Transmission Date: 8/ 16/ 2014:
Welcome back Heroes. If you have ever wondered whats in Charlton Heroes Comic Book Collection then lets dip in the old longbox storage unit deep in the storage area of the Satellite There are those comics that you read as a child that leave that mark on you that you always fondly remember when you grow up. Such was the case with a small arc in the pages of Batman and Detective in 1982. I called the run “Blood Sport” others may call it Batman vs. The Vampiri..but what ever you want to call it I LOVED this small story arc. Hence our little get together today. Batman issues #349-352 as well as a cross over in Detective Comics #517-518 contain the full Blood Sport arc. As a kid horror movies were a big deal. Friday The 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and of course greats like Fright Night were what we were raised on in the advent of the VCR! Many a weekend did myself and my friends cower under sheets and behind pillows trying to survive yet another viewing of great R rated horror movies that none of our parents thought would be an issue as The Vampire craze didnt only extend to 2000s Twilight era, the 80s loved Vampires too! Thus DC’s Vampire savant the great artist Gene Colan known for his work on dark Vampire titles like Tomb Of Dracula for Marvel, fit the tone of this run.
What is significant about the Blood Sport Storyline is that it marked the modern-day return (at least the 80s return) Of a very old Batman Villain, The Monk. The Monk first appeared in 1939 in the pages of Detective comics #31 . This version of the Monk is a revised updated version who was once a slaver who is tricked into a Voodoo ritual and forced to live out the rest of his life as a living undead Vampire!! Batman #349 begins as Batman fresh of an investigation of the Academy Of Crime decides to check in on Robin and Alfred at home. However the call is unanswered as we discover that The Boy Wonder has been abducted and is bound. Robin at this point in comics had fallen in love with a girl named Dala. What Dick doesn’t know is that Dala has a dark secret. Dick not being one to let his guard down investigates and follows Dala home only to discover a terrible secret about his new mysterious love. As with all of Grayson’s past loves, nothing is ever easy in love and life as would be the case with his latest heartbreak Dala. Upon tracking his own girlfriend under the guise of Robin, Dick walks into a trap…
Dala apparently came from money as her home was a giant mansion..of course of the scary, semi haunted, Scooby Doo variety like all mansions in comics. Grayson deciding to do some extreme B&E on his newest interest is met with a club to the back of his head and a free fall down over an elaborate set of steps. He is an intruder..lets be clear here. …he awakes bound and shackled..
Being resilient and adaptable as The Boy Wonder is, he absorbs the attack and frees himself of his shackles only to uncover the secret…his chick is a straight up killer..but there’s more..Dala aint alone! Nope she is followed by her crazy Vampire Brother Louis Dubois..Together The Vampiri ATTACK!!
Busting out is never easy especially when you see the result of past visitors to the mansion. As Robin makes his escape he suffers an undisclosed injury but eventually, the Boy Wonder busts loose..to safety.
As Robin runs into the street running for his life, he is struck by a car and incapacitated..but luck would be on his side as he is found by token movie Trope, the Holy Father Green!! OF course..The Exorcist movies were still fresh in people’s minds and Father Green fit the bill. However as he is rushed to the hospital, we see the effects of Robins injury..we discover he had been bitten in the neck by Dala..and Father Green being an expert on the subject determines he has been afflicted by the Mark Of The VAMPIRI!! Gene Colan may have drawn my favorite version of classic Robin in all of comics because that last panel is etched into my memory and made me more excited about a comic book than ever before as a 8-year-old boy!! This was the stuff of pure comic book escapism…I was HOOKED on Batman going forward!!
My best friend in primary school (Jason M!! Shout out!!) at the time collected comic books as did I and had in fact amassed not as big of a collection as I did but had the better books and he landed Bloodsport! This left me scrambling to find one. His Aunt had the inside scoop at the Drug store and always gave him a stack of comics which I had been lucky enough to have from time to time as well. This was competition damn it!! Almost impossible in the day of no comic book or hobby shops I found a copy at a local drug store!! Well it wasnt long before the next issue rode onto shelves and we were scrambling again to scour my town for its meager selection of comics. It was dog eat dog people!
On to Batman #350..sadly I did never ever found on the shelves in my hometown...None of my friends had it either, so I was at peace with missing this issue even though I was dying to see Robins fate! Well as it turns out after the good Father Green explains to Robin all about his misfortune but Robin simply is over his stay at the hospital and leaps back into action..but something is different..
Back to the Robin cycle he goes and back to the warmth of the Batcave . Bruce and Alfred get the vibe that Robins sudden return is not without cause for concern.Batman being very astute, sees that Dick is not himself and tells him to catch a few winks to get over whatever got the lone Grayson in his state of disarray. Prior to retiring for the night he explains to Bruce that both of them have an engagement at Dala’s mansion of doom. Bruce accepts knowing somethings up. By god its a mystery, and Batman’s on the case! On a couple of visual notes looking back at these issues I love the simple panel layouts where very little carries over outside of the panels. In todays books the art of maintaining the integrity of a panel is dead. Read a copy of Deadpool where the panel is almost bothersome and something that is an annoyance to the story and characters are out of frame more than they are in! Yes I am officially THAT complaining old man! As well check out the “Continued On 2nd Page Following” banner at the bottom of the page to guide the reader in the case they got lost after an ad! Thats attention to detail people!
