Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Huntress in "Gotham Town Is Burning Down!" (August/September, 1978)

The Huntress returned to the alley where she had previously lost her suspect, and after tossing aside some crates, found a passage to a slum. She deduced that this might be a neighborhood base of operations for the arsonist, and staked it out until a stray light caught her attention. Watching from the windowsill, the arsonist was conveniently situated where he could work on bombs without being seen. Worse, the Huntress wasn't discrete enough to keep her own cover, and shots fired sent her diving off the ledge (yet somehow too slow to catch up with a man forced to run down several flights of stairs to a getaway car.)

Helena Wayne returned to work, where Cranston took her obvious fatigue as a sign of how seriously she took her partnership in the firm. Meanwhile, Roger Demerest was once again insufferable as he took advantage of the only TV in the building, situated in Wayne's office, ignoring her protests. Councilman Gresham was on the tube, announcing that he was seeking government funds to help rebuild his increasingly burned out district. Roger thought this was the type of guy the firm should be backing, and Wayne agreed. Over a dozen nights, the Darknight Demoiselle fought fires by night, her firm aiding the councilman by day.

Wayne's penthouse apartment was outfitted with furniture that concealed an elaborate gym in plain sight. After a workout, Wayne watched a televised debate between Councilman Gresham and Roger Demerest with enough pregnant comments to make obvious a connection to the arsonist. "My God! After all my hunting, is it really as simple as all that? Did I just have to turn on the television to find the clue I needed?"

The Huntress broke into the Councilman's office in search of private papers, but was heard and caught at gunpoint by Gresham. He admitted that he was the arsonist, and after missing her in the slums, planned to write off the heroine's death as a burglary attempt. Huntress threw a stylized disc to disarm him, but Gresham's towering Nubian manservant Jason knocked her out with one punch to the back of the head. Now there would be time to kill her in a way that would in no way implicate them...

This story from Batman Family #19 by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton, & Bob Layton was the exact kind of crap that was on network TV constantly at the time. It felt like an adaptation of one of those awful Marvel Comics TV shows where fantastic heroes shared mundane enemies with the likes of Barnaby Jones and Columbo. Worse yet, it took three chapters to wrap this lame case, where one would hope the Batman's daughter wouldn't be such a klutzy dolt as to fail repeatedly against a politician crazy enough to make his own bombs! I guess all those titillating shots of Huntress prancing around were meant to distract from equal number of gaping plot holes...

The Bronze Age

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