Adventures 7 (2003)
    • Detective Comics 1,000
    • DC Love Is a Battlefield 1
    • Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul 5 and 6 (2021)

    There were no doubt many more appearances since DC’s (first) Zero Month, and perhaps other listeners can add to this list.


    Astralad may not have had a Who’s Who entry, but he did get a half-page Xum’s Who (not “Who Xums,” by the way) entry in Xum’s Who volume I.


    Wow. Batgirl’s memories of Batman and Robin’s identities (two names) took up a whole cassette? I wonder how many cassettes they went through to restore the rest of the 25 years of her life.


    Regarding the Atom story, I can confirm Uncle Chris’ Adventure Comics theory is correct. Page 112 of the Comic Book Implosion book by TwoMorrows states that the story was originally supposed to appear in Adventure Comics 467 when it was originally planned as a Dollar Comic. The book also shows an unused cover by Jim Aparo with a little vignette of the Atom story at the upper left.

    Unfortunately, the sales of the Dollar Comic version of Adventure were not good, so they switched back to the 40-cent format to keep it in publication. The stories planned for this issue were eventually printed in other DC Comics, like this Detective issue. Incidentally, the Aquaman story was printed in World’s Finest 262, one of Uncle Shawn’s picks from the Bat-Timeline.

    1. Thanks as always Isamu. Ol’ Uncle Chris is showing his age, forgetting Astralad’s Xum’s Who entry! And I have Comic Book Implosion and have read it from cover to cover, but the Atom bit about being in Adventure either totally slipped my mind, or lived in the dark recesses of my subconscious and sparked my “theory”.

  2. A side note on the Atom story:

    Back in July 2017, my dad was invited by Nicholas Prom to record a “Comic Reflections” podcast talking about the first Dharlu story in Justice League of America 130. Unfortunately, personal and work commitments got in the way of their scheduling and the podcast was never recorded, but I did find Dad’s notes for the show, which include notes on this Atom story as well.

    I included Dad’s brief story synopsis for Justice League of America 130 to provide context for Dad’s notes:

    Story Summary:

    This is a “JLA Casebook tale”, which essentially takes place during the early days of the League having their satellite HQ.

    On the rooftop of a S.T.A.R. Labs building in New York City, Hawkman shows Flash the new teleportation tube that allows only recognized JLA members to travel to their new satellite headquarters. At the same time, a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist unwittingly releases a Dharlu, an alien life-form that had dwelt dormant in a moon rock he is studying. The Dharlu kills the scientist and instinctively enters the teleportation tube as Flash and Hawkman “beam up”. This results in a scrambling of their molecules, producing three composite creatures who are part Flash, part Hawkman, and part Dharlu, All three are controlled by the Dharlu and attack the other JLAers who were running computer tests aboard the satellite.

    After an initial battle, the JLAers figure out what happened to their two teammates and deduce that because the teleporter should not have worked on the alien, there must be a flaw in their computer system, which is a hybrid of Thanagarian and Kryptonian technology. The three composite creatures, meanwhile, are studying the satellite and making modifications to it.

    In a follow-up battle to stop the creatures, Aquaman sensed the Dharlu’s thoughts while he was momentarily mentally controlled by one of the creatures, and discovered the alien came aboard the satellite in order to convert it into a starcraft so she can return to her homeworld. After the satellite leaves orbit and rockets spaceward, the JLA manages to herd the three creatures into a teleporter to restore Hawkman and Flash. Meanwhile, the now separated Dharlu enters the main computer system to keep the satellite going on its journey. Superman manages to trap the Dharlu in suspended animation within the computer so the JLA can regain control, then he and Green Lantern push the satellite back to Earth orbit.

    Superman reveals that he deduced that the Dharlu was pregnant, about to give birth, but like salmon swimming upstream, she must return to her homeworld before she could do so. Hawkman then reveals that the computer problems were caused by the JLAers using their powers aboard the satellite, which disrupts the sensitive computer circuitry. However, the presence of the Dharlu in the computer system corrected the problem, so the JLA decide to keep the Dharlu imprisoned within the computer indefinitely. Green Arrow responds to having “a new alien member” of the JLA by saying, “Far freaking out!”


    “Far freaking out”?! Really? The very liberal, fighting-for-the-common-person Green Arrow is TOTALLY COOL with the JLA HOLDING A PREGNANT ALIEN HOSTAGE to solve their IT problems?! And the other JLAers are all uncharacteristically okay with this?

    The Dharlu made another appearance in Justice League of America v1, issue 141, in which Wonder Woman used her lasso to force the Dharlu to RISK HER LIFE to destroy a force field placed around their satellite headquarters by the Manhunters. Wonder Woman then put the Dharlu back in stasis inside the computer, promising the still-pregnant alien that the day will soon come when they figure out how to correct the computer flaws without her help and they would release her.

