Friday, September 11, 2015


She-Bat, I-Bat and You-Bat...

No relation to Admiral Basil, Big Chief Oregano or Emperor Sweet Red Chili.

Probably, when Man-Bat first earned what appeared to have been earmarked as an ongoing series, there hadn't been given a lot of thought as to how to give the guy a villain in the first place. After all, Man-Bat was basically a villain to begin with, albeit a sympathetic one.

Scientist Kirk Langstrom invented a patented energy drink called Bat-Juice which turned him into a bat, and later his wife got bit by three bats in a row, which is exactly how you turn into a bat. Those origins are 100% accurate and I see no reason for anyone to pop up in comments and pretend to correct me on the "actual" origins of Man-Bat and his wife Sheila MacMurphy-Bat (She chose to hyphenate her name after marriage). PS Wikipedia is wrong too don't even bother checking it.

But still, if you're gonna give a guy a chance at being a superhero, he'll need a villain. This is how Man-Bat scored the affections of Baron Tyme, a guy whose name makes him sound like some kind of Otter Pop for herbs. Whatever the case, it's not like Baron Tyme had to make TOO big a splash in Man-Bat's first issue (Man-Bat No.1 Dec-Jan 1975/1976, "Beware the Eyes of Baron Tyme") because his followup was only gonna be the Ten-Eyed Man.

Well, for one thing, it's linear...
Tyme is, in fact, history professor Clement Tyme, a man obsessed with the secrets of the universe and the power thereof in all of its forms. Despite this, his costume has muppets as boot cuffs and a child's drawing of a jack o'lantern on the chest. Apparently the universe has many secrets, no small number of which are hell of tacky.

From the safety of his all-powerful Star Chamber, Baron Tyme arranges to hypnotize Man-Bat's wife Francine ("She-Bat," a name you may recall from the popular Cyndi Lauper song) and use her as a murder weapon against his former fellow academics. They say the academic world is cutthroat, but I never thought the History Department would start employing anthropomorphic murder bats. Call me naive.

The murders are all part of a deal which Tyme has arranged with a powerful demon lord; human sacrifices in exchange for power! Unfortunately, so far, all the power Baron Tyme has managed to accrue resides entirely in his Star Chamber. Admittedly, it's given him the power to make the walls of the Chamber come alive and murder people, but that's only useful if you can convince your enemies to step inside your spooky-ooky demonic summoning chamber in the first place.

This is why Tyme must rely on outside contractors to do his murders, and although he chose possibly the least-known and most ludicrous character in the DC Universe to do the deed, he didn't count on her slightly better-known and equally ludicrous husband to come along and foil his plans.

In the end, Baron Tyme dies inside a fireball within his own Star Chamber, which I bet is irony, if I looked it up. This leaves Man-Bat free to fight the Ten-Eyed Man or, as we all know it, The Greatest Battle In The History of Comics. People are still talking about it today!

"Please be seated, your server will be right with you."


Johnie Long Torso said...

Is that a moustache on Baron Tyme in the last panel? He clearly doesn't have one in the first panel. Was his plot against his academic enemies so long and involved that he had time to grow one? Also, too I want me a "SKREEEK?" t-shirt. Someone needs to get to work on that.

BillyWitchDoctor said...

"Is that a moustache on Baron Tyme in the last panel?"

Nah, that's just Ditko being Ditko, drawing madmen's faces in distorted, masklike grimaces.

Man, I can't even remember the ending of this thing. I was lured in by a Jim Aparo cover and a guest-appearance by Batman, only to find Ditko slapdashing the interior art (it's no coincidence that the Baron and his jazz-hands look like a half-assed knock-off of Doctor Strange) and Batman showing up to have the inevitable fight then save Francine before being told to f**k off by Langstrom. Which Batman does.

I remember the second issue though, oh, yes I do. Primarily for the cringeworthy two-panel cameo by the cab driver, who is A Black Man and therefore talks The Jive, but also because The Ten-Eyed Man gets a ridiculous supervillain costume straight out of an Atlas Comics "third issue change-up" and is dispatched in the most preposterous manner imaginable this side of the climax of Con Air.

Unknown said...

Baron Tyme later showed up in Detective Comics #482 - 485 fighting The Demon (because the Demon is such a natural detective.)

Popular Posts