Monday, 7 March 2016

Batman [1940] #308 - DC Comics

BATMAN [1940] No. 308, February 1979
Featuring a Mister Freeze bereft of the tragic pathos with which his Modern Age of Comics version receives on account of his revamped backstory “created by Paul Dini for [the] ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ television” programme in 1992, this twenty-three page periodical still depicts the super-villain as a chillingly cruel criminal mastermind, but one who is also blindingly love-struck for the attentions of his fickle female companion. In fact the entirety of Len Wein’s main plot is based upon the cryogenically-suited scientist’s endeavours to replicate the conditions of his ‘ice gun accident’ in order to bestow immortality upon his blonde-haired beloved; “Soon, Hildy my love, you will be able to join me in my sub-zero existence -- and your beauty shall endure forever!”

So simple a premise makes for an ideal single issue storyline and the Inkpot Award-winner wastes no time having Commissioner Gordon ‘summon’ “the dread avenger of the night” to the scene of Victor Fries’ latest cold-blooded killing, that “of the financier Jacob Riker”, and provide the Caped Crusader with enough clues as to identity of the “grisly murderer”. The American author even conveniently has “Benny the Buzz” inform “The World’s Greatest Detective” ‘off-screen’ as to which Gotham City building “Freeze secretly owns”, in order to both keep the narrative racing along, and allow this comic’s audience the opportunity to see Sheldon Moldoff’s co-creation inadvertently transform the hapless Mister McVee into “little more than a living zombie!”

Indeed the villain’s silently stalking “ice pack”, each equipped with a “jaw [which] feels like it’s made of solid ice” and “utterly incapable of feeling pain” are the surprise stars of “There’ll Be A Cold Time In The Old Town Tonight!” and these mindless minions more than make up for some of Wein’s writing weaknesses, such as having the “conniving, scheming unfaithful witch” Hildy foolishly tell Batman of her plans to kill “that abominable snowman” once she is “finally immortal” well within the rogue scientist’s earshot!?!

Illustrators John Calnan and Dick Giordano also perform admirably in their task to bring this tersely-told tale to life with Batman in particular being given plenty of dynamically charged panels within which to demonstrate his “wrath”. However the duo’s detailed design and pencilling of Mister Freeze’s aforementioned frozen “goons’ are particularly praiseworthy, right down to their split suits, emotionless facial expressions and lumbering bodily movements.
Writer: Len Wein, Illustrators: John Calnan & Dick Giordano, and Letterer: Ben Oda

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