Posts tagged ‘Harley Quinn’

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.

 

 

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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 837 – Harley Quinn and the Riddler, crime fighters

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Dini, Kramer and Faucher give centre stage to the Riddler and Harley Quinn in Detective 837 (Dec. 2007), a tie-in to the Countdown weekly miniseries.

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Edward Nigma’s agency is not doing as well as he had hoped, but things look to be turning around when Bruce Wayne comes to him with a case.  One of his employees has gone missing, along with an experimental serum, and Bruce offers the Riddler a hefty sum to retrieve it, and find the woman.

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The Riddler tracks her to Athena’s spa, a centre for the empowerment of women, which has become home to Harley Quinn, as seen in Countdown.

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Harley relates the circumstances that saw her leave the Secret Six, something that occurred between their miniseries and ongoing book.  Harley, along with Deadshot, Cat-Man, Scandal Savage, Knockout and Rag Doll, had been hired to protect an ambassador’s daughter during a parade.  Instead, Harley and Rag Doll got into a fight, which distracted everyone enough for kidnappers to steal the girl.  Harley got fired.

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Holly Robinson, Catwoman’s sidekick, is also at the spa, as per Countdown, and joins the Riddler and Harley as they deal with the thief, who injects herself with the serum to take them down. It does not have the desired effect.

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The Riddler retrieves the rest of the serum, returning it to Bruce Wayne.  We learn that he hired the Riddler and paid him well, simply to keep him content as a detective, and less likely to return to crime.

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The story ends as Athena turns over vial of the serum, extracted from the thief’s blood, to DeSaad.

Harley, Holly and Athena and her spa continue their storyline in Countdown.

Detective 831 – Harley Quinn’s secret friend

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Dini, Kramer and Faucher return, and give the spotlight to Harley Quinn in Detective 831 (June 2007).

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The story opens with a hearing at Arkham, to determine if Harley should be released.  Bruce Wayne casts the deciding vote against her, but as she is being returned to her cell, her “guard” breaks her out.

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The guard turns out to be Moose, the sister of Rhino, the original Ventriloquist’s muscle.  The new Ventriloquist, and Scarface, broke Harley Quinn out of Arkham to use her abilities in a robbery.

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Harley seems more than happy to go along with the plan, but at the first opportunity, calls Commissioner Gordon and informs him of what is going on.

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The Ventriloquist and Scarface intended to kill Harley after the theft, but she gets the jump on them.  She seems to really despise the new Ventriloquist, although it’s not clear why.  Batman shows up, and rescues Harley.

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She explains to Batman that her first night in Arkham she was feeling very alone and frightened, and Arnold Wesker put on a puppet show to cheer her up, and their bond continued.  And while Batman does not think that balances the murders Wesker committed, Quinn insists that it showed that there was a decent person deep inside, even if few people got to see it.

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It’s genuinely touching, and lays the groundwork for the conclusion, as Harley is called back before the board.  Bruce Wayne has deiced to change his vote, and Harley is released from the asylum.

Detective 741 – the bloody finale to No Man’s Land

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There is no real victory to be had in Detective 741 (Feb. 00), the final chapter in Endgame, the final storyline in No Man’s Land.  But there is a huge creative team, and a large cast of characters as well.  Greg Rucka and Devin Grayson are the writers, Damion Scott and Dale Eaglesham the pencillers, while the inks are divided between Sean Parsons, Sal Buscema and Robert Hunter.

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It’s Christmas, and a huge celebration is being planned by Lex Luthor, which the Joker is out to destroy.  The Huntress barely survives an attack by the maniac at the start of the issue (the conclusion of the previous chapter). She gets rescued by Nightwing, and even earns a word of praise from Batman.

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The Joker has had his men steal all the babies – all the children born during No Man’s Land.  Batman and crew are not sure what he plans to do with them, but don’t wait to find out.  Oracle co-ordinates as people spread out across the city, trying to find the children, but often finding caches of exploding dolls.

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Azrael and Batgirl (Cassandra Cain now) confront Mercy at Luthor’s huge christmas tree.  Mercy tries to get rid of them, but is lucky they were there to spot the dolls on the tree, which explodes real good, though all three survive.

