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for Thursday, March 9, 2006

Batman 163

Alfred Pennyworth wrote his last "Batman and Robin II" story in BATMAN #163 [May, 1964], the last issue of the title edited by Jack Schiff. Though it wasn't the cover story, it was the longest story in the series (11.66 pages) and rated a cover blurb above the logo. The cover was drawn by Sheldon Moldoff.

"Bat-Girl -- Batwoman II!" was written by Bill Finger, author of the first "Batman and Robin II" tale and, by my guess, the rest of them as well. The story was pencilled by Chic Stone and inked by Charles Paris. My copy of the issue is in storage, but I found a brief synopsis of the story at MIKE'S AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS []:

In Alfred's tale, Betty Kane returns to Gotham and becomes Batwoman II. When Batman II and Robin II are called out of town, Batman comes out of retirement to handle a case. He is soon captured, but Batwoman II rescues him, learning his secret identity in the process. Batman and Batwoman II locate the crooks again, but they are captured this time, too. Batman II and Robin II arrive to help them escape and defeat several underworld crime bosses.

There were six stories in this series of "tales by Alfred" and only the first one was ever reprinted. They would fit nicely into an 80-page special, perhaps with a new story to round out the page count. Not that I'm holding my breath waiting for a call from DC or anything, but I'd certainly relish the challenge of continuing in the proud tradition of Finger and Pennyworth.

Finger also wrote "The Joker's Jury" (12.66 pages) for BATMAN #163. The story, pencilled by Moldoff and inked by Paris, has the Joker and his gang committing robberies based on various municipal departments - Department of Sanitation, Department of Roads, and so forth. Batman and Robin track the Joker to his lair, get captured, and are put on trial before Judge Joker and his jury of henchmen. During a recess in the proceedings, the Joker and his gang attempt to rob a charity benefit in the guise of Health Department doctors. But the Caped Crusaders escape the Joker's custody, foil the crime, and thus escape the harsh sentence the malicious magistrate would have doubtless handed out to them. This story was reprinted in THE GREATEST JOKER STORIES EVER TOLD.

We may have finished discussing "The Second Batman and Robin Team," but I have fond memories of many Batman comics of the 1950s and 1960s. As part of TOT's ongoing cover rotations, look for one of these to lead off the column every other week.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with a full-size column of DCU reviews.

Tony Isabella

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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