Posts tagged ‘Graham Nolan’

Detective 720 – swimming out of the Batcave


Dixon, Nolan and Janson are the creative team on Detective 720 (April 1998), chapter 5 of Cataclysm.  Gotham has been hit by a massive earthquake, leaving Batman trapped in the cave when Wayne Manor collapses.  As with Contagion, this storyline does an excellent job of giving interesting arcs to many of the supporting players, and telling a large, sprawling story while keeping it grounded in smaller, personal events.


The art is top-notch, and the ruined Gotham looks just terrifying.


Helena Bertinelli had the misfortune to be down in the subway when the earthquake hit.  She dons her Huntress outfit, hoping to make people follow her to safety.


Instead, she comes across a wanted felon in the subway car, who believes that she is only there for him, and the situation deteriorates rapidly.


She does manage to get most of the people out of the subway car, but when the shooter gets partly buried by another collapse, she leaves him to die in the rubble.

Alfred, also trapped in the cave, is more surprised than he ought to be when Harold bulldozes his way in.


Batman has spent this issue swimming through flooded tunnels and caves, trying to find a way out.  It a taught scene, with limited air, but he does make it out.


But his first view of Gotham does not make for a happy ending.

The story continues in the next issue of Robin.


Detective 715 – John Jones in flames


It saddens me a bit that the image of the Martian Manhunter is on the cover of Detective 715 (Nov. 97).  Yes, he does play a major role in the issue, but Dixon, Nolan and Barreto do such a good job of playing him just as John Jones, there was no need to give it away.


The Firefly never realizes that the man in front of him is a martian in disguise, and is much more interested in trying to kill Batman.  That works to John’s advantage, allowing him to get away, with the aid of Bullock.


There are clear enough hints in the story that Jones is something more than he appears to be, but not enough to make Bullock look dumb for not catching on.


Batman knows who he is, of course, and they meet in Commissioner Gordon’s office to discuss the case.  Gordon is not thrilled to find there is yet another man who can disappear in the middle of a conversation.


Lynns believes that Dalbart has run out on him, and arrives at the sight of their jewel theft, wanting to take vengeance on the imagined slight.  Dalbart has no opportunity to explain what is really going on.


It’s John Jones who explains it all to Batman, after Firefly has been taken down.  Dalbart is a thief from the future, who has mastered control of neutrinos.  He escaped into the distant past.

Dalbart does return again, a number of years down the road, in Booster Gold’s comic.

Detective 714 – John Jones comes to Gotham


Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan and joined by Eduardo Barreto on the inks on Detective 714 (Oct. 97), as John Jones comes to Gotham, in search of a very unusual criminal.


Wiley Dalbart is a thief, and everyone seems to want him.  Montoya and Bullock are in the process of turning him over to the Feds when he simply vanishes in a burst of light.


Dalbart hides out in a rooming house for wanted felons.  Garfield Lynns is staying there as well, and the two conspire on Dalbart’s planned jewel theft.


John Jones arrives in Gotham, hooking up with Bullock, who is surprised that a cop would come all the way from Colorado in pursuit of a thief.


They have no more luck than before, as Dalbart vanishes again.  Batman and Robin join the investigation, and discover that the money left behind by Dalbart is new, but dated years in the future.


But all of them are taken by surprise when they discover the Firefly was working with him.

The story concludes next issue.

Detective 707 – The Cluemaster fights to save Batman


Dixon, Nolan and Roach conclude the three-part Riddler/Cluemaster story in Detective 707 (March 1997).


Batman does not put everything else on hold for this.  When he comes across some thieves, he goes off to fight them, and gets grazed by a bullet.  Cluemaster tries to hide, but the Riddler orders him to save Batman, or he will set off the bomb.  So Cluemaster actually stands up to the hoods.  It doesn’t work, and he starts to get pummeled, but Robin shows up in time.


The signal to the Riddler is blocked as they go through a tunnel, and Batman takes advantage of this to switch Cluemaster to the trunk of the Redbird. Robin has a voice modulator that makes him sound like Batman.


