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Saturday, 15 July 2017

Batman Family 14 - Batgirl and Robin try to save Batwoman, and Man-Bat vs a film freak

Bob Rozakis scripts both of the stories in Batman Family 14 (Oct 77).

Don Heck and Bob Wiacek do the art on the Batgirl/Robin story, which picks up on the end of the previous issue. It starts with a flashback, as we see how Batwoman tried to stop a robbery by two men, Mr Brawn and Mr Brain, and wound up getting shot by a ray beam weapon. This is what caused her to more or less disintegrate right in front of Barbara Gordon. Barbara brings the Batwoman costume to a scientist friend. He examines it, and determines that it was a strange virus that caused the effect, shrinking Batwoman's cells. Both Batgirl and the scientist may have been exposed, so she calls in Robin to help.

Robin is having his own problems, as Dick Grayson. Lori Elton has been concerned about his constant and unexplained absences, and worried about the state of their relationship. She has every reason to be, considering how Dick professed his love for Batgirl in the last issue. But since Batgirl has not reciprocated, Dick tells Lori everything is ok and they start to make out. Then Batgirl calls, and Dick rushes off, leaving Lori behind again. He is really a bit of a jerk.

Together, Batgirl and Robin head to the carnival that Batwoman owns as Kathy Kane, figuring that to be the most likely place she would have gotten infected with the virus. It's a good guess, as we find out that Mr Brawn and Mr Brain are performers there. When they see the heroes, they correctly assume that they are the ones being sought out.

Still, they would have fared better by acting innocent. Instead, they give themselves away and attack the pair. Robin gets hit by the ray, but Batgirl, being all bagged up, cannot be affected by it, and is able to take the men down.

Robin calls on Kid Flash to get them and the weapon back to the scientist before he starts to disintegrate. The scientist is able to find a cure that saves Robin from the machine's effects. This is a busy month for Kid Flash, who also appears in Teen Titans and Super-Team Family.

The scientist is also able to reverse the effects, and brings Batwoman back to normal size. She had been in the costume all along, just shrunk down to microscopic size.

Howard Chaykinn and Josef Rubenstein do the art on the Man-Bat story in the issue, which has to be one of my favourite tales for this character. It centres on another man who lives in the same building as Kirk and Francine Langstrom, who is a huge fan of horror movies.

When the man sees Man-Bat fly into the window of another apartment, he is sure that a monster is living above him. The story also reveals that it was Jason Bard who came to their apartment in the previous issue, and that he keeps coming back, trying to meet with Kirk.

The next time Man-Bat flies out the window the man is prepared, and beckons him into his suite, pretending to need his help. Then he spends the rest of the story trying to defeat and/or exorcise Man-Bat in a variety of ways that he has learned from movies. It's completely hilarious, and you feel so sorry for the hero.

Kirk finally decides to trick the guy into thinking his exorcism succeeded, taking one of the pills he uses to change form. The guy is so excited that his plan worked that he passes out.

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