Posts tagged ‘Batgirl’

Detective 733 – the crimes of Thomas Wayne

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Bob Gale, Phil Winslade and Sal Buscema deliver an excellent one issue story in Detective 733 (June 1999), part of No Man’s Land.

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The story sees Batman struggle to maintain some semblance of order in Gotham, and brings him to a very low point.  Jim Gordon bans him from the parts of the city controlled by the police, and resents that he has to deliver this news through the new Batgirl.  Batman stops what he thinks is a murder, only to find the “killer” has found a corpse, and started attacking it, in hopes that Batman will bring him to his prison, where he will be safe and get food.

The Penguin has been profiting steadily in No Man’s Land, but is dismayed to find that new foodstuffs have somehow made it in to the city, threatening his control of the supply.

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When Batman comes across two women fighting over a child, he tries the Solomon solution – and the women react to the idea of cutting the baby in half with rational disbelief.

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Distressed and dismayed, Batman talks to Alfred, who tells him a story about his father. Late one night, in desperate need of medication for a patient, Thomas Wayne broke the window of a pharmacy, took the drugs he needed, leaving a note of explanation, and the money.  The next day he was contacted by the pharmacist, who told him that others entered through the broken window and looted his story, demanding compensation.  This quickly degenerated into blackmail, and Thomas Wayne had no idea what to do.  Alfred saved the day, getting into disguise as a policeman, he and Thomas called the pharmacist’s bluff, getting back the note and publicly shaming him.

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Envigorated by this story, Batman sends Batgirl out to find the “killer,” and offers him work in his region.

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Batman also finds the quarreling women, and gets them to agree to put aside their mutual distrust, and raise the child together.

Another gem.

Detective 732 – Batgirl vs Black Mask

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The mysterious new Batgirl is at the centre of this 2-part story, which concludes in Detective 732 (May 1999), by Greg Rucka and Frank Teran.  It’s part of No Man’s Land, running through the Bat-books this year.

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The art is particularly well suited to the tale, making it all look like a horror film.  Batgirl has less trouble taking on Black Mask and his gang than might be expected, but that’s fine, as there are other things equally important going on.

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After Batgirl turns Black Mask over to Batman, she tags along to find out what he does with his prisoners.

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We find a jail, now under the command of Lock-Up, with the KGBeast as his assistant.  They have less trouble keeping people in, than keeping people out, who are starving and want some security.

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Barbara Gordon observed the battle between Black Mask and Batgirl.  She has figured out who it is, and confronts Batman, furious that he turned over her secret identity to someone else.

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Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen are having a fight of their own, both frustrated with the situation in No Man’s Land, and their inability to effectively change things, venting on each other.

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Although, as Montoya awkwardly discovers, the fight between the Gordons has a happy ending.

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The story closes on an unusual trial, with an unseen judge, and the Tally Man serving as executioner.  A tease for an upcoming storyline.

Detective 731 – The Huntress as peacemaker

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Fear of Faith has its final chapter in Detective 731 (April 1999), part of No Man’s Land, by Devin Grayson, with art by Dale Eaglesham and Sean Parsons.

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The story centres on a hospice run by Father Chris, who tries to be accepting of everyone – even if this includes the Scarerow, a former member of Black Mask’s gang, and the Huntress.  The Scarecrow has manipulated people’s fears, creating a stand-off between Father Chris, the Black Mask gang, the Penguin, who wants to move in to the territory, and the cops.

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It’s a great story to show the malevolent manipulations of the Scarecrow, and also puts the Huntress into an interesting light, as she has to try to keep people calm and rational.

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Batman observes as the various forces converge, and tensions rise.

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The Huntress restrains herself, and even brings a degree of peace and understanding.  The Scarecrow’s schemes are exposed, and he exiles himself when Father Chris and his followers offer him forgiveness and acceptance again.

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The story concludes with a scene between Batman and the mysterious new Batgirl, as he takes her to one of his many new “caves,” this one in Arkham Asylum.

I am going to spoil the mystery here.  The new Batgirl is Huntress.  When I first read this issue, I took the scene at the end as an indication that Batgirl and Huntress were two different people.  But reading it, knowing they are the same, it makes a lot of sense.  Batman is rewarding her for her stability and maturity during this storyline.

Detective 624 – Batgirl kills Catwoman

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Detective 625 (Dec. 90) sees the big finale to the Ostrander/Sprang/Henry/McKone/Marzan Jr comic-within-a-comic storyline.

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Batman has managed to deduce the identity of the killer claiming to be him, and confronts the psychiatrist who had released back into the public.  Her guilt and anger are very sad, and real, and one is left feeling sorry for her, rather than upset.

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The third issue of the Batman comic sees the creation of a Catwoman, also supernatural, determined to devour the soul of Batman.

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Catwoman almost succeeds, but is killed by Batgirl, who unrequited love for Batman prompted her to adopt the identity.

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The climaxes of the two stories are intertwined, and though the Batman-killer is a dangerous and deluded maniac, there is little that feels like a triumph in his defeat, much as there is little triumph in the conclusion of the comic-within-the-comic.

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Though the sales on the book have been excellent, the resulting murders have repulsed the author of the comic, and he ends publication with the third issue, killing off his version of Batman.

An excellent story from start to finish, the comic-within-the-comic could have simply been published as an Elseworlds, but is so much more effective in the context Ostrander placed it.

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And you just gotta love Alfred’s closing observations.

 

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