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Of gadgetry and fetishes – DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #14

December 5, 2010

These gigantic compendiums of reprints are sort of like the buffet platter of the comics world. You get a nice little sampling of material, some of which you may like, some of which you may not. In this particular installment, you get old tales from Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, Wildcat, Blackhawk, Doll-Man and the Atom. The Blackhawk, Doll-Man and Atom stories are mind-numbingly dull, and the Robin appearance is in the lesser of the two Batman tales included. So we’ll take a quick look at the Batman (solo) and Wonder Woman entries, with a brief flyby of the Wildcat reprint. Sound good?

The theme of this collection seems to be the introduction of various trademark devices into each hero’s arsenal, and in Batman’s case we have a double dose. Called “Menace of the Monk” and “Showdown with the Monk” here, this two-part story, from Gardner Fox, Bob Kane and Shledon Moldoff, was originally entitled “Batman vs. the Vampire” and was published in Detective Comics #’s 31 and 32. It features the debut of the Monk and is filled with old old old-school Bat-things like a pipe-smoking Bruce Wayne and a fiancee, but its primary importance is the debut of the Batarang and a pecursor of the Batwing — here’s their first appearances:

Like any guy with a new piece of tech, Batman can’t wait to get the Batgyro out in the open air, and when he does he seemingly starts an Orson Welles/War of the Worlds-style panic:

That’s kind of an enigmatic look on his face there in the second panel — I wonder what’s going through his mind. Wait, I think I might have an idea:

A delightful gothic adventure ensues, and Batman squares off against the hypnotic powers of the Monk and some vampires and manages to rescue a kidnapped Julie, his aforementioned fiancee (that didn’t pan out, did it?). I found the events on the last page, after Batman melts down a silver statue to make some special bullets, to be rather startling:

Can you kill a vampire in cold blood? I suppose the “no guns” rule (and it should be noted that it hadn’t been developed at this point) could still be stretched a tad to allow for the delivery of some hot silver. The use of the gun makes you take a step back, though. But that’s one of the things I like about the earliest Batman stories — he could be one tough and cold S.O.B.

And then there’s Wonder Woman. “Invisible Ray” was orginally entitled “Diana’s Magic Lasso,” and was written by Charles Moulton with art from Harry G. Peter. I’ll give you one guess about what gift Diana gets from her Momma in this one, which first saw print in Sensation Comics #6. But before she receives that special gift she first travels to Themyscira, where she finds the Bondage/Lesbian/Amazonian Olympics in full swing:

Really, this is the kind of thing that knocked Kramer out of “The Contest”:

Diana gets in on the action, and wears a pert little mask to boot:

Lest we think that only Amazons behave thusly in a Wonder Woman story, there’s also the Nazi bitch villainess, who tests her invisibility ray in a most unique manner:

Why does she have to test the invisibility ray on her while she’s strapped to a bed? And why does the subject have to be in her underwear? Not that I’m complaining, but I ask you…

There’s some stuff in this story about Steve Trevor getting promoted and, along with Wonder Woman, foiling a Nazi scheme, but when you have Amazons lassoing each other while wearing variations of Madonna’s getup in “Truth or Dare,” who gives a *bleep* about all that?

One last thing… I’ve always respected the Ted Grant/Wildcat character because he’s just a guy with fists, pummeling evil one bad guy at a time. He’s testosterone wrapped in machismo. A man’s man.

And then I caught a glimpse of his motorcycle:

He might as well tie some tassels on the handlebars — the whiskers kind of outweigh the fangs, you know?

Good times.

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