After his defeat by Batman and the JLA, it looked like the Calculator would not be back any time soon. In fact, as John Wells pointed out in his essay about the villain’s career (see the previous three columns if you missed it), it was five years before the villain resurfaced.
But that had not been my intention.
The first regular writing assignment I had at DC was Robin, initially as a back-up in DETECTIVE COMICS and then when he moved to the co-starring role in BATMAN FAMILY (which ultimately turned into DETECTIVE). I’d been writing his adventures for more than five years and it seemed time for him to cross paths with the Calculator.
In a series of stories leading up to DETECTIVE COMICS #482, Robin had been confronted with evidence of a growing crime operation in and around New Carthage. In that issue’s “The League of Crime” the plan was to reveal who had been recruited to run the operation… and that surprise villain was to have been the Calculator.
My original script had a completely different final page from the one that appeared. In the first version, the man in the shadows asks, “Do you intend to use the girl again? (Referring to Card Queen.)
“Definitely,” replies his associate. “Those gimmicks are her own invention…and as you are aware, her father is a big man in this operation.”
“Nothing like a little nepotism. It doesn’t take much calculation to figure out what the organization expects ME to do!”
“Precisely. Robin has been digging too deeply into our operations here. We want him out of our hair once and for all.”
Now the lights are on and we see who the man in shadows is. “And the man to compute that is none other than THE CALCULATOR! HAHAHAHA!”
The coming attractions blurb reads: “Can the Computer of Crime succeed? Or will Robin be able to defeat him… with the aid of Batgirl and Man-Bat? Don’t dare miss next issue’s ‘CALCULATED KILLINGS!’”
Instead of the Calculator, the printed story revealed the man in shadows to be the head of MAZE, a crime organization which had appeared in earlier stories. And the following issue featured a Robin solo in which the Teen Wonder wrapped up the entire organization in ten pages… without the help of Batgirl or Man-Bat!
Why? Because after I’d delivered the script for #482, I was told that I was being replaced as writer on the Robin and Batgirl stories. Rather than compromise what I’d intended for the Calculator, I decided to replace him with the innocuous MAZE baddies and be done with it. So I modified the art directions and rewrote the ending for “The League of Crime,” keeping the Calculator’s planned participation a secret until now.
BOBRO’S TRIVIA QUIZ
1. Starting way back in 1935, what comic book eventually became ADVENTURE COMICS?
2. Orion, Big Barda, and Lightray call what world home?
3. Willie Lumpkin delivers mail to the Baxter Building; where is that located?
4. Hudson University, Dick Grayson’s alma mater, is located where?
5. Aquaman made his home base in a what half-sunken American city?
6. Though as Beast Boy he was briefly one of Titans West, Gar became Changeling as a member of what group?
7. Eventually there was MORE, so what early comic got its name changed with #7?
8. Lots and lots of comics stories, though uncredited, were written by what man who fits this week’s theme?
9. Samuel Zachary Guthrie and Danielle Moonstar had super-dentities as members of what group?
10. Early 90’s signing group had their own Harvey comic; who were they?
11. In 1939 and 1940, DC published a special edition to celebrate what event?
12. Shouting at Olsen, Perry would say, “Dog bites man, no one cares. Man bites dog, that’s…..”
BOBRO’S FUN FACTS TO KNOW & TELL
1. Newton B. Minnow once referred to television as a “vast wasteland.”
2. The site of the first atomic bomb test in New Mexico is open to the public on only two days per year, one in April and one in October.
3. Though it is a standard in comics printing today, back in the 80s when it was created, the Mando paper comic was referred to as “New Format.”
FROM THE EMAILBOX:
In what magazine and issue did the story “Around the World in 80 Arrows” take place?
— Shawn Millard (email@example.com)
Coincidence is an amazing thing, Shawn. Soon after I received your question, that very story was reviewed on one of the mailing lists to which I belong. With permission of reviewer Bob Hughes [firstname.lastname@example.org], here is the inside scoop on that tale, which originally appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #190, July 1953. Story by Bill Finger, art by George Papp.
