Posts tagged ‘Azrael’

Detective 866 – Dick Grayson solves an old case

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Denny O’Neil, Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs relate a decent one-issue tale, of a mystery that has puzzled Dick Grayson for many a year.

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Dick Grayson is Batman in this story, but Bruce Wayne has returned.  Because he has launched Batman Incorporated, he is busy around the world, so there is room for both him and Dick in the role.  After fighting some hoods, Dick comes across a medallion in the refuse on a street.  He recognizes it instantly, and Nguyen changes the art to a very child-friendly style for an extended flashback.

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The Joker has stolen the medallion from the Order of St Dumas, and fights an early (but uncostumed) Azrael.  Batman gets in the middle, and the flaming sword takes precedence.

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Robin follows the Joker, and captures him, but the medallion is nowhere in sight.  The Joker had bumped into a bum, Loomis, along the way.  Loomis was arrested, along with the Joker and Azrael, but while they escaped, he went to prison for 25 years, protesting his innocence, even though the medallion was never found.

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Dick finds the dying old man, assures him that his name will be cleared, and then finds the hoods and scares them into turning themselves and the medallion in.

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Batman rushes back with the good news, only to find the Joker had been there first.

Lots of different moods in this story, and the art carries them all well.

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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.

 

 

Detective 741 – the bloody finale to No Man’s Land

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There is no real victory to be had in Detective 741 (Feb. 00), the final chapter in Endgame, the final storyline in No Man’s Land.  But there is a huge creative team, and a large cast of characters as well.  Greg Rucka and Devin Grayson are the writers, Damion Scott and Dale Eaglesham the pencillers, while the inks are divided between Sean Parsons, Sal Buscema and Robert Hunter.

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It’s Christmas, and a huge celebration is being planned by Lex Luthor, which the Joker is out to destroy.  The Huntress barely survives an attack by the maniac at the start of the issue (the conclusion of the previous chapter). She gets rescued by Nightwing, and even earns a word of praise from Batman.

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The Joker has had his men steal all the babies – all the children born during No Man’s Land.  Batman and crew are not sure what he plans to do with them, but don’t wait to find out.  Oracle co-ordinates as people spread out across the city, trying to find the children, but often finding caches of exploding dolls.

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Azrael and Batgirl (Cassandra Cain now) confront Mercy at Luthor’s huge christmas tree.  Mercy tries to get rid of them, but is lucky they were there to spot the dolls on the tree, which explodes real good, though all three survive.

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Batman has been chasing the Joker, but along the way notices the overtly acrobatic style, and is not at all surprised to discover that it’s Harley Quinn he has been chasing, in disguise.  She does give him the Joker’s location, but really, that’s only a sign that it’s too late to stop him, isn’t it?

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It’s Sarah Essen who confronts him, surrounded by babies, in the basement of the police headquarters.  She cannot shoot, and the Joker knows it full well.  He has no such qualms, and murders Sarah Essen.

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He then calmly walks out of the police station, and surrenders.  The scene almost dares Gordon to kill him, and Batman makes no move to stop it.  Gordon instead chooses to kneecap him, leaving the Joker lame (though unfortunately that just sort of gets forgotten).

A horrible, but perfect, note to end the storyline on.

And to give them credit, there really was never another attempt to recreate No Man’s Land, or hasn’t been to date.  It would be almost impossible.  The current series Batman Eternal is driving huge changes in the Batman world, but doing it in an entirely different way.

 

 

Detective 681 – the return of Azrael?

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Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan and Klaus Janson bring the Prodigal storyline almost to a close in Detective 681 (Jan. 95).

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A number of mobsters have been killed, and when Batman and Robin interview one of the survivors, Dick believes the man’s description indicates that Azrael has returned, while Tim thinks it might be somebody else.

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Mackenzie Bock joins the police force, expanding the line-up, and adding a black cop to the roster.  Bullock, Montoya, and Kitch are all on the scene for his introduction, while the friction between Sarah Essen and Jim Gordon is affecting the department.

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Dick pursues the trail of Jean-Paul, but finds him in a homeless shelter.  He is seriously disturbed,but clearly not a threat.  Returning to the cave, he finds Bruce there, prepared to retake the role of Batman.

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It’s Robin who winds up facing the killer.  A new enemy, called Steeljacket. Their battle takes place in the issue of Robin which follows this, and concludes the Prodigal storyline.

Detective 664 – Broken Bat

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Things are looking really grim in Detective 664 (Late July 1993), the 12th chapter of Knightfall, by Dixon, Nolan and Hanna.

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Having broken Batman’s back, Bane tosses the hero down into the street.

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Alfred and Jean-Paul show up, as ambulance drivers, taking Batman away before anyone else can.  Fortunately for them, Renee Montoya had been keeping back the curious crowds.  Alfred refuses to allow Jean-Paul and Tim to take Bruce to a hospital, and does all he can for him.  Robin and Azrael make an emergency run to get a drug, decadron, that is needed for his spine.

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Meanwhile, the Joker turns on the Scarecrow, ending their alliance and taking the Scarecrow down.

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While the Ventriloquist finds that Scareface simply cannot share him with the other puppets.  The argument turns into a gunfight.  Brilliant and crazy, and it adds a lighthearted note to an otherwise heavy issue.

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At this point, Knightfall kinds of spreads out, with the next chapter taking place in Showcase 93.

Detective 658 – Batman vs Cypher

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Chuck Dixon, Mike Netzer and Luke McDonnell conclude the Cypher storyline in Detective 658 (April 1993).

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Lucius Fox is the intended victim in this issue, and we discover that Cypher uses muzak tapes, with his voice hidden in the recordings, to hypnotize his victims.

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But once again, the read focus of this issue is on Azrael.  Batman tries to keep him marginalized, feeling that he is too muhc of a loose cannon.  But Azrael refuses to follow instructions, and winds up the one to save Lucius Fox when Cypher tries to make him jump from a bridge.

Cypher is not part of Knightfall, returning in the Robin comic.

Detective 657 – Cypher debuts

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Detective 657 (March 1993) sees the introduction of another new villain, Cypher, by Chuck Dixon, Mike Netzer and Scott Hanna.  But there is a lot of misdirection in this story, and Cypher is kept to the side for much of the tale.

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And though it is far from clear how this is being done (in this issue, at least), Cypher seems to have the ability to make people kill themselves.  And music is somehow involved.

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Jean-Paul Valley appears in this story, both in his toned-down Azrael garb, as well as in normal clothes, as he has started working security at Wayne Tower.  Azrael had been introduced a few months earlier in the Batman – Sword of Azrael miniseries.

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Azrael and Robin deal with some vicious thieves in this story, believing they are on the trail of the big bad guy, but it’s all a diversion.

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Still, once in battle, Azrael loses it, becoming just as dangerous and deadly as those he is fighting, until Robin calms him down.

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The issue ends with Cypher causing another death.  And the next person on his list is Lucius Fox.

The story concludes next issue.

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