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Batman has been chasing the Joker, but along the way notices the overtly acrobatic style, and is not at all surprised to discover that it’s Harley Quinn he has been chasing, in disguise.  She does give him the Joker’s location, but really, that’s only a sign that it’s too late to stop him, isn’t it?

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It’s Sarah Essen who confronts him, surrounded by babies, in the basement of the police headquarters.  She cannot shoot, and the Joker knows it full well.  He has no such qualms, and murders Sarah Essen.

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He then calmly walks out of the police station, and surrenders.  The scene almost dares Gordon to kill him, and Batman makes no move to stop it.  Gordon instead chooses to kneecap him, leaving the Joker lame (though unfortunately that just sort of gets forgotten).

A horrible, but perfect, note to end the storyline on.

And to give them credit, there really was never another attempt to recreate No Man’s Land, or hasn’t been to date.  It would be almost impossible.  The current series Batman Eternal is driving huge changes in the Batman world, but doing it in an entirely different way.

 

 

Detective 740 – Bane vs the Joker

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Greg Rucka, Sergio Cariello and Mark Buckingham bring the two-part Shellgame storyline to a close in Detective 740 (Jan. 00), as No Man’s Land draws to a close.

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The issue, which scans over a large group of people and places, begins with Oracle musing over Lex Luthor’s reconstruction of Gotham, and how he has played the media to make himself the golden boy hero of the city.

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Batman and Robin have been monitoring Pettit and the Huntress.  Their region has held off everyone, including all aid, and the people are starting to flee.  Pettit demands that no one be allowed to leave, as it will weaken them.  The Huntress tries to reason with him, but fails.

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Luthor gets frustrated at how his equipment and crews keep getting sabotaged and killed by the Joker, and enlists Bane to guard them.  The Joker brings Harley Quinn to help him, but Bane also has Mercy at his side, and fends the Joker off.

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We even catch up with good old Dr. Simpson Flanders, back on tv, hawking his new book about life in No Man’s Land.

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With Luthor’s rebuilding indicating a power shift in Gotham, the Penguin makes his move, with a large group of men, to demand his cut of the action.  Mercy takes out the Penguin’s men without even breaking a sweat.  Luthor gives the Penguin nothing but his own life.

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The issue has lots of ominous foreboding, but ends on a happy note, as Lucius Fox takes the airwaves to announce that the government has rescinded the No Man’s Land proclamation, and Gotham is open again.

But the story is not yet over…

Detective 737 – Harley Quinn plays the field

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No Man’s Land saw the introduction of Harley Quinn into the Batman universe proper.  Detective 737 (Oct. 99) concludes her introductory storyline, by Bronwyn Taggart, Tom Morgan and David Roach.  Notice how many No Man’s Land storylines conclude in Detective?

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As the Joker proceeds with plans to run in an election in No Man’s Land, Harley Quinn continues to play hard to get.  This is part of her “code”on how to win back his affections, after he loved her and then tried to kill her. The whole “tried to kill her” thing is not a major issue to Harley.

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Huntress, now aligned with Pettit, after both were ousted by their respective leaders, reports back to him on the Joker’s election plans.  Pettit has more or less taken command of the region abutting the Joker.

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Josh, the cartoonist who has been making the Joker’s election posters, finally acts on the blatant crush he has on Harley. He simply cannot figure out why she would be more interested in the Joker than in him.  She rebuffs him, but not before the Joker sees them together.

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The Huntress has her first confrontation with Harley, as she attempts to infiltrate the Joker’s campaign headquarters.  I really like the touch that Harley figures out that the Huntress is a schoolteacher, picking up on her use of words, after only a few sentences.  It shows that there is a mind in there capable of achieving her degree.  And fighting-wise, the Huntress also finds herself outmatched.

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Jealous, the Joker kills Josh in an explosion, which brings Harley running (to the Huntress’ relief).  The Joker and Harley re-unite. But now that he has her, the Joker no longer wants her.  And on and on and on with these two.

 

 

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