BAT 77 - The Secret of the Waiting Graves (Detective #395)

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BAT 77
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BAT 77 - The Secret of the Waiting Graves (Detective #395)

Post by BAT 77 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 5:06 pm

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TITLE: The Secret of the Waiting Graves
PUBLISHING DATE: January 1970
CREDITS: Denny O'Neil (story), Neal Adams (pencils), Dick Giordano (inks)

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Re: BAT 77 - The Secret of the Waiting Graves (Detective #395)

Post by gothosmansion » Sun Sep 22, 2019 12:22 pm

Hi JB,

If you're not as familiar with the bronze age...

I don't mind the "clunky" expository dialogue...remember, back then, writers only had 14-25 pages to get their story told. I would rather they keep the plot moving. Now days, with the decompressed story telling, Batman would probably spend three issues hooking the rope to the cliff. There's no telling how many issue would be spent showing Bruce going to Mexico.

While we are use to a darker Batman today, when originally printed, the story still wasn't too far removed from the TV show. I can understand including the Batman thought balloon about his appearance spooking them. One other think I like about this story is that Batman didn't trash-talk in it. Often, O'Neil's Batman was too much of a braggart. As my favorite football coach used to say, "If you're good enough to be bragged on, someone else will do it for you. If you have to brag on yourself, something is wrong."

Strangely, I've read that Neal Adams isn't too fond of the story. I've also read some criticize that it more like a House of Mystery story than a Batman tell. I don't agree with that. Some of the pre-Robin era Batman issues were horror stories and it is a genre made for Batman.

I didn't read the story until the mid-1980s, so I'm not just looking at it through nostalgia glasses. I'd conservatively estimate that I've read over 1000 issues of Batman, and Secret of the Waiting Graves would certainly by in the top 50 or maybe even top 25.

Since you mentioned it, I hate the redrawing that Neal Adams did in the Illustrated collections. It deprives the reader of seeing how Adams work progressed. I thought he worked out the kinks on his time at Brave & the Bold and was ready to hit the ground running when he got on Detective.

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Re: BAT 77 - The Secret of the Waiting Graves (Detective #395)

Post by SprangFan » Wed Sep 25, 2019 5:40 am

I don't mind the "clunky" expository dialogue...remember, back then, writers only had 14-25 pages to get their story told. I would rather they keep the plot moving. Now days, with the decompressed story telling, Batman would probably spend three issues hooking the rope to the cliff. There's no telling how many issue would be spent showing Bruce going to Mexico.
This.

The beauty of a self-contained story, be it 22 pages or 8, was that you got a beginning, middle and end, unlike modern comics that take years and dozens of issues to tell stories that may not even have a proper ending, just a lead-in to the next year-long, meandering slog. In the old days (said the geezer), some stories were good, some not so good, a few were wonderful, but when all was said and done, the next issue brought a new story, so if you were disappointed this month, just wait until next month. Now it doesn't matter if a story is bad; the best you can do is tough it out and hang in there hoping it'll eventually improve.
Strangely, I've read that Neal Adams isn't too fond of the story. I've also read some criticize that it more like a House of Mystery story than a Batman tell. I don't agree with that. Some of the pre-Robin era Batman issues were horror stories and it is a genre made for Batman.
When I was a wee lad in the early 70s, Horror was the genre du jour thanks to movies like The Exorcist, shows like Dark Shadows and, soon, the blockbuster success of Jaws. Consequently, comics were chock-full of ghosts and vampires and demons and voodoo references. It never really worked in "Superman," sort of halfway worked in "Spider-Man" but it really clicked in "Batman" and "Detective," because the character had one foot in horror, anyway. He dressed like a bat and worked in the shadows, after all. Any "monster" in sunny Metropolis would have to have come from outer space, but who knew what sort of occult menaces might be haunting the dark alleyways of Gotham, or the remote farms and swamps and moors Batman often seemed to visit?

What made it work was that in spite of all the crazy things he experienced, Batman remained a detective and scientist at heart, so he was a skeptic. It was cool watching a rational mind deal with the supernatural. You always got the impression part of Batman's job was to hold on to his sanity in the face of madness. In that sense, the bat-costume became a sort of psychological armor; a case of "meet the enemy on its own terms."
Since you mentioned it, I hate the redrawing that Neal Adams did in the Illustrated collections. It deprives the reader of seeing how Adams work progressed. I thought he worked out the kinks on his time at Brave & the Bold and was ready to hit the ground running when he got on Detective.
"Progressed" is a subjective term. It assumes he's better now than he was then, and IMHO he most definitely is NOT. What he's done by re-drawing his older works is not "polishing" but, again IMO, rank vandalism.