    Wonder Woman, who had lost her powers and was on a leave of absence during the events of Justice League of America v1, issue 130, is also UNCHARACTERISTICALLY COOL about keeping the Dharlu a prisoner — for YEARS, I should add….

    And then the Dharlu was NEVER REFERRED TO AGAIN… at least not in the Justice League comic book.

    In Detective Comics v1, issue 489, there was a five-page Atom story that revealed that the Dharlu spawned a bunch of microscopic children within the JLA computer, which was causing said computer to malfunction in terms of solving mathematical problems. After a brief battle inside the computer, The Atom set the microscopic children free.

    There was no mention of what happened to the original Dharlu (who was erroneously shown in flashback fighting the JLA on Earth in the great outdoors, instead of aboard the JLA satellite), so I presume she was still inside the computer and either died after spawning, or was inevitably killed when the satellite was destroyed in Justice League of America Annual number 3. In either case, SHE DIED IN CAPTIVITY — and was FORCED TO SPAWN without going back home. NOT A GOOD LOOK, JLA!

    1. Isamus, JLofA #130 was one of my earliest DC Comics (I remember the exact spinner rack I bought it from). This was the issue that had me hooked on the League, leading me to buy every issue going forward – including getting a subscription about a year or so later.

  3. Hey old chums it’s cousin Bucky agin with May 4th
    Coming up I’ve got a lot Star Wars related stuff I’m working for my YouTube Channel. Now before any says I’m going off topic which I em . I brought bat cookies and blue milk . Jeremy is setting up the movie screen will doing return of the Jedi and empire strikes back why those two Lando is only in those two in the original trilogy. Shag’s already in front row in Lando coslplay with a lobot plushy and scisco and girls seemed to have gotten in the spirt as well . Several reys and leias . I may have spelled a certain fire & water host name wrong that’s cause I don’t know how to spell so i spell it as close as I can to the Star Trek captain. And there is Chris and Cindy dressed as General lando and a Ewok . I’ll let Chris chime in and tell you whose who cause I don’t know the different Ewoks .

      1. I said Rey’s and Leia’s I said I spelled your name a close i could to the Star Trek captain was the hint . Siskoid your dressed as a Star fleet captain I only Kirk and Picard . So choose your favorite captain siskoid . My bother Jeremy is already dressed as data from Star Trek the next generation so you don’t stand out . Why do think I’m dressed as Starbuck from classic battle Star Galtica we respect all science fiction.

        1. But please don’t double down on being off-topic. You seem to think it’s funny, but I assure you it’s not.

          This isn’t some kind of general usage bulletin board. And I certainly don’t enjoy being a “character” in some random story.

          1. Sorry I promise I’ll stay on topic from now on and not use u as character in my skits . I didn’t know it bug you so much. And I em being sincere.

  4. I didn’t have that issue of The Black Hole, but I did see the movie at my hometown’s Drive-In Theatre. I couldn’t follow the story, but I do remember the two little flying robots and one of them was completely beat up. I *think* there was a black hole … somewhere … Those drive-in theatres always showed two movies and I’m sure I was more interested in the first movie which was probably something like “Return from Witch Mountain” or “The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again”. The second movies were always something I had never heard of, which is how I ended up seeing Logan’s Run (which made a HUGE impression on me as a little kid! It’s a good thing my mom was asleep in the back seat!)

  5. The other day I noticed a carnival set up in the parking lot of a nearby mall. I’d go, but knowing my luck there would be a shadowy league in the area.

    6 Stories??? Man, this issue is bursting at the seams!

    Batman – “Bloodletting” by Concrete Blonde

    It’s always good to see Irv Novick’s work. IMO, he tends to get overlooked Interesting twist at the end, if not somewhat predictable these days. And after everything he’s seen, Batman still dismisses things like vampires.

    Good catch on the subtext, Chris. I also wonder if Ivorn was waiting to kill himself until he could find someone like Batman who could help Moon.

    Tales of Gotham City – “Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash

    Double the Novick goodness! It’s also good to see Commissioner Gordon going “Die Hard” almost a decade before Bruce Willis.

    Gordon misspoke on page 5 panel 3 – if Morgan kills him, every cop in the country, every member of the Batman family, and every member of the Justice League and Teen Titans they can round up will be looking for him.

    Robin and Batgirl – “Reunited” by Peaches and Herb

    Robin and Batgirl together again! Yay! With art by … well … hey, the Dynamite Duo are together again!!

    I hope that tape Barbara destroyed didn’t have any other memories. And yeah, you’re right; she probably relished the challenge of figuring out their real identities again.

    After what happened, I get how Robin felt (although very out of character, I agree). But it’s not exactly fair that they know who she is but she doesn’t know who they are.

