Posts tagged ‘Arnold Wesker’

Detective Annual 11 – Azrael causes problems, the Riddler goes for an old standard, and Oracle teams with Looker

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There are three stories in Detective Annual 11 (2009), the first, which is also the longest, being a continuation of a story from this year’s Batman Annual.

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The story, by Fabian Nicieza and Tom Mandrake, deals with another secret society, this one out to raise a demonic spirit through the seven deadly sins, and the sacrifice of children descended from earlier cult members.

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Batman and the Question work on it together from their side.  Azrael has his own agenda, and Robin has gone in disguise as one of the children, and already been kidnapped.  Renee does not take long to realize that it is Nightwing now wearing the Batman costume.

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Azrael learns that the sacrifice depends on the children being of the blood of the earlier ones, which of course means that, should Robin get sacrificed, the spell will not work.

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Damian does break free, and his identity as Robin is exposed.  The evil cultists try to lure him back.  I’m not sure that sending an aggressively naked older woman is the best way to lure a 10 year old boy, even if it’s Damian.

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But it’s Azrael to the rescue anyway, and he joins with Robin as they take down the cultists, in a manner as overtly violent as only Damian and an Azrael can be.

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Batman and the Question are rushing to the scene.  The cultists are in a penthouse, and the story gets a moment of levity as Batman sends Renee up to the roof quickly.

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Frankly, this story failed to grab me, even with Mandrake’s art.   I do like Harvey Bullock’s crude way of explaining how he knew Renee was the Question, and there are some other good moments.

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The story ends with both the villains and the heroes angry with Azrael.  I have never liked any version of that character, which probably explains why I don’t care for a long story featuring him.

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There is a very cute 2-page “L’il Gotham” story, by Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen.  Not much in the way of plot, the Riddler does a variant of the St. Ives riddle song, though calling it Poison Ives.  A staggering amount of cameos in this, for only being two pages.  Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Commissioner Gordon, Batman, Batwoman, Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, as well as the Penguin, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, Clayface, Mad Hatter, Joker, Scarecrow, Black Mask, Croc, Hush, Ra’s Al Ghul, and even the original Ventriloquist, Arnold Wesker, with Scarface.

Of the three stories in this issue, it’s sad that I enjoyed this 2 page piece more than the others.

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The final story in the issue, by Amanda McMurray and Kelly Jones, features a team-up between Oracle and Looker.

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There is a bad guy who thinks he is a vampire, but isn’t, and who is obsessed with Barbara Gordon, though we never find out why.  Looker is unaware that Barbara is Oracle, and is kept in the dark. Looker has become a vampire herself during her time with the Outsiders, so she is the perfect one to take down a faker.

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The ending of the story leaves more questions than answers, and was clearly intended to be followed up.  As far as I know, it never was.

 

 

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Detective 844 – the secret origin of the new Ventriloquist

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How do Dini, Nguyen, and Fridolfs handle Bruce Wayne getting shot at point blank range as the continue the story, in Detective 844 (July 2008)?  Lamely.  He knocks out the light, apparently not having been shot at such close range. Scarface doesn’t know where to shoot without the light.  (umm, right in front of you?)

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But Bruce does not manage to escape, and winds up getting to hear Peyton Riley’s story.  She fell in love with wealthy Matthew Akins, who wanted to marry her despite his family’s objections, due to her background.  Her father also did not approve, wanting her to marry Sabatino, to unite their families.  So her dad had his goons beat Matthew until he agreed not to see her.  She married Sabatino, and Matthew became a drunk.

As Johnny’s wife, she came into contact with Scarface and Arnold Wesker, who respected her, but not Johnny.

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Sabatino was not content to be the heir apparent, and killed Peyton’s father, and then shot her.  She lay on the floor, barely alive, in the room next to the one in which Wesker was killed, and was there even when Batman and Gordon were examining the corpse.

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Crawling into the room after they left, she found Scarface, and picked him up, and he began to talk to her.  A bit of surgery on both of them, and now she is back to kill the husband who left her for dead.

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She heads out to do so, leaving Bruce behind.  Zatanna tagged along as a bird, and both are grateful to know what is going on.

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Batman and Zatanna get onto the ship with Peyton and Sabatino.  It’s a deadly fight all around, and ends with Johnny and the Ventriloquist both going overboard, leaving Scarface behind.

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Zatanna, who had made a play for Bruce in the first half, tries again. Cause nothin says lovin like seeing two people apparently die.  Bruce turns her down, and hopes to remain friends.  She is cool with that, but you can tell she’s still hoping. Maybe she’ll try again after a good massacre.

The Ventriloquist does survive, returning later in the year.

Detective 831 – Harley Quinn’s secret friend

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Dini, Kramer and Faucher return, and give the spotlight to Harley Quinn in Detective 831 (June 2007).

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The story opens with a hearing at Arkham, to determine if Harley should be released.  Bruce Wayne casts the deciding vote against her, but as she is being returned to her cell, her “guard” breaks her out.

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The guard turns out to be Moose, the sister of Rhino, the original Ventriloquist’s muscle.  The new Ventriloquist, and Scarface, broke Harley Quinn out of Arkham to use her abilities in a robbery.

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Harley seems more than happy to go along with the plan, but at the first opportunity, calls Commissioner Gordon and informs him of what is going on.

