BHOC: BATMAN FAMILY #15

I bought this issue of BATMAN FAMILY on my regular travels to my local 7-11, as I was following the series regularly at this point, for whatever reason. I can’t say that it was a particular favorite, and now that it was all-new, the appeal of those classic reprints was gone. I chalk it up to a combination of the fact that the book was larger than the norm and simply the momentum of doing it–I was buying it regularly, so I had to buy it regularly, if you know what I mean. Also, I had an odd liking for the Man-Bat series that ran in BATFAM at this point.

The first story in this issue was a multi-part affair bringing Batgirl and Robin together to face the two-pronged menace of Killer Moth and the Cavalier. I know, not the two most awe-inspiring Batman villains of all time–yet I had a certain soft spot for them. Particularly here, where they play as friends and rivals, staging a bet between themselves as to which one can be the first to locate the Batcave and take possession of all of Batman’s crime-fighting secrets.

Killer Moth targets Batgirl, figuring that she must know the whereabouts of the Batcave. He stages a series of robberies to draw her out, then sets a trap for her that he knows she’ll avoid, and leaves a follow-up message that Batman is his next target. Moth hopes that this will send Batgirl to warn Batman and he can trail her to his goal. Batgirl foils him by calling Commissioner Gordon and asking him to relay the warning instead.

Undaunted, Killer Moth makes a second try as Batgirl speaks at the Gotham Police Athletics League. Capturing Batgirl, he puts her in a trap that she is sure to get out of, and she does–and this time goes to seemingly warn Batman. Killer Moth follows her to the home of private detective Jason Bard and pokes around in the caves near to his home looking for the concealed Batcave. but Batgirl has been one step ahead of him the whole time, and she pounces from the shadows and clobbers him.

Meanwhile, in New Carthage, Killer Moth is on a crime rampage. Wha–?? Turns out this is a ruse by the Cavalier to plant a bug on one of Robin’s batarangs and use it to trace the location of the Batcave. But Robin is sensitive enough to the specifics of his equipment that he’s able to dope out the substitution and the plan comes to nothing. What’s more, Robin is able to pick up a fingerprint from the batarang, so he knows that the Cavalier is behind this.

So the Boy Wonder launches an elaborate ploy. With the Cavalier unaware that he’s found the tracker, Robin lures him out to a secret base concealed in a redwood tree, which the Cavalier realizes must be Robin’s own local headquarters (when Robin had the time to set up this elaborate charade is anybody’s guess.) What’s more, the evidence that the Cavalier finds inside–including a gigantic nest–leads him to conclude that Batman and Robin are, like Superman, aliens from another world. Robin shows up to conk the Cavalier and take him to prison–where both he and Killer Moth now have completely the wrong ideas about Batman’s true identity and the location of the Batcave.

The back-up Man-Bat story is stylishly illustrated by Michael Golden, and looks far more modern and interesting than anything else in the magazine. Man-Bat is on the hunt for the Shotgun Sniper who has left a trail of bodies all across Gotham City–and as private eye Jason Bard works out, all of the Sniper’s victims have a connection to Man-Bat’s wife Francine, which makes Kirk Langstrom a prime suspect for being the Sniper. It’s a case of mistaken identity because Bard doesn’t realize that Langstrom is Man-Bat, but as the two duel on the rooftop above the Langstrom apartment, from across the way the real Shotgun Sniper takes aim–but will his target be Man-Bat, Jason Bard or Francine? To Be Continued!

The one sop to classic stories left in BATMAN FAMILY was the Bureau of Missing Villains, which recapped stories of ancient Batman foes who had not been used in a dog’s age. In this issue, the spotlight went onto Mister Polka-Dot–and it’s pretty easy to tell just from that name why he never achieved a greater notoriety.

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