batman-gothams-tale-display

An Unsung Batman 'Bottle Episode' Two-Parter | CBR

This feature is called “Almost Hidden.” Even with this large amount of comic books that have been collected in trade paperbacks, there are still a number of great comic books that have never been reprinted in print (I’d say roughly 60% of them are DC Comics from the 1980s through the mid-1990s). So in this feature I spotlight different cool comic books that are only available as back issues (or digitally). Of course, the way things go, something I spotlight today might be collected tomorrow, but for right this moment, these comics have not been collected!

Today, we look at a clever two-part storyline called “A Gotham Tale” by John Warner and Cam Kennedy from Batman #477-478, with a striking set of covers where sculptor Tom Taggart created two sculptures for each cover that came together for form a striking dipytch…

A woman named Christina Creighton is working on an art exhibit that has transferred from England to Gotham City when she gets a visit from an old friend of her father, Morris Eagleton, a famous biochemist, just like her father. Creighton is down in the dumps because it was recently revealed that her father was a super-powered serial killer known as The Gargoyle.

Anyhow, some bad guys burst in on the exhibit while it is being set up and start shooting. Batman shows up and the bad guys take Christina hostage. They force Batman to surrender. They then lock Batman, Creighton and Eagleton up in the air tight vault used to preserve the ancient paintings.

Batman quickly surmises that the vault cannot be opened for hours and they only have three hours’ worth of air. Not enough for the three of them, but enough for two of them…

Batman suggests that he and Eagleton both have five minutes to pitch why they should be the one who lives and then the other will take enough tranquilizers to be killed (the exhibit is about the Canterbury Tales, so Batman relates it to the Canterbury Tales, where various travelers waged over a dinner, with each one telling a story and the best story wins the dinner)

Eagleton reluctantly agrees, but then Creighton snatches the tranquilizers and suggests that she should be allowed to explain why she is the one who should die…

She explains that she overheard her father when he first became the Gargoyle and learned that he desired to kill her because her blood was used in the formula to create the Gargoyle. Batman saved her life back then, very early in his career…

She reveals that she knows that Eagleton knew of her father’s Gargoyle transformation back then and kept it a secret, even though the Gargoyle went on to kill sixteen people over the years…

Since she knew that the initial desire to kill had been driven by a desire for her blood, she says that she blames herself for all of the death and tries to kill herself…

Batman saves her life. It is now Eagleton’s turn, but he explains that he was never going to actually participate in this game…

He reveals that while Christina’s father was the very first Gargoyle, he tried to destroy the formula that turned him into the Gargoyle, but Eagleton then took it up. Creighton sent his daughter away to England to protect her from Eagleton’s blood lust…

When Eagleton heard that the now-adult Christina was coming to Gotham with her art exhibit, he injected her father with the formula and killed him while he was transforming, as this was now Eagleton’s chance to finally get the blood he’s been craving all of these years. He wasn’t planning on it occurring under these circumstances, but he was willing to go for it, so he injects himself with the formula and becomes the Gargoyle! Kennedy did such a good design on the villain…

It was Batman’s turn to surprise Eagleton, as Batman KNEW Eagleton was the Gargoyle! Batman then made a signal to the people outside the vault. He quickly uses the tranquilizer darts on the Gargoyle…

Batman explains that he eventually suspected Creighton, but during the last time the Gargoyle hit, Batman was monitoring Creighton, so it couldn’t have been Creighton, so his suspicions naturally transferred to Eagleton. With the police believing they got the correct villain, though, the only way to convince them otherwise was to get a confession. Batman enlisted Christina’s help. The Gargoyle is confused, though, as what was the point if they’re all going to die from lack of oxygen?

That, of course, was all part of the ruse. The whole robbery was fake, just designed to get Eagleton to a point where he thought he was going to die and thus compel him to confess…

What a clever, well-drawn little tale.

DC has already collected most of Wagner’s other Batman stories (including his Judge Dredd team-ups), so I don’t know where they would collect this one. Maybe just a collection of cool one-off stories?

If anyone has a suggestion for a comic that hasn’t been collected into a trade that you’d like to see me spotlight in this feature in its more typical setup, drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com!

In their feature featuring notable comics not collected into trades, CSBG spotlights a clever Batman two-parter by John Warner and Cam Kennedy.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *