Detective Comics #470: "The Master Plan Of Doctor Phosphorus!"

Detective Comics #470
"The Master Plan of Doctor Phosphorus!"
June, 1977

Steve Englehart: Writer
Walt Simonson: Artist
Al Milgrom: Inker
Jerry Serpe: Colorist

Being a safecracker is a solitary occupation, one which never pays to be
practiced in Gotham City.  Many such crooks have felt the fear when the
Darknight Detective makes his presence known to them.  As the light
shines on the face of the Batman, that of the criminal begins to grow
pale by comparison.

A desperate leap through a window, then a quick run through the concrete
maze of alleyways on this night.  Could even such a creature as the
Masked Manhunter possibly find his prey?  The frantic hood soon has his
answer, as the footsteps begin closing in on his hiding place.

Smiley Royal flinches from the shadow of the Batman.  In Gotham, the Dark
Detective has vowed to keep the city safe.  As he grabs onto the
frightened safecracker, the Cowled Crusader turns, and sees someone
entering the alley.  The bespectacled man is only doing his duty when he
presents the Batman with a subpoena.  He is to appear before the Gotham
grand jury next week.  The messenger has left the alley, with the
Darknight Detective keeping vigil on Royal until the police arrive.

A bedridden Commissioner Gordon is being tended to by fellow patient,
Alfred Pennyworth.  Both men have been affected by the mysterious plague,
and now they are visited by the Batman.  The faithful butler of Bruce
Wayne has recovered from his ordeal, and is now watching over James
Gordon.  The Masked Manhunter smiles, and wonders when the Commissioner
may deduce his true identity.  He asks Gordon about the subpoena, and
learns from the lawman that it could only have come from Boss Thorne.
The city councilmen and his crooked cronies have always left the
Darknight Detective alone, but the Commissioner knows that this was only
because they were afraid of him.  Many were the times that Thorne asked
Gordon to come down on the Batman.

Alfred sees that there are bulges beneath the cowl, and the Masked
Manhunter tells them that he has bandaged the burns received from his
battle with Doctor Phosphorus.  Doctor Bell enters the room, aware that
the burning horror has escaped, and eager to attend to the wounds.  The
Caped Crusader is confident in his skills, then recalls that Bell is also
on the city council.  As the doctor begins to deny any wrongdoing, the
faithful butler reproaches Bell for eavesdropping on a private
conversation.  The Batman is interested in the doctor and his involvement
with the council's subpoena.  It was Bell who requested it, and the
council was all too eager to agree.  In their eyes, there's no room for
vigilantes in Gotham City.  Having learned what he wanted to know, the
Masked Manhunter leaves through the open window, leaving Bell's threats
hanging in the air.

At the Sprang Memorial Arena, there are screams to be heard, as the band
concludes their concert for a faithful audience.  The boys rilly had a
gas this evening, but as the lead singer begins coughing into the
microphone, tonight's main entertainment is about to begin.  The voice
coming from the loudspeakers tell the concertgoers about the poisonous
effects of phosphorus.  After putting two and two together, the audience
rilly begin to lose their collective cool.

Dr. Phosphorus has used the arena's laser technology to project his
burning visage above them, and his poison has begun to spread throughout
the air-conditioning system. With the arena sealed off, they only have
about three minutes left to live.  At the Wayne Foundation, the Dark
Detective has made his way through the outer office, and onto the hidden
elevator.  The elevator car heads for its chosen destination: the

In order to be more accessible, he had moved his headquarters to the
Wayne Foundation Building, with Alfred and the Teen Wonder aiding in the
moving of various trophies during Dick Grayson's school vacation.  A
subway was started in 1938, but was only partially completed when World
War II broke out.  After 1945, the tunnel waited until the day that Bruce
Wayne discovered a use for it.  Now that he's established himself in
Gotham, the city council wants him out.  A blinking Geiger counter
registers radioactivity coming from his burns.

He had thought Phosphorus to be a flaming threat, but had not known of
his true nature.  The hot-line rings, with Chief O'Hara whispering into
the receiver.  With Commissioner Gordon out of action, the city council
has ordered the police department to keep away from Batman.  After
telling the Caped Crusader about the attack at Sprang Arena, O'Hara
reluctantly answers his friend's questions about possible sources of
radioactivity in Gotham City.  Now armed with some vital information, the
Darknight Detective goes off on his Bat-Boat in search of Dr. Phosphorus.

He is aware that Boss Thorne had played a part in the building of the new
nuclear power plant.  As he seeks to tie off the Bat-Boat, Batman
discovers that the facility is under heavy guard.  The city council has
ordered them to keep him away, and after saying goodbye to the armed men,
he vows to return again later.

Millionaire Bruce Wayne is holding a party on his ship, with Rupert
Thorne and Doctor Bell in attendance.  The millionaire philanthropist is
confident that this will be a Saturday night they won't forget.  The host
eyes one particular guest, who introduces herself as Silver St. Cloud.
Her date is down below, playing some pool with the mayor's speech-writer.
With most of Gotham's elite on board, she hopes that the mysterious Mr.
Wayne is not up to any mischief.  Bruce is a hometown boy, and for the
first time this evening, he seems to be relaxing with some pleasant
company for a change.

Silver sees that he is not at all how she had pictured him to be, with
the host regretting that they must part for now, and he must continue to
make the rounds.  After passing through the crowd of guests, Bruce Wayne
disappears from sight.  Within the stateroom, the millionaire
philanthropist disappears, and the Batman is now on the clock. With an
hour until dinnertime, he dons his scuba gear, and swims two miles for
the power plant.

