The Batman Family #1
Published and © by DC, October 1975
Title: “The Invader From Hell!”
Synopsis: Robin and Batgirl team in the nation’s capital to stop an invasion led by Benedict Arnold and Satan.
Writer: Elliot S. Maggin
Artist: Mike Grell
Review: No, really – stop what you’re doing and reread the synopsis above. How do you even comment on a story about “an invasion led by Benedict Arnold and Satan”? It’s the kind of Silver Age goofiness that cripples the Bronze fan’s brain. (Mike Grell draws a pretty sweet Batgirl, though.)
Title: “The Great Handcuff King!”
Synopsis: Alfred uses some new handcuffs to stumble and bumble his way through a crime-fighting adventure.
Artist: Jerry Robinson
Review: Golden Age silliness from Batman #28, with nice cartooning from legendary Batartist Jerry Robinson.
Title: “Commissioner Gordon’s Death-Threat”
Synopsis: One of Jim Gordon’s first collars gets out of prison and comes gunning for revenge.
Writer: Gardner Fox
Artist: Bob Kane (credited)
Review: A typical Silver Age adventure, reprinted from Batman #186, with enough plot holes to accommodate an entire fleet of trucks.
Title: “Challenge of the Man-Bat”
Synopsis: Inspired by Batman, scientist Kirk Langstrom develops a formula to give himself bat powers – a formula that works too well.
Writer: Frank Robbins
Artists: Neal Adams and Dick Giordano
Review: Some dismiss Grell as a poor man’s Neal Adams. Including real Adams (from Detective Comics #400) does Grell no favors.
Grade (for the entire issue): B+
Second opinion: “Mike Grell (doing plenty of nice art) and Elliot S. Maggin (weaving a weird but enjoyable script).” – Martin Lock, Fantasy Unlimited #29, August 1975 … “Overall, promises to be a good series.” – Peter C. Phillips, Fantasy Unlimited #29, August 1975 … “Decidedly silly.” – The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003
Cool factor: Mike Grell + Batgirl + Neal Adams reprints = DC Giant goodness!
Not-so-cool factor: Once more, for the record: “an invasion led by Benedict Arnold and Satan!”
Notable: A text page offers “The Origins of Batgirl and Robin, the Teen Wonder.” … There’s also two one-page filler features – “Comedy Cover Capers” and “The Alfred Story!” – made up of past covers and interior panels.
Character quotable: “Yes … thanks, Dick … I feel faint – !” – Barbara Gordon, just fibbin’, of course, as she tries to get away to change into Batgirl (You know, for a couple of detectives, Babs and Robin are a little thick when it comes to each other’s secret IDs.)
Editor’s note: This review was originally published by Comics Bronze Age on June 26, 2009.