Batman’s detective skills weren’t good enough against a weird foe
Batman has been around for over 80 years, so he’s prone to mistakes. However, the one he made against a strange foe in the ’80s proved fatal.
Being dubbed the World’s Greatest Detective is no small feat, but that of batman skills did not always allow him to succeed in saving the day. Batman # 338 pit him against an enemy able to outstrip him enough to kill someone, right in front of him and a large crowd. Even when he’s on the right track, the Dark Knight isn’t always quick enough to tell a difference.
With a history of eighty years, Batman was bound to live strange adventures, as well as very particular enemies. He must also know a lot of failures. This particular ’80s adventure is very different from recent Batman adventures, but it posed some major challenges due to its quirkiness.
Batman # 338 has the creative team of Gerry Conway, Don Newton, Irv Novick, Frank McLaughlin, Adrienne Roy and Larry Mahlstedt. The story in question, from 1981, is called “This Sporting Death!” Inside, Batman comes face to face with a villain known as the Sportsman. Sportsman only appeared once, but that was enough to highlight how dangerous he is. He murdered a lot of people before the Dark Knight got on the case, all in the sports industry. He was even able to brutally take out one more target despite Batman being on his trail.
The athlete, real name Martin Mantle, Jr., wears an outfit made up of a lot of different sports equipment. This DC villain wears a red and yellow jersey, a football helmet with a skull, striped baseball pants, a pair of gloves, and a pair of ice skates. He attacks people with sports equipment. Her bizarre outfit is exactly what keeps Batman following her trail. He left skate marks on the soccer field and although it took the detective a little while, he recognized the marks and made his way to Gotham Square Garden. During a match between the Gotham Goliaths and the Star City Stars, Sportsman sets his sights on Pierre Foote, a French-Canadian hockey player. Even though Batman is present at the game, he doesn’t react quickly enough when Sportsman walks into the ice. The villain throws a basketball at Foote, which ends up being a bomb that instantly detonates the man when he catches it.
While Batman was ultimately able to hunt down his foe for good and confront him, it left one more victim than needed. The Gotham vigilante was already on the trail but couldn’t act fast enough or be where he needed to be to make a difference. Batman typically fails to save others when hampered by enemies or trapped and unable to get to where he needs to be. In this case, however, he has everything he needs. He has already followed suit and was on the premises of Gotham Square Garden.
While the Sportsman was a point foe, there is no doubt that he was infamously effective in his mission to get revenge on the sport. He grew up not being athletic, until his sports-loving father injected him with an experimental serum to make him better at sports. While the serum was working, it ultimately gave Sportsman a headache that left the DC villain wanting revenge on the sports world as a whole. His motive and appearance might not have been enough to make him a long-term villain in Gotham, but he certainly made fun of him. Batman in a way that a lot of other baddies don’t. Being able to follow a lead means nothing if a hero isn’t ready to stop the villain in the end.
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