<< “Is it possible to fire 80 arrows by relay system so that they completely encircle the globe, a distance of 25,000 miles? Each arrow must travel better than 300 miles and it must be done in 30 days!”
Well, of course it isn’t possible, but Green Arrow is a super-hero! The splash panel shows GA and Speedy riding camels across the desert while a symbolic arrow circles the Earth in the background. It’s only 2/3 of a page though. Not much space for Green Arrow, even back in the 48 page comic book days.
Movie producer “HB” is looking for publicity for his new blockbuster “Around the World in 80 Days.” So naturally he turns to the nearest super-hero to shill for him. He offers to donate $30,000 to charity if GA helps make his movie a hit. Why Ollie doesn’t just write a $30,000 check out of petty cash and be done with it, I don’t know. Maybe he just likes a
The first arrow is a two-part rocket, fired by GA amid a crowd of onlookers at the start of this global publicity stunt. “Up, up goes the arrow.. faster and faster … and farther and farther…” The two stage arrow works just like the rockets the government hopes will someday launch satellites into space. The second stage launches perfectly sending the rocket arrow shooting high into the stratosphere as GA and Speedy trail along in the Arrowcar!
The Arrowcar is a truly amazing contraption. It must weigh twice as much as the fifties Batmobile. It seems to consist almost entirely of engine and single tail fin. The tiny passenger compartment is almost invisible amidst this mass of machinery. Maybe it gets 15 gallons to the mile.
Finally the arrow lands at the edge of the Grand Canyon. GA reclaims it and launches a glider arrow. The Awesome Archers progress from state to state until they reach the eastern shore (establishing that Star City was on the west coast all along, I guess). Faced with the massive expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, GA isn’t fazed a moment. A special cork arrow, equipped with gyroscopes goes churning out into the briny deep, while the Emerald Archers, cruise along behind on a luxury liner. Halfway across the Atlantic, a balloon arrow guarantees arrival in England.
In England, GA foils a robbery by firing a fountain pen arrow into the crooks’ escaping speed boat. He then picks the crooks up in France.
Later, in the Sahara, — Hey, it’s an 8 page story, that’s ten arrows per page! — GA launches a sand arrow, which is propelled by a small sail across the surface of the desert. Next, they ski across the Himalayas and launch an arrow off the Great Wall of China. In Hawaii, GA has to launch an arrow via harpoon from the bottom of a lagoon. Speedy lends a hand by firing a booster arrow that hooks into GA’s arrow, doubling its speed.
But the Pacific is a huge ocean, much given to storms. When the weather becomes so bad that no arrow launch is possible, GA and Speedy hastily build a submarine arrow to travel through the calm waters deep beneath the turbulent ocean surface.
And so, back in California, the twin titans of the bow hit the bull’s-eye at the finish line. 80 arrows in thirty days! The adventurers have succeeded!
Or did they? Despite their careful count of elapsed time, the California calendar shows that 31 days have elapsed since GA and Speedy left. They forgot about the international dateline! And unlike, Phileas Fogg, they went around the world the wrong way and lost a day instead of gaining one.
But somewhere in his checkered past Ollie must have earned (or more likely bought) a law degree, for he successfully argues that only 30 actual days have elapsed regardless of what the calendar says. (Right, and the millennium really began in 2000 instead of 2001). But it’s all good publicity, so HB pays off and the charity gets the $30,000. Three Cheers
for Green Arrow and Speedy! >>
Thanks for the review, Bob. Shawn and Bob earn a 10% discount on anything they order from Comics Unlimited this week. You can save some money too by having your question answered (or providing information that helps ME answer a question). Just use the handy box in the column on the left.
See you next week for my 50th SBC column!
1. NEW COMICS
2. New Genesis
3. New York City
4. New Carthage
5. New Venice
6. New Teen Titans
7. NEW FUN COMICS
8. Paul S. Newman
9. New Mutants
10. New Kids on the Block
11. New York World’s Fair
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Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.