jkcarrier: me, at my old office (Default)
jkcarrier ([personal profile] jkcarrier) wrote in [community profile] scans_daily2012-03-02 11:20 am

Batman...and all that Jazz

A little late for Mardi Gras, but we were discussing death in comics over at the Noscans group, and it reminded me of the jazz funeral scene in this Batman story:



Batman #224, 1970: "Carnival of the Cursed!"
8 pages worth of panels from a 24-page story.
Warning: Villain uses some ableist slurs.

Down in New Orleans, an old jazz musician named "Blind Buddy" Holden is walking home when a group of thugs attacks him, beating him to death. They're looking for something, but Buddy doesn't have it. His death makes the papers nationwide, and all his old colleagues turn out for his funeral:



Batman emerges from the crowd and starts pounding on the goons. But then another figure appears:



Bats and Moloch skirmish briefly, but when the crowd starts closing in, Moloch flees. The funeral continues, and one of Buddy's friends plays a last tune on his horn before it is buried along with him.



I don't think Batman's fondness for jazz was ever mentioned before or after this, but it's a nice little humanizing touch.

Down at the hall, Batman overhears a wheelchair-bound man named Rufus Macob trying to buy up "Blind Buddy"'s possessions, but his friends aren't interested in selling. It doesn't take the World's Greatest Detective to figure out that Macob might be connected to the murder, so Batman decides to try a little psychological warfare to try and get Macob to talk:



Alas, the plan backfires. Macob sends his men to kidnap Max, and uses him as bait to lure Batman into a trap on board an old steamboat. En route, Batman sees a group of revelers in the street, and remembers that it's Shrove Tuesday -- Mardis Gras. At the boat, Batman fights Macob's men, but gets conked on the head from behind, and wakes up in a classic deathtrap:




The strain on the paddlewheel causes it to crack apart, and Batman is able to free himself. He finds Max, who tells him that Macob is after Buddy's old horn, the one that was buried with him.





(Moloch completely creeped me out as a kid. Heck, he still does.)

Moloch flees, only to run smack dab into the Mardi Gras parade. As he's trying to push through the crowd, a guy on a motorcycle runs over his foot, which slows him down just long enough...



Alas, the horn gets trampled by the crowd, rendering the map useless (if it was ever there at all).

O'Neil really pours it on thick with the captions, but I love it. Melodramatic narration is a sadly lost art in the comics. I always thought of Irv Novick as a middle-of-the-road artist, but he does a great job here...I suspect the presence of Neal Adams was inspiring all the other Bat-artists to up their game.

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