Action Comics #487: "Miniature War Of The Bat-Knights!"

Action Comics #487
"Miniature War Of The Bat-Knights!"
September, 1978

Script: Bob Rozakis
Artists: Alex Saviuk and Francisco Chiaramonte
Letterer: Milt Snapinn
Colorist: Jerry Serpe
Editor: Julius Schwartz

At long last, Jean Loring finally said yes and became Mrs. Ray Palmer! Now sharing her husband's secret, the newlyweds return to Giant Caverns, where the Atom was born. It is a visit fraught with danger, which threatens to turn Ray Palmer, newlywed, into Ray Palmer, widower... a result of the "Miniature War Of The Bat-Knights!"

Ray and Jean can't believe they're really married. Ray is the one who proposed about two hundred times before Jean said yes. Two hundred and fourteen, to be exact. It seems like only yesterday that the Palmers first came here. After all that's happened, it feels like more than a hundred years that they brought the Nature Club on a hike. It was a good opportunity to gather rock samples and explore the underground caves. Ray's suggestion was a bad one when part of the ceiling caved in, blocking the passageway. After he left Jean and the kids trying to dig a way out, Ray found a tiny hole in the cave ceiling. Only an insect could fit through. This gives the scientist an idea. Using the reducing lens he had been experimenting with, which he happened to have in his pocket, Ray reduced himself. Once he was reduced, the scientist was in danger of exploding like the test-objects he was working on.

Using the engagement ring he had bought Jean, which was always in his pocket, Ray is grateful that the diamond is so much harder than the rock, cutting through with ease. Shock waves began rumbling through the scientist's body as he raced back to the beam of sunlight flashing through his reducing lens. Instead of exploding as he feared, Ray returned to normal size. He went back for the rest of them and led them to the escape hatch he made.

Unbeknownst to the Palmers, Varo Lann and Iwin Gann have seen the tall one change his size. With these abilities, they of Elvara could return to the outside world, and rule over all. They are Bat-Knights, members of a race of tiny people who live deep in the Giant Caverns. They were forced to retreat underground centuries ago when the "tall people" hunted them. The inhabitants of Elvara have a deep hatred of their large counterparts, a hatred that drives them to kill the tall ones. Ray warns Jean to avoid the charging Bat-Knights.

Jean recognizes them as the same warriors they fought the last time. She thought that they were her husband's friends. They were friends of the Atom. Perhaps they don't recognize Ray Palmer, but he'll make sure they remember the Atom. By switching on his full 180-pound weight, he'll come down hard and fast on the Bat-Knight, like a bat out of hell.

It's back to flying school for the two of them. With a lance in his hands, the fight has become a bit more even. The Bat-Knight still has the upper hand with his steed, but the Atom can do some flying of his own. Reducing his weight to practically nil, the Mighty Mite is up and at 'em. He doesn't get the Bat-Knight, but what he does hit does bring him down to Earth.

Jean figures it's time she gave the Atom a helping hand. As she grabs one of the Bat-Knights, her husband warns her about the charged lance. BZAP! He'll get the Bat-Knight for that. As the Atom tries to shrink out of sight, he discovers to his horror that the lance blast traveled faster than he could shrink. ZAP! Now the secret of size-change will be theirs.

Some time later in the castle city of Elvara, the Atom awakens, with his captors about to force him to talk. They won't force him to do anything because he'll shrink. They warn the Atom that if he should shrink out of sight, and he'll endanger the life of his wife. They've done nothing to Jean yet, and they will refrain from doing so, provided that he reveal the secret of size-variation to them. They don't want to learn to become smaller or larger.

They wish to change the tall ones. With this power, all outsiders will be reduced to the Atom's current size. They of Elvara will no longer be the hunted. They will be the hunters and exact their revenge. The Atom had thought them to be peace-loving people. Their elders were, but they no longer rule Elvara. The young ones demand their rightful share of the world, and more. Will he cooperate or will he sacrifice his wife's life?

