The Dirigible of DOOM

Hey folks, this is me trying to trick you into thinking I’ve posted something new. Nope! Sorry! And I won’t be for a while!

But I did go and edit the commentary for Detective Comics #33 (mostly to remove ableism on my part). So go read that! And remember comments = love.

(TW: fictional terrorism, character death, mental ableism)

Main site: The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom

Livejournal: The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom

Dreamwidth: The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom

Ben-Day Shots – Captain Britain #3


Captain Britain #3

Week Ending Oct 27, 1976
Cover Price: 10 pence

Characters: Captain Britain / Brian Braddock, Chief Inspector Dai Thomas, Royce, Vixen’s Mob, Dora, Courtney Ross, Jacko Tanner, Sandy York, Hurricane

(Content Notice: violence including guns, gender policing, bullying)

Yeah, it’s been a while. Sorry.

It’s time for another adventure full of Kirby-esque artwork! Including extreme foreshortening and disproportionately large figures. You think I’m kidding?


Look, there’s stylization, then there’s drawing one foot ten times as big as the other. That second one doesn’t make SENSE. The green guy is a perspective all his own, unless his leg actually stretches back three yards. But, it’s very dramatic! And that’s what matters.

Continue reading “Ben-Day Shots – Captain Britain #3”

Ben-Day Shots – Detective Comics #33


Detective Comics #33

1939 November, Golden Age
Cover Price: 10 cents
The Batman Wars Against the Dirigible of Doom

Characters: Batman, Bruce Wayne, Thomas Wayne, Mrs. Wayne, the Wayne’s killer (unnamed), silly red dirigible, the Scarlet Horde, Professor Carl Kruger, Travis, Bixley, Ryder, Bat-plane

(Edited October 2013) (CN: character death, fictional terrorism, mental ableism)

We start with a cover that has nothing to do with the comic, so I’m not including it. We really start with a cool image of Batman in the Bat-plane in the clouds looking at a red rocket-ship looking dirigible (which is a hard word to type). However, the story actually starts with Batman’s origin, which we all know by now.

“Some fifteen years ago, Thomas Wayne, his wife, and son, were walking home from a movie…” Why Bruce’s mom doesn’t get a name, I don’t know. Then, “Days later, a curious and strange scene takes place.”

Not to make light, but, Bruce have you considered perhaps that you read too many comics?

Continue reading “Ben-Day Shots – Detective Comics #33”

Ben-Day Shots – Captain Britain #2

Captain Britain #2

Week Ending Oct 20, 1976
Cover Price: 10 pence

Characters: Captain Britain / Brian Braddock, Reaver / Joshua Stragg, Merlin, Lady of the Northern Skies, Unnamed Thugs

The cover is very exciting and all – well composed, full of Kirby Dots, nice color contrast between Cap and Reaver, but… Look at Captain Britain’s pose. So his legs are basically perpendicular to Reaver. Who is attacking him. Brian had to have fallen on his ass one second after that blow.


To recap, Brian Braddock got super powers and a really spiffy costume somehow, he’s fighting the Reaver who is in plate armor for some reason, and this is all a flashback. (You can tell because all the panels have round corners.) Continuing from the last ish, we have the giant head of Merlin and the Lady of the Northern Skies, Brian trying to run, Reaver looks like a troll and his men are in pseudo-medieval / technological armor. Brian has to choose between a sword and an amulet. To no one’s surprise this is an easy choice.

Really, it’s all very kind of melodramatic.


“I’m not a killer! I can only chose the amulet, the symbol of life!” (Since when do amulets generically symbolize anything?)


(And this is a direct quote, because DRAMATIC MUCH?)

Rejoice, my son, for thou hast chosen the amulet of right o’er the sword of might! Therefore, let there be beauty and strength — power and compassion — honour and humility, mirth and reverence — within you… Be one with thy brothers of the Round Table — with Arthur and Lancelot, Gawain and Galahad, with them all…

Brian: Srsly woman, you don’t have to yell.

No, sorry, I was doing direct quotes. Here we go.

This — is — insane!!

A second ago, it was as if my very being were on fire — mind, body and soul together — and now… This costume, appearing out of nowhere — fitting me as if it’s tailor-made — and my body within the costume. I feel… bigger, faster, stronger — literally bursting with power, but how– and why?!?”

How and why? Seriously, I thought Over-Dramatic Lady made all that clear, more or less.

So our sides are defined – Right (aka, Law and Justice) and Might. A little cliched, but okay.

And to no one’s surprise Reaver decides to grab the sword to fight Cap with. And it’s EVIL. Which seems wrong to me. I might be overthinking or in the wrong mindset or something, but why are Merlin and this Lady setting out something evil? And two, it’s not like swords or might are inherently wrong. To bring up the previously mentioned Round Table – those guys used swords all the frikking time, and while they weren’t all entirely righteous (with the possible exception of Galahad, if I’m remembering my mythology correctly), they weren’t bad guys either. I know, I know, they were simplifying, stop thinking so much.

Anyway, Reaver grabs the sword and gets transformed like Brian. Except sillier (see the GIANT plume from last issue). And Reaver’s men tackle Brian. And we get this:


And then Brian instinctively reaches for his whupping stick, gives himself a pep talk, and the flashback ends. And apparently it took him a half hour to beat Reaver’s men.

Turns out Reaver got powers too. Which seems unwise of Merlin – okay, there has to be a wrong answer, fine, but don’t make it one that will then make you have to find someone else to clean up the mess if the hero picks it. Or, for example, a bad guy wanders in and grabs it.

So, yeah, his sword shoots energy. Because having a sharp pointy end isn’t enough when you’re dressed in armor and the other guy is in spandex. Brian tries throwing the staff at him, thinking that’s going to work. Brian? Cutie? HE HAS A HELMET. And they fight more with, in good Marvel Tradition, Brian getting the worse end of it. So, again, in good comic tradition, he has a crazy thought.


And I hate to interrupt the action, but we get a special bonus! A Captain Britain Do-It-Yourself Colour Page! Which my cynicism translates to: we ran out of money to color this page. So, yeah, black and white.


And Reaver is defeated, just like that. And Brian has proven himself a champion of Right, by beating people up. Because Might is evil.


CapBritain-2-icon-1.jpg CapBritain-2-icon-2.jpg CapBritain-2-icon-3.gif CapBritain-2-icon-4.jpg CapBritain-2-icon-5.jpg CapBritain-2-icon-6.jpg CapBritain-2-icon-7.jpg CapBritain-2-icon-8.jpg CapBritain-2-icon-9.jpg CapBritain-2-icon-10.jpg

Credits: writer: Chris Claremont, artists: Herb Trimpe & Fred Kida, letterer: I. Watanabe, colorist: Marie Severin, editor: Larry Lieber.

Ben-Day Shots – Captain Britain #1


Captain Britain #1

Week Ending Oct 13, 1976
Cover Price: 10 pence


Characters: Captain Britain / Brian Braddock, Dr. Travis, Reaver / Joshua Stragg, Merlin, Lady of the Northern Skies

First appearance: … everybody. Actually I don’t know that. To the Wikipedia! … yes.

Or I could’ve just gone on to the first page, which has ‘a personal message from Stan Lee’! It’s Britain’s greatest superhero! (I’m pretty sure that’s not true, at least yet)

For you who don’t know, British comics come out weekly. Because of this, they are shorter (this one is 10 pages, including the cover) and often at least partially in black and white (this one is in full color).

I first read about Captain Britain during my ‘I love the X-men’ phase, in Excalibur, which, at the time I was reading it, was excellent (Cross-Time Caper era, for those of you who know). Anyway, let’s get on with the story.

‘Captain Britain!’
‘Born in fulfillment of an ancient dream — forged and tempered in the fires of defeat and death…
‘… a man gifted with superior powers and abilities–‘
‘– he is that rarest of all men:’
a Super-Hero!

The artist is not, in fact, Jack Kirby, but you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Our hero, clad in brilliant red, amply emblazoned with the Union Jack and displaying the English lion, and with a permament and somewhat inexplicable shadow about the face, damn near leaps off the page with his whacking stick.

We also get hints what is going to happen in the background, which is a bit silly if you think about it, as this is the second page in a nine page story, so why bother? There’s also a bit of Kirby Krackle serving absolutely no purpose, because, hey, why not?


I don’t know why I described it and then showed the pic anyway, but hey, I’m not going to waste that overally complicated sentence.

So we start in the middle of our story ‘in the remote fastness of the Cheviot Hills, just south of the Scottish border’, which I’m sure thrilled somebody reading this for the first time.

You couldn’t see it on the splash page, but besides the Union Jack over his face, Cap’s also got one on each arm, because, again, why not? He’s probably got Union Jack boxers on too.

