Detective Annual 11 – Azrael causes problems, the Riddler goes for an old standard, and Oracle teams with Looker
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The final story in the issue, by Amanda McMurray and Kelly Jones, features a team-up between Oracle and Looker.
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.
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.