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Saturday, 15 July 2017

Batman Family 15 - Killer Moth and the Cavalier search for the Batcave, and Man-Bat meets Jason Bard

As before, both stories in Batman Family 15 (Dec/Jan 77/78) are by Rozakis, with Aparo on the cover.

Lee Elias and Joe Giella provide the art for the Batgirl/Robin story that leads off the issue, which brings back Killer Moth and the Cavalier, following their last appearances in Batman the previous month. The two place a wager on which one can find out the location of the Batcave the first, using Batgirl or Robin to show them the way.

Killer Moth tries to trick Batgirl into revealing Batman's identity by attacking her and announcing loudly that Batman is his next target. She gets suspicious almost right away, realizing that the death trap set for her was just too obvious. At first she ruins Moth's scheme by phoning her father, Commissioner Gordon, to relay the threat to Batman.

When Moth makes another failed attempt on her life, and again proclaims his intent to kill Batman, Batgirl goes to visit Jason Bard. Jason is a Vietnam vet, an investigator, and one-time boyfriend of Barbara Gordon. He had not been seen since 1973. He has a very nice house in this story, conveniently located above a cave, which might be why Batgirl chose to make Moth think Jason was Batman. She defeats Killer Moth, but he remains convinced he has learned the secret.

Then we follow Robin. At first it looks like Killer Moth is also going after him, but this is just an illusion created by the Cavalier, who has gotten really hooked on those. The purpose is to get hold of a batarang and replace it with one that has a bug on it. Robin notices the change in location of the thrown batarang, and finds the bug.

Robin leaves the bug where is is and uses it to lure the Cavalier to a tree that is really a base for aliens from the planet Nibor, and through this convinces Cavalier that he and Batman are really from outer space.

Robin then captures the Cavalier and tosses him into prison. He and Killer Moth trade their discoveries. Cavalier points out that Jason Bard could not have been Batman in Gotham while fighting in Vietnam, and Moth points out that Nibor is just Robin spelled backwards, an obvious hoax.

The only really notable thing about the tale is that Batgirl and Robin do not actually work together on the story. Killer Moth returns a couple of years down the road in Batman, but the Cavalier is not seen again until 1983, in Detective Comics.

Michael Golden provides some excellent art on he Man-Bat back-up story.

The city is being menaced by the Shotgun Sniper, and a $5,000 reward has been placed on him. Man-Bat is determined to find the guy and bring him in, but finds the police less than willing to help him, as an unlicensed vigilante.

Jason Bard appears in this story as well, finally making it through the door to talk to Francine Langstrom. He is also on the case of the Shotgun Sniper, and has figured out that all of the guy's victims are former boyfriends of hers. Jason asks a number of questions about Kirk, and Francine's evasive answers just make it look like Kirk could well be the killer.

I really like how Golden illustrates Man-Bat's crime sensor power, with the pings running across the page. He is, indeed, on the trail of the Sniper, which leads him back home. Jason Bard, sure that the killer is Langstrom, stakes out his apartment, and Man-Bat mistakes the man's cane for a gun.

The final page could not possibly be better. As Man-Bat attacks Jason, the real Shotgun Sniper takes aim. But at who?

The story continues in the next issue.

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