But I agree with the larger point: by tinkering with (defacing) these earlier works, Adams is robbing them of their historical value. His comics, like anyone else's, are on one level time capsules memorializing a moment in history, and if you alter them now, they're neither fish nor fowl: they're not an accurate record of what existed at the time, and yet they're still too anachronistic and wonky to pass as current works.

I will tell anyone interested in the collections of Neal Adam's Batman: "If you want to know what an amazing thing it was for fans to see Neal Adams burst onto the scene and work his magic on Batman, DON'T buy these books, because this is NOT what we saw."

Even if it was "okay" for Adams to monkey with this work (via the argument that "it's his work, after all"), why is he the only one who gets that privilege? Did anyone ask O'Neill if their are things he'd word differently here in 2019? Isn't it disrespectful of Dick Giordano's inking to toss it out in favor of Neal's modern pen-scratches? Sure the coloring options were limited then compared to what you can do with a computer now, but isn't it more impressive to see how creative they used to be in the face of their limitations?

I'm encouraged by the smattering of stories that have restored the original art and coloring for very recent collections -- like "The Joker's 5-Way Revenge" in the new BA Joker Omnibus -- and I live in hope that I'll live long enough to see an omnibus collecting BA Batman in a form that honors the original works, including Neal Adam's great stories as they were first presented, and not vandalized.

There endeth the "angry old man" rant for today. For the record I should say that growing up, Neal Adams could do no wrong in my eyes and was the greatest artist to ever pick up a pencil. I still love him for all the hours of joy he brought me back then, even if I'm not wild about what he's doing lately.
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Re: BAT 77 - The Secret of the Waiting Graves (Detective #395)

Post by gothosmansion » Sat Sep 28, 2019 6:28 am

By progressing, I meant that I thought he improved on the original issues. Adams himself admitted that in his first World's Finest, Batman looked just like any other super hero. He was right. I'm not saying I don't love the issue, because I do. As he progressed, his Batman took on more of a darker look that paved the way for the Bronze Age.

I thought some of his story telling wasn't as developed in his World's Finest and early B&B.

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Re: BAT 77 - The Secret of the Waiting Graves (Detective #395)

Post by BAT 77 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:42 am

Thanks, Gothos Mansion and SprangFan for the commentary. I'll be weighing in when I do my next recording, which will be for "Paint a Picture of Peril" - the next Adams-drawn issue, so it'll be right on-topic. I only have access to the redone version from the Illustrated book, so sadly no comparisons between the original version and the retouched version this time.
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Re: BAT 77 - The Secret of the Waiting Graves (Detective #395)

Post by gothosmansion » Sun Sep 29, 2019 9:44 am

BAT 77 wrote:
Sat Sep 28, 2019 8:42 am
Thanks, Gothos Mansion and SprangFan for the commentary. I'll be weighing in when I do my next recording, which will be for "Paint a Picture of Peril" - the next Adams-drawn issue, so it'll be right on-topic. I only have access to the redone version from the Illustrated book, so sadly no comparisons between the original version and the retouched version this time.
JB, I want to say in the illustrated books that Paint a Picture of Peril is the one that had the most redrawing. I think the only time it has been reprinted unaltered was in a treasury, and those are getting pretty pricey now too.

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Re: BAT 77 - The Secret of the Waiting Graves (Detective #395)

Post by BAT 77 » Mon Sep 30, 2019 5:50 am

gothosmansion wrote:
Sun Sep 29, 2019 9:44 am

JB, I want to say in the illustrated books that Paint a Picture of Peril is the one that had the most redrawing. I think the only time it has been reprinted unaltered was in a treasury, and those are getting pretty pricey now too.
I was able to find a few pages from the original online, so I'll be able to compare and contrast a few of the images on my upcoming review. I'm unable to confirm this, but that last panel of Bruce Wayne just does not look good on the redo. He's got that same goofy expression that he usually has in those "Batman Odyssey" books.
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