(APRIL 1982)

(Part Two of "Half A Hero...", continued from Batman #346)

(18 pages)

Cover pencils - Rich Buckler
Cover inks -
Dick Giordano

Story - Gerry Conway
Art -
Don Newton
Inks - Frank Chiaramonte
Colours -
Adrienne Roy
Lettering - Ben Oda
Editor - Dick Giordano

Second feature - Batgirl, "Duel with Demons!" (8 pages)
Letters page - "Batcave" (1 page)






Detective Comics #513 continues where Batman #346 left off two weeks earlier, and the major points of the story so far are recapped on the splash page and in the following panel.


Five days after Batman's as of yet undiscovered capture by Two-Face many inhabitants of Gotham - law-abiding and not - are wondering about the reasons for the lengthy disappearance of the Caped Crusader.

As Robin and Alfred find themselves fearing the worst, Vicki Vale storms the Wayne Building telling Alfred that she knows for fact that Bruce Wayne is Batman and thus in danger...

All the while, Batman is imprisoned in a room behind a glass separating wall in Two-Face's halfway house hideout, spared only by a chance as Dent's tossing of his coin - in order to decide whether to kill the Batman or spare him - ends in a repetitive series of the unscarred side of the coin coming up on top, thus postponing any action so far.

However, as Two-Face and his gang rob the Duo Record Company a guard manages to raise the alarm and thus leads Robin to the scene of the crime. Although Two-Face manages to get away, Robin finally learns about Batman and the halfway house from one of Dent's crooks.

As Two-Face arrives back at the halfway house his toss of the coin finally brings up the scarred side, but Batman sabotages a pipe to fill up his cell with steam, and from this he emerges with half of his mask showing a horribly scarred face...


  Completely confused, Two-Face releases Batman, who then gets the upper hand over Dent just as Robin and the police arrive.

The horror and shock of seeing a "Two-Face Batman" quickly subsides as Batman explains that it is only a mask, fashioned from a plastic tray which he had been handed together with his food.

Using this decoy allowed the Batman to throw Two-Face psychologically off his mark as he exploited Dent's unstable personality in the face (no pun intended) of dualities, thus gaining the upper hand at the decisive moment.

In other places, former Police Commissioner Jim Gordon contemplates the ruins of his professional life whilst "Boss" Thornton is pleased with having pushed Gordon out of office in order to plant one of his men - though he also feels troubled as in his mind he is seeing a ghost... the ghost of Hugo Strange.

As all goes back to normal, Bruce Wayne tells Dick and Alfred that he has decided that living in the centre of Gotham makes Bruce Wayne too accessible and hinders his activities as Batman - and that therefore they will all return to Wayne Manor.



The conclusion to the second 1982 story crossover from Batman into Detective Comics is concerned more with the main story event involving Two-Face and the imprisoned Batman and deals less with the numerous subplots which Gerry Conway set up for the task of turning Batman and Detective Comics into a de facto single Batman title with a shared continuous plot and storylines.

Although this would suggest a smoothly flowing story for Detective Comics #513 due to the more linear plot mechanics, the result is strangely staggered in places.

Whilst Conway showed quite some courage in setting up a complex first part to this story in Batman #346, the conclusion presented here almost feels like an anti-climax - the flow of events seems almost too simplistic, and the story never really builds up speed.

Even Batman's trick with his Two-Face mask doesn't really sit right, even though it is an interesting plot device as Conway has Batman tackle Two-Face precisely where Dent is at his weakest: on the level of self-perception and the psychology of identity. It is certainly more interesting than any simple physical tackle could ever be, but at the same time it feels highly construed and improbable under the circumstances - in other words, a typical deus ex machina, i.e. an "out of the blue" plot saving device.

The storytelling is also hampered by repeatedly featuring highly marked exposition (i.e. explanatory content often set into the dialogue of characters and sometimes even into monologue) on who exactly Two-Face is and how he ticks - even readers completely unfamiliar with the character may find it a bit strange that Two-Face exclaims (to himself? to the world at large?) that the horrible accident he suffered not only scarred his face but also gave him a modus operandi... From a comic book history perspective, Detective Comics #513 would seem to show where exposition in 1970s and 1980s comics got its bad name from.
  Many 1970s and 1980s comic books featuring a somewhat lacklustre story are ultimately saved by the artwork, and this is especially true for the Batman titles. In the case of Detective Comics #513, however, Don Newton doesn't quite pull it off either. Some of his panels display his talent to virtually grab the reader and pull him or her into the page, but many others are not as captivating as usual, adding further to the overall effect of a slow story which never really clears the runway.
On the more positive side, Gerry Conway adds yet more promising changes to the world of Bruce Wayne and Batman as he announces the return to Wayne Manor. Interestingly, Conway virtually reverses the original motives of Bruce Wayne to leave Wayne Manor after Dick Grayson went off to college - namely deciding at the time that besides being in a largely empty house without Robin (who now has returned) he would be more effective as Batman if he was closer to Gotham City.

ACCIDENTAL READING - Somewhat slow story despite an extra amount of Bat-Psychology



Bruce Wayne's decision to close Wayne Manor came about in Batman #217 (December 1969) and was primarily motivated by editor Julius Schwartz's plan to streamline and update the series. On the content level, this meant sending Dick Grayson off to Hudson University (and thus kicking off his backup solo series in Detective Comics #394) and moving Bruce and Alfred into the Wayne Foundation building penthouse. However, in spite of the perceived efficiency of a home in the heart of Gotham, Batman soon found himself returning to the Batcave beneath Wayne Manor every now and then, and indeed with increasing frequency. Over the years, various authors and editors tried to break the ties with the past by e.g. having the Batcave destroyed by an earthquake or replaced by an entirely new Batcave underneath Wayne Manor. But in the end, tradition prevailed, and the changes instigated by Julie Schwartz were mostly undone in 1982 when editor Dick Giordano and writer Gerry Conway took the Batman titles back to their roots - Batman #344 finally reunited Batman and Robin as a team on a permanent basis, and following Bruce Wayne's declaration to return to Wayne Manor in Detective Comics #513, the trio moved there in Batman #348 and thus also returned to the original Batcave, complete with its giant penny, robot dinosaur and other memorabilia.

The Batman feature from Detective Comics #513 has not been reprinted since its original publication, but it was used for several foreign market editions almost immediately following its original publication, namely Batman Taschenbuch #17 (Egmont Ehapa, German edition for Germany, Switzerland and Austria, 1982), Superserien #20 (Semic, Norway, 1982) and Batman #8 (Federal, Australia, 1983).




"I truly appreciate your efforts to return Batman to his roots and Gerry is to be commended for handling the adventures so well. The Batman is certainly his forte. The legend lives on. Long live the Batman!" (Karl Kibodeaux, Freeport TX)

"I'm excited about what's going on in the Batman books." (Rod Osborn, Princeton IN)

(from the letters page of Detective Comics #518)


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uploaded to the web 13 November 2016