Posts tagged ‘Catwoman’

alternate Action 642 – Green Lantern/Superman – Legend of the Green Flame

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I made an error earlier, I said this was intended for Action 635.  In fact, it was for 642.  I had assumed it was the earlier of the two crossover issues, simply based on the line-up that appears in the story – none of the post-635 series are included.  But the ending makes it clear that it was for the latter issue.

Neil Gaiman’s script was rejected by John Byrne.  At the time, it was a hard and fast rule that no one knew Superman’s identity, and Gaiman insisted on the characters meeting as Clark and Hal.  Neither would budge, and the script got set aside.  The story was finally published in 2001.

This special also has a large art team, divided chapter by chapter.  Eddie Campbell, Mark Buckingham, John Totleben, Jim Aparo, Kevin Nowlan, Jaosn Little, Michael Allred, Eric Shanower, Terry Austin and Arthur Adams.

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The story begins with a prologue in Berlin, shortly after the end of World War II.  Blackhawks Janos Prohaska and Weng Chan go rooting through rubble, searching for a lost weapon.  They come across the remains of the Justice Society of America, although they do not realize who these people are.  We see Sandman, and the remains of Hawkman’s wings, but it’s Alan Scott’s lantern that grabs Weng’s interest, and he takes it with him.

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Jumping to the present day, Hal is feeling lost and alone, and turns to Clark for a shoulder to cry on.  Lois Lane wrangles the two into attending a gallery opening that night.

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Catwoman makes a cameo, running into Hal.  But the catkin emerald she was interested in is not there, so Selina leaves.  Exploring the gallery, Hal comes across the lantern, on display.  He is fascinated.  It’s a Green Lantern lantern, but not one he recognizes.  He uses his ring to scan it.

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Bad idea.

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Deadman comes across the confused heroes, and tells them they are dead.  They aren’t.  Not quite.  But they have been pulled into the magical, somewhat sentient flame that powers Alan Scott’s lantern, and are between being alive and dead.

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The Flame’s burst of energy draws the attention of the Phantom Stranger.

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He convinces Hal that he does have the willpower to tame the wild magic of the flame, and get it back into its battery, dormant.

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The final page makes it clear that this was intended for issue 642.  The story printed there uses a similar marquee in its background.

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Action 614 – Green Lantern was lobotomized?, the Phantom Stranger vs Au Puch, Speedy’s fling with Cheshire, Catwoman ends, and Black Canary gets the number wrong

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Green Lantern is in outer space on the cover of Action 614, but inside his ring in the story itself.

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David and Smith recap Hal Jordan’s origin in this story, as sees the death of Abin Sur, and his dying command to the ring, to find a person without fear.

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This version has the ring head directly to Hal, the person with the least fear.  But as nobody with without fear, the ring removed it from him.  Hal is shocked, thinking he had been lobotomized, although the ring points out this is not accurate.

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Hal orders his ring to restore his sense of fear, and Hal is amazed at how difficult it is to fly now.  He goes to the aid of a jumper, who thinks Green Lantern’s actions are intended to show him a lesson about overcoming ones fears.  A nice touch.

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Kupperberg and Grindberg join with Brett Breeding on the second half of the Phantom Stranger story.

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While the tale is pretty basic.  The Stranger seems vulnerable to Au Puch, but reaches the writer buried deep inside, connects with him and dispels the monster.  It’s the art that makes this really rock.

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Nightwing and Speedy continue their struggle with Cheshire in this Wolfman, Patton and Poston tale.  Speedy sees Cheshire before she shoots her target, and takes out her gun, but let’s her escape.

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Roy explains to Dick his relationship with Cheshire.  How they met while he was doing an undercover drug op.  He left her when the op was done, unaware that he had fathered a child, until she confronted him a year or so earlier in New Teen Titans.

And though Roy and Nightwing plan how to stop her, he also meets with Cheshire behind Dick’s back.

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Catwoman’s Showcase series comes to its end in this story, by Newell, Kitson and Patterson.

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Catwoman kills two hotel security guards who come to investigate the ruckus in the room.  This was really shocking to a lot of people.  The guards were not in any way villainous, simply doing their jobs, and not even a threat to her.

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Their deaths were simply part of her vengeance plot against Arthur.  She left the cat brooch with him, to tie things in a neat little bundle for the police.

I suppose it’s because of the death of Holly that this story arc has never been reprinted.  It was easily the best Catwoman story to date.

Catwoman would move from this to a solo miniseries in 1989.

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Black Canary’s series continues to plod along, thanks to Wright, DuBurke and Marcos. Even they do not seem to be following the story closely, as Part 6 is numbered Part 4.

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A lot of talking, a lot of complex plot, but Dinah does have one good fight scene, although not in costume.

