Posts tagged ‘Derek Fridolfs’

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.

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 852 – Hush impersonates Bruce Wayne

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Hush stars in Detective 852 (March 2009), as the villains take over the various books this month, as part of Faces of Evil.  The story, by Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, is also part of Last Rites, stories set in the immediate aftermath of Batman’s apparent death.

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Hush emerged from the river, after escaping the Whirly-Bat crash in the cave, and was immediately mistaken for Bruce Wayne. This proved to be a great advantage in getting helped out by everyone he encountered, all hoping to make a good impression on the billionaire.

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Tommy heads to an exclusive club, and allows himself to be picked up by an older socialite, who he knew through her plastic surgeries.

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She is delighted to be spending time with Bruce Wayne, and they head to her yacht in the Caribbean. Hush promptly murders her, and sails to Australia.

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He heads to a Wayne facility there, and passes as the big boss, taking out a giant wad of cash from the company to support himself.  He runs into Tasmanian Devil on the street, but tries to avoid him, unsure if the former Justice Leaguer is aware of Batman’s identity.

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Playing it safe, Tommy leaves Australia and heads to VietNam.  But that proves to be a bad decision, as he winds up in the hands of Catwoman.

The story concludes in the next issue of Batman.

 

Detective 850 – Batman ends

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Heart of Hush comes to an end in Detective 850 (Jan. 09), as does Batman RIP, and the runs of Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, and even Batman.

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Having left Batman at the hospital, Hush heads to Wayne Manor, pretending to be Bruce Wayne.  It doesn’t work, though Alfred cannot take credit for observation and deduction.  Bruce phoned him and told him Tommy had a new face, and that he was on the way there.  I kind of wish Alfred had figured it out on his own, picked up on some detail that proved it was not Bruce.

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But Hush bests the butler, and makes it down into the Batcave.  They have a lot of fun with this scene, showing old Batmobiles, including the one from the tv show, and the Whirly-Bats, not seen since the 60s.

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As Hush waits for the heroes to show up and fight him, he has another flashback.  This shows the murder of his mother, and Peyton Riley’s aid in covering it up.  Although Peyton believed that, with his mother dead, they would be free to marry, in reality Tommy flew off to Europe, threatening to kill her if she ever revealed the truth.  Poor Peyton, things were crappy long even before her arranged marriage.

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Batman does finally get to the cave, as do Nightwing and Robin.  And Hush gets chased by the giant dinosaur.  It’s always a great story when the dinosaur gets used.

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Even better is the way Batman defeats Hush, using the Whirly-Bat.  It catches his bandages, and carries him away.  It crashes and explodes near the underground river, and Batman knows Tommy will have survived somehow.

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Dr. Mid-Nite and Mr Terrific perform the surgery on Catwoman, and successfully replace her heart.

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Selina gets a scene with Zatanna.  Near-death, or dream, or magic, it’s never clear.  Nor should it be.

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Bruce comes to see Selina in recovery, and openly admits his love for her, and how much she means to him.

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But Batman and Catwoman are only together for a couple of panels, and then the story jumps ahead, to after Batman’s apparent death.  Catwoman is living on a beach, and sends a tape out to Hush.  We learn that she has used all her influence, and her friends, to loot Tommy Elliot’s finances, ruin his hideouts, and make him poison to be associated with.  Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Slam Bradley are shown helping with this.

The story does have a sequel, a couple months down the road, as Catwoman confronts Hush, but that is detailed in the pages of Batman.

And even though it would be a couple of years before Bruce Wayne returned to these pages, and Batman was once again the star of the book, Detective Comics remained firmly in the Batman family of books.

Detective 849 – the Joker praises Batman

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Dini, Nguyen and Fridolfs move Heart of Hush closer to its conclusion in Detective 849 (Dec. 08), another part of the Batman RIP storyline.

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Batman brings Johnathan Crane back to Arkham and tortures him to get Hush’s location.  The Joker is quite entertained by the show, and has high praise for Batman’s skill at tormenting the Scarecrow.

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Dr. Mid-Nite and Mr. Terrific tend to Selina, but both of them are mystified at the tech Hush used to remove Catwoman’s heart without killing her.

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In flashback, we see Tommy Elliot and Peyton Riley dating, both unhappy with their parents and their lives.

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Batman confronts Hush at the hospital, the same one his mother had died at.  He proudly shows Batman Selina’s heart.  He made a deal with Mr. Freeze, who provided the tech for the operation, and to maintain the heart.

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Batman had started the scene fighting Hush, and it was odd when he just sort of stopped, and they began conversing.  In fact, this was not weak writing, but a hint that Hush was gassing Batman, who winds up collapsing, as Hush unveils his new face – Bruce Wayne’s face.

The story concludes next issue.

Detective 848 – the Scarecrow finds a new use for Venom

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Batman RIP continues in Detective 848 (Nov. 08), the third chapter in Heart of Hush, by Dini, Nguyen and Fridolfs.

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Hush confronts Catwoman, with a knife.  Not good news for Selina.

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Meanwhile, Batman, on the track of the kidnapped child, finds him, and Crane as well.  The Scarecrow has hooked the boy up to a device that injects him with Venom when he gets scared, turning the child into a rampaging monster.

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The story pauses to give us a glimpse of Tommy Elliot as he approaches manhood, but stuck under the thumb of his controlling mother.  He is at a party with Bruce Wayne, and meets Peyton Riley.

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The Venom-ed up boy finds the Scarecrow more of a threat than Batman.  After all, which one has been torturing him?  The boy winds up taking down Scarecrow, and Batman unhooks him from the Venom.

