Sunday, October 29, 2017

Detective Comics # 455, January 1976

A retro-comic perfect for Halloween!

Every once in a great while I like to pull something out of a box and re-read it. Recently, while organizing my comic book collection, I pulled out this long forgotten beauty from our Centennial year, when many comic books were promoting a patriotic storyline. There are several reasons why I have fond memories for this issue of Batman’s flagship title. The first is that Batman encounters a real vampire, and while such encounters have occurred before (and will again), they are few and far between. Secondly, the story was written by Elliot S. Maggin, one of my favorite writers at DC Comics. Maggin is responsible for writing many underrated Superman tales. Finally, the artwork is by Mike Grell. I love Mike Grell’s artwork, and I treasure all of those fantastic Green Arrow books that he produced. The story is titled “Heart of a Vampire,” and it clocks in at just 12 pages. Maggin and Grell do more with 12 pages than you’d think was humanly possible. They give us the origin of the vampire, Gustav DeCobra, and provide Batman with a dilemma in discovering how to kill a vampire who can transplant his heart...elsewhere. Maggin concocts a reasonable story, and Grell’s artwork shines with each creepy and gothic panel. I’d enjoy seeing this one reprinted. No, it’s not a classic, it’s simply fun and creepy, and that’s what vampire stories are supposed to be. The back-up story is a Hawkman tale with artwork by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez from a script by E. Nelson Bridwell.

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