Man-Bat Pt. 28: Batman #342
For one terrible instant, Dr. Terrence Thirteen – the man they call “the Ghost Breaker” – doubts the convictions of a lifetime, here in the shadows of the original Batcave beneath Wayne Manor…
Kirk sounded totally inhuman – wailing like a lost soul! I can’t understand it. I thought he was in control of his Man-Bat self… that he’d become a kind of super-hero!
When Bruce Wayne visits Francine Langstrom, he learns why her husband is so mad at Batman. Even though Superman was eventually able to cure their daughter, he became obsessed with what he calls “Batman’s betrayal” for destroying the original cure for her disease…
He’d never hit me before – never! From a sweet, giving man, he’d changed into – a monster! That night he flew off – and I haven’t seen him since.
Still in possession of the antidote he prepared for Kirk when they first met, Batman searches for Man-Bat. He finds him and they fight. Batman seems to be losing “until with strength steeled by equal parts of compassion and determination, he lashes out, knocking Man-Bat unconscious.
Yet Man-Bat doesn’t resume his human form, flying away into the darkness.
Since we last saw her five months ago in DC Comics Presents #35, Rebecca Langstrom is now a walking, talking toddler asking if Daddy is home. Kirk is a glass half empty kind of guy, I guess, because he can’t focus on the fact that (because of Superman) she’s cured, only on the fact that (because of Batman) she almost wasn’t cured.
We get another one-page, abridged version of Man-Bat’s origin, as well as a 2/3 page recap of recent events. As predicted, the tease of this story that appeared in Batman #341 (Man or Man-Bat) didn’t appear in this issue. Instead, the story is called Requiem for a Hero, indicating that Kirk Langstrom has taken a permanent turn to the dark side.
There's some good art in this issue, starting with the cover (see below.) Batman hangs from a rope tied around Man-Bat's against a background that evokes a belfry. (Bats in the belfry?) And I love the panel where Batman force-feeds Man-Bat the antidote (see above.) If you've ever tried to give your pet dog or cat medicine with an eyedropper, you know what I mean.
Issue #: 342
Cover Date: Dec. 1981
On Sale Date: Sept. 10, 1981
Writer(s): Gerry Conway
Penciller: Irving H. Novick
Inker: Frank McLaughlin
Editor: Dick Giordano