As the party goes, Dick under the trance of the Vampiri, joins right in with his former kidnappers. Bruce takes that as his clue to investigate the house of Dala and her crazed Brother!! It doesn’t take long for Bruce to surmise that something sinister is afoot! As Batman jumps into cowl mode on the outside in the garden he comes face to face with the Vampiri monk himself and the scrap ensues. As usual Batman always is startled by the strength of his adversary and struggles with him..the picture of the monk on the bottom left panel displaying his fangs is classic Gene Colan and as a kid I can truly say these images stuck in the brain. Seeings I didn’t get this issue I was free of the nightmare potential..THEN IT HAPPENED..
As with many of the Bats fights..round one goes to the villain..this time however the Brother Vampiri leaves his mark on Batman literally. Batman is savagely bitten on the neck as per 80s standard fare with Vampire horror standards. Not being on to lay down Batman gains his bearings after the bite and batters the Vamp with a well placed large stick and clubs him mercilessly over the back of his head only to be clocked by his own Boy Wonder who is clearly still whipped by his latest disastrous relationship. Once again look how much is neatly packed into 8 panels..not a wasted space.Its also of note when looking at some of Colans work notice how much it rains in his books. It’s almost hysterical! Makes for great cheap backgrounds though!
In a weird turn of events this issue actually carried over to another title! While common place today this was a much rarer occurrence in these days. Companies were less like a pack of gougers like they are today..well at least they hid it better back in the day..so as it would be..the “Blood Sport” storyline carried over into two issues of Detective Comics. On a side note there is a secondary story that is happening throughout all the issues and more prominently in the Detective issue. Batman’s identity is uncovered by a dirty politician who threatens to expose Batman..however Vickie Vale..(yes she was actually in a comic and not just the Tim Burton movie) investigates the situation and it is discovered to be photoshopped!! Wait photo shop didn’t exist back then but they pulled some form of chicanery to alter a photo. It was all forgotten after this issue! I didn’t know this story was in the book as I obviously could care less as a kid if the panels didn’t include a vampire! Anyways..back to the Vampire storyline..
Boy do I miss these covers! You have an action scene that draws you into the action of what the narrative is inside the book and the use of speech bubbles! “Good Lord Batman what happened to you!!” Even though this was what I call a bait and switch cover as this scene never actually happens in the book. Robin at this point is still firmly in the clutches of the Vampiri and NOT at the Batcave with Alfred..hows that for nitpicking dissection. I love the bait covers though..they always worked on me!! Anyways I will not spend a ton of words on this issue which is essentially a fill in the gaps issue which gives the full background on the Vampiri ! First Batman returns home and discovers that he like the Boy Wonder is afflicted with the curse of the vampire!
Alfred intercepts him in the washroom of Wayne Manor and is horrified by what he sees!! Batman however has reacted differently than Grayson. He is still in control of his faculties and pushes Alfred away and knows not to hurt him. As well look at the curious decor in the Manors washroom. The nice fish soap dish gold sink taps and green color theme. What does that say about Bruce’s tastes? I don’t know but its out there now.
After Batman leaves the cave in search of the Vampiri and his Boy Wonder Alfred gets a visit from the mysterious and curious Father Green who sees to have an unhealthy knowledge of the Vampiri. He weaves the full tale to Alfred of Dubois and Dala, a brother and sister duo of post civil war slavers who treat black folks very poor in that time. Dubois is awaken by the beating of drums, so naturally he is drawn to the source of the drums only to find a voodoo like event occurring on a beach. During the festivities he is bitten by a snake and turns into the Vampiri as the black folks he had once mistreated laughed at his plight. Dala, his sister had followed him to this get together and is attacked and bitten by her own Brother! Thus are born The Vampiri who live on for centuries later up to modern-day 1982 anyways!
As Father Green finishes up his story he knows that Batman to is now infected by the same venom that The Vampiri are infected with as well as Robin! Now as we have a problem. As well it is finally confirmed that Dalas Brother, Louis Dubois is officially calling himself THE MONK!! Thats right..THE MONK!! Now if that doesn’t strike fear into the hearts and souls of readers what will I beg? In the meantime Batman struggles with the fact he is now a Vampire..uh I mean Vampiri!! This Dark Knight is able to fight the full effect of the Vampiris mark and is still able to fight off his urges..
