Posts tagged ‘Clayface’

Action 443 – Superman saves the Justice League


Maggin, Swan and Blaisdel give Superman a big line up of allies and enemies in Action 443 (Jan. 75).


The story opens in a very disorienting way, with Superman as a nebbishy newscaster, picked on by Steve Lombard and rejected by Lois Lane.


While Clark Kent is the one leaping into heroic action against Queen Bee and her drones.


Queen Bee is leading a host of villains against the Justice League of America.  Most of them are regularly appearing big names – Chronos, Sinestro, Ocean Mchroaster, Grodd and Brainiac.  Matt Hagen makes his first appearance in over a decade as Clayface.  Merlyn and the Harpy are both newcomers. Harpy, the villain assigned to Black Canary, had appeared in Green Lantern, while Merlyn, who would go on to become a regular Green Arrow enemy, had only debuted recently in Justice League of America.


The assembled villains had already triumphed over the rest of the Justice League, and in flashback we see them taking down Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Black Canary, Elongated Man, Aquaman, Atom and Red Tornado.  At this point, Wonder Woman and Hawkman were not members of the JLA.


Superman has used a Kandorian machine to reverse people’s perceptions of Superman and Clark Kent, simply to puzzle the villains.  They bring him aboard their ship, which is what he wants.  As he struggles with Grodd and Clayface, his heat vision pierces the capsule the Flash is being held in, and the Flash exploits this, and frees himself, and the rest of the League.


A lot of characters.  The story is fun, but I cannot honestly say it makes the most of its cast.



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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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?”


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.

Detective 805 – Mr. Freeze gets a hug, and a strange Clayface


Mr. Freeze gets the attention in this chapter of City of Crime, appearing in Detective 805 (June 2005), by Lapham, Bachs and Massengil.


Batman defeats the host of masked attackers.  This is made much easier when they all turn to mud after being beaten.


The rest of the issue centres on Mr. Freeze, and his demented attempts to win the love of the girl he kidnapped.


Ironically, she is the one who is able to defeat him.  She hugs him, and her body heat causes him to pass out, although he begs her to keep hugging him.

The story just keeps on going though, continuing in the next issue.


Far more entertaining is the back-up tale, by Kimo Temperance and Zach Howard.  Even though it, too, gets a “before War Games” sticker.


Batman returns to the cave after plowing his car through a Clayface he describes as being unusually child-like, saying it’s much like a Bizarro Clayface.  He does not realize that running into it did not kill it.  Clayface thus finds himself in the cave.


It’s powers are different than the other ones – at one point he splits into a bunch of little Clayfaces, and is far more interested in amusing himself than in fighting Batman.


But the cave is not a playground, and the creature winds up defeating itself.  Cute, fun, and succinct.


Detective 775 – a new life for Sasha Bordeaux, and The Hunt ends


Greg Rucka’s run on Detective Comics comes to an end with issue 775 (Dec.02), as he joined by Rick Burchett and Jim Royal, bringing Sasha’s storyline to a close.


Batman has been interfering with Checkmate operations in Gotham ever since hitting a brick wall in his search for Sasha.  Checkmate does not want to get into a war with Batman, he is too vital to the city to take down.  Jessica Midnight is ordered to resolve the situation, and convinces Sasha to meet with him.


Alfred challenges Bruce on his reasons for not giving up the search.  Bruce claims that Sasha knows too much about them, and needs to find her for his own safety, but Alfred points out that she has not talked in all this time, and is not likely to.  Bruce must have a different reason.


So they meet.  It does not start well, as Sasha finally gets to vent all the frustration she has felt for her months behind bars.


But once the anger and suspicion have passed, the truth comes out.


Still, it’s not a happy ending.  Sasha’s life was destroyed, and she cannot go back to it.  Bruce admits setting her up to find his weaponry, to bring her into his world.  And then to making it all about the costume and the rules, to control her and keep her at a safe distance.  They did love each other, but neither could act on it at the time, and now it’s too late.

Sasha leaves, and Greg Rucka takes her along as he moves to to develop Checkmate, first in The O.M.A.C. Project miniseries.


The Hunt, by Moore, Hoberg and Gaudiano, also comes to an end in this issue.


It’s set in Arkham Asylum, as the scary beast man hunts for his latest prey.  Loads of cameos by inmates in this story – the Ventriloquist, Clayface, Calendar Man, Zsasz and Croc.  The creature does not kill his enemy, instead leaving him trussed up, with a note detailing his crimes, for Montoya and Allen to find.

Is this a new vigilante on the scene, or something else?


The final panel just adds to the mystery.  We see that the beast is a man in a costume, and part of a much larger game.

This is really all a teaser for the Batman: Family miniseries, which begins this month, and reveals the beast to be called Tracker.

Detective 735 – Poison Ivy cuts a deal


Detective 735 (Aug. 99) sees Greg Rucka, Dan Jurgens and Bill Siekiewicz bring a three-part Poison Ivy/Clayface story to a resolution, part of No Man’s Land.


Batman is busy battling Basil Karlo, who emerged from the earth with even greater powers than before.  Poison Ivy, trapped by Clayface, was freed at the end of the last part of the story, and takes quick vengeance on Karlo.


She uses his body as fertilizer, basically, completely encasing him in plant life.  Batman is grateful, largely because she did not kill him.


Intercut with this, James Gordon sends Renee Montoya to Two-Face, to inform him that the peace deal between them has ended.  Two-Face’s attempted hit on Gordon nullified the deal, in his eyes.


Bane also appears, as a mysterious woman offers him a big payment on behalf of her even more mysterious boss, for Bane to return to Gotham.


Two-Face was none too pleased with Gordon calling off their deal.  It was a peace pact with Two-Face, how could you expect not to be betrayed?  Two-Face is now holding Renee Montoya, and her family, as hostages against any action by Gordon or the police.


Back in the park, Batman and Robin discover that the discs they went in to retrieve had been destroyed by Ivy long before.  With Ivy sheltering many of Gotham’s abandoned children, Batman has little option but to cede her Robinson Park, as long as the children are kept fed and safe.

Detective 607 – The Mudpack concludes


Grant, Breyfogle and Mitchell bring the Mudpack storyline to a great conclusion in Detective 607 (Late Oct.89).


Looker tracks Batman, and finds him in the theatre, still suffering from the effects of Sondra Fuller and Basil Karlo’s mind warping games.  Looker brings Batman back to sanity, and doesn’t even let him know how far gone he was.  Very considerate of her.


Karlo finds a laboratory that is open late, and forces his way, making the doctor there blend the blood samples he has taken.


The doctor injects Karlo with the resulting mixture, which instantly transforms him, giving him the abilities of both Preston Payne and Sondra Fuller.


Batman has been searching the labs in Gotham, after finding clues as to what Karlo is up to.  But in no way was he prepared to face what Karlo has become.


Looker comes to his aid, using her powers to force Clayface to increase his melting powers, and Batman thrusts him out the window. When Karlo hits the ground, he simply melts right through it, heading down into the earth.


The story finishes off with Payne and Fuller, giving them a happy ever after ending.  A great story, top notch in every way.

Looker next appears a couple years down the road in the next Outsiders revival.  Karlo, Payne, and Fuller also come back over the next few years.

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