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The Ventriloquist and Scarface intended to kill Harley after the theft, but she gets the jump on them.  She seems to really despise the new Ventriloquist, although it’s not clear why.  Batman shows up, and rescues Harley.

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She explains to Batman that her first night in Arkham she was feeling very alone and frightened, and Arnold Wesker put on a puppet show to cheer her up, and their bond continued.  And while Batman does not think that balances the murders Wesker committed, Quinn insists that it showed that there was a decent person deep inside, even if few people got to see it.

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It’s genuinely touching, and lays the groundwork for the conclusion, as Harley is called back before the board.  Bruce Wayne has deiced to change his vote, and Harley is released from the asylum.

Detective 827 – The Ventriloquist returns?

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Dini, Faucher and Kramer have a lot of fun with the reader in Detective 827 (March 2007).

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The story begins as Batman sees Catwoman fall into the street.  It turns out to just be a mannequin,and a trap, apparently set by Scarface.  Going to the cemetery, Batman and the police discover that Arnold Wesker’s grave has been dug up, and the coffin is empty. Bullock relates how many cops, and criminals, suspect there is more to Scarface than just a wooden doll.

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Scarface calls a meeting of the Ventriloquist’s old gang, and other hoods.  Batman, in disguise, is present.  Wesker does appear, but his corpse is just used as another dummy, as the new Ventriloquist introduces herself.

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Scarface suspects one of the people at the meeting is probably Batman.  As the scene starts to get violent, Batman goes into action, and manages to escape.  The new Ventriloquist likely does not succeed in hiring any of the people Scarface just shot, or shot at.

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Batman, and the reader, do get a glimpse of the Ventriloquist’s scarred face, her bond with Scarface, and the assurance that there is more to her story than we know.

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And the relationship between the Ventriloquist and Scarface has changed as well. Yuck.

But I’m glad they brought Scarface back.

Detective 818 – the death of Scarface, and Jason Bard begins

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Robinson, Kirk and Clarke continue with Face the Face, part 3, joined by Wayne Faucher, in Detective 818 (June 2006).

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Magpie, a minor villain, is the latest one found dead, again with two bullets to the head.

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All the evidence is pointing towards Harvey Dent being the killer, but Batman simply does not want to believe that.  He also realizes he needs a daytime operative to function when he is not able to.

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The Mad Hatter pops up, but no one tries to kill him before Batman can take him down.

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On the other hand, the Ventriloquist does not fare as well, as Arnold Wesker gets gunned down.  Scarface attempts to write a clue in Wesker’s blood.

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But Scarface gets shot as well.

The story continues – partly in the next issue of Batman, and partly in the second story in this issue.

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Jason Bard’s series returns to the pages of Detective, and even retains it’s old title: The Crime File of Jason Bard.  Robinson, Kirk, Clarke and Faucher are the creative team on this story as well.

Jason Bard had not appeared very much in the last decade. His most recent appearances had been in the pages of Birds of Prey.  In this story, we see that he is back as a private eye in Gotham, working on a case of a murdered husband while sleeping with the widow.

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Batman comes by to enlist him as his personal investigator, making him an offer he cannot refuse.  Worth noting are the other two detectives that Batman credits as capable – Ralph Dibny, and Roy Raymond.  Ralph was currently appearing in 52, thus the vague comment about him being unavailable (in fact, he was dead by this time).  Batman dismissing Roy Raymond as wasting his skills on daytime television speaks volumes about Batman.

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Jason accepts, and casually asks Batman to take the not-so-grieving widow with him to the police station, as she killed her husband.  Hiring Jason was just part of her cover-up plan.  He had figured it out, but she was still worth the sex before turning her in.

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Oh, Jason.

The story continues in the next issue.

Detective 812 – protecting the Ventriloquist

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Lapham, Bachs and Massengil move City of Crime towards its ending in Detective 812 (Dec. 05).

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In his longshoreman identity, Batman was living with a work buddy, who beat on his wife.  By this issue, he has managed to convince the woman to leave her husband, and gives him a sock for her.

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Robin, now with Jim Gordon helping, watches over the unconscious Arnold Wesker as the mudpeople – who are called The Body – take over the hospital.  They keep Scarface near the Ventriloquist, which is really nice of them.

The story continues in the next issue.

Detective 808 – Robin protects the Ventriloquist, and Croc haunts the sewers

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City of Crime, by Lapham, Bachs and Massengil, continues in Detective 808 (Sept. 05).

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Robin sits guard over Arnold Wesker, and the Scarface doll.  It’s a good thing he is there, as the mud people are trying to get in and kill the Ventriloquist.

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Meanwhile, Batman spends his time in his new identity, making friends, and even moving in, with other longshoremen.

The story pauses after this issue, resuming after War Crimes.

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Croc begins a three-part story in this issue, by Andersen Gabrych, Tommy Castillo and Rodney Ramos.  The story does not take place before War Games, but after it!  Wow!  And though it touches on War Games, it really is more of a sequel to Hush, which saw Croc get altered to a more bestial form.

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Black Mask’s men are sent out to get him, and bring him under Black Mask’s control.  That fails significantly.

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Croc has his own agenda, and seeks out a doctor who dealt with him in earlier days.

The story continues in the next issue.

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