The siren call of a 100-Page Spectacular was always overwhelming to me. So here’s yet another one, bought at my regular 7-11. Unfortunately, I found it a bit lacking–the vintage Batman stories that were most often getting reprinted didn’t always appeal to me.
The all-new lead story is something of a throwback, a tale in which Batman partners with Robin. At this point, the now-Teen Wonder had been attending college and starring in his own solo back-up strips, so as to return Batman to his position as a lone avenger. So it was a bit of a novelty to see them partnering up for a story.
Most of this story is pretty forgettable, a solidly put together caper that simply isn’t especially memorable. But this one bit is: when men come to break Two-Face out of the newly-introduced Arkham Asylum (which just looks like a regular prison, let’s face it) the Joker wants to come along, too. But he’s on the wrong side of a coin toss. Hey, do you think that’ll come back to bite Two-Face again later?
Two-Face wastes no time in turning the tables on his rescuers. After a flip of the coin, he hijacks their plans and their organization for himself. A kind of funny beat: the number two man in the organization is named Samuel Smith-Smythe, which Two-Face heartily approves of.
Two-Face plans to use a homemade atomic bomb (which activates by using two pieces of fissionable material) to extort Washington DC for Two Million Dollars, or else he’ll level the place. He and his men capture Batman and Robin along the way, and Two-Face is incredibly thorough of relieving them of any of their escape gear. (Though not so thorough that he removes their actual costumes or masks. Super-villains, right?)
This turns out to be a fatal mistake, as Batman has secreted a thermal flare in the ear of his cowl, with which the Dynamic Duo can cut their way to freedom. Batman makes his way to where Two-Face has the bomb, and tells him that he’s cheating: he can’t set off the bomb without a ruling from his coin. Two-Face makes the toss, and it comes up clean–no bomb for him.
But it turns out batman cheated, the rat! He switched Two-Face’s coin for one that was unmarked on both sides. Two-Face makes a desperate lunge for the detonator, but Batman overpowers him, the end. It’s a crazily abrupt ending. And the Joker? We don’t hear anything more about him.
Then, it’s reprint time, starting with an early story illustrated by the great Dick Sprang. Maybe because it’s early, or maybe the reproduction isn’t that great, but the whole story seems small–the size of the figures, the lettering. It annoyed me as a kid. Next up is a 1960s story illustrated by one of Bob Kane’s ghosts that’s pretty painful to look at.
Then comes an adventure with the Cavalier. Man, I hated the Cavalier. Something about his attitude and the artwork in this story really made me despise the character–and not in that fun way where you’re waiting for Batman to knock his block off. The Dick Sprang artwork is more on form here, at least. After that, a 1950s story about Batman and Robin trailing a criminal around the world.
Finally, the issue ended with a story about a criminal who used eyes as a motif. There was one panel in this story that creeped me out, wherein Batman and Robin capture a crook who has three eyes–he’s got a third eye, complete with lid, in the lower part of his forehead. Something about that idea and the body-modification behind it weirded me out something fierce as a child. Here’s the panel, below: