And we’re back to Aftershock with Detective 724 (Aug. 98). Dixon, Aparo and Hodgkins pull off another great story in the ruins of Gotham.
J Devlin Davenport, Bruce Wayne’s obnoxious neighbour, is causing problems all over the place in this story. As Alfred and Harold, in disguise as workmen, try to cover up the hole exposing the Batcave, Davenport keeps coming by to complain about how the work messes up his VCR.
Marion Grange gets a good scene, barking at reporters in a way most mayors would love to do.
Davenport is also causing problems in downtown Gotham, refusing to allow the city to demolish his fallen building, claiming that it is still his property. With communication down, and so much disorganization, no one is around to countermand him.
Batman takes things into his own hands, stealing a bulldozer and plowing right through the centre of the building.
It’s a victory of sorts, but just continues to show the sorry state of the city.
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 676 (July 1994) has the third chapter of KnightsEnd, the storyline that sees Bruce Wayne regain the mantle of the Batman, by Dixon, Nolan and Hanna.
Nightwing and Robin break into the cave, but find no sign of Jean-Paul. Instead, they come across Harold, whom Dick has never met before, and almost attacks. Harold leads them to his secret work space, and also shows them the subway rocket.
Bruce, meanwhile, tries to challenge himself as he did on his first night as Batman, on the roof of Wayne Tower, but now finds himself wanting.
But for the bulk of the issue, Bruce has no time to challenge himself, as a horde of ninjas do that for him. Lady Shiva watches as Bruce defeats killer after killer, including one really impressive fight in the middle of a busy highway. Although she is responsible for their attacks, it’s just her way of fulfilling Bruce’s request that she test him. Never ask Lady Shiva for help!
Jean-Paul continues to be tormented by visions of St Dumas, but this time he has an audience for his madness, as Tim and Dick watch him on a monitor from Harold’s cave.
The story continues in Legends of the Dark Knight.
With Knightfall ou tof the way, Detective Comics 667 (Oct. 93) begins relating the adventures of Jean-Paul Valley as Batman, under the banner Knightquest: The Crusade. Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan and Scott Hanna remain the creative team.
Two bank robbers, Tom and Tad Trigger, meet by pure fluke when they both rob the same location. They appear to be twins, and may be related, although neither is sure. They bond, though, and decide to work together, and head for Gotham City.
Jean-Paul is not having an easy time fitting in to the Batman role. Being visited in his dreams by the ghost of St. Dumas does not help things any.
We discover that Harold has been quite busy and resourceful, as Jean-Paul stumbles across the new passageway to the Gotham subway system, and finds the rocket that Harold has designed. Remember that issue a while ago in which Harold found the connection to the subway through the caves?
The Trigger Twins (not yet referred to by that title) amuse themselves by quoting the film The War Wagon during a robbery, but their purple costumes with prominent triangles put me more in mind of Brokeback Mountain.
The story continues in the next issue.
Detective 650 (Late Sept. 92) has a shamefully deceptive cover. Batman does not even appear in the issue. Robin shares it with Harold, making his first appearance in Detective Comics, as Chuck Dixon is joined by Graham Nolan and Steve Mitchell on the art.
Harold is Batman’s mute assistant, a character who originally appeared in The Question, and was introduced, along with his dog Ace (as in, the Bathound), in the pages of Batman. Harold has been exploring and mapping the cave and its various passages.
Harold’s part of the story is captivating, for all its silence. The cavernous depths are conveyed extremely well.
Robin, meanwhile, is watching television with Alfred. A Geraldo Rivera-type reporter is going to open a dead mobster’s vault (remember Al Capone’s vault?). He is joined by Roy Raymond, making a rare cameo. Roy had last appeared in Swamp Thing a couple of years earlier.
What a page. Go Harold, go!
Robin realizes that the mobster had been very into ancient Egypt, and it’s trap-laden tombs, and figures that the vault is probably rigged. Alfred drives him to the studio, and he arrives barely in time to save Roy and not-Geraldo.
Harold discovers that the Batcave links, through a tortuous path, to the Gotham subway system, which will be important down the road.
Not the most exciting or dramatic issue, but a very good use of Harold.