Posts tagged ‘Looker’

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 606 – the return of Robin?

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Detective 606 (Early Oct. 89) contains the penultimate chapter of the Mudpack, by Grant, Breyfogle and Mitchell.

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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.

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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.

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The real Looker arrives in Gotham, and also finds a disbelieving Kitch and accepting Gordon.

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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.

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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.

 

Detective 605 – The Mudpack frame Batman

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Grant, Breyfogle and Mitchell continue the Mudpack storyline in Detective 605 (Late Sept. 89).

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Karlo sends Preston Payne out to commit a bank robbery.  Batman shows up, but takes Clayface’s side against the police.  Of course, this is because it is not Batman, but Sondra Fuller, and she escapes with Payne.

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Using her powers when in Looker’s form, Sondra is able to keep Payne under control.  She reflects on her life, being transformed into Lady Clay by Kobra, and able to take any form, but displeased by the people who respond only to fake beauty.

Batman contacts the real Looker in this issue, and has to deal with angry police, personified by Lieutenant Kitch, though Gordon retains his faith in Batman.

The story continues in the next issue.

Detective 604 – The Mudpack begins

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Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle and Steve Mitchell launch one of my favourite stories from this era, the Mudpack, in Detective 604 (Early Sept. 89).  It was preceded by an issue of Secret Origins devoted to the four Clayfaces, setting up the story.

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The tale opens in Arkham Asylum, as Preston Payne breaks up with his mannequin, Helena.  The argument becomes heated, and he knocks off the dummy’s head, which sends him into a frantic madness, and he bursts out of his cell, killing the guards.

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We then catch up with Basil Karlo, recently returned to Gotham, with the remains of Matt Hagen.  He finds an old theatre overrun with street kids, who attempt to mug him, which does not not go well for the boys.

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Karlo theorizes that he can revive Matt Hagen, and adds some water to his clay, forming a small body, but it fails. Sure glad he tried, though, it’s a great scene.  Funny, and yet conveying the madness so well.

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Batman investigates the breakout, and sees what appears to be his former ally from the Outsiders, Looker, visiting Preston Payne on the tapes.

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Cutting back to Karlo, we discover that this was really Sondra Fuller, Lady Clay, impersonating Looker, and using her powers to keep Payne docile.  Karlo is the brains and motivator behind this gathering of the Clayfaces, and he announces their goal of killing Batman.

The story continues in the next issue.

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