Friday, June 26, 2009

Detective Comics #390

Detective Comics #390 (On Sale: June 26, 1969) has a Batman cover by Irv Novick.

We begin with "If the Coffin Fits -- Wear It" by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella. There is a new villain in Gotham, the Masquerader, and every time Batman fights him his goons rip Batman's costume to shreds. Batman is down to his last bat-suit when he gets a call from Commissioner Gordon, who has a note from the Masquerader. The note contains a clue that sends Batman and Robin to the Gotham Coliseum where the Annual Gotham Sports Show is being held. complete with an exhibit of gold medal, cups and trophies. While Robin releases the bound and gagged guards, Batman interrupts the Masquerader and his gang in mid theft, but his goons once again manage to shred Batman's costume. Robin and the police show up to help mop up the gang but the Masquerader gets away through an air-conditioner duct that seems way too small for the Masquerader's bulk.

Bat at his hide out one of the Masquerader's goons hands him a piece of Batman's costume containing the label of Batman's tailor, Sam Tweed. Back in the Batcave batman calls Tweed to order a new costume and Sam says he has one ready and waiting and that he will drop it off at police headquarters as usual. Robin is sent into town to fetch Batman's costume and arrives back in time to hear Batman get another call from Gordon with another clue from the Masquerader. Inside the box with Batman's costumes they find a Masquerader costume and when Batman calls Sam Tweed, Sam confesses that he was forced at gun-point to put add in the extra costume. Sam is about to reveal the Masqueraders identity when Batman hears two gunshots and the Masquerader gets on the phone.

Batman sends Robin off where the clue seems to point and he heads over to Sam's shop, finding him barely alive. He gives Batman an address before slipping into unconsciousness as the ambulance arrives to take Sam to the hospital. Batman heads off to the address Sam gave him, bursting into the building and finding the Masquerader waiting for him. The Masquerader turns on some giant heat lamps and Batman attacks him. Batman's fists, seem to bounce off the Masquerader to no ill effect as the Masquerader mentions that Batman must be feeling a little constricted right about now.

Batman grabs the Masquerader in a bear hug, but he presses a button in his suit and it deflates, making him much smaller. Batman is fining it almost impossible to move as his suit is getting smaller and smaller and the Masquerader brags that he has "sewed you into your own shroud!" He reveals himself to be Sam Tweed, who had created a special costume made of hygroscopic mono-filament, strong as steel but loose and flexible ass long as it can absorb moisture from the air. Under the head-lamps it is slowly constricting and will crush Batman, leaving Tweed to become the mastermind of crime in Gotham. With his last bit of strength, batman pulls a small laser from his utility belt and aims it at the ceiling causing the automatic sprinkler system to engage. Moister returned to his suit, Batman makes quick work of Tweed.

The back-up Robin story "Countdown to Chaos" is by Mike Friedrich, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. This is a story of vignettes that don't seem to come together as a whole, yet, though I'm sure they will by next issue. Dick Grayson returns to Gotham High after having the flue, specifically to the editorial offices of the Gotham High Owl. There we learn that Dick not only has a date tonight with cutie editor Sandy Cole, but that he has been working on digging up information about which side of the campus, east or west, will be the site of new classroom construction. This is apparently a sticking point in the negotiations between the contract-less teachers union and the school district. We also learnt that editor Craig "Rocky" Rockland is working on a major, "hold the presses" editorial, but he is keeping its contents under wraps.

That night after Gotham High beats Skyline, some kids wearing Skyline jackets start attacking Gotham students. Unfortunately one of their targets has a secret identity and quickly changes into it in order to pound some Skyline butt. One of the "kids" seems older than the rest, but he gets away and Robin can't take the time to chase him as he has to turn back into Dick Grayson or spoil his date with Sandy. None of the Skyline kids will say why they attacked the Gotham kids.

The next week Rocky's editorial has come out, stating why the west-side site is superior for the new construction. that same afternoon the head negotiator gets a phone call threatening his family if he doesn't do as he is told. He then holds a press conference saying that because of the obstinance of the teacher's representatives, there will be no further talks. Dick knows this means the teachers will go on strike. It has been reprinted in Batman in the Sixties TPB and Showcase Presents: Robin the Boy Wonder Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

No comments: