Friday, December 27, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

Cloak and Dagger: "Roof of the World" 8/13/50

A pair of museum professors are recruited to make a diplomatic trip to talk to the Dali Lama. This leads to a race against a pair of Nazis across the Himilayan mountains.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Why the Heck Would They Change His Name?

Cop Hater was the first book in Ed McBain's awesome 87th Precinct series, inspired by Dragnet and thus created with the idea of presenting police work in a relatively realistic manner, but with the identity of the lead protagonist shifting between different detectives in the precinct from one book to the next. The lead in this first book was Steve Carella, who (after McBain's unsuccessful attempt to kill him off in the third book) would become the most common lead protagonist.

Cop Hater involves the murder of several police officers. At first, it appears the killer must be a psycho who just wants to kill cops. But Carella gradually begins to suspect there might be a deeper purpose, which in turn leads to inadvertently putting his fiance, deaf/mute Teddy Franklin, in danger. It's an excellent story with a very satisfying ending.

It was published in 1956 and I just recently learned that it was adapted into a film in 1958, with Robert Loggia playing the lead character.

It's a very faithful adaptation of the book, with a screenplay written by Henry Kane--another talented crime novelist. The cast is great, with the detectives all looking like regular, working-class joes, doing their job and following up clues in a methodical fashion. Eleanor Parker does a wonderful job as Teddy Franklin and establishes a real rapport with Loggia.

There's a fun bit involving a gang of teen gang members who have been arrested after they attacked a cop. The leader of the gang is played by an impossibly-young Jerry Orbach, years before he switched sides and became a grizzled veteran cop on Law and Order.

Not only did the movie keep the book's plot intact (which includes scenes of cops following up leads that prove to be dead ends, adding to their growing frustration), but it also includes the plot point that the city is suffering a really intense heat wave. As in the book, the heat keeps everyone sweaty and on edge, adding to the overall tense atmosphere of the story.

There are several odd changes, though, both involving name changes. First, Loggia's partner is changed from Hank Bush to Mike Maguire. I suppose this might be because the actor (Gerald O'Loughlin) looks more like a Maguire than a Bush.

The other and more inexplicable change is to Loggia's character. He's not Steve Carella. He's Steve Carelli.

It's not that big a deal and certainly doesn't affect the quality of the movie, but I can't help but wonder why. The character still has an obviously Italian name, so it wasn't that. (Besides, for a 1950s film, it didn't shy from including a black detective in the precinct.) It's such a silly, little change. Was it a typo in the script no one noticed? Was it some weird decision by an annoying producer?

We'll probably never know. The movie is on Amazon Prime and is worth watching.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Stiltman Returns!

I have a real fondness for the second- and third-tier supervillains that populate the Marvel Universe. These are guys who will work their way up to arch-enemy status, but whose occasional appearances can give us a lot of four-color fun.

Stilt-Man is one of these lower-tier villains and he really is a lot of fun. The concept of using extendable hydralic legs to pull off crimes may be inherently silly in real life, but it adds a nice touch of whimsy and visual fun to a Comic Book Universe.

His first appearance was in an early issue of Daredevil, which ended with the villain getting hit by his own shrink ray and vanishing. But the shrink effect eventually wears off and he's ready for another appearance in Daredevil #26 (March 1967). This issue is written by Stan Lee and drawn by Gene Colan.

This issue has a slow and somewhat annoying start, with a few too many pages showing us Matt Murdock play-acting the part of his "twin brother" Mike--a loud, hammy persona that gets on the nerves of both Foggy Nelson and the reader. Matt has a legitimate purpose for creating his make-believe twin--he can claim that Mike is actually Daredevil if he ever needs to do so to protect his own secret identity. But we simply don't need eight pages of the guy before the story gets rolling.

Daredevil had fought another lower-tier villian--Leap-Frog--in the previous issue and now that bad guy is on trial. Foggy is defending him, but the trial is cut short when it turns out that District Attorneys in the Marvel Universe are just as incompetent as the prison wardens in the DC Universe who keep giving Lex Luthor access to the machine shop. Leap-Frog is literally handed one of his spring-loaded shoes while being questioned. He promptly puts it on and springs out a window to freedom.

Well, actually, he doesn't quite make it to freedom. He's no smarter than the D.A. and--since he's only wearing one shoe--breaks a leg on the sidewalk.

There's actually an art mistake by Colan in a couple of panels when he shows L-F wearing springs on both shoes. Oh, well. Even the Masters of the genre aren't perfect. And it's a half-century too late for me to try to claim a No-Prize anyways.

Leap-Frog not only has a broken leg, but he soon finds himself being lectured by Stilt-Man, who was just arriving to rescue him and form a super-villain partnership. In the meantime, Matt has changed into Daredevil and also arrives.

Though this issue is flawed in terms of story construction with its slow start, the ensuing fight scene is a more fun than a barrell full of spring-loaded shoes. Gene Colan effectively uses shifting perspective from one frame to the next to highlight Stilt-Man's changing height and Daredevil's agility as the two go at it. This includes are really fantastic full-page panel about half-way through the fight.

Eventually, Daredevil uses his billy club cable to trip up Stilt-Man and knock the villain unconscious.

I'm not sure if the geography of the next few moments are logical, but apparently Stilt-Man falls into an alley out of sight of Daredevil long enough for yet another villain (the Masked Marauder) to stuff Stilt-Man in a car trunk and make a getaway. The Maraurder has it in for Daredevil, so has plans of his own for a villain partnership.

So there you have it. The first third of the book has pacing issues. "Mike Murdock" was probably supposed to be a fun character, but really just grates on my nerves. But the return of Stilt-Man and a great fight scene manages to save the issue and give us a fun read despite these flaws.

We'll follow up with Stilt-Man in the next issue of Daredevil in two weeks. Next week, we'll open the New Year with a visit with the Space Family Robinson.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

X Minus One: "Hello Tomorrow" 2/29/56

An underground, post-nuclear war society is constructed around maintaining genetic perfection among its population. So when an "imperfect" man and a "perfect" woman fall in love, trouble ensues.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

The Advantage of Using a Pseudonym.

The cover story for the August 1944 issue of Private Detective Stories is "Black Murder," by Roger Torrey. The table of contents calls it a full-length novel, but that's a bit of a fib. It's novella-length at best.

Torrey was one of those mind-numblingly prolific pulp writers who seemed to have a typewriter surgically attached to him, churning out an endless stream of short stories. Torrey's expertise was in private detective stories and he juggled a number of lead characters. 

As was often the case for the more prolific pulpsters, Torrey used a number of pseudonyms. One of those pseudonyms was Jack Ryan, used for ten stories appearing from 1942 to 1946 featuring a NYC-based P.I. named... Jack Ryan.

Ryan's stories appeared in both Private Detective Stories and Speed Detective. And on at least five occasions, an issue that included a Jack Ryan story also included a story with the Roger Torrey byline. The guy was getting two paychecks per issue, which I think is a pretty admirable accomplishment. He's probably far from the only pulp writer who did this, but it's still a pretty neat trick.

I've just read the Ryan tale appearing in this issue of Private Detective--"Ticket to Death." It's the only one I've read, because this is yet another case where a series from the pulp days has never been anthologized. Why our entire culture and economy is not slanted exclusively towards properly organizing and re-printing pulp fiction is beyond me.

"Ticket to Death" takes Ryan out of New York City and sends him on a vacation to Florida. He's not sure how long he wants to stay, so he buys a return train ticket that he can theortically redeem anytime in the next 30 days. But when Florida starts to bore him a little after two weeks, he discovers that war-time travel restrictions means he can't get a seat on the train when he wants it.

Immediately, several people hint that they might be able to provide him with a black market train ticket. But Ryan hates the black market. So, with time to kill in Florida and despite the fact that he didn't pack his gun, he begins to look into the train ticket scheme. He tails a railroad clerk he suspects is crooked, impresses a kid being used by the gang as a messenger by implying he's a G-Man, and begins backtracking bad guys to find the head of the operation.

He's not worried about being unarmed, because he doesn't see black martket railroad tickets as a potentially violent situation. But anything that involves money can inspire violence. Ryan soon finds himself being held at gunpoint by a a couple of thugs.

This leads to a well-described gunfight and eventually to an encounter with a really annoyed undercover FBI agent, bringing the short and entertaining yarn to a fun conclusion.

"Ticket to Death" (along with "Black Murder") can both be read HERE.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Magical Robots!

cover art by Vic Prezio

The whole point of Magnus Robot Fighter was to, well, have the hero fight robots. Magnus lived a couple of thousand years in the future, where he realizes that humanity if becoming a little too dependent on robots. He's trained in martial arts to a degree where he can shatter steal, so he's the go-to guy when a robot goes rogue or an evil human is using robots for nefarious purposes.

The original Gold Key Magnus comic was created, written and drawn by Russ Manning, who provided consistently excellent art. Working within a premise that at first might sound limiting in terms of plot variety, Manning ending up giving us a unique comic book full of clever plot ideas.

For instance, Magnus #21 (February 1968) is about a robot powered by black magic. It begins with a ghost-like figure springing a couple of criminals from prison. It's a wonderful way to start off an issue that will grow increasingly bizarre while still following a definite internal logic. The crooks simply walk out of prison and, though robots try to raise an alarm, but the humans have been hexed so that they see nothing untoward. In fact, the humans order the poor robots to have their logic circuits checked.

The crooks are brought to a secret hideout and ordered to build a robot powered by black magic, using incantations rather than tools to put the thing together. This robot, which will be powered by the belief of humanity that robots are essential, will presumably be invulnerable to harm.

And at first, this seems to be true. The bad guys use a magic spell on the food suppy of North Am (the continent-sized city that Magnus watches over), draining everyone of will power. Magnus is affected by the spell as well. So, when he tries to fight the magic robot, a combination of this and the fact that magic is being used on him in various horrific ways, means he soon loses the fight.

The panel below, in which poor Magnus' arms have been turned into feathers, is by itself worth the price of the book.

But a Native American doctor and his family are unaffected by the will-sapping spell. Magnus finds out why when he's brought to what is essentially a holo-deck recreation of a Blackfoot settlement, created to remind the Indians of where they came from.

It turns out that the Blackfoot tribe still grows their own food, so they weren't hit by the will-sapping spell. This allows Magnus to form the core of a resistance group. Unaffected food is slipped into the main supply and Magnus prepares to fight the evil robot while video cameras broadcast the battle across North Am. The idea here is that the people will root for Magnus and the Blackfoot tribe will use this faith in Magnus to magically power him up.

Anyway, this works. Magnus has a rematch against the robot and beats it (giving us yet another classic panel along the way). The crooks are caught and its discovered that the ghost that started the whole business was sent by Malev-6, an evil robot planet that is also a reoccuring villain in the series.

To appreciate this comic, you have to be okay with introducing magic into Magnus' overtly science fiction universe. But if you are willing to go along with this (and I am), then Manning succeeds in giving us yet another clever variation of the Magnus-fights-robots concept, strengthened by great pencil work and two of my personal favorite panels of comic art.

Next week, we'll visit with Daredevil as he fights a very, very tall supervillain.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: "The Price of Fame Matter" 2/2/58

Johnny is asked by Vincent Price (played, conveniently, by Vincent Price) to find a painting stolen from the actor's collection.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

A Hopalong Spin-Off

Last week, I wrote about the 1937 Hopalong Cassidy film Texas Trail. According to the credits, it was based on the 1922 novel Tex, by Clarence E. Mulford--one of the many original Hoppy novels.

This is one of the few novels in the series I had never happened to read. When I looked it up, I discovered that the plot was completely different from that used in the movie. I wasn't completely surprised by this--the movie Hoppy is a completely different character than the book Hoppy. But I was curious if there was any plot point, character or action sequence that carried over into the movie. So I downloaded the novel and read it.

Well, there isn't even the vaguest simularity. In fact, the book is a sort of spin-off from the Hoppy series, giving a supporting named Tex Ewalt day in the limelight.  Tex is a reformed bad guy whose back story includes an Eastern education and a stint at medical school. Alcohol and gambling led him down the wrong path before an encounter with Hopalong straightened him out.

Tex is a fun character, who often uses the Western vernacular to hide his education, but is likely to spend a page or two abruptly pontificating about subjects like the difference between reason and instinct.

Tex ends up in the open town of Windsor, Kansas, where the miners and the ranchers don't like each other and a gambler named Gus Williams (an old enemy of Tex) pretty much runs things. It's been twenty years since Tex had a run-in with Williams and the gambler doesn't recognize him. Tex uses the name Jones and proceeds to make friends with a few worthwhile citizens, while essentially running a con on the bad guys to gain their trust.

The novel is very episodic without a strong, central plot and I think that it suffers somewhat because of this. It's short (my edition is 124 pages), but it probably would have worked better as a novella than a novel. As fun as it can be to hear Tex randomly lecture about something, it happens a little too often, bring the action to a dead stop a few too many times.

And, as I mentioned, there's nothing in the novel that was brought over into the movie version. To a large degree, this is understandable. Hoppy, after all, isn't a character in the novel at all aside from a brief cameo near the end. But dropping Hoppy into the lead role and having him clean up a wild town would have been a perfectly suitable plot.

But, as I mentioned last week, the movie simply expands the title out to Texas Trail and creates an entirely original story to go with it. It's just as well, because the movie itself is enormously entertaining. And perhaps the episodic nature of the novel would have poorly translated into a screenplay anyways.

The book is in the public domain, so you can find it HERE.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Taking out Batman with a Single Punch!

The Swamp Thing story I reviewed last week did end with an unresolved plot point--government agent Matt Cable and his unofficial assistant Abby Arcane had been captured by the criminal organization known as the Conclave. So it only seemed right to review the next issue as well, so we don't leave Matt and Abby forever imprisoned.

Swamp Thing #7 (November-December 1973) was also written by Len Wein and drawn by Bernie Wrightson. It opens with Swamp Thing riding the rails to Gotham City, accompanied by a dog that had been in the company of Cable. What S.T. doesn't know is that the dog is an undercover agent for the Conclave. Well, sort of. The poor little guy is microchipped, which had allowed the head of the Conclave to listen in on Cable's conversations.

Anyway, it's hard for an 8-foot-tall plant monster to go unnoticed, even in a city where weird stuff like that seems to be a daily occurance.  While he's outfitting himself in something he hopes will be inconspicious, the cops show up. The cops, though, soon discover that bullets don't do him much harm. Swamp Thing avoids hurting anyone, but he does trash a couple of police cars, creating enough confusion to allow him to getaway.

In the meantime, Bruce Wayne is heading up a meeting that is also attended by a businessman named Nathan Ellery, who at first seems to be a nice guy, but is in reality the head of the Conclave. Of course, Ellery would have no idea Bruce is Batman, but why he would set up the headquarters for an international crime organization in a city protected by Batman is a bit of a mystery.

After the meeting, Bruce puts on the costume and goes on patrol. The story here is nicely paced, with the action switching back and forth between Batman (as he takes out some smugglers and finds clues about the Conclave) and Swamp Thing (who is also tracking down clues about the conclave).

The Swamp Thing scenes are a bit on the contrived side. He hangs out at a bar, depending on his hat and coat to hide the fact that he's a monster, and listens in on the conversations of nearby thugs. Eventually, someone just happens to mention he's been hired by the Conclave as he waves around a piece of paper with an address written on it.

Wein was a great writer and I'd bet real money he knew this was contrived, but he only had 20 1/2 pages in which to tell the story, so was obligated to move the plot along quickly. He probably had no choice. This is, overall, a great one-issue story and stretching it out to two issues to make Swamp Thing's investigation less contrived would not have worked. Besides, the story involves an almost-mute plant monster trying to track down a super-scientific criminal cartel. There's only so much realism you can jam into it.

Anyway, Swamp Thing eventually finds out where Matt and Abigail are being held. He frees them and also overhears a phone call that tells him the Conclave is responsible for his wife's death (and the explosion that turned him into a monster). So now he really wants to find the Conclave's leader.

In the meantime, Ellery has sent a signal to the dog's microchip to recall the animal. Batman spots the dog and, recognizing it as the animal seen earlier with Swamp Thing, follows him. This brings the two heroes together near the building in which Ellery lives. Naturally, there's a fight.

And Swamp Thing manages to do something that every villain in Batman's Rogue's Gallery has dreamed about on a nightly basis. He knocks out the Dark Knight with a single punch.

The dog ends up giving away Ellery's status as a criminal. Swamp Thing confronts the villain, but is unable to bring himself to kill him, even to avenge his wife's death. It's an epic moment for the character--after all he's gone through, he still retains his true humanity and an understanding of right and wrong.

Ellery, though, stumbles into his pet baboon, which reacts in fear, bites him and sends him tumbling off the balcony to his death. (Well, his supposed death. Like most comic book villains, he's not quite dead yet and returns in a later issue.) Swamp Thing leaves Gotham and Batman calls the night a wrap, sensing that the monster is done mucking about his city.

As I said, this is a great issue. The contrived nature of Swamp Thing's "investigation" is a bump in the road, but Wrightson's art and Wein's script hit the right emotional notes to make it work anyways.

Next week, I think we'll travel into the future to visit Dr. Magnus, Robot Fighter.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Cover Cavalcade

From 1948. Anyone about to get married should read read stories like this, so they know what to do when they inevitably get into these sorts of situations.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Friday's Favorite OTR

Gunsmoke: "Doc Judge" 9/25/60

While Matt is out of town, someone is plotting to kill Doc. But Chester is still in town and, as we discovered in the episode featured a few weeks ago, if you threaten one of Chester's friends, you had better just run away.

Click HERE to listen or download.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

When Teddy Roosevelt Wants Horses--By Golly, He GETS Horses!

Like most B-movie heroes, Hopalong Cassidy jumps back and forth in time. His movies are always set in the Wild West, but the exact years in which they take place can jump around a bit. In Texas Trail (1937), for instance, the year is 1898, with the U.S. having just declared war on Spain.

It's supposedly based on one of the original Hopalong novels written by Clarence E. Mulford--Tex (1922). I haven't read this one, but I will soon and review it here. The plot description is completely different from the plot of the movie, so I'm curious to see if I can spot whatever similarities might exist between the two versions of the story. I suspect Jack O'Donnell--the screenwriter--simply took the title, expanded it to Texas Trail,  and wrote an original story around it, but I'll find out for sure soon.

Anyway, Hoppy and companions are eager to sign up and serve with the Rough Riders. But the Army has another job for him first. Every attempt to round up enough horses for the Riders has been foiled by rustlers. So Hoppy is asked to bring in 500 wild horses quickly. He's disappointed that he's not immediately being sent out to fight the Spanish, but Hoppy accepts this responsibility anyways.

The mastermind behind the rustlers is a local rancher named Black Jack Carson (Alexander Cross). Why no one suspects the guy named "Black Jack" to be the villain is beyond me. His scheme is actually a pretty clever one. Let others do the work in rounding up horses, then steal them and quietly sell them to a buyer who isn't too particular about where they came from.

What follows is a very straightforward film with a simple plot. This, though, is part of what makes it such a fun film. William Boyd's typically boisterous portrayal of Hoppy continues to make him one of the most purely likable movie heroes ever and director David Selman makes magnificent use of scenery for the location filming.

Carson has some of his men staked out watching Hoppy round up the horses. They move in the night before the animals would have been taken to the army base, capturing Hoppy's crew and gaining control of the herd. Carson had a few horses with his brand mixed in with the herd, so he proceeds to accuse Hoppy of being a horse thief and plans to hang all the good guys from the nearest tree.

Fortunately, Hoppy is currently being hero-worshiped by "Boots," the young son of an army major. Boots has been concerned when Hoppy doesn't show up at the fort as scheduled, so the little scamp skips school and rides out to find out what's going on. This allows him to show up in time to free Hoppy and the other good guys.

The good guys, though, only have a few guns between them. So Hoppy proceeds to weaponize the herd of wild horses, then uses what little ammo he has to hold off the outlaws until the cavalry can put in their obligatory last-minute arrival.

It's all good fun, with Gabby Hayes providing the comic relief this time as a would-be bugler who is less than adept at playing the bugle and putting everyone to sleep with endless stories about riding with Teddy Roosevelt.

I was a little disappointed that the movie didn't come up with a way to give Roosevelt a cameo. Any movie, no matter how entertaining it might be, can only benefit from an appearance by the most awesome president we ever had.

Anyway, the movie ends with Hoppy and his crew now in uniform, riding off to war. Of course, the real-life irony here is that the Rough Riders' horses were never shipped to Cuba. When they went up San Juan Hill, Roosevelt was the only one on horseback. T.R. always was a bit reckless in his bravery. The other Rough Riders crawled up. They took the hill, though, and this movie implies that Hopalong Cassidy was there with them. I always suspected that. But I wonder if, while Spanish machine gun bullets whizzed overhead, if he wondered why he went through all that effort to get those darn horses.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Good Robots, Evil Robots and Swamp Thing

Swamp Thing #6 (Sept-Oct. 1973) begins with the titular character falling out of the back of a truck while traveling through Vermont (after, in previous issues, making an unplanned and rather adventurous tour of Europe and Scotland). And, because Swamp Thing's life is what it is, he tumbles directly into yet another adventure.

He's found by Alec and Linda Holland. Which is a bit weird, because Swamp Thing is Alec Holland--or rather he was before that pesky lab explosion turned him into a monster. And Linda was dead.

(Yes, I know that Alan Moore later retconned this into Swamp Thing being a seperate entity who had absorbed Alec's memories when the human died and thus just thought he was Alec for a time. I've never read Moore's run and do not have an opinion on that--though its a perfectly sound idea. But for me, "real" DC Universe history all took place before 1986, so I'm just sticking with Swampy literally being Alec.)

Anyway, it's understandable that Swamp Thing is a bit confused when he meets both himself and his dead wife, but the human pair continue to treat him with kindness and eventually take him into town. Here, he meets the mayor, Hans Klochmann.

Klochmann, it turns out, is a genius in robotics. He came to what was once an abandoned mining town and populated it with robots, all designed to look like people he'd seen in the obituaries. He's happy running a town full of "people" who are incapable of feeling jealousy, hatred or greed. It's not a bad place to live, though Swamp Thing is having some understandable trouble in adjusting to the "resurrection" of his wife as a robot.

Len Wein's script and Bernie Wrightson's superb art set all this up perfectly. The plot unfolds smoothly, with those of us reading finding out what's going on along with Swamp Thing, allowing us to emphasize with the confusing emotions this is generating in him. The story thus captures the proper atmosphere for the story perfectly, giving a lot of emotional punch to the violent conclusion.

To reach that conclusion, I'm afraid the town will have to stop being a nice place to live. Government investigator Matt Cable has been pulled off the Swamp Thing case to investigate the town, where no one has ever registered with the governement or paid taxes.

That by itself wouldn't be so bad. But a criminal organization called the Conclave (the same guys who killed Linda and supposedly killed Alex) also find out about the town. Soon, a gang of machine gun-toting henchmen led by a killer robot arrive. Matt and his assistant Abigail Arcane are captured and flown in a helicopter to be questioned about his organization.

The Conclave plans on taking Klochmann as well to force him to use his robotics skills for their nefarious purposes. When Klochmann objects to this, a few of his robots are shot down. This includes the Linda Holland Robot.

Well, that doesn't sit well with Swamp Thing. And you don't want to be on the wrong side of an angry Swamp Thing. He destroys the robot in a brief but brutal fight. The henchmen then get ready to open first on him.

By this point in the series, Swamp Thing had been shown to be immune to most physical damage and had even had a severed arm grow back. So there's a brutal irony involved when Klochmann jumps in front of Swamp Thing and sacrifices his life to take the bullets instead. Was Swamp Thing actually in danger? Perhaps concentrated machine gun fire would have shredded him. But its also possible the fire power might have been insufficient to kill him.

But Klochmann does die for him. The robots--supposedly unable to feel vengeance--rush the henchman. The robots are destroyed, but they take the henchmen with them.

So Klochmann's dream of a town untouched by violence and hatred comes to a violent and hate-filled end.

This is one of my favorite stories from the Wein/Wrightson run. As I mentioned above, it does an excellent job of setting up the story and generating just the right emotions to give the climax a sense of real tragedy and loss. Wrightson was an artist who could infuse comic book panels with an extraordinary level of emotion. That talent is definetly on hand here.

Well, there is a dangling plot thread left at the end of this issue, with Matt and Abigail still prisoners of the Conclave. So next week, we'll continue to travel to with Swamp Thing into the next issue as he tracks the Conclave to....Gotham City?

Gee whiz, off all the places in the world to set up the headquarters of your international crime syndicate, Batman's home town seems like a very poor choice.

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