The Demon of Gothos Mansion!

The Demon of Gothos Mansion DC Comics 227 December 1970. Written by Denny O’Neil, illustrated by by Irv Novick and Dick Giordano. Cover by Neal Adams.

This is a bit of a treat. I’ve mentioned before, in an earlier post, how I find it difficult to read and write much during the Summer. So what a lovely surprise to find this in my inbox a few weeks ago.

Sent in by Charles over at Singular Points, The Demon of Gothos Mansion! gave me a much needed quick fix of vintage gothic romance this August.

Our story opens with Alfred, Batman’s butler, receiving a disturbing letter from his niece, Daphne. She has recently been employed as a governess at a secluded manor house belonging to the mysterious Mr Clifton Heathrow. Her letter alludes to some strange goings on and Alfred is worried for her safety. Of course, being the all-round sterling superhero that he is, Batman decides to investigate.

When he reaches the isolated estate, Batman is perturbed to notice it is patrolled by some very mean looking guards. Hmm.. that’s a bit weird. He decides to make himself known to them in order to test their mettle and, while they attempt to set him on fire and chop him into little pieces, he learns the name of the house they are guarding is Gothos Mansion and that ‘strangers are not tolerated here.’

Batman soon makes short work of these two ruffians but they are the least of his problems. For he has just found out that Daphne’s boss is a black magician, hell-bent on raising the spirit of Ballk – one of the nastiest demons of all time.

Without further ado, Batman makes his way to Gothos Mansion. Finding a single lit window, he scales the walls to find Daphne, trapped in the upstairs tower room, desperately trying to flee from the evil that pervade this place. Her job is a bust and it seems she has had problems of her own to deal with…

Batman wastes no time in breaking down the door and leading Daphne through the darkened corridors to her escape. But then disaster strikes. The floor beneath him gives way and Batman soon finds himself trapped in the basement, at the mercy of the mad Mr Heathrow.

Like all great villains, once Batman is safely under control, Clifton Heathrow proceeds to outline his cunning plan in minute detail to anyone within earshot. It transpires he has been searching high and low for young woman born precisely at midnight on All Hallows Eve, in order to sacrifice to the demon Ballk.

Unfortunately for her, Daphne fits the bill and her death will mean the liberation of Ballk’s spirit. Furthermore, this dastardly deed has already been done before and the ghost of the maiden then slain still haunts Gothos Manor. With that, Clifton departs to prepare his sacrifice, leaving Batman fighting for his life and ultimately Daphne’s soul…

At last, our caped crusader manages to free himself and make good his escape. He is assisted by a beautiful stranger. She looks a bit like Daphne, but is different somehow…

Batman wants to get to know this mysterious beauty better but there is no time, for inside the chapel, Daphne’s life is in peril…

Just in time Batman sweeps in, breaking up the ritual as he throws Clifton Heathrow across the room. The rest of the coven flee in terror, leaving their master a broken man. Ballk, unsurprisingly, refuses to manifest so our evil mage promptly dies of a heart attack. Daphne is saved! Hurrah! But Batman has his mind on other things….

Alas! The woman he loves is but a phantom, the ghost of the last victim sacrificed to Ballk over six generations ago. Batman’s good deeds have freed her spirit leaving him alone with the night…

Oooh, I really enjoyed this – the story is great fun and I loved the ending. There is nothing quite so heart-achingly beautiful as unrequited love, methinks, and this bittersweet ending is pitched just right for a gothic romance. Five out of five stars. Thanks Charles!!!