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It doesn’t really matter.  The Scarecrow achieved his goal of distracting Batman for long enough that Hush had time to operate on Catwoman.  Batman gets an urgent call from Oracle, letting him know Selina is in the hospital.  Hush has removed her heart.

The story continues in the next issue.

Detective 847 – Catwoman questions Zatanna

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Dini, Nguyen and Fridolfs continue Heart of Hush in Detective 847 (Oct. 08), as part of Batman RIP.

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We discover that, as a teen, Tommy Elliot was sent to a psychiatrist, a young intern named Jonathan Crane, who helped him come to grips with fear.

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Knowing the Hush is back, and uncertain of his plans, Batman seeks out Robin and Nightwing to warn them, and finds them taking down a smaller version of the Wonderland Gang.  Tweedledee and Tweedledum have only the Walrus and the Carpenter working for them this time.

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Zatanna is hanging out in front of the theatre she is performing in, running a three card monte game.  Which strikes me as kind of odd, but ok.  Selina confronts her there, but Zatanna tells her that she was rebuffed by Bruce, and that if Catwoman wants him, she should make her play.

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Hush sends his drugged slaves to kidnap a young boy, hospitalized due to his intense fears, and turns him over to the Scarecrow.  Tutor and pupil, as Hush terms his relationship with Crane.

The story continues in the next issue.

 

Detective 846 – Hush returns

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Dini, Nguyen and Fridolfs launch the five part Heart of Hush storyline in Detective 846 (Sept. 08).  This is part of Batman RIP, which is not a storyline so much as the grab bag title for the final storylines of the Bat-books before the character’s apparent death in Final Crisis.

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Catwoman joins Batman as they pursue a villain called Mr Aesop, because he quotes Aesop’s Fables during his crimes.  He has stolen a lion, and planning to sell it to be hunted and killed, which is why Catwoman cares about the case.

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Hush has returned to Gotham City, and is keeping a watch on Batman and Catwoman.  This storyline gives a lot more of the background of Tommy Elliot, and how he became Hush, although this issue just recaps territory covered in his first storyline: how he arranged a car accident to kill his parents.  His mother survived, horribly crippled, and Tommy had to tend to her as he grew.  Now, back in Gotham, he has taken over an abandoned hospital, and has been rounding up and drugging the homeless, making them his servants.

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There is some good action with the heroes and the lion, and they almost capture Mr Aesop.

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Hush steps in, killing the thief, and making his presence known to Batman.  He wants to kill Batman himself, and will protect him from anyone else who intends to.

The story continues in the next issue.

Detective 845 – the chat room

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Dini, Nguyen and Fridolfs conspire on a decent mystery in Detective 845 (Aug. 08).

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There appears to be a new serial killer in town, after a number of apparently random murders. Batman is on the case, and so is the Riddler, who proclaims publicly that he will bring the killer in.

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Batman has a brief scene with Catwoman.  This follows her return to Earth after events in Salvation Run, and her own comic.  He tries to enlist her help against the serial killer, but she is more interested in finding out about his romances with Zatanna and Jezebel Jet (who has been appearing in the pages of Batman).  She dramatically takes off, and Batman knows she wants him to follow her.  But tonight he has other concerns.

Not a great appearance for Catwoman, frankly. She comes off as jealous and childish.

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But the scene is followed by a really wonderful one, as Batman goes on the net and discusses the case with others.  Although the various people talking have no idea who the others are, we see that the conversation includes Bruce, the Riddler, Oracle and Detective Chimp.

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The solution is actually quite sad. It was all a trap for the Riddler, laid by the widower of one of his victims.  The first victim had been his psychiatrist, who could have informed the police.  The rest were random, with clues designed to draw the Riddler to where he could be killed.  Batman intervenes, but has more sympathy for the killer than for the Riddler.

Detective 844 – the secret origin of the new Ventriloquist

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How do Dini, Nguyen, and Fridolfs handle Bruce Wayne getting shot at point blank range as the continue the story, in Detective 844 (July 2008)?  Lamely.  He knocks out the light, apparently not having been shot at such close range. Scarface doesn’t know where to shoot without the light.  (umm, right in front of you?)

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But Bruce does not manage to escape, and winds up getting to hear Peyton Riley’s story.  She fell in love with wealthy Matthew Akins, who wanted to marry her despite his family’s objections, due to her background.  Her father also did not approve, wanting her to marry Sabatino, to unite their families.  So her dad had his goons beat Matthew until he agreed not to see her.  She married Sabatino, and Matthew became a drunk.

As Johnny’s wife, she came into contact with Scarface and Arnold Wesker, who respected her, but not Johnny.

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Sabatino was not content to be the heir apparent, and killed Peyton’s father, and then shot her.  She lay on the floor, barely alive, in the room next to the one in which Wesker was killed, and was there even when Batman and Gordon were examining the corpse.

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Crawling into the room after they left, she found Scarface, and picked him up, and he began to talk to her.  A bit of surgery on both of them, and now she is back to kill the husband who left her for dead.

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She heads out to do so, leaving Bruce behind.  Zatanna tagged along as a bird, and both are grateful to know what is going on.

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Batman and Zatanna get onto the ship with Peyton and Sabatino.  It’s a deadly fight all around, and ends with Johnny and the Ventriloquist both going overboard, leaving Scarface behind.

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Zatanna, who had made a play for Bruce in the first half, tries again. Cause nothin says lovin like seeing two people apparently die.  Bruce turns her down, and hopes to remain friends.  She is cool with that, but you can tell she’s still hoping. Maybe she’ll try again after a good massacre.

The Ventriloquist does survive, returning later in the year.

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