Because this is England, Cap is fighting a guy in a full suit of Medieval-style armor, complete with big poofy purple feathers coming out of his helmet. I can’t tell if Reaver’s minions are carrying rayguns or just Kirby-teched normal guns, but they don’t get a chance to use them before Cap knocks them out, while thinking, in classic Marvel fashion, ‘I’m such an awesome fighter! But how?! I’m a physicist, not a super-hero!’ Cap, um, it comes with the goofy costume, along with the ability to think three pages of text in the five seconds it would take to beat these guys up.

Oh, we also get some classic onomatopoeia:


And people narrating their action as well, because comics.

Reaver: He dodged my blow at the last second!
Remaining conscious minion: Yeah, we saw that.

Okay, Reaver’s silly purple plume curves from the top of his head in a perfect arc up, down, and to halfway down his back. It’s like a blanket. Those are some serious feathers.


And Cap spontaneously says his name, which he didn’t know up till this point. Can I just point out that while starting in the middle of the story is exciting and all, it’s also silly. We don’t know what’s going on because it’s just two people in silly costumes we don’t know fighting for an unknown reason. And apparently our hero doesn’t know what’s going on either. I know Marvel is about everyman heroes (at least when this story was written), but this is goofy.

Annnd cue flashback. In the middle of a fight. Because why on earth would Cap bother paying attention? After all, he’s unbeatable!

The flashback panels are nicely done. The first one starts with typical thought bubble scallops and then they all have rounded corners. It’s a nice subtle way of setting it apart.


I’m always inordinately pleased about pipe-smoking characters. I don’t remember ever seeing Brian with a pipe before. He must have given it up when he finished college.

Any, Brian was working as an assistant to Dr. Travis, supposedly just until the next term starts, at a Darkmoor Research Center – I’m sorry Centre -, where they’re developing a fusion reactor system. OK, that name is just forboding. As is the strange aircraft disappearing behind the hill in the last four panels.

And the world’s most ridiculous vehicle bursts through the wall! Thus introducing our villain. Who appears to be wearing a mohair trenchcoat.


And they kidnap everyone but Brian, who races off on a motorcycle, looking very silly. (Something about a nice suit and a little bike just is odd). But he gets blinded by the strange aircraft – which he doesn’t seem fazed by at all – and drives off a cliff in a fireball. Is this the end? Nope, he gets saved by – and I’m not making this up – the giant floating heads and hands of Merlin and ‘The Lady of the Northern Skies’ to get judged ‘on peril of [his] immortal soul!’


And thus we end, still in flashback mode! What’ll happen next week?! Aside from the stuff we saw at the beginning of this issue?


icon1.gif cap-brit-1-icon1.jpg cap-brit-1-icon2.jpg cap-brit-1-icon3.jpg cap-brit-1-icon4.jpg cap-brit-1-icon5.jpg cap-brit-1-icon7.jpg cap-brit-1-icon6.jpg cap-brit-1-icon8.jpg cap-brit-1-icon9.jpg cap-brit-1-icon10.jpg cap-brit-1-icon11.jpg cap-brit-1-icon12.jpg cap-brit-1-icon13.jpg cap-brit-1-icon14.jpg

Credits: writer: Chris Claremont, artists: Herb Trimpe & Fred Kida, (doing an excellent Kirby impersonation, yay for house styles?), letterer: I. Watanabe, colorist: Marie Severin, editor: Larry Lieber. (Specifically, Herb Trimpe did pencils and Fred Kida did inks, according to the Grand Comics Data-Base.)

I’m not marking the Age on these, but if you’re curious, it’s Bronze Age.

Ben-Day Shots – Detective Comics #31 & 32


Yeah, this is a special double-sized post!

Detective Comics #31

September 1939, Golden Age
Cover Price: 10 cents
Untitled (Part 1 of Mad Monk)

Characters: Batman, Mad Monk, giant gorilla. 1st appearance of Batarang, Batgyro, and Julie Madison.

Another lovely cover.

Continue reading “Ben-Day Shots – Detective Comics #31 & 32”

Ben-Day Shots – Detective Comics #30


Detective Comics #30

1939, August, Golden Age
Cover Price: 10 cents
Untitled Story (Return of Doctor Death)

Characters: Batman, Bruce Wayne, Doctor Death, Mikhail. I love that Bruce actually does stuff as Bruce in so many of these.

