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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Batman Family 20 - Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Man-Bat and Huntress end, as does Batman Family


Batman Family comes to an end with issue 20 (Oct/Nov 78), a casualty of the DC Implosion. Although in some ways it was Detective Comics that was the real victim, as the two books merged, and the format and contents from Batman Family simply took over that book.


Jim Starlin provides the cover, while the issue opens with a Batman/Ragman team up, by David V Reed, Michael Golden and Bob Smith. Rory Regan and Bette Berg are on hand, watching as Batman takes down a group of hoods who have been driving residents out of a slum building, beating them and stealing what little they have before completely trashing the place.


Bette takes some photographs of the men captured, and then gets beaten up by more goons, who threaten the life of Rory and her, and smash up Rory's junk shop.


They chose the wrong man to pick on. Rory Regan is also Ragman, last seen the year before in the final issue of his own book. Rory's father, and three other men, were all killed by hoodlums hunting for loot that had gone missing. Through a vaguely explained, somewhat supernatural event Rory gained the strength of the dead men, and dons a suit made for him by his dead father to bring justice to the slum area he lives in.


The buildings that are being trashed all belong to a management company that is owned by Wayne Enterprises, so Ragman figures that Bruce Wayne is the big bad guy in this situation, and heads to the penthouse atop the Wayne Foundation Building to confront him. Of course, it's Batman he winds up facing. For much the of the rest of the story Batman spends his time trying to convince Ragman that Bruce Wayne knew nothing about the situation, and is just an innocent dupe.


Once that happens, the two work together to take down the real villains, exploiting both the people in the slum and the Foundation. There is some excellent art, which really helps, as the story is kind of simple.


The conclusion sees Bruce Wayne come to Rory's rag shop to thank him, compensate him for the damage to his store, and offer to provide ongoing financial support for his (and Ragman's) work in the neighbourhood.

Ragman is not seen again for five years, returning to fight alongside Batman once more in the pages of Brave and the Bold.


Robin and Batgirl team up once more, and work with the Elongated Man and Red Tornado, in the story by Rozakis, Heck and Celardo that ends their runs in this book. The story picks up from the conclusion of the Robin tale in the previous issue, with Batgirl summoning him to Washington DC urgently. Robin contacts Elongated Man, in the JLA satellite, and gets him to use the teleporter to bring him to the capitol.


Robin learns how a villain called the Power Sower shut down a Washington DC power plant. Red Tornado went to investigate, but got overwhelmed and defeated by the man, whose armour allows him to drain and channel various power sources. Batgirl arrived on the scene as the guy was trouncing Red Tornado, and made the call to Robin. By the time Robin gets there, Batgirl has been taken prisoner by the Power Sower.


Robin helps Batgirl escape, and they get away from the Power Sower and out of the plant. They are expecting a blackmail demand, but instead the man actually has a decent motivation, if a terrible way of going about it, wanting to force Americans to become more responsible with their energy use.


The Power Sower uses his power to increase the heat of the sun, which is staggeringly impressive. Red Tornado gets beamed up to the satellite by Elongated Man and recharged, so he returns to Washington to deal with the effects of the surge in heat, while Robin and Batgirl manage to short circuit the armour and bring down the villain.


For Red Tornado and Elongated Man, this story comes after appearances in Justice League of America, and for Tornado, before his next one in that book. Elongated Man gets a solo story in Adventure Comics just after this. Batgirl and Robin have their series migrate over to Detective Comics following the end of this issue.


Man-Bat finds a job in this issue, thanks to Rozakis, Golden and Rubenstein. He has decided to become a private detective, and wants to work with Jason Bard. He sees Batman take out some would be killers, and asks him to give Bard a positive reference for him, explaining his goals.


Then, as Kirk Langstrom, he approaches Jason about joining him as a private investigator. Jason doesn't quite know what to make of this, as Langstrom has no apparent qualifications or experience, and his mention of Batman just amuses Bard.


Kirk decides to follow Jason, who is actually on a case for Batman, hunting down the men supplying the weapons to the group Batman stopped earlier. Jason gets caught by them, and almost killed, but Man-Bat swoops in to save him and stop the bad guys from flying away in a plane.


Jason winds up having to admit that Man-Bat would be a useful partner, and hires Kirk on.

Man-Bat continues to work with Jason Bard as his series shifts over to Detective Comics.


Th Huntress has her series come to an actual ending in this story by Levitz, Staton and Layton.


Following her capture by the corrupt councilman, the Huntress is left in a fiery death trap. She escapes from her bonds and uses her crossbow gun to pry the bars out of a window and escape.


Now knowing who the man behind the fires is, she lays a trap for him in an abandoned building, and tries to goad him into a confession with one of his own firebombs. This backfires badly, and the councilman winds up dying in the fire when the bomb goes off. Not the best possible resolution to her first solo outing.


It does mean that the federal funding for the rebuilding will now actually go towards that, rather than wind up in his pockets, so Helena considers that a win. The final panel refers to the Huntress continuing to appear in the Justice Society series in All-Star Comics, but in fact, due to the DC Implosion, that strip would move to Adventure Comics in a few months, so her next appearance is actually in the annual JLA/JSA team up in Justice League of America. The solo run in Showcase which is promoted would never come about, as that book also became a victim of the Implosion. The Demon's solo series, mentioned in the same panel, would begin in Detective Comics, not this book, when the two of them merge.

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