The Vandal Savage storyline is brought to a conclusion by Wolfman, Swan and Schaffenberger in Action 556 (June 1984).
The story recaps the various attacks Savage has made on Superman, both direct and indirect. While the hero is still alive and well, Savage’s plan to tarnish his reputation has gone much better.
Savage uses another of his high tech machines to affect Superman’s hearing, sending him out of control. He then sends out more of his Superman robots to bring him under control, once again making the hero look bad.
Superman is not sure what to do against Savage, whose actions have largely been legal, if evil. He consults with Batman, and meets Jason Todd, the new Robin.
And as Clark Kent he has a heart-to-heart with Lana Lang, who has become so mature and compassionate that Lois seems like a cold and calculating bitch by comparison.
In the end, it is brains, not brawn, that decide the battle between them. Superman goes to confront Savage, who is more than happy to brag about his schemes, and how he has succeeded at turning the people of Metropolis against Superman. But Superman has been broadcasting the entire meeting. With his true nature exposed, all of Vandal Savage’s actions become worthless in defaming the hero.
It’s a mild let down after such along running story.
Vandal Savage is next seen in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Andersen Gabrych begins his run with Detective 790 (March 2004), with art by Pete Woods and Cam Smith.
The story deals with people overdosing on the drug GBH, as Batman tracks down the dealers and suppliers. They try to defend themselves by saying that they did not force anyone to take drugs, the people chose it on their own.
Batgirl joins Batman on his hunt, fearing that he is being too rough, that something else is bothering him. She guesses that it has to do with his recent troubles with Stephanie Brown, and trying to keep her out of his world. Cassandra argues that no one has forced Stephanie, she chose it on her own.
The story ends as Bruce takes Cassandra with him to Jason Todd’s grave. Today would have been his eighteenth birthday. No one forced him to become Robin, he chose it on his own. But that makes him no less of a victim, just like those who overdosed. And Batman wants to keep Stephanie out of it, so that she can grow up and enjoy her life, which none of the Bat-family will ever be able to do.
Some really nice layers in this one.
The Tailor accompanies Batman, in order to save his daughter, in this chapter by Lieberman, Dzialowski and Green.
No hero himself, the Tailor shuts down the man’s armor, and then shoots him. Batman once again asks him about the armor, and once again he denies making it, but the final panel shows him with a old team, including the man he just killed.
The story continues next issue.
The “0” issues that ran in the DC books throughout October 1994 were used to tell the origins of the series stars, with any alterations they wanted to make, in the wake of the new reality created at the end of Zero Hour. Because there were so many Bat-books at this time, each chose to focus on a different side of the Batman tale. In Detective 0, Dixon, Nolan and Hanna look at his early days in the costume.
Alfred is there from the start, of course, but now Lucius Fox is as well. In fact, this scene mirrors the way Lucius would be introduced in Batman Begins, in conjunction with Bruce seeking out Wayne technology for his car and weaponry.
I should mention that there is a framing device of Batman hunting down and beating up criminals in present day Gotham, but that’s really just an excuse for action scenes. More interesting, to me, was the use of the classic Batmobile, keeping that in the new continuity.
The story briefly acknowledges other supporting cast towards the end – Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock. Dick Grayson’s days as Robin, and Jason Todd’s brief career. We see the Joker, Riddler, Two-Face, Scarecrow, and Ra’s and Talia Al Ghul.
Not great, not awful. About on par with most of the “0” issues.
Detective 606 (Early Oct. 89) contains the penultimate chapter of the Mudpack, by Grant, Breyfogle and Mitchell.
Payne is out robbing another bank, and the real Batman shows up this time. He is taken aback when Robin shows up. This is the first mention in the pages of Detective of the death of Jason Todd. It happened almost a year earlier, in the pages of Batman. Even though Batman quickly realizes that it is Sondra Fuller impersonating Robin, it still throws him enough that the Clayfaces are able to get the better of him, and they capture him.
Karlo plans to drive Batman crazy, and straps him to a chair in the theatre. He forces Batman to watch his old horror films, but Sondra uses Looker’s psychic powers to make the terrors personal.
The real Looker arrives in Gotham, and also finds a disbelieving Kitch and accepting Gordon.
With Payne sleeping, Karlo drugs Sondra, and then reveals his true plan, to steal their powers for himself. He takes blood from both of them, which also brings in Matt Hagen in a way, as Payne had used Hagen’s blood to give himself his powers as well. It’s quite the Clayface cocktail.
The other two Clayfaces awaken to discover that Karlo has abandoned them, but in the best twist of the story, the two find the love and acceptance they had long been seeking in each other. I just love the heart shaped panel.
The story concludes next issue.
Mike W Barr’s run on Detective comes to an end with issue 581 (Dec. 87), the concluding half of the two Two-Faces story, with art by Jim Baikie and Pablo Marcos.
This part of the story makes reference to the new origin of Jason Todd, recently detailed in the pages of Batman, in which Two-Face was responsible for the death of Jason Todd’s parents. But it feels almost tacked on, as if the story was written before that element was added. It’s not the basis or core of the story, as one might have expected.
Paul Sloane’s wife is brought in to restore his sanity, much the way Gilda Dent was used in the 40s. Paul joins Batman and Robin for the final fight against Two-Face, for little reason other than to allows the cover image to take place.
Although Harvey attempts to pretend to be Sloane at the end, Batman uses their varying handedness to expose Harvey.
Not a bad story, but all in all Mike W Barr’s run seemed to be more suited to pre-Crisis, with the appearance of the Mad Hatter, and the use of Paul Sloane.
Continuing the story from the previous issue, Detective 574 (May 1987) sees Robin being tended to as Batman flashes back to his origin, thanks to Mike W Barr, Alan Davis and Paul Neary.
The story really serves to re-introduce Leslie Thompkins. She appears a bit younger, and definitely more active, as she now runs a clinic, and is a practicing doctor. She operates on Robin and takes care of him, as she and Batman reminisce on their shared past. From this story on, Leslie has known of Bruce’s alter ego from the moment he adopted it.
This expands on the earlier stories, in which Leslie took care of Bruce immediately after his parents’ murders. Now, she and Alfred are shown as the guardians of young Bruce all the way until adulthood. Interestingly, the story passes on detailing the origin of Robin to any degree, likely because they were already planning to change it.