Man-Bat Pt. 5: Detective Comics #429
Something new has been added to the fearsome armament of Man-Bat… the power of an ancient evil… which makes this awesome night creature the most formidable foe the Batman has ever fought!
Strange things are happening in Las Vegas. First, an underground nuclear test blast east of the city sends panic-blinded bats swarming around Hoover Dam. Then, later that night, “a silent looming horror strikes at Vegas,” leaving victims lying in the streets with two puncture wounds on their necks.
Meanwhile, in Gotham City, Batman and Alfred learn of these events. When Batman wonders if Kirk Langstrom has heard about it yet, the radio announcer mentions that he’s already in Vegas, making Batman suspicious…
In Las Vegas, Batman hires a young woman to act as bait. A giant man-bat swoops down and attacks…
When Batman goes to Langstrom’s camp, he learns that the creature could not have been Kirk. And the Band-aid stuck to his glove reveals that it was actually Francine! She was apparently scratched while studying the “Hoover Dam bats.”
Batman and Kirk find Francine hanging upside down in a cave. When awakened, she transforms. Thinking he must destroy her, Kirk pulls a gun; however Batman has an idea to save her life.
Over a year since his last appearance, and following the apologies of writer/artist Frank Robbins, Man-Bat returns in Detective Comics #429. Or does he? Sure, Kirk Langstrom is back, but he’s not the half of the couple that becomes a monster.
While not nearly to the perfection of Neal Adams, I still enjoy Robbins’s art. The facial curves of the former give way to the straight, bold lines of the latter. With his tall forehead and arching eyebrows, Kirk looks like a villain.
The Francine-bat (Woman-Bat?) is different-looking than what I remember from previous issues, more like a real bat with legs than a human being with bat-like features. It’s also interesting that you cannot tell that it’s a female… if you know what I mean.
It’s another good story with another twist. I didn’t think for one minute the monster was Kirk, but I thought it would be a mutated bat from the nuclear test. That plot point ended up having little to do with the story, other than act as a catalyst for subsequent events.
Title: Detective Comics
Issue #: 429
Cover Date: Nov., 1972
On Sale Date: Sept. 28, 1972
Writer(s): Frank Robbins
Artist: Frank Robbins
Editor: Julius Schwartz