Ì nabbed this bad boy in a quarter bin of a local comic book shop much later but somehow I had read the conclusion to the saga. The cover of Batman #351 ,even though it states it was drawn by Gene Colan and Dick Giordano looks more Giordano that Colan. The Batman is almost hysterically laughable and I always disliked the cover but the Gargoyle mast-head on the edge of the building is all Gene Colan..so it gets partial marks from me on this one. #351 is the wrap up..the Coup De Gras as it maybe! Batman vs The Vampiri …Final Battle. Lets begin. Batman scours Gotham for his Ward..Dick Grayson aka Robin only to find him using his charm and wiles on the much older Vickie Vale..Grayson is not in charge of his mind as he has transformed fully into a Vampire and is about to seal the deal on Vicki’s neck when good old Bats has something to say about it all!! Vickie is Batman’s GF at the time so this is clearly inappropriate !
To be clear Batman doesnt not have the best history with his women but those who mess with his girl usually ends up in a bad place at the end of the story. Robin is no exception..with a well placed southpaw..I honestly didn’t know Wayne was a lefty? Can anyone verify this fact? Weird. Anyways Grayson’s out cold and Vampire Bruce pulls his cheating ass off the ground and back to the Batcave for much-needed treatment! A hilarious part of this is the final panel on the page where Alfred laments that the ominous Father Green may have overstayed his welcome. Really whats weird about a man of the cloth who shows up at your door in yet another thunderstorm in the dead of night? These days we call the cops and seize his computer! Anyways..
Batman struggles to get Dick some blood or possibly an antidote..but his Vampire side is fighting him and his frustration is at a boiling point..Love the old Batcave by the way. The giant coin and the Dinosaur is a must have for any home! Hey its better than the fish-shaped soap dish!! Help is on the way as Father Green finds his way to the Batcave!! How did the father know about the cave? Apparently not the hardest secret in the world as Christopher Chance who had been covering for Bruce in his public appearances as well wanders the Manor as well thinking something is up. On top of that photos of Bruce as Batman circulate so it looks like while Bats battles the vampires his whole identity has been blown to the media as well. Toss in people randomly finding out about the Batcave it looks like the jig is up for Bruce and his secret of the cowl!
Father Green explains to reverse the affliction of the Vampiri Robin needs a complete blood transfusion!! Apparently not an issue as Alfred stays to assist Dick Grayson, Batman and Father Green go to throw down with the Monk once and for all!! Not two seconds after walking into the aforementioned Scooby Doo mansion the final confrontation begins!! This time Batman’s pissed and its going to take more than fangs and a hot sister to stop the Dark Knight!! The Monk attempts a high cross body and Bats gives him the fling ding to the other side of the room. The poor Monk is about to get ragdolled!
The Monk turns the tide with the nerve pinch, dropping Wayne to the floor but Father Green and his cross are here to save the day! Now even the Lord is involved in this Battle Royal!! While Dala holds poor father Green on the floor The Monk goes in for the final kill..or bite. One problem..If you have already been bitten what is the purpose of being re-bitten? Not sure what the Monks endgame is on this one but anyways Batman says NO!
Batman once again showing is left-handed punching power unloads a left hook which literally rocks the Monk into the air and between to crosses that may as well be Football uprights…this one silences The Monks efforts for this evening. Dala however has the resilient Father Green pinned to the floor and Batman, not being one not to hit a woman, stiffs her with a solid right for the win! Father Green has the healing serum and Batman asks for it before he loses control. Now I am a mere reader but would one not have asked for it earlier? Whatever its more dramatic this way darn it!
The sub-plot throughout these issues has been the photos of Batman’s identity and Vickie Vales investigation into the matter. At the end we see Vickie search through her files to find all her pictures of Bruce and batman are missing..who or what has the photos?`Now that the Vampiri are out-of-the-way this plot now takes center stage as one of my all time favorite villains DEADSHOT arrives to go toe to toe with the Dark Knight!!
The story actually crosses over with another issue of Detective Comics as in Detective 518 the first few pages deals with Bruce’s recovery and the final fate of the Vampiri!One of my favorite Detective Comics cover ends this series and makes up for that goddawful batman 351 cover! Deadshot is front and center and rocks it!
Batman is on the mend people and has no idea that his identity is in danger at this point but is just as happy as turncoat Robin is to see Batman still alive! As Father Green administers the serum Batman is on the mend and the Vampiri..now also in the Batcave are strapped in and ready for transport Father Greens Herse. What is he up to..and what ever happened to Dala and The Monk? I guess we will never know.
Hey Heroes if you liked this post..there are plenty of other Retro posts to occupy your taste for the 1980s. Give us a Like at the bottom of the page or leave us a comment as tell me how much you loved , or hated, or simply to say Hi! Chat all about these and other Satellite Transmissions on Twitter using #SuperHeroSatellite or chat with my Blogging Brethren The #SuperBlogTeamUp. Contact me directly on Twitter Charlton_Hero . Now..next stop we go head to head with Skeletor and his goons on Eternia as Super-Blog Team Up Returns for its fourth big team up!