Posts tagged ‘Sarah Essen’

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.

 

 

Detective 732 – Batgirl vs Black Mask

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The mysterious new Batgirl is at the centre of this 2-part story, which concludes in Detective 732 (May 1999), by Greg Rucka and Frank Teran.  It’s part of No Man’s Land, running through the Bat-books this year.

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The art is particularly well suited to the tale, making it all look like a horror film.  Batgirl has less trouble taking on Black Mask and his gang than might be expected, but that’s fine, as there are other things equally important going on.

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After Batgirl turns Black Mask over to Batman, she tags along to find out what he does with his prisoners.

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We find a jail, now under the command of Lock-Up, with the KGBeast as his assistant.  They have less trouble keeping people in, than keeping people out, who are starving and want some security.

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Barbara Gordon observed the battle between Black Mask and Batgirl.  She has figured out who it is, and confronts Batman, furious that he turned over her secret identity to someone else.

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Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen are having a fight of their own, both frustrated with the situation in No Man’s Land, and their inability to effectively change things, venting on each other.

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Although, as Montoya awkwardly discovers, the fight between the Gordons has a happy ending.

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The story closes on an unusual trial, with an unseen judge, and the Tally Man serving as executioner.  A tease for an upcoming storyline.

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 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.

 

Detective 722 – Robin hunts for lost mother

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Detective 722 (June 1998) is part of Aftershock. Following the events of Cataclysm, Aftershock is not so much a storyline, as the overall title for a collections of stories, in the various Bat-books, that deal with the effects of the earthquake, and tie up some loose ends.  The fact that they did not try to weave it all into one story is likely what made Aftershock tales work so well.

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Chuck Dixon, Jim Aparo and James Hodgkins focus this story on a little girl who cannot find her mother in the devastation left by the earthquake.  Batman and Robin spot her, and feeling that she would respond better to Robin, he takes control of the situation.

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Robin gets little information out of her, and leaves the girl with Bullock and Montoya, while he begins his search.

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One page beautifully illustrates why even Batman finds getting around Gotham difficult now.

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The story also touches on Sarah Essen and Jim Gordon, who had not been in contact with each other since the earthquake struck.  Essen uses her authority to force a civil servant to do his job amid the chaos and lack of command.

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They do get in touch with each other, and re-unite towards the end of the story.

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The mother’s boyfriend is a small time hood, and Robin goes to see the Penguin at his new club, the Glacier Room.  The Penguin seems barely affected by the quake, and the story neatly reinforces the status he holds in Gotham.

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The Penguin gives Robin the information he needs to find the girl’s mother – only to find the mother has no interest at all in the girl, and was planning to abandon her anyway.  Robin picks up on the fact that there is money stashed in the girl’s doll.  Although not re-united with her mother, the girl winds up on a farm with loving grandparents, and a college fund unwittingly donated by her mother.

A great little story.

Detective 702 – Legacy gets some meaning

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Detective 702 (Oct. 96) is a Legacy epilogue, by Dixon, Nolan and Hanna, and has more weight and emotional depth than anything from Legacy itself.

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Batman makes an intentionally dorkish public appearance as Bruce Wayne, but his supercilious veneer is impossible to maintain when he comes face to face with the human cost of Legacy.

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Jim Gordon and Sarah Essen try to deal with their relationship problems over the past few years, during her time as commissioner.  They both acknowledge the difficulty of finding time for each other, and even their moment of reconciliation is thwarted by a nearby explosion.  Some of Ra’s crazed followers are still causing problems in Gotham.

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Robin finds a young plague victim, already bleeding from the eyes, and rushes him to the hospital for the cure.  He arrives too late, and the boy is already dead.

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As both Bruce and Tim sit in the cave, feeling the weight of the dead on their consciences, Alfred shakes them up with some harsh words. He points out that, without their actions, everyone in Gotham would be dead.  It’s a good scene for him.

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The story even ends on a happy, romantic note, as the Gordons find some time together.

 

Detective 694 – Poison Ivy out for vengeance

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Dixon, Johnson and Hodgkins conclude their Poison Ivy two-parter in Detective 694 (Feb. 96).

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Harold proves his worth yet again, as the Batmobile survives the plunge into the harbour with its impressive airbags.  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang would be impressed.

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Sarah Essen discovers that, as a parting gift from Mayor Krol, she has been ousted as Commissioner, and replaced with an incompetent.  The man barely has time to get behind his desk before Kitch and Bullock are bringing him crises.

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Essen heads straight for mayor-to-be Marion Grange, and makes a deal with her, that will see Jim Gordon returned to the Commisoner’s job.

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Poison Ivy, Mr. Veezey, Batman and Robin all head for the largest park not yet attacked, the obvious next target.  Poison Ivy uses her pheremones on the man, putting him under her spell quickly. He’s lucky Batman shows up so fast, Ivy was ready to kill.

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While Batman fends off Ivy’s advances, the man himself is grabbed my a mysterious costumed figure.  This person had appeared the previous month in Robin, also carting away a villain.  Who is he? Wait and find out.  Or look at my tags on this story.

Ivy gets captured, but is released (though not in this book) and used as an agent by Batman in Contagion, which starts the following month.

 

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