Robin is also the one to figure out that the sequence of numbers and letters, in a set of nine, refers to baseball.  The biblical clue was not meant to be read as “In the beginning,” but as “in the big inning.”  Batman reveals a complete lack of knowledge of baseball.  His childhood was consumed by other things.

With the baseball part clear, Oracle does a search, and finds out that the stats that have been the answers to the riddles all refer to a game from 1919, the bat from which is being auctioned off – and is the Riddler’s goal.  Heck of a riddle, I give Dixon credit.


But things take a turn for the worse when Cluemaster lets it slip that he is with Robin, not Batman, pushing up the Riddler’s schemes.


Query and Echo do little, but are around in this, and the previous issue, and get taken down by Batman, before he catches the Riddler and destroys the device that would set off the bomb.

A great story for both villains, clarifying the difference between them, and making Cluemaster once again look like the lowest of the low.


Detective 705 – the Riddler, Cluemaster, Query and Echo


Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan and David Roach launch a highly entertaining, three-part story that has the Riddler and Cluemaster together for the first time, beginning in Detective 705 (Jan. 97).


The story also brings back Query and Echo, the Riddler’s sidekicks from his Year One origin in last year’s annual.


Nigma is in the hospital, and we see how his broken arm int he previous issue was intended to get him to where he wants to be.


As Query and Echo rampage through the city, they also break Arthur Brown out of prison.  At first, he is not recognized by the police, who believe the girls have a hostage.  Sergeant William Pettit makes his first appearance in Detective.  A trigger-happy cop, he was introduced the previous year in the Man-Bat miniseries.


Query and Echo bring the Cluemaster to the roof of a building, which the police have surrounded.  Their plan seems to make no sense, and things look bleak when Gordon realizes that they are holding Cluemaster, not believing that this is all happening without his consent.


The roof escape is great.  Huge and garish, suiting the two villains, as the radio tower is blown up and used as a bridge to the next building.


Cluemaster is not surprised that the Riddler is none too fond of him, and I do enjoy how Nigma contrasts the two men, who methods seem so similar.  For Nigma, the riddles are part of the entire meaning of his existence.  For Brown, they are just a gimmick.


So the Riddler puts Cluemaster in the centre of his new caper, strapping a bomb to him, and making him solve the riddles he usually sends to Batman.

The story continues in the next issue.

Detective 703 – Gotham goes dark


Detective 703 (Nov. 96) is a Final Night crossover, by Dixon, Nolan and Hanna.  The sun has been consumed, and as the world slowly freezes, many heroes gather to try to figure out a solution. But not in this issue.


This issue largely follows Robin and the Huntress, as they patrol Gotham together, and discuss what it means to work with Batman, and the problems he has with the Huntress.


Intercut with this is a radio disc jockey giving a very bleak show, insisting that there is no hope and everyone will die.  People are actually listening to this, for some reason.


There is also a brief sequence, setting up the next Riddler story, in which another inmate breaks Nigma’s arm, at Nigma’s request.


The disc jockey almost gets killed by a couple of muggers on his way home after the show, but is saved by Batman, who tells him to have faith.


Not bad, but it adds little to Final Night.

Detective 702 – Legacy gets some meaning


Detective 702 (Oct. 96) is a Legacy epilogue, by Dixon, Nolan and Hanna, and has more weight and emotional depth than anything from Legacy itself.


Batman makes an intentionally dorkish public appearance as Bruce Wayne, but his supercilious veneer is impossible to maintain when he comes face to face with the human cost of Legacy.


Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen try to deal with their relationship problems over the past few years, during her time as commissioner.  They both acknowledge the difficulty of finding time for each other, and even their moment of reconciliation is thwarted by a nearby explosion.  Some of Ra’s crazed followers are still causing problems in Gotham.


Robin finds a young plague victim, already bleeding from the eyes, and rushes him to the hospital for the cure.  He arrives too late, and the boy is already dead.


As both Bruce and Tim sit in the cave, feeling the weight of the dead on their consciences, Alfred shakes them up with some harsh words. He points out that, without their actions, everyone in Gotham would be dead.  It’s a good scene for him.


The story even ends on a happy, romantic note, as the Gordons find some time together.


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