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Friday, 14 July 2017

Batman Family 4 - Batgirl and Robin get separate Christmas stories

Batgirl and Robin are both in Batman Family 4 (March/April 1976), but in their own stories. There are also two reprints: the Fatman story from the late 50s, which I found very amusing at 10 years old, and the team up with Elongated Man against the Phantom General from the 60s. This one always disappointed me when I read it, because the Phantom General had no phantom powers.

The Batgirl story is by Elliot S Maggin, Pablo Marcos and Vince Colletta, and brings back a minor character, the brother of a hit man, who had appeared the previous year in an issue of Detective Comics.

Commissioner Gordon is in Washington DC, paying a visit to hi daughter Barbara, when both get approached by the man. He is begging to be put in jail for his own protection, as the mob is now after him. No sooner has he explained this than he almost gets killed in a drive by shooting.

Batgirl goes into action. She recognizes the would be killer, Diamond Lily, who always uses a diamond studded gun. Batgirl manages to get the gun away from her, but then  seemingly drops it.

She replaced the bullets with blanks, but Lily is really slow to pick up on this. First she tries to kill the brother again, and he plays dead, to convince the mob and get them off his tail. Then when Lily tries to kill Batgirl she just doesn't understand why she keeps missing. Not bad. Certainly better than most of Batgirl's stories from her run in Detective Comics a few years earlier.

The issue also includes two pages of potential costumes for Robin, none of which were ever used, thankfully. It's sad that the best one looks like something he might wear to the bar.

You know what else is sad? The fact that no one at DC noticed that the title of the Robin story reads "Robin's White Very Christmas." I noticed it. My friends noticed it. I guess Bob Rozakis, Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta didn't notice it, and it made it into print.

This simple tale brings back Lori Elton and her detective uncle, both of whom had been introduced in Robin's series in Detective Comics. In this tale Dick Grayson is playing Santa for charity when he gets knocked out and his sleigh gets stolen.

Robin goes into action and prevents the robbery of the charity he was collecting for.

The conclusion sees Bruce Wayne, Alfred and Aunt Harriet show up for a surprise Christmas, and presumably to meet Lori Elton and her family. This is the first time Aunt Harriet has been seen since an issue of Detective Comics in 1968, and her final appearance. 

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