Posts tagged ‘Batgirl’

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 799 – Batman’s plans go very wrong, and Poison Ivy’s plans work out

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Gabrych, Woods and Smith open the third act of War Games in Detective 799 (Dec. 04).

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Batman now has a desperate Commissioner Akins on his side. All the gangs have gathered in the big arena, with Tarantula looking after the kids in the crowd.  Batgirl, Robin and Nightwing are all stationed outside, with the police armed only with rubber bullets, at Batman’s insistence.

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Orpheus takes the stage, and is meant to give a speech that will unite the gangs under him, and thus, under Batman.  But that does not happen.  Because it’s not Orpheus under the helmet, it’s Black Mask (though Batman does not learn that in this issue).

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Onyx does find the corpse of the real Orpheus, but too late to warn anyone.

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Batman swings down into the arena, attempting to take control of the situation.  But even that goes very wrong.  Firefly hits him with a jet of flame on his way down, and a burning Batman in the midst of dozens of criminals does not inspire terror.

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Aside from Firefly, The Electrocutioner, Scarecrow and Tweedledum and Tweedledee appear in this issue.  Some of the gang members come pouring out the arena, and get into a shooting match with the police.  But they have real bullets and the police do not.

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By the end of the issue, it is total chaos.  Commissioner Akins has had enough, and issues a shoot to kill order on Batman and his entire crew.

The story continues in Legends of the Dark Knight.

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The Riddler’s story also comes to a close this issue, by McCarthy, Castillo and Ramos.

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Ivy quickly catches up with the Riddler.  Not much use trying to hide from her in her own jungle.  Although the Riddler is waiting for Ivy to kill him, her intent is more subtle, and she continues to degrade and humiliate him.

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In the end, she simply turns her back and contemptuously walks away.  Her goal was to destroy the Riddler, not kill Edward Nigma.  And she has succeeded.

Detective 796 – Stephanie Brown as Robin, and Onyx shows her stuff

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Stephanie Brown’s dreams have come true in Detective 796 (Sept. 04), as Gabrych, Woods and Massengil relate her adventures as Batman’s partner in crime fighting.

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After Tim Drake quits being Robin, Batman offers the position to Stephanie, who jumps at it.  Oracle accuses Batman of doing this simply to piss off Tim, to which Batman responds by ignoring Oracle.

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This issue pits them against Zsasz, who has broken out of prison and begun another killing spree.  The art does an interesting thing with his vision. Only humans (potential victims) are shown in vibrant colour, everything else is grey.  There is no reason to think this is some sort of super human power, it reflects his psychosis.

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As they search the subway for Zsasz, Stephanie falls into his hands, and needs to be saved by Batman – but evens the scales as she saves Batman from Zsasz later in the fight.

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Batman is not entirely pleased with her actions, finding that she is tending towards wanting to use lethal force.  At the end of the scolding, she asks if he is firing her.  He replies that he is simply teaching her.  But he fires her before the next issue anyway.

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Gabrych also concludes his back-up story of Onyx in this issue, with art by Walker and Nixey.

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Batman and Batgirl stage a fight with Orpheus in Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge.  Onyx shows her stuff, taking down both heroes.  No one is likely to mess with her after that.  Or Orpheus.

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Still, Cassandra Cain hates losing a fight, even a staged one, and hopes for a friendly, but real, match with Onyx one day.

 

Detective 790 – Happy Birthday, Jason Todd, and the Tailor chooses to help

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Andersen Gabrych begins his run with Detective 790 (March 2004), with art by Pete Woods and Cam Smith.

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The story deals with people overdosing on the drug GBH, as Batman tracks down the dealers and suppliers.  They try to defend themselves by saying that they did not force anyone to take drugs, the people chose it on their own.

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Batgirl joins Batman on his hunt, fearing that he is being too rough, that something else is bothering him.  She guesses that it has to do with his recent troubles with Stephanie Brown, and trying to keep her out of his world.  Cassandra argues that no one has forced Stephanie, she chose it on her own.

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The story ends as Bruce takes Cassandra with him to Jason Todd’s grave.  Today would have been his eighteenth birthday.  No one forced him to become Robin, he chose it on his own.  But that makes him no less of a victim, just like those who overdosed.  And Batman wants to keep Stephanie out of it, so that she can grow up and enjoy her life, which none of the Bat-family will ever be able to do.

Some really nice layers in this one.

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The Tailor accompanies Batman, in order to save his daughter, in this chapter by Lieberman, Dzialowski and Green.

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No hero himself, the Tailor shuts down the man’s armor, and then shoots him.  Batman once again asks him about the armor, and once again he denies making it, but the final panel shows him with a old team, including the man he just killed.

The story continues next issue.

 

Detective 782 – Batman vs the Charlatan, and those darn roses

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Brubaker, Castillo and Von Grawbadger bring their Charlatan story to a close in Detective 782 (July 2003).

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We finally get to see that the Penguin is alive.  I knew he was.  He’s been in hiding the whole time, whining about it making life miserable for Montoya.

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Batman visits Crane while he’s at Arkham, and gets the last piece of the puzzle.  The Scarecrow used Sloan for his experiments, and wound up blocking his ability to feel fear in any way.

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Then it’s off to try to find Two-Face before Sloan kills him.

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Batman does catch up to him, only to find that he was the target all along, and Harvey Dent that bait, just as the plan had been eight years earlier.

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It’s a big, burning finale.  A flip of the coin determines Two-Face’s side, and he leaves Sloan to Batman.

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Sloan survives, and is visited by his fiancee in the hospital.  I called her his wife in an earlier blog.  My mistake.  She just so fills the role of Gilda Dent that I think of her as the wife.

Great mask, but this is the final appearance of the character to date.  I hope.  Certainly that I know of, and I hate being wrong on this.

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The back-up story in this issue, by Jason Hall, Craig Rousseau and Dan Davis, reminds me of a Tales of Gotham City from twenty years earlier.  No specific story, just the style, which centres on a street cleaner, who has noticed the roses that Batman drops off every year.  He has become obsessed with finding out who leaves than, and plans to stake it out that night.

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Alfred overhears, and of course Bruce is impossible to talk to, so he turns to Oracle, who enlists Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl to decoy the man.  Tim pretends to be a lost boy.

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And then Cassandra pretends to be mugged by Dick.

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All of which delays him just long enough to miss Batman leaving the flowers.

I wonder what happened the following year?

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 734 – Batman and the Cains

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Detective 734 (July 1999) concludes a two-part story by Kilian Plunkett, Damion Scott and John Floyd, which introduces David and Cassandra Cain, a father and daughter assassin team.  This story falls during the No Man’s Land period.

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Cain has come to Gotham to fulfill a hit on Jim Gordon.  Barbara has gotten wind of it, and notified Batman.  Cassandra waffles on her loyalties, but chooses to help Batman and stop her father.

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We get a little of her backstory.  She has never been taught to speak, and apparently hasn’t figured it out on her own.  She speaks only a “language of violence” taught her by her father.

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Not being able to speak doesn’t cause her much trouble, and it does make the stories she appears in pretty quick reads, but the pair of them have always felt like the father and daughter Al Ghul’s, done lite.

Even still, she prevents Two-Face from doing anything about his plans to have Gordon killed.

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She also gets between her father and Batman, preventing them from killing each other.  David Cain escapes, largely because Batman has too much else on his plate to go after him.

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The story ends with Oracle thanking Batman, and Cassandra.  There is a bit with Barbara passing a photo of Batgirl to Cassandra, which is meant to convey Barbara’s acceptance that Cassandra will become the new new Batgirl.

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