How does he know that Jean is really their prisoner? What proof is there that they haven't already killed her? They present the evidence in the form of Jean's engagement ring. Then they have harmed her, because she would never remove it willingly. They assure him that it was done when she was stunned. She is well but unable to escape their trap. They have sealed the cavern entrance by which he approached Elvara -- imprisoning her. There is no other escape! Visions of Jean running in fear of the flying bats appear for a moment. If he refuses to cooperate, they'll kill her. KLIK! KLIK! The Atom is betting Jean's life that they won't kill her -- because she's already escaped.

SKRIT! SKRIT! The diamond puts their lances out of business. KLIK! KLIK! Now, the Atom takes the easiest way out... up and away! The Mighty Mite is starting to feel like King Kong! The "planes" are coming but he's not waiting to be "shot down". The Atom will make a jump of his own. The dust he kicked up will take care of any aerial pursuit.

Later, Jean is pleased to see that her husband is safe. Together, they manage to seal the doorway, and keep the Bat-Knights confined to their own domain. Jean knows that the world would be helpless if they had her husband's power. She then wonders why Ray risked her life when he escaped from the Bat-Knights. He couldn't have been sure they didn't really have her captive. Ray assures Jean that he was sure. As soon as he saw the engagement ring they'd taken when she was unconscious. He knew they couldn't keep her prisoner when they sealed the cavern's entrance -- because she knew there was another secret way out -- the escape hatch. She was there when he first made it with the ring. This is why he's known as the world's smallest super-hero.

Ray Palmer and Jean Loring became man and wife in Justice League of America #157.

At the time of this story, the Palmers last met the Bat-Knights in The Atom #30.

The splash page of "Miniature War Of The Bat-Knights!" features various scenes from the Atom's early career, as

depicted by Alex Saviuk (who does Gil Kane proud.)

Bob Rozakis pens this story which is a return to Giant Caverns, first seen in Showcase #34 (by Gardner Fox, Gil

Kane, and Murphy Anderson.)

In addition to the Atom, Rozakis and Saviuk also produced back-ups for Action Comics featuring Aquaman and Air-Wave.

Francisco Chiaramonte was best known for inking Curt Swan on Superman, and for his work on Werewolf By Night at Marvel Comics.

Alex Saviuk has drawn Web of Spider-Man and continues to illustrate the Wall-Crawler's newspaper strip.

For those of us who read DC Comics around the time this issue of Action Comics, Bob Rozakis was also known as The Answer Man, and had his own space on the DC Feature Page.

Among the questions readers asked in this issue:

What does Diana (Wonder Woman) Prince of Earth-1 do for a living?

Answer: Jack C. Harris says that she'll soon be training to be an astronaut.

Does Irv Novick draw for BOYS' LIFE Magazine?

Answer: In addition to his Flash-epics, Irv does work for BOYS' LIFE!

How did Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny become independently wealthy?

Answer: By performing his rubbery feats in shows!

Why is Speedy such a wise guy?

Answer: because people ask him questions like that!

How many issues of THE ATOM, HAWKMAN, SANDMAN, and FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL were there?

Answer: ATOM ran #1-28 and Hawkman #1-27, then they were combined as THE ATOM AND HAWKMAN #39-#45. SANDMAN numbered 1-6 and there were 13 FIRST ISSUE SPECIALS!

Some years ago, there were GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW paperback books. How can I get copies?

Answer: Both of those books are long out of print. You might try a back-issue comics dealer for copies. And by the way, keep an eye out for paperback editions of BATMAN, JUSTICE LEAGUE, SUPERMAN, and other DC characters... now on sale.

Are the Wonder Twins going to get their own comic book?

Answer: Not their own book, but a feature in SUPER FRIENDS!

Why does Luthor hate Superman so much?

Answer: They were friends as boys until a lab accident trapped Lex. When Superboy rescued him, his actions caused Lex's hair to fall out... something that Luthor has never forgiven the Man of Steel for.

Who is Uncle Sam?

Answer: The Spirit of America!

What Earth does Captain Marvel live on?

Answer: Earth-S.

How do you find the time to answer all the questions that are sent to you?

Answer: If I ever figure it out, I'll let you know!

Steve Chung
"Miniature Review Of The Bat-Knights!"