And we are back this week with another #ComicEssentials. We’re moving on from Golden Age into Silver Age. Lucky for you this is very late Silver Age which means we might not see so many silly stories. We skipped late 40s, all of 50s, and early 60s but we will come back to them in the future. Promise. I got a plan to which will feel natural on the schedule. Trust me.
Batman: One Bullet Too Many (1969)
Issue(s): Batman #217
🖊Writer(s): Frank Robbins
Penciler(s): Irv Norvick & Dick Giordano
Dick Grayson is going off to college! Hudson University to be precise. A nice note to start on. If you’ve payed close attention to the cover you’ll learn that it wasn’t just some cheap “clickbaity” trick. Bruce actually tells Alfred to close down the Batcave. The two men are now moving to the heart of Gotham to also evolve. In the day Bruce wants to succeed as a business man while confronting the crime at night that’s hiding behind the mask of companies or law. Very strong move.
>>>“Ride! Sweet ride!”<<<
So now Burce and Alfred move onto the Wayne Foundation and open up a new program. One that focuses on helping victims who aren’t helped because of an unknown/uncaptured criminal. It’s called the Victims Inc. Program aka V.I.P. The way Bruce came up with that name was painful to watch. So his journey begins! Starting with the murder of Dr. Susan Fielding’s husband and co-worker, Jonah Fielding. The woman is at the moment struggling with finances yet she doesn’t desire charities so Bruce Wayne offers her a loan which she then accepts.
Of course this followed right after Wayne decided to comment on Susan’s current state:
He then offers a helping hand to uncover the mystery as to who killed her husband. She doubts Bruce given how the cops have no leads as to who this man could be. Bruce mentions his ties with the Batman which leads her to restore some faith and decides to explain what happened that night. A mysterious man knocked on the door of their house/office, he was wounded from a gunshot. Jonah helped him in, pulled the bullet out, the wife didn’t see the face of the unknown man. Wanting to have a closer look she finds her husband shot and dead. The only evidence were the 2 bullets.
My favorite part is when Bruce’s mind wires into Batman’s line of work so the authors decided to represent it in a very creative way.
While Batman patrols Susan’s house/office, a man with a kid walk into it. When they’re inside the kid gets a dollar from the guy and runs out of the house (at least ask for higher pay). The man pulls out the gun on the doctor. Apparently a kid running out of the house wasn’t enough for the Greatest Detective to figure out this might be the killer. Instead he figures it out……by the difference of clothes style?
Batman jumps through the window and begins fighting. The doctor turns out to be a one huge badass. She throws surgical equipment as if it was a shuriken or a throwing knife.
At least he redeems himself when he jumps in front of the gunfire, but then he is stuck in an arm sling so he ends up looking a bit silly yet again. So they take the 3rd bullet that Batman was shot with for examination, it turns out all 3 are the same and from the same gun. Our hero came to a conclusion that there were 2 gang members. There rest I’ll let Batman explain because it gets complicated.
Batman gives us a very specific scenario but don’t worry dear reader, it’s just a ‘vague description’. Don’t worry, the writer isn’t trying to to tell us this is not a convenient conclusion so he gets away with a sloppy ending.
So he ends up being right and we don’t even get to see the bad guy get arrested. What a rushed ending. We end with Bruce writing a letter to Dick informing about how successful VIP is, but a man interrupts him and points a gun his way.
ART: The art direction in this is very strong. A lot of great showcases of how pencils can be pushed to their fullest. The great moment when Bruce is brainstorming (while Batman is in the frame) makes for a great touch which probably also saves the overall approach of the writing.
ACTION: Very disappointing. A scene in the house that ends with Batman being made a fool with nothing to make up for that. Get outta here!
CHARACTERS: Bruce choosing to update his life was a brilliant idea of the writers. It made him grow as a character which is probably the biggest plus for this issue. Even modern comics don’t know how to properly move the hero forward. Doctor Susan is a very interesting figure I hope to see more of later (I doubt). Also having Dick go to university is awesome and was probably erased from modern continuity which is sad to see. Everyone gets a proper, natural progression.
So maybe we did have some hiccups along the way, but by the end of the day I like what I’ve seen when the character developments are done perfectly. I’m sure this was a big shake up for the heroes back in the day and even now I’m curious how this whole V.I.P. continues. Sadly, I must take into account the final act which made me realize this indeed was of the Silver Age bloodline. Such a shame. It reminded me of when I played with toys as a kid and I would realize the story is dragging so I’d end it in the most anti-climactic way possible.
•26/40 = 65% = Okay
Alfred says, “I can’t bear to look back Master Bruce!”
Wayne responds, “Don’t Alfred—the future is ahead!”
Batman #232 – “The Daughter of the Demon”
Bronze Age here we come!!! Next one is just a modern classic that every Batman should read. No argument here. Now be nice and leave a comment below. Gimme your opinion and join our chat.