 

 

Action 613 – Green Lantern’s lack of fear, Nightwing and Speedy begin, the Phantom Stranger’s Mind Games, Holly Robinson dies, and Black Canary talks

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Nightwing gets the cover of Action 613, and supposedly a solo series, which is really a team-up story, beginning in this issue.

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David and Smith spend this chapter putting Green Lantern through the emotional manipulations of Mind Games.  Hal’s enemies Sinestro, Star Sapphire, Black Hand, Hector Hammond and the Shark appear as hallucinatory images, as do friends Arisia, Kilowog, Tomar Re, Salaak, and other members of the Green Lantern Corps.

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Mind Games controls Hal’s emotional roller coaster, but the manifestations are drawn from his own subconscious.  So when Mind Games makes Green Lantern feel fear, the spell is broken.

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So much for Mind Games.

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The story ends as Hal wonders how he came to be without fear, and his ring sucks him inside to give an answer.

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Nightwing gets one whole solo page of his series, by Marv Wolfman, Chuck Patton and Tom Poston.

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By the second page, Speedy has joined the story, helping against some cigarette smugglers.  Roy enlists Dick in a secret CBI mission, to get Cheshire, the mother of his child.

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Cheshire is working on another assassination, as she tends to do, and sees the two heroes in the crowd.

Although this is supposedly Nightwing’s first solo series ever, Speedy dominates this, as well as the next Nightwing storyline.

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The Phantom Stranger returns in this 2-part story by Kupperberg, Tom Grindberg and Dennis Janke.  Bruce Gordon has just taken the Phantom Stranger to his first Woody Allen movie as this story opens.  You’d swear the men were on a date.

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People are dying while reading the latest book by a popular horror author.  The Phantom Stranger investigates, questioning the author, whose book, Mind Games, happens to share the same name as the villain in the Green Lantern story in this issue.

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The writer used an actual ancient invocation he came across while writing his book, and is dumb enough to speak it, calling forth Au Puch, who captures the Stranger.

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Newell, Kitson and Patterson share the third part of the Showcase Catwoman story.

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Holly Robinson dies as a result of the explosion.  It’s a powerful and touching scene, but in the long run, a terrible idea.  Holly was a superb supporting character for Catwoman, connecting her back to her beginnings on the streets.  Eventually, the decision was made to simply ignore this story, and Holly was brought back to life.

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Catwoman seeks out Holly’s cheating spouse, who stole the cat brooch before setting the bombs.

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Selina gets the brooch back, but Arthur pushes her out the window.

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Wright, DuBurke and Marcos continue the muddled Black Canary story.

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Lots of people talk. They talk about all kinds of stuff.  Drugs, illegal aliens, crashed planes and all sorts of odds and ends that loosely tie together, but the story is hardly making the effort to follow it rewarding.

Action 612 – Green Lantern vs Mind Games, the Secret Six and Deadman end, Catwoman on the run, and Black Canary takes a shower

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The Secret Six get the cover of Action 612, as their series pauses for a break.

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David and Smith send Green Lantern round the bend in this story, as Mind Games takes control of him, and has him try to kill a policeman.

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The woman from the modelling agency shows Arisia a spread of Kory Anders, a successful model, whom no one seems to realize is Starfire.  It does make sense that, in the DC universe, the alien look is hot.

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Mind Games uses a machine to send his beams of madness throughout the city. Hal and Arisia both have to fight for their lives.  Lanterns destroys the machine and confronts Mind Games, who is a midget.  Hal is quite arrogant and casual in this encounter.  Not wise.  Mind Games powers are innate, simply boosted and aimed by the machine.

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Pasko and Spiegle sort of wind up the Secret Six storyline in this issue.  It stops, at any rate, coming back down the road.  Yet another person breaks into the groups base, the old waiter who worked for Carlo and raised Rafael.  He tells the new group more about the old group, and their deaths.

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Washington takes an interest in the deaths of the original Secret Six, primarily August Dumont, who was a government agent.

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Baron, Jurgens and DeZuniga bring the Deadman serial to an ending that actually resolves everything, astoundingly.

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Talaoc returns, with the spirits of the other ancient aliens.  The devil is also back, and in Major Kasaba’s body.

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But this supposed devil is really just another of the ancient aliens.  Deadman uses the sci-fi gun to get it out of Kasaba’s body, and into another glass tube.  Talaoc loads him onto the spaceship, to take him back to ehir home planet.

Deadman returns in a little while.

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The Showcase run of Catwoman, by Newell, Kitson and Patterson continues.

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Selina is aided by a cop who has known her since her prostitute days, but she will not allow him to take her in “for her own protection.”

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Selina heads to New Jersey, and finds that Holly opened the gift, against Selina’s instructions. Her husband also saw the present, and went out.