As he makes his way past the guards, they can sense the presence of
another, but attribute this to nerves.  Now within the reactor room, the
Darknight Detective calls out to his prey, with his challenge echoing
throughout the chamber.  A bright glow from above catches his attention,
as Dr. Phosphorus swings down from above, and knocks him off his perch.

Regaining his balance, the Batman promises that things will be settled
between them.  With the radioactivity emanating from the bizarre villain,
this was the logical place to find him.  Now it is the Masked Manhunter
who leaps from the girders, and delivers his kick to Phosphorus.  The
Doctor is eager to get his hands on the costumed fool, but the Darknight
Detective is no fool, and is thankful for the special radioactive
resistant costume he's wearing this evening.

It is no longer a one-sided affair, but man-to-man, and it's been a week
worth waiting for.  Dr. Phosphorus regrets not killing his foe the first
time they met, and leaps for the reactor in hopes of acquiring more
power.  The Batman leaps after him, but his bizarre opponent's move was
only a sham, and now he kicks him in the jaw.  Now it is Phosphorus who
is in for a shock, when his own grip melts the beam he's holding onto.

A perfectly-pitched Batarang-line grabs hold, and pulls its owner to
safety, with a harsh halt in midair.  When his vision clears, the sight
of Dr. Phosphorus falling into the reactor greets him, and he judges this
as a most fitting end.  The citizens of Gotham will be breathing easier
tomorrow morning, but will it continue to turn against him?

After swimming back to the boat, Bruce Wayne is ready for the buffet, and
hears the siren coming from passing police boats.  They are heading for
the power plant, just as Silver St. Cloud finds the host once more, and
runs her fingers through his hair.  She believes them to be just two
ships that pass in the night, but Bruce would be happy to pass her way
anytime.  As he heads off for some food, Silver notices that his hair is
wet, but why?

On the cover of Detective Comics #470 by Jim Aparo, the Batman swings
down to punch Dr. Phosphorus, but learns that his eerie enemy is

The art team of Walt Simonson and Al Milgrom continues to mesh so much
that the artwork is unrecognizable as the work of either artist.

If Smiley Royal had kept his mouth shut and kept running, maybe he might
have gotten away from the Batman.

If the Dark Detective receives a subpoena, would he have to show up in

How would they know it was him, and not a robot, Alfred, or even
Superman?  (Holy Bob Ingersoll, Batman!)

Doctor Bell has shaved off his mustache since last issue, but he still
has the same haircut as the Osborns and Flint Marko.

The band's lyrics at Sprang Arena are "WOP BOP A LU BOP A LOP BAM BOOM!"

Unfortunately for them, Dr. Phosphorus chooses this moment to light up
their lives with his own laser light show.

Thanks to a moving van and the combined efforts of Bruce, Dick, and
Alfred, various trophies were moved to the new Bat-Cave beneath the Wayne
Foundation Building.

Did Chief O'Hara first appear in the comic books or on the 1960s TV

Bruce Wayne finds the silver lining within Ms. St. Cloud.

It's nice to see that the Masked Manhunter still has various different
costumes for special occasions.

In the Batman's Hot Line letters page, Bob Rodi of Dayton,.Ohio writes:

"Dear Bob,

What an enviable position you are in, Mr. Rozakis, as the sole scripter
of Detective #467 and also keeper of the magazine's letter col.  Does
this mean that only rave reviews of your stories will get into the column
in 'Tec #471?

At any rate, this isn't a rave review, but it is a good one.  Detective
&467 was very enjoyable, especially in view of the fact that it was an
all-Rozakis issue. (I haven't quite formed an opinion on your writing

"Pick-Up On Gotham 2-4-6" was nicely plotted and well-paced and I enjoyed
it tremendously.  It reminded me of those short stories you always find
in detective anthologies... you know, the kind you read in a huge
upholstered chair on a rainy day.  Of course, the real beauty of it was
that I didn't read it in a huge, upholstered chair and, as a matter of
fact, it was quite a nice day... but the story gave me that
arm-chair/stormy weather feeling.  Which means it passed the test in my

Tying the two stories in the issue together was an nice gimmick that
makes me lean in your favor, Mr. Rozakis.  I know if I suddenly had a
whole book to do, I'd certainly not let the opportunity go by without
showing it off, just as you did, and I congratulate you on pulling it
off.  I do, however, think it was totally unnecessary to spell out the
clues to Hawkman's identity in the letter column.  Most of the clues
could have been found out easily by re-reading the tale.

I didn't really enjoy "The Man Who Skyjacked Hawkman", mainly because the
story wrote itself.  It was basically a reworked version of the Atom,
Black Canary, Elongated Man, and Green Arrow stories.  Still, all five
Calculator tales do have their own good points... this one had the
Marshall Rogers/Terry Austin art, which was sensational.

I thought I had the Calculator's pattern figured out.  It seems that he
was pitting himself against only those JLAers who joined after the
group's inception, and that he was taking them on in alphabetical order.
See, it fits.  but now, Hawkman tells Batman that he's "calculated" that
the Calculator's next victim will be the Caped Crusader!  It doesn't fit.
Batman was an original JLA member and he's out of alphabetical order.
The Phantom Stranger v. Calc should be next!  Obviously, Hawkman knows
something I don't!

Oh, I also loved Rich Buckler's cover. The only thing about it I didn't
like was the little box around "Feb."  Which means that Detective is back
to bimonthly again... (sigh)..."

Bob Rozakis replies:

"You'll note that the box is gone again and that we're back up to
8-times-a-year status!  Not monthly, but a step in the right direction!
As for Calc's motive, peruse the pronouncements below. - BR)"

Steve Chung
"The Master Review Of Doctor Phosphorus!"