    The whole “if you knew my secret identity, you would be in danger” argument seems odd at times, but especially in this case. First, Barbara was endangered because of her father, the police commissioner. Second, Theel originally planned to destroy the tapes. If Theel went through with his original plan, Barbara’s memories would have been lost. The fact that she knew their secret ID’s actually saved Barbara!

    The Atom – “Welcome to the Machine” by Pink Floyd

    This feels like a story left over from the Implosion. Not a bad story, but it would have been good to see the Atom do more than travel through the phone lines. I did like the call-back with the Dharlu.

    Alfred – “Mr. Belvedere” theme song

    This was a fun story! Not only do we see Alfred defending his profession and proving his worth as Batman’s trusted aide, but we get a call-out to a fellow butler, Jarvis. They never did explain why Robin disguised himself as Alfred. Maybe they had a spare Alfred mask laying around and didn’t realize a photographer managed to get a shot of Batman arresting “Alfred”.

    Batman II – theme song from “24”

    You know how a TV series has a season-long storyline with different threads going in all directions that start to come together in the next-to-last episode, setting everything up for the finale? That’s what this story felt like.

    Now, was the Bronze Tiger in the hospital ever since Kathy was killed? The League probably had him prisoner trying to reinforce his brainwashing, and he just recently escaped.

    Nice little stunt of Batman’s to use the swinging ride to get up to the roller coaster. I’d go to the carnival and try that, but every day I’m feeling less like Riggs and more like Murtaugh.

    As for a 70s/80s moment – how about the car in the second Batman story page 4 panel 4 with the rear tire covers. Don’t see those very much anymore.

    1. Thinking on, surely the next time Robin and Batman join Superman for an issue of World’s Finest, good old Alfred would invited Babs round to Wayne Manor for afternoon tea and remind her of their secret identities. I mean, he would not stand the unfairness of it all!

  6. Great episode as usual. Chris talking Batman is second only to toys in terms of what I want out of a podcast. Great to have they together again on the show.

    This issue’s cover is BURNED into brain, I saw the house ad for it so many times. Consider all the Rob “easter eggs” (Alan Alda as Robin, a “namtab” mention), I should have read it before now.

    Loved all the Irv Novick info! Hard to imagine someone wanting to get OUT of advertising and BACK into comics. Usually it was the other way around.

    That toy car ad used to make me so mad, another example of Aquaman missing out on merch in place of Captain Marvel. Grrr! That said, Marvel’s ride is so boss, by far the coolest car of the bunch, Might need to check out prices on eBay.

    The Atom is one of those “utility players” that DC would drop in different books when they had an extra few pages. He stars in a ONE page story in World’s Finest a few years after this.

  7. Thanks for having me back to the barbecue, I’ve brought ham and pease pudding baps. I’m hoping you’ll let me come again next time… I should be so lucky.

    What a treat to have Chris back, I’m spinning around at the great gobbets of arcane comics knowledge he always brings. Again, though, this isn’t a classic issue. I have no idea why you keep sounding surprised that these stories were never reprinted. Mind, it’s never too late.

    That cover is burned into my mind, Ross Andru was sooo good. On the question of why Ross draws the Don Heck Batgirl collar, he did it especially for you… naw, it’s to match the Don Heck interior art! As regards the actual story, yep, it’s stupid and insulting. Pure SuperDickDickery. I don’t know if anyone is in touch with Jack C Harris, but can’t you use your Bob Rozakis signal to find out why Barbara had to forget the secret identities? Maybe we can, though, No-Prize Babs never morining Kathy Kane by assuming her memories of Batwoman were on that lost tape? No? I’ll come up with something better if you give me just a little more time.

    The Batgirl and Robin title logos weren’t awful, at least they don’t have the stupid heads, but they’re not keepers. That Atom classic, now that’s a masthead, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    The Atom story itself, though, was not great. Well done Chris for the most entertaining and effective detective work this issue – working out why the heck that strip was in here… I’d not be surprised had three pages been culled from it, a Jean Loring or Enrichetta Negrini scene, maybe, and expanded set-up. I mean, 8pp was the standard for Atom shorts, and this is terribly terse at just five sides. I wouldn’t not say I’ve got to be certain, but all speculation is appreciated.

    Oh dear, in the comic book round-up, as you step back in time, I hear Chris talking about the Nude Adventures of Superboy.

    The Alfred logo is OK, and he certainly stars in the best story in the book. Also, that crook with the frilly shirt was all kinds of hot. What do I have to do to look that dapper?

    Tales of Gordon – sorry, Gotham – City was also pretty decent. I’m glad the Commish was ok, if he died there’d be tears on my pillow and no mistake.

    Two Batman stories again, what a wasted opportunity. Surely someone has the Great Aunt Harriet Novelette waiting to be printed? The vampire tale was the best, such sad stuff – the first time I ever read the ending I was shocked by the power of love.