The place explodes.

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Wright, DuBurke and Marcos seem to take delight in making this Black Canary story confusing.

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Canary gets some help and some information from Doug Vallines.

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But the story closes on a completely different Doug Vallines.  Hah!  Gotcha!  Thought you had some idea what was going on, didn’t you, silly reader!

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Between the Dougs there is an effective passage with Dinah taking a shower, as a mysterious man enters the room.  It’s Oliver, and the suspense scene turns into a make-out one.  But it works well.

 

 

Action 611 – Arisia shows her stuff, Deadman sees the real thing, the Secret Six ride the pig, attack on the Superman cult, Catwoman begins, and Black Canary hits the bar

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Superman gets the cover of Action 611, which means his series gets an update in this entry.

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David and Smith give Arisia a chance to show what she can do without a ring in this story.

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As the room service waiter tries to kill her, Arisia fights him off, and shoves his knife into a socket. Hal was in the shower.

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And the day is not over for Arisia.  Waiting to file a report at the police station, she meets woman who wants to sign her as a model.

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Green Lantern talks with the police, and creates a hundred monkeys to search the trash, looking for any note possibly sent by the one causing the outbursts of violence.  The note gets found, but Hal falls victim to the villain, Mind Games.

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Baron, Jurgens and DeZuniga continue with the Deadman story.  the DB Cooper devil finds himself not being believed by the head of the CIA.

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So he shows what he can do.  The devil goes back (to the jar?), taking Yakim with him.

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But the story is not yet over!  Talaoc returns, with the space ship.

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The Secret Six find themselves in danger of being exposed in this Pasko/Spiegle story.

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Some quick changes of costume, and a bit of luck, get them out of the meat processing plant.  The contaminated meat is part of a special “extra-lean”pork creation.

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Stern, Swan and Beatty continue with the Superman strip.  The man who Superman rescued is part of a cult of Superman worshippers.  They have a degree of super-powers, which they believe come from Superman himself.  Clark has no idea why they think this, but the man uses his abilities to show Clark and Perry his cult, under attack by some scary high tech people.

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Catwoman begins a four-part story, of one of a couple to run under the Showcase label in Action Comics Weekly.  By Mindy Newell, Barry Kitson and Bruce Patterson, this story is set a while after Batman: Year One, and brings back Holly Robinson, Selina’s best friend from that storyline.

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Selina is running a small club now, while also operating as Catwoman.  She steals a jewelled cat, and gives it to Holly as a present.  A wedding present, once she finds out Holly is settling down in New Jersey.

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But everyone from the police to organized crime knows that she must have been the thief, and they all come for her.

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Wright, DuBurke and Marcos continue the Black Canary story, which now also involves smuggling Mexicans across the border.  Because it hadn’t been complicated enough in it’s first two chapters.

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Canary hits the bars to extract information.  But while she is terrorizing men who likely deserve it, Rita’s father gets murdered in the hospital.

 

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 853 – the concluding half of “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”

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Detective 853 (April 2009) has the second half of Neil Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”, with art by Andy Kubert.  The story is a thematic sister to Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”, and exists sort of on its own, as a two-part story outside normal continuity, but also fits neatly into what is currently occurring with Batman.  The first half was published in the previous issue of Batman.

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As with the first half, the story is set at Batman’s funeral, with friends and enemies in attendance.  While the first issue gave a lot of time to a couple of stories, this issue give a number of characters a brief opportunity to tell their versions of how Batman died.

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As well as Betty Kane, shown in the original Bat-Girl outfit for the first time since 1978, eulogies are given by the Mad Hatter, the Joker, Dick Grayson, when he was still Robin, Clayface, Harvey Bullock and Ra’s Al Ghul.

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Superman’s speech ends this section, as Batman starts to become aware of what is happening.

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He suspects that he is having a near-death experience, and the voice that has been with him throughout this,now identified as his mother, tells him that this is true.

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The story becomes a meditation on what Batman is, what he stands for.  Batman cannot ever simply retire and live happily ever after.  He is about never giving up, so Batman can only die in action.

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He asks if he is going to heaven or hell, but the woman replies neither. He does not get those options.  He gets to be Batman, that’s enough.  As the story reaches it end, it takes on the Goodnight Moon narrative, as batman bids good-bye to the cave and the car.  Robin, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and his villains – Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, Two-Face, Penguin, Ra’s Al Ghul and Poison Ivy shown.  The art mixes past and present versions, creating an eternal Batman.

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And it ends as Martha Wayne gives birth to Bruce.  His death takes him back to his birth, and the cycle begins again.

It serves as a reflection on a character that can never be killed off, in a medium that is so easy to re-read.  Endings launch beginnings, and everything comes around eventually.

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