Posts tagged ‘Sal Buscema’

Detective 741 – the bloody finale to No Man’s Land

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There is no real victory to be had in Detective 741 (Feb. 00), the final chapter in Endgame, the final storyline in No Man’s Land.  But there is a huge creative team, and a large cast of characters as well.  Greg Rucka and Devin Grayson are the writers, Damion Scott and Dale Eaglesham the pencillers, while the inks are divided between Sean Parsons, Sal Buscema and Robert Hunter.

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It’s Christmas, and a huge celebration is being planned by Lex Luthor, which the Joker is out to destroy.  The Huntress barely survives an attack by the maniac at the start of the issue (the conclusion of the previous chapter). She gets rescued by Nightwing, and even earns a word of praise from Batman.

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The Joker has had his men steal all the babies – all the children born during No Man’s Land.  Batman and crew are not sure what he plans to do with them, but don’t wait to find out.  Oracle co-ordinates as people spread out across the city, trying to find the children, but often finding caches of exploding dolls.

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Azrael and Batgirl (Cassandra Cain now) confront Mercy at Luthor’s huge christmas tree.  Mercy tries to get rid of them, but is lucky they were there to spot the dolls on the tree, which explodes real good, though all three survive.

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Batman has been chasing the Joker, but along the way notices the overtly acrobatic style, and is not at all surprised to discover that it’s Harley Quinn he has been chasing, in disguise.  She does give him the Joker’s location, but really, that’s only a sign that it’s too late to stop him, isn’t it?

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It’s Sarah Essen who confronts him, surrounded by babies, in the basement of the police headquarters.  She cannot shoot, and the Joker knows it full well.  He has no such qualms, and murders Sarah Essen.

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He then calmly walks out of the police station, and surrenders.  The scene almost dares Gordon to kill him, and Batman makes no move to stop it.  Gordon instead chooses to kneecap him, leaving the Joker lame (though unfortunately that just sort of gets forgotten).

A horrible, but perfect, note to end the storyline on.

And to give them credit, there really was never another attempt to recreate No Man’s Land, or hasn’t been to date.  It would be almost impossible.  The current series Batman Eternal is driving huge changes in the Batman world, but doing it in an entirely different way.

 

 

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Detective 733 – the crimes of Thomas Wayne

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Bob Gale, Phil Winslade and Sal Buscema deliver an excellent one issue story in Detective 733 (June 1999), part of No Man’s Land.

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The story sees Batman struggle to maintain some semblance of order in Gotham, and brings him to a very low point.  Jim Gordon bans him from the parts of the city controlled by the police, and resents that he has to deliver this news through the new Batgirl.  Batman stops what he thinks is a murder, only to find the “killer” has found a corpse, and started attacking it, in hopes that Batman will bring him to his prison, where he will be safe and get food.

The Penguin has been profiting steadily in No Man’s Land, but is dismayed to find that new foodstuffs have somehow made it in to the city, threatening his control of the supply.

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When Batman comes across two women fighting over a child, he tries the Solomon solution – and the women react to the idea of cutting the baby in half with rational disbelief.

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Distressed and dismayed, Batman talks to Alfred, who tells him a story about his father. Late one night, in desperate need of medication for a patient, Thomas Wayne broke the window of a pharmacy, took the drugs he needed, leaving a note of explanation, and the money.  The next day he was contacted by the pharmacist, who told him that others entered through the broken window and looted his story, demanding compensation.  This quickly degenerated into blackmail, and Thomas Wayne had no idea what to do.  Alfred saved the day, getting into disguise as a policeman, he and Thomas called the pharmacist’s bluff, getting back the note and publicly shaming him.

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Envigorated by this story, Batman sends Batgirl out to find the “killer,” and offers him work in his region.

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Batman also finds the quarreling women, and gets them to agree to put aside their mutual distrust, and raise the child together.

Another gem.

Detective 729 – Mr Scratch’s plans shot down

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Fight or Flight, Road to No Man’s Land, and Chuck Dixon’s run on this book all come to an end in Detective 729 (Feb. 99).

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Gordon and Sarah return to Gotham, and he finds a core of the police force also willing to defy the government and stay on their posts. Bullock, Montoya, Bock and Kitch are all there.

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As the military close the bridges, a hooded man leads a crowd of stragglers, demanding to be let out of the city.

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Despite Robin and Nightwing’s efforts, Mr. Scratch’s men blow the bridge.

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They do rescue the hooded man, revealed to be Simpson Flanders, who has certainly seen better days.

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Mr. Scratch’s plans come to an abrupt halt, when the Joker single-handedly wipes out his men.  He has no interest in any newbies claiming Gotham.

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Nightwing and Robin discover Wayne Manor gone, plowed into the cave.  The Return of Bruce Wayne storyline, much more recently, would amend this, that only one wing of the manor was destroyed at this point.  But that clearly goes against what is shown here, so I view that as being the result of Superboy punching a wall.

Don’t get the reference?  Stick around, I’ll get to it one day.

 

 

 

Detective 728 – Gordon hears the bitter truth

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Fight or Flight continues in Detective 728 (Jan. 99), part of the Road to No Man’s Land running through the Bat-books.  Dixon, Rosado and Buscema are the creative team.

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Mr. Scratch, more prominently featured in the other books, wants No Man’s Land passed so his gang can take over Gotham.  He sends in a number of destructive felons to wreak havoc in the city, which Robin and Nightwing try to stop.

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Gordon has an interview in another city, and feels that is went pretty well.  But when he heads back, having left his glasses, he overhears what contempt he is held in.  A soul crushing scene.

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Nightwing and Robin fare better against the various villains, but there is little to be celebrated, as the government sets the deadline to shut off Gotham from the rest of the country.

The story concludes next issue.

 

 

Detective 727 – Nightwing and Robin vs Firefly

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Detective 727 (Dec. 98) is the beginning of the three-part Fight or Flight storyline, one of the threads of Road to No Man’s Land, which runs through the Bat-books.  Each book took a different facet of the story to focus on, and Detective Comics sees Nightwing and Robin do their best to protect the city, while Bruce is in Washington, D.C., trying to fend off No Man’s Land.  Chuck Dixon is joined by William Rosado and Stan Buscema for this, the final storyline of his long run on the book.

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The Firefly is the main villain in the issue. This seems odd, considering that he was just captured last issue, but reference is made to him escaping 12 hours earlier.

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Nightwing and Robin find it hard to take down a villain who cares nothing about being set on fire during their fights.

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This storyline also deals with Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen.  With the government discussing sealing off Gotham and letting it die, the Gordons decide to move on, and find employment in a more stable city.

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Firefly gets set on fire twice in this issue, but isn’t down for the count until being hit by a cement truck.  Bullock and Montoya are the police given some play in this issue, but only minor roles.

The story continues in the next issue.

 

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