    As for the interminable League of Assassins nonsense, I couldn’t be arsed to reread it. The art is lovely, though. Hand on your heart, boys, are you enjoying this serial?

    Thank you for the couple of shout-outs, especially as regards Wonder Woman and the Twinkies – and yes spot on, those ’cakes’ would not have suffered so far as taste is concerned. Honestly, you would get a more enjoyable meal from a Styrofoam Batplane… mind, then the plane would lose its loco-motion.

    Catch you next month for more greatest hits!

        1. There’s a Transformer who’s a handgun? Blimey!

          Back to why The Atom could be a member of the Batman Family… all those Brave and Bold appearances.

          1. Then his wife learned about that adventure and tried to take Sue Dibny for a spin and… oops.

            Good thing she brought that flamethrower…


  8. Hey Bat-cousins, your friendly neighborhood Outsider here. Hope you don’t mind, I have some thoughts on a recurring point in this show: Batman not accepting the supernatural.

    Has Batman encountered ghosts, vampires, aliens, etc? Absolutely! But at his heart, he’s a detective and thus a skeptic, not taking things at face value, because he’s also encountered in equal amounts con men, frauds, wannabes, and the outright delusional. Batman needs to confirm the facts first because it changes how he fights them. Using holy water and garlic on a real vampire, very effective. But on a wacko who’s actually human? Not so much.

    After all, just look at the earlier Roy Raymond story. 3 fake aliens, and the only real alien was Hawkgirl in disguise. In this issue, one fake vampire, and one real vampire. So I don’t take Batman’s disbelief as a bug, it’s a feature. Yes, it’s funny to tease how the writing makes it sound like Batman’s forgetting the actual aliens and magicians he knows. But I just wanted to acknowledge that, by and large, his intention to find the truth is reasonable.

    And on a different note, lord, Robin was a jerk to Batgirl! That story merited being lost in a reboot or retcon. Ugh!

    Anyway, great show as always! Till next time!

  9. I neglected to mention that my dad had a copy of the Superman II Movie Special, which is a 20-page, 12″ by 9″ program much as you had described, Uncle Chris. Here are a few photos of what’s inside:

  10. Cool episode as always. Oy got side tracked. I almost didn’t give feed back this week. How can I annoy the world and point out terrible fashion mistakes if I miss a week. The harrow… the harrow. I’ll write something later. Was a fun podcast to hear. Just got side tracked. Call it a blond moment…. What my hair was blond before it turned gray. Though that is a great cover of Robin and Babs.

    Though Oy those to at odds is not good. That would be a scary war of the roses. Though criminals might sleep easer if that happens. Since together they are a dangerous couple to the crime world. Two folks that cleaver together.

    Yep criminals would be glad if they had a major tiff. Cause yeah though she dresses sometimes like Steve Wonder is her fashion consultant. Babs is very smart and cleaver. K I’ll write more later.

  11. Hey, Bat Cousins, sorry I’m late. I baked cookies but put them in the Tupperware container without parchment paper to separate the layers, so now it’s actually one giant horrific cookie. Enjoy!

    While the Batman vampire story was silly, I am a big fan of Irv Novick. Paul, thanks for the terrific Bat History lesson on Novick. Novick isn’t included in most lists of superstar artists, but he was a great draftsman with solid storytelling ability, and got the job done every time. And his look was so indicative of the time. The comic book artist version of an episode of the Rockford Files. You could practically smell the aftershave on his pages. Plus, it sounds like he was not only a reliable and talented artist, but also a good dude.

    The Commissioner Gordon story was good. Novick had Gordon at his Barney Miller-est. He’s a character who has evolved for the better over the years, so it was cool seeing him get some solo action so early on.

    Great seeing Batgirl and Robin together again. Even under these ridiculous circumstances. Brilliant idea Robin had to pull Barabara’s Batgirl mask out of her purse to jog her memory. Apparently, Babs hasn’t opened her purse in a month or she may have figured it out herself. Does she not pay for things? And oh, no! That evil scientist they had tied helplessly to a light post and was ready to expose all of Robin and Batgirl’s secrets got accidentally shot dead by the gunman whose arm Batgirl accidentally pulled in his exact direction. What were the odds? Better burn that tape, too.

    Once again, can’t say enough about Don Newton’s art on the last Batman story. Especially the carnival scene. The construct Batman jumps on to get momentum reminds me of a ride my daughter talked me into riding last year called Speed XXL at Myrtle Beach’s Broadway at the Beach. You are strapped into an open-air chair and then spun around at a speed of over 50 mph, all while spinning on an axis that takes you up to 130 feet, basically the height of a ten-story building. I remember opening my eyes at one point when I was upside down and all I could see was sky. My daughter thought it was the greatest ride ever. I think I threw up my heart.

    Well, gotta run. looking forward to next episode’s guest… Oh no, this guy… again?!

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