It was the Neal Adams cover that got me. What was going on here? The chubby cowled crusader of the 60s had slipped away, and suddenly Batman comics were scary. There was a touch more realism involved, and Batman had become a lean, mean fighting machine. The stand-alone story beneath the cover was written by Denny O’Neil and the artwork was by Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. Novick’s contribution to Batman in the 70s is underrated. He is equally as important as Neal Adams and Dick Giordano. O’Neil wrote a great many stories, and I wonder what he recalls of this one, which remains a favorite of mine. I liked it because it was different. When Batman learns that Blind Buddy, a jazz pioneer, had been murdered in New Orleans, he sets out to find the killer. Batman had been a fan, and felt that he owed Blind Buddy something. At Blind Buddy’s funeral, he encounters a beast man named Moloch, who nearly defeats the caped crusader. Moloch escapes, and Batman dives deeper into mystery and mayhem. They key is Blind Buddy’s horn, which apparently has a crude map scratched onto it and revealing the location of a potential oil drilling site worth millions. This 24-page story is dripping with mood, and artists and colorists today would do themselves a service by studying the panels and color palette to see how talented artists can convey a nighttime scene and rain swept streets without the murky darkness and digital manipulation. This is a damn good, memorable tale of The Batman, as he was meant to be, and handled superbly by real pros.