One thing I've appreciated about the stories in The Further Adventures of Batman is the way Batman's been written. He's focused, determined, but not completely humorless. By and large, he recognizes who his friends and allies are, and treats them nicely. Even if he isn't slapping their back and guffawing at their jokes, he shows an appropriate amount of concern for their well-being. Also, most of the stories present Batman as well known by the public. They don't wonder if he's real or not, they know he is, and the law-abiding public loves him.
I had been a little disappointed that in many stories, when Batman needs to parse some clue, he goes and asks someone else, rather than possessing that knowledge or doing the research himself. Then it occurred to me that he's pursuing criminals, there are lives potentially at stake, so going to an expert is a matter of expediency.
On to the stories.
The Pirate of Millionaires' Cove, Edward D. Hoch: The tells the tale. A pirate ship is attacking the luxury craft of Gotham's rich, but why? Batman takes advantage of Wayne's social status for this one, as well as the charm he naturally possesses. The mystery is a little Scooby-Doo like, when the motives are revealed, and I expected there was an extra layer to it which wasn't actually there, but the plot works. I think.
This was probably the story Commissioner Gordon was portrayed the worst in. This or, The Wise Men of Gotham, since he could never come close to deciphering any of the riddles. Here, he can't think of any way to seek out the pirates, or to deduce what they might be after, to the extent Batman is actually annoyed with him. In his defense, Gordon didn't have much to go on other than the burned out hulk of a schooner and the words of a dying man, but he does seem hapless, except as Batman's clean-up crew.
The Origin of the Polarizer, George Alec Effinger: A intelligent, but cash-strapped man works at an electronics supply store, and becomes curious about the huge quantities of vacuum tubes and transistors Bruce Wayne is ordering. He deduces Wayne is Batman, tampers with the shipments, and begins to wreak havoc with Batman and Robin's equipment. Initially he planned to do so as a distraction, while he committed crimes to pay for graduate school, and if he'd left it at that, he might have made it. You know how it goes, though, he develops a taste for wealth, and overreaches, and suffers the fate reserved for one-time foes who learn the hero's identity.
Has to be the most '60s era story in the book, with the huge computer running off punch cards, and the Dynamic Duo running around in broad daylight, accepting challenges from a villain who already assembled the press (in the form of Vicki Vale, who, it should be noted, displayed no objectivity whatsoever, openly declaring her support for Batman and Robin). It even ends with Batman making a speech to Robin about how the Polarizer failed because, here, I'm just going to quote it:
'How ironic, Robin, that such a genius would have forgotten one of mankind's oldest proverbs: A sound mind in a sound body. The Polarizer couldn't hope to defeat us because he followed only half of that ancient advice. it wasn't enough for him to wreck our modern devices because in the end it was that centuries old piece of wisdom that conquered him. Wisdom, Robin! When all is said and done the greatest force on Earth is still the human mind.' I have to believe Robin was rolling his eyes like crazy all through that speech. But that was the style Effinger was trying to evoke, so good job.
Idol, Ed Gorman: This is another somewhat unusual one. It focuses on a young man, who, since a young age apparently, has believed he is Batman. He believes it so strongly he thinks the real Batman is an impostor who has stolen his identity. This makes him sullen, paranoid, and possibly unable to perform in bed (not looking forward to the spam comments that will probably generate).
It's a darker story than any of the others, since it looks at what could be a negative effect of Batman's existence. Although, if Batman didn't exist, maybe the man would have seized onto some other notable person, and decided he was the real, financial tycoon/baseball player/Green Arrow. Still, the obsession leads nowhere good. it's a short story, less than 10 pages, but Gorman has the main character interact with enough different people to provide a decent grasp of how deeply this belief he's Batman runs in the character, and how tightly he shields himself against everything. He doesn't accept compassion (or is it pity?) from the girl he sleeps with, anymore than he tolerates his mother's suggestions he move past this fixation.
If I'm picking favorites, I'd probably put Idol alongside Subway Jack and The Batman Memos, with The Pirate of Millionaires' Cove some below those three. I'd say for 20 cents, I received pretty good value out of this book.
OK, this weekend is the Cape Girardeau Comic Convention, which I am attending. Lots of driving for me, so no post tomorrow, at least one post either Saturday or Sunday, possibly one each day, by Monday things ought to be back on the usual daily schedule. Barring a storm knocking the power out here for two weeks while I'm away, as happened last May. Until Saturday, then.