Tuesday, May 14, 2013

It all started with the Big Bang! #1, part 2!

Future issues will probably just be one post, I'm getting into this "brevity" thing.

Alright, this is the first Knight Watchman story (in color at least). One thing I really like about the Knight Watchman is how well the earless, capeless Batman costume meshes with the knight theme. This story, naturally, is in the style of Dick Sprang -- it's credited to Tom King, as seen below, but that's the fake Big Bang universe version of Bob Kane.

The Quizmaster is, naturally, based on the Riddler, who if I'm remembering correctly was not quite as transparently inspired by the quiz show fad. As it happens, a plot very similar to this was used in a Riddler episode of the "The Batman" cartoon, though in that case it was Batman both in the chair and answering the questions.

We open at the Randall residence, where fashion mogul Reid Randall and his nephew Jerry (AKA the Knight Watchman and Kid Galahad) are sitting down to watch their favorite quiz show, "What Do You Know?". Oh, and Reid's mother is there, too, they all live together. Anyway, the episode features a special announcement: Kid Galahad will be a contestant on the next episode!
Man, they don't have to lay it on so thick. So, naturally, that guy is the Quizmaster. The next day, a local newspaper, the Midway City Monitor, receives a message from the Quizmaster, addressed to the Knight Watchman and Kid Galahad. Editor Frank Spaulding, who seems to know the heroes and have some direct line to them, contacts them immediately and passes the message on. The note says that if Kid Galahad goes through with his appearance on "What Do You Know?", the Quizmaster will humiliate him and reveal his and the Knight Watchman's secret identities.

The Knight Watchman's reaction is pretty sensible: he thinks this is either a prank or that the Quizmaster is just a loon, and that there's nothing to worry about. His balks at the Quizmaster's threat makes the front page of the Monitor, and are seen by the Quizmaster in his secret identity, that of quiz show writer Nestor Whitt. Whitt is enraged by the Knight Watchman dismissing his challenge, and vows that the world will learn to respect the questions of Nestor Whitt, the Quizmaster! Meanwhile, it turns out the Knight Watchman actually took the threat seriously after all, and was deliberately trying to draw the Quizmaster out.

Steranko, an artist best known for Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD, was also a noted escape artist. Oh, and, gee, I wonder if Kid Galahad's reading up on escapes is going to come in handy later when he's tied to an electric chair. So their "watch alerts", which are something like Jimmy Olsen's watch in reverse, start vibrating, and they head to their secret hideout the Watchtower. Whereas the Batcave is underneath Wayne Manor, the Watchtower is hidden in a water tower atop the building the Reids live in.

Mention is made of the pair's respective nicknames, the Twilight Paladin and the Kid Whiz. It takes dedication to go forward when the only equivalent of "Dark Knight" you can think of is "Twilight Paladin."
The police contact the pair via the Watchtower's radio, and inform them that businessman Vernon Macklan has been kidnapped and a note with a clue was addressed to them. 

I'm going to spare you the clue and the solution, they're both pretty painful. They find Macklan and rescue him, and leave without seeing the Quizmaster, making me wonder what the point of that all was. That night, they arrive at the TV studio for Kid Galahad's appearance on What Do You Know?, and are greeted by Nestor Whitt, who leads Kid Galahad into the dressing room and knocks him out with a huge hammer as soon as the Knight Watchman is out of earshot. Afterwards, he takes the Knight Watchman through a door to "Studio 3", which is really some vaguely-defined trap room that he can't escape from. 

Looking around, he can see Kid Galahad tied to an electric chair on a fake soundstage, with the Quizmaster at the center of it all. 

Kid Galahad obliquely yet covertly assures the Knight Watchman that he can escape from his bonds given time, so the Knight Watchman is willing to play along in order to buy him some time.

Naturally, this is all being filmed and broadcast in What Do You Know's regular timeslot, because the Quizmaster is starved for attention and all. The questions start, and I thought this was sort of cute

He can't dodge the next question so easily; when the Quizmaster asks who Kid Galahad really is, the Knight Watchman can only say that he's really his nephew. That's not enough for the Quizmaster, who point blank asks what their secret identities are... just before Kid Galahad has freed himself and tackles him, that is!

Incidentally, if you go to http://bigbangcomics.com/, panels from this story make up the background. True enough, it's a pretty solid signifier of the kind of thing Big Bang does.

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