Posts tagged ‘Norm Breyfogle’

Detective 659 – Batman vs Amygdala


Chuck Dixon and Norm Breyfogle helm Detective 659 (Early May 1993), the second part of Knightfall.  Much of this years run would be devoted to this storyline, which sees Bane push Batman to his breaking point.


The issue begins as felons flee from Arkham Asylum, after Bane breaks it open.  Maxie Zeus makes it no further than the nearest tree, but in the background one can see the Ventriloquist making a sock puppet, to replace his missing Scarface.


The other villains are simply cannon fodder for Bane, and Lieutenant Kitch discovers the corpse of Film Freak, murdered by Bane.


Amygdala, recently introduced in Shadow of the Bat, partners up the the Ventriloquist.  His sock puppet is not an adequate subtsitutue for Scarface, and he decides to find his lost friend.


Robin keeps spotting a circling falcon, and takes off from Batman to follow it, correctly assuming it to be connected to Bane.


Batman has been tracking the Ventriloquist, and manages to defeat Amygdala, but Arnold Wesker gets away during the battle.


While Batman deals with Amygdala, Robin faces Bird.

The story continues in the next issue of Batman.

Detective 627 – The Case of the Chemical Syndicate x4


There was a decent idea behind Detective 627 (March 1991), which celebrates Batman’s 600th appearance in the book.  It reprints his first story, The Case of the Chemical Syndicate, as well as the re-write from the anniversary issue in the late 60s, The Cry of the Night is Kill.  Following those two stories, it presents two more, new, versions of the same story.

In reality, what this means is that one reads the same story four times in the same book.  Not as much fun as intended.


Wolfman, Aparo and DeCarlo handle the first of the two new re-tellings.


Their version ups the gore factor, as the killer uses a dissolving spray on the victims, of which there are more than in the original tale.


Wolfman also places this telling in current continuity, having Detective Hanrahan in charge of the police.


The murderer’s gender is changed, as it becomes the grandaughter of the “mastermind,” rather than just his goon assistant.  And a far more elaborate backstory is added, making this a tale of vengeance rather than of greed.


The killer still dies falling into a pit of chemicals, but Batman is saddened by this, instead of callous, as in the original.


Then it’s Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle and Steve Mitchell who get to tell the story for the fourth time.


Their version sticks more closely to the original, which might have been a better choice if it did not come fourth in the issue.  Commissioner Gordon is in this one.  The son is made a criminal, if not the killer.


It’s hard to stay focussed on a story when one knows everything that will happen, but Breyfogle’s art keeps it readable.


And the killer falls into the pit again, signalling the end of the tale.

A good idea, but not such a good issue.

Detective 621 – Rite of Passage ends


Grant, Breyfogle and Mitchell conclude Tim Drake’s Rite of Passage in Detective 621 (Sept. 90).


Batman relates the events of this issue to Tim and Alfred in the cave.  He arrived at the island the Obeah Man was holding Tim’s parents on.  Jack and Janet were both tied to a post, surrounded by flames, and the Obeah Man had a small army of his own defending the circle.


Batman battles his way in to the Drakes, and cuts them free.  None of them are at all suspicious of the jug of water on a table near them.


And that proves to be unfortunate, as it was not water, but poison.  Batman defeats the Obeah Man and his people, and gets the Drakes bodies out of there.  It turns out that Jack is still alive, though mentally and physically crippled, while Janet is dead.


The world of Batman may seem like a wonderful fantasy, but it’s a dark world that comes with a heavy price.


The story concludes with the Caribbean boy.  He had broke into his father’s baka earlier in the evening, and was disappointed to find it was, to his eyes, merely a clump of mud and bone.  He throws it into the fire, and we see that his father died a similar death.

While Jason Todd had been thrust on a readership, Tim Drake was slowly built up, in stages.  Rite of Passage was a powerful and important, if tragic, step in making him Robin.


Detective 620 – Tim Drake unmasks the Moneyspider


Grant, Breyfogle and Mitchell give the focus of Detective 620 (Late Aug. 90) to Tim Drake in the penultimate chapter of Rite of Passage.


Batman has gone to hunt for Tim’s parents.  Tim meditates to find a balance, and then, to Alfred’s relief, gets right back into the game, using his computer skills to track down the Moneyspider.


In the Caribbean, the boy wonders if his father is really one of the good guys, and continues to obsess about the baka.


Tim tracks down the Moneyspider, which is simply Lonnie Machlan (Anarky) trying a new tactic.


Though not yet Robin, Tim gets his first fight against a costumed villain, even if Anarky is not in costume.  Whatever.  Tim proves his mettle.  As does Anarky, having pulled off his latest series of crimes from within his reform school.


But the story ends on a somber note as he returns to the cave, and finds a less than happy Bruce.

Detective 619 – the Obeah Man draws blood


Steve Mitchell rejoins Grant and Breyfogle on Detective 619 (Early Aug. 90), the second part of Rite of Passage.


As with the last story, the young boy whose father works for the Obeah Man fantasizes about the hidden baka, worrying and fretting about it.


Batman joins Commissioner Gordon and Lieutenant Kitch to watch a tape sent by the Obeah Man, demanding a ten million dollar ransom for the Drakes, and killing their assistant.


Examining the tape closely, Batman spots a caterpillar, and off of that figures out what island the Drakes are on.  Tim is distraught.  But he wanted to be Robin.  Is this the cost?


Impressively, the issue ends with Tim and Alfred discussing that head on, the deaths of Dick Grayson and Jason Todd’s parents.  And though they try to keep the view that the death is not needed, the reader knows that yes, it is.


Detective 618 – Rite of Passage begins


Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle are joined by Dick Giordano on Detective 618 (Late July 1990), as the Rite of Passage storyline begins.  This is an excellent story, and has many levels to it, some quite disturbing.  At the start of this story, Tim Drake is living at Wayne Manor while his parents are out of town.  He is not Robin, does not go out on missions, simply works the computers.  Because how can he be Robin if his parents are still alive, even if they aren’t around?


Right from the outset, Tim is contrasted with a boy in the Caribbean, whose father has a special “Baka” that the boy is not allowed to see.  As the story progresses, we learn that the father is working for the Obeah Man, who is the main villain.


We catch up with the Drakes, aboard their private plane.  Not only do they leave their son behind, they don’t even treat each other nicely.  This does not bode well for Jack and Janet.


Things take a literal turn for the worse when the Obeah Man contacts and threatens their pilot, who lands as commanded.


Back in Gotham, Tim is helping Batman try to solve a number of bank thefts that have been committed online.


As Tim tries to track the transactions, the news comes through that his parents plane has disappeared.


And the Moneyspider takes credit for the bank thefts.

The story continues next issue.

Detective 617 – The Joker as The Fool


I just love the cover to Detective 617 (Early July 1990).  I really cannot think of a single page of art by Breyfogle and Mitchell that I do not like.  I wish I could say the same for Alan Grant’s stories, but this is another that disappointed me.


Carrying over from last issue, Batman is certain that the Joker is still alive.  After he saves a fortune teller from being robbed, she gives him a reading, and discusses the Joker in terms of The Fool, from the Tarot.


And, sure enough, Batman was right, and the Joker is alive. (Is anyone really surprised?)  The Joker attacks an exhibit of Algonquin carvings, and the rest of the story consists of the fight between him and Batman.


Excellent art, but the story lacks its punch.  The Joker is back right away in the pages of Batman, anyway.

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