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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Bat Lash 3 - Judge Nero


Cardy and O'Neil turn in another great Bat Lash story in issue 3 (Feb/March 1969).


One thing I love about this series is how the stories tend to open with Bat Lash extricating himself from some trouble he has found himself in. He does this cleverly, but always winds up starting his tales on the run.


That's what happens at the start of this tale. And after some misunderstandings, and a lot of charm, Bat lash winds up in a town with a hapless sheriff, becoming his second deputy. His first deputy is a young, red haired woman, Samantha Eggbert. Clearly named for actress Samantha Eggar. She is the main reason Bat Lash decides to become a law man.


But Samantha is no great prize. We quickly find out she is in league with a self-appointed judge, who likes to live Roman style, Judge Nero. Samantha is drawn to him by his wisdom and sophistication, although shocked when he murders the sheriff as part of his plan to take over the town. But by then, she has little choice but to keep on with his plans.


She arrests Bat Lash, and the judge puts him on trial for the murder of the sheriff. The trial is absurd, but handled in a very funny way. The Laurel and Hardy characters come back as jurors in this outing. Bat Lash is found guilty, but allowed to plan his own funeral. He really milks this, planning the singers and the other details, impressing Samantha with his own sophistication and taste.


His plan works, and Samantha switches sides, poisoning Judge Nero. The cover scene comes right at the end, as Bat Lash ditches her to flee on a train. He doesn't want to take a chance with a woman who changes sides and kills so easily. Unlike the cover, Bat Lash does not actually make off with the judge's money, Samantha switched the bags on him.

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