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Ben-Day Shots – Detective Comics #29


Detective Comics #29

1939 July, Golden Age
Cover Price: 10 cents

This one starts with a great cover. I wish I had a better version, or could find a nice large version, but it’s awesome. We’ll see what Photoshop magic can do. Unfortunately, Batman is still running around bare-handed. Bruce, you’re supposed to be smarter than that. (and YES, I will harp on that until it changes.) The cover has dropped the hyphen in his name too, which is nice, cuz it was annoying to type ‘the Bat-Man’ over and over again. Bats is sporting more of a wing than cape look, which is nifty, if completely impractical. And our mad scientist looks like he has pointy ears. Hm.

But onto to the content itself.

The Batman meets Doctor Death

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Commentary for Detective Comics #28 – Ben-Day Shots

Ben-Day Shots

Detective Comics #28

1939 June, Golden Age

Cover Price: 10 cents

Untitled Story (Frenchy & the Jewel Thieves)

Characters: Bruce Wayne / Batman (as ‘the Bat-Man’). First appearance of the Bat-rope (not called that).

I hope you’ll forgive me for the quality of the scans. Not my fault.

I love the intro for this.

Continue reading “Commentary for Detective Comics #28 – Ben-Day Shots”

Commentary for Detective Comics #27 (Ben-Day Shots)

And now it’s time for the return of Ben-Day Shots. It’s going to take a bit to get the old ones up here (need to find a blogging client that I like, which should make it easier). Anyway, let’s get to it.

Detective Comics #27

1939 May, Golden Age
Cover Price: 10 cents

The Case of the Chemical Syndicate

Characters: Bruce Wayne / Batman (first appearance, as ‘Bat-Man’), Commissioner Gordon (first appearance)

Well, it’s Batman. It’s not fair to judge anything by it’s first issue. It’s not fantastic, it’s not quite on character yet, but it’s Batman.

Anyway, it starts in media res with Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon talking at Gordon’s home. They’re apparently old friends. At this point, Bruce Wayne is a pipe-smoking layabout that somehow still manages to get invited on police investigations (was this okay in the 40s? Seriously?) Gordon is a white-haired cigarette / cigar-smoking (I can’t quite tell) man with a tiny mustache and a tacky suit (well, I’m sure it was fine in the 40s). Actually Bruce’s isn’t that great either.

So anyway, Commissioner Gordon lets ‘young socialite’ Bruce Wayne come along to investigate Lambert, the Chemical King’s, death. Including being there as they question his son.

OK, seriously either police procedure in the 40s was very very lax, or the Gotham police just suck. Who the hell mentions that a victim was killed to just anybody who calls? Bruce’s reaction is just adorable. And slap-worthy (see below.)

(slightly edited for ease of reading)

So the man that called gets whacked, but the Bat-man shows up to beat up the perps. He doesn’t look that bad, although the purple gloves are ridiculous (or possibly fabulous. It rather depends on whether you care about fun or plausible crime-fighting).


It should be noted that the Bat-Man is also wanted by the police. And he drives a red, non-bat-in-any-way, car, which I quite like.

Again, edited for conciseness.

So Rogers (one of dead Lambert’s partners) goes to see Alfred Stryker, who, notably, is the only one to get a first name in a caption (the other names are mentioned by young Lambert). Stryker is the last partner and apparently employs an evil chemist named Jennings. Jennings knocks out Rogers and then prepares to gas him. You know he’s evil because he’s continually going ‘heh! heh!’.

In case you thought I was kidding.

Naturally Batman shows up just in the nick of time to save Rogers, keep Jennings from shooting anyway (because if you have a gun you should only try to kill people with it after the hero shows up.) And naturally this wakes up Stryker who tries to kill Rogers some more. The Bat-Man explains everything to Rogers, while holding Stryker with one hand (which is apparently enough to immobilize a person until they get pissed off). Stryker gets mad, the Bat-Man hits him and he falls into the acid tank, which naturally any chemist has. And the Bat-Man does nothing.

Well, basically nothing.

And the story ends with this:

Because your bedroom closet is the perfect place to store your vigilante costume.





(Icons may be used or modified wherever, with credit to DC comics)

See Dial B For Blog #389 – 391 for how Batman was created (and things that DC will never tell you) (there’s some in the final installment that I personally think is a stretch, but judge for yourself)

Credits: (uncredited & details) Rob’t Kane (that is, Bob Kane. Pencils, inks, letters) (script: Bill Finger)