Man-Bat Pt. 3: Detective Comics #407
Rarely has the Batman been stymied by an unsolved mystery… but this one had him hung up, until…
Batman reads in the newspaper that Kirk Langstrom’s bat exhibit is finally going to open at the Museum of Natural History, followed at midnight by his marriage to Francine. He races to the cathedral, where he bursts in just as the officiant is reciting, “…and if anyone sees fit why this marriage should not be consummated…”
Pandemonium shatters the serenity of the vast cathedral.
Francine weeps that she has thought about her decision very deeply, but Batman replies that nothing she says is going to convince him that the “wedding” in anything but "insane."
The story then flashes back to where we were left at the end of Detective Comics #402. Batman attempted to return Man-Bat to his human form, but the creature awoke…
Sealing him in the Batcave, Batman found Francine and brought her back to speak some sense to him. When they arrived, he had escaped.
Batman’s story ends as Francine’s begins. When she returned home that night…
Kirk interrupted her attempt to contact Batman to help with an antidote and said that his appearance would be “the supreme test” of her love for him.
He created a lifelike mask of Kirk Langstrom to cover his face and went to his lab at the museum where he commented:
There’s only one way to ensure that Francine will remain faithful to me!
You guessed it, at the cathedral, Francine makes a huge revelation:
Batman waits for the couple in the bell tower with the antidote and manages to give them each an injection…
We get more information about Kirk Langstrom’s character in Detective Comics #407. We originally met him with little introduction and haven't known for sure if he’s a good guy or not. Here, he’s pretty selfish in the extremes to which he goes to ensure Francine stays with him.
It provides such a delicious twist, though! Even if you see it coming, the major clue that’s dropped about it happens only one page earlier, so you don’t have time to ponder it. Such is the nature of these shorter stories during the era in which Detective Comics ran two per issue.
While future stories will try to replicate the twist, especially Man-Bat Over Vegas, it’s never done better than it is here. It makes it not only a great Batman tale, but probably the best Man-Bat tale ever written (and drawn.)
Title: Detective Comics
Issue #: 407
Cover Date: Jan., 1971
On Sale Date: Nov. 25, 1970
Writer(s): Frank Robbins
Penciller: Neal Adams
Inker: Dick Giordano
Editor: Julius Schwartz