Posts tagged ‘Penguin’

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.

 

 

Detective 853 – the concluding half of “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”

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Detective 853 (April 2009) has the second half of Neil Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?”, with art by Andy Kubert.  The story is a thematic sister to Alan Moore’s “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?”, and exists sort of on its own, as a two-part story outside normal continuity, but also fits neatly into what is currently occurring with Batman.  The first half was published in the previous issue of Batman.

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As with the first half, the story is set at Batman’s funeral, with friends and enemies in attendance.  While the first issue gave a lot of time to a couple of stories, this issue give a number of characters a brief opportunity to tell their versions of how Batman died.

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As well as Betty Kane, shown in the original Bat-Girl outfit for the first time since 1978, eulogies are given by the Mad Hatter, the Joker, Dick Grayson, when he was still Robin, Clayface, Harvey Bullock and Ra’s Al Ghul.

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Superman’s speech ends this section, as Batman starts to become aware of what is happening.

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He suspects that he is having a near-death experience, and the voice that has been with him throughout this,now identified as his mother, tells him that this is true.

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The story becomes a meditation on what Batman is, what he stands for.  Batman cannot ever simply retire and live happily ever after.  He is about never giving up, so Batman can only die in action.

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He asks if he is going to heaven or hell, but the woman replies neither. He does not get those options.  He gets to be Batman, that’s enough.  As the story reaches it end, it takes on the Goodnight Moon narrative, as batman bids good-bye to the cave and the car.  Robin, Alfred, Commissioner Gordon and his villains – Joker, Catwoman, Riddler, Two-Face, Penguin, Ra’s Al Ghul and Poison Ivy shown.  The art mixes past and present versions, creating an eternal Batman.

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And it ends as Martha Wayne gives birth to Bruce.  His death takes him back to his birth, and the cycle begins again.

It serves as a reflection on a character that can never be killed off, in a medium that is so easy to re-read.  Endings launch beginnings, and everything comes around eventually.

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 843 – The Ventriloquist’s night out

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Dini, Nguyen and Fridolfs begin a 2-part story that explains all you need to know about the new Ventriloquist in Detective 843 (June 2008).

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Mobster Johnny Sabatino is opening a club, and when sabotage hits it, Batman suspects the Penguin. But visiting him, it becomes clear the Penguin sees Sabatino as no competition.

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Sabatino enlists Zatanna as the headliner as the Volcano Club opens.  Zatanna has her own reasons for wanting to return to Gotham.  Bruce plays audience stooge for her act, but both are keeping one eye on Sabatino.

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The Ventriloquist impersonates Zatanna’s voice, calling Johnny to the backroom, where she and Scarface confront him.  Scarface tries to shoot Sabatino, but he flees, and the sound brings Zatanna running.

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Johnny Sabatino gets away, and the Ventriloquist lights the club on fire, and takes Bruce Wayne hostage, leaving Zatanna to put out the blaze.

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Bruce realizes that he knows the Ventriloquist.  She is Peyton Riley, the daughter of a crime boss, and one-time girlfriend of Matthew Atkins, Bruce’s friend who got murdered a few issues back.  She seems to be almost a different person when she lets go of Scarface, a possessed victim, but she grabs the doll and Scarface re-exerts control over her.  Or appears to.

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Jealous of her interest, Scarface shoots at Bruce point blank!  How will they get out of this without cheating?

The story concludes next issue.

Detective 824 – The Penguin victimized

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The Penguin re-opens the Iceberg Lounge in Detective 824 (Dec. 06), by Dini, Kramer and Faucher.

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Batman pays him a visit, and the Penguin insists he is on the side of the angels, but still doesn’t want him anywhere around.  However, the Penguin did invite Bruce Wayne to his big opening gala that night.  Lois Lane is there, covering it for the Planet, and winding up getting a scoop from Wayne’s drunken starlet date.  The Riddler also shows up, a respectable entrepreneur himself now.

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The Penguin winds up the victim of the night, as some gamblers, in league with a crooked magician, are fixing a game and taking the casino for thousands.  Bruce calls Zatanna for a bit of help on the case.  Their relationship is shown as friendly and casual, which is surprising considering this is Batman.  Dini will expand on the history between these two later in his run.

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In the end, Batman winds up saving the Penguin from ruin, as he returns the money the crooks took him for.  He’s not happy about it, but the money belongs to the Penguin more than anyone else.

 

Detective 806 – Scarface keeps on talking , and Alfred as spy

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It’s more City of Crime, by Lapham, Bachs and Massengil, in Detective 806 (July 2005).

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More gang warfare in this storyline, as the dissolving mud people prove they are able to blast away their enemies.  Arnold Wesker lies prone and bloody, looking near death, but Scarface keeps on talking.

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It all makes for a very creepy scene, even for Batman.  The Ventriloquist is not dead, though.  Can’t really tell from this issue, but we see him (and Scarface) in the hospital in a later issue.

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And the Penguin has had enough of the mud people.  He winds up coming to Batman’s aid, machine gunning them from a helicopter.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Scott Beatty and Jeff Parker share a story of Alfred’s early days.  For some reason, there is no “before War Games” badge on this story, even though it obviously occurs decades earlier.

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Set during World War 2, Alfred Beagle is a young actor, and master of make-up and disguise.  He gets called up by MI5, to serve as a spy.

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He adopts the guise of a butler, to serve at a party for German bigwigs, including some of their super-powered soldiers.  Gudra, the Valkyrie appears.  She appeared throughout the 80s in All-Star Squadron and Young All-Stars, but hasn’t been seen much since.  There is also a heavily armoured soldier named Parsifal.  This is clearly a different person than the World War 2 German operative Parsifal that appeared in James Robinson’s Golden Age miniseries.

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A very alert Alfred saves Parsifal from being poisoned, but not from being shot.  However, the price is that everyone now knows he is a spy.

The story concludes in the next issue.

Detective 804 – the problem with Mr. Freeze, and The Barker ends

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Lapham, Bachs and Massengill continue with City of Crime in Detective 804 (May 2005).

I guess I should admit that this is a storyline I have never read until now. I am a few issues ahead of these posts, but generally I know the whole story before writing it up.

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The best scene in the issue, in my eyes, once again deals with the dead girl, Haddie McNeil.  Bruce attends her funeral, and tries to give some consolation to her father, who assumes that Bruce was sleeping with his underage daughter, but also doesn’t care at all.

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Mr. Freeze has fallen in love with the girl he kidnapped, and so he kidnaps a minister, so the two of them can get married.

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The Penguin sends a message to the Ventriloquist.  Mr. Freeze has gone out of control, and the Penguin needs someone reliable.  Apparently, that means someone who talks through a dummy.  Ah, Gotham.

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Batman goes to talk to Dr. Jeremiah Arkham, a wonderful character, getting his first real scene in Detective Comics, despite having been around for over a decade.  Arkham explains that Freeze was undergoing a complete re-building of his psyche when he escaped.  Being midway through the process means he is even more deranged than usual.

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Batman tracks down Freeze, and is about to bring him in when a sniper shoots through his helmet, which will cause Freeze to die.  At the same time, Batman finds himself surrounded by masked attackers.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Mike Carey and John Lucas bring The Barker to an ending in this issue.

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The circus folks realize that the killer is the man who owns the circus, that he has been using them all along, while pretending to be on their side.

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The Barker kills him, and winds up in prison for his efforts to seek justice.  Downer.

Not a bad story, but like The Tailor before it, it made me want to see more of the person in their titled position.

 

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