Chuck Dixon is joined by Brian Stelfreeze on the Joker story in Detective 726 (Oct. 98), an Aftershock story, although only barely.
A young girl has been kidnapped by a recent release from Arkham Asylum. It’s the anniversary of Jason Todd’s death, and Batman correctly suspects the Joker to be the mastermind, and goes to Arkham Asylum to confront him.
Each two page spread has a full page picture on one side, showing Batman in action. Only towards the end of the book is it clear where he is going, and that this takes place between two visits to the Joker. The opposite page shows Batman questioning the Joker in his cell.
The design gives the story its only real touches of Aftershock, as we see the ruined city.
The Joker finally reveals the location of the girl, but it’s in the back of a trunk in a car on a sinking ferry, and there is little chance the girl will still be alive.
Except that the Joker ensured she would be, with a respirator. Batman is puzzled, and the Joker explains that, Batman being who he is, he likely always proceeds with the idea that the victim is dead. Now he will have hope – which the Joker will have more fun crushing.
Nasty piece of goods, that Joker.
Chuck Dixon, William Rosado and Tom Palmer are the team on Detective 725 (Sept. 98). It’s an Aftershock story, dealing primarily with the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.
Batman and Nightwing patrol what might once have been the streets of Gotham. His new Batmobile sprays a smelly dye on rioters, marking them for the police. Dick talks about the good old days, though Bruce doubts that it could ever have been called good.
Dick also discusses his plans to become a police officer in Bludhaven, doing openly what he has been doing in secret for so long.
Bruce commends Dick, on how Robin and Nightwing are simply extensions of who Dick Grayson is, while Batman has always been an identity for Bruce Wayne to hide in.
Nothing big or super-dramatic. Just a good story about the two men.
And we’re back to Aftershock with Detective 724 (Aug. 98). Dixon, Aparo and Hodgkins pull off another great story in the ruins of Gotham.
J Devlin Davenport, Bruce Wayne’s obnoxious neighbour, is causing problems all over the place in this story. As Alfred and Harold, in disguise as workmen, try to cover up the hole exposing the Batcave, Davenport keeps coming by to complain about how the work messes up his VCR.
Marion Grange gets a good scene, barking at reporters in a way most mayors would love to do.
Davenport is also causing problems in downtown Gotham, refusing to allow the city to demolish his fallen building, claiming that it is still his property. With communication down, and so much disorganization, no one is around to countermand him.
Batman takes things into his own hands, stealing a bulldozer and plowing right through the centre of the building.
It’s a victory of sorts, but just continues to show the sorry state of the city.
Detective 722 (June 1998) is part of Aftershock. Following the events of Cataclysm, Aftershock is not so much a storyline, as the overall title for a collections of stories, in the various Bat-books, that deal with the effects of the earthquake, and tie up some loose ends. The fact that they did not try to weave it all into one story is likely what made Aftershock tales work so well.
Chuck Dixon, Jim Aparo and James Hodgkins focus this story on a little girl who cannot find her mother in the devastation left by the earthquake. Batman and Robin spot her, and feeling that she would respond better to Robin, he takes control of the situation.
Robin gets little information out of her, and leaves the girl with Bullock and Montoya, while he begins his search.
One page beautifully illustrates why even Batman finds getting around Gotham difficult now.
The story also touches on Sarah Essen and Jim Gordon, who had not been in contact with each other since the earthquake struck. Essen uses her authority to force a civil servant to do his job amid the chaos and lack of command.
They do get in touch with each other, and re-unite towards the end of the story.
The mother’s boyfriend is a small time hood, and Robin goes to see the Penguin at his new club, the Glacier Room. The Penguin seems barely affected by the quake, and the story neatly reinforces the status he holds in Gotham.
The Penguin gives Robin the information he needs to find the girl’s mother – only to find the mother has no interest at all in the girl, and was planning to abandon her anyway. Robin picks up on the fact that there is money stashed in the girl’s doll. Although not re-united with her mother, the girl winds up on a farm with loving grandparents, and a college fund unwittingly donated by her mother.
A great little story.