Posts tagged ‘Scarface’

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.

 

 

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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 831 – Harley Quinn’s secret friend

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Dini, Kramer and Faucher return, and give the spotlight to Harley Quinn in Detective 831 (June 2007).

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The story opens with a hearing at Arkham, to determine if Harley should be released.  Bruce Wayne casts the deciding vote against her, but as she is being returned to her cell, her “guard” breaks her out.

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The guard turns out to be Moose, the sister of Rhino, the original Ventriloquist’s muscle.  The new Ventriloquist, and Scarface, broke Harley Quinn out of Arkham to use her abilities in a robbery.

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Harley seems more than happy to go along with the plan, but at the first opportunity, calls Commissioner Gordon and informs him of what is going on.

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The Ventriloquist and Scarface intended to kill Harley after the theft, but she gets the jump on them.  She seems to really despise the new Ventriloquist, although it’s not clear why.  Batman shows up, and rescues Harley.

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She explains to Batman that her first night in Arkham she was feeling very alone and frightened, and Arnold Wesker put on a puppet show to cheer her up, and their bond continued.  And while Batman does not think that balances the murders Wesker committed, Quinn insists that it showed that there was a decent person deep inside, even if few people got to see it.

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It’s genuinely touching, and lays the groundwork for the conclusion, as Harley is called back before the board.  Bruce Wayne has deiced to change his vote, and Harley is released from the asylum.

Detective 827 – The Ventriloquist returns?

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Dini, Faucher and Kramer have a lot of fun with the reader in Detective 827 (March 2007).

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The story begins as Batman sees Catwoman fall into the street.  It turns out to just be a mannequin,and a trap, apparently set by Scarface.  Going to the cemetery, Batman and the police discover that Arnold Wesker’s grave has been dug up, and the coffin is empty. Bullock relates how many cops, and criminals, suspect there is more to Scarface than just a wooden doll.

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Scarface calls a meeting of the Ventriloquist’s old gang, and other hoods.  Batman, in disguise, is present.  Wesker does appear, but his corpse is just used as another dummy, as the new Ventriloquist introduces herself.

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Scarface suspects one of the people at the meeting is probably Batman.  As the scene starts to get violent, Batman goes into action, and manages to escape.  The new Ventriloquist likely does not succeed in hiring any of the people Scarface just shot, or shot at.

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Batman, and the reader, do get a glimpse of the Ventriloquist’s scarred face, her bond with Scarface, and the assurance that there is more to her story than we know.

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And the relationship between the Ventriloquist and Scarface has changed as well. Yuck.

But I’m glad they brought Scarface back.

Detective 818 – the death of Scarface, and Jason Bard begins

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Robinson, Kirk and Clarke continue with Face the Face, part 3, joined by Wayne Faucher, in Detective 818 (June 2006).

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Magpie, a minor villain, is the latest one found dead, again with two bullets to the head.

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All the evidence is pointing towards Harvey Dent being the killer, but Batman simply does not want to believe that.  He also realizes he needs a daytime operative to function when he is not able to.

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The Mad Hatter pops up, but no one tries to kill him before Batman can take him down.

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On the other hand, the Ventriloquist does not fare as well, as Arnold Wesker gets gunned down.  Scarface attempts to write a clue in Wesker’s blood.

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But Scarface gets shot as well.

The story continues – partly in the next issue of Batman, and partly in the second story in this issue.

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Jason Bard’s series returns to the pages of Detective, and even retains it’s old title: The Crime File of Jason Bard.  Robinson, Kirk, Clarke and Faucher are the creative team on this story as well.

Jason Bard had not appeared very much in the last decade. His most recent appearances had been in the pages of Birds of Prey.  In this story, we see that he is back as a private eye in Gotham, working on a case of a murdered husband while sleeping with the widow.

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Batman comes by to enlist him as his personal investigator, making him an offer he cannot refuse.  Worth noting are the other two detectives that Batman credits as capable – Ralph Dibny, and Roy Raymond.  Ralph was currently appearing in 52, thus the vague comment about him being unavailable (in fact, he was dead by this time).  Batman dismissing Roy Raymond as wasting his skills on daytime television speaks volumes about Batman.

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Jason accepts, and casually asks Batman to take the not-so-grieving widow with him to the police station, as she killed her husband.  Hiring Jason was just part of her cover-up plan.  He had figured it out, but she was still worth the sex before turning her in.

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Oh, Jason.

The story continues in the next issue.

Detective 813 – Batman goes underground

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Batman discovers where the mudpeople, the Body, comes from in Detective 813 (Jan. 06), as Lapham, Bachs and Massengil relate the second last chapter in City of Crime.

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Things are going haywire in the hospital.  Aside from the Body, the paranoia/hallucinations plague is spreading.  As Gordon deals with a hysteric, Robin watches Scarface climb off the Ventriloquist’s body, under his own power.

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Batman goes deep beneath Gotham in his quest for the Body, to an underground city and ruined temple.  There is something ancient and supernatural about these creatures.

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They have been using the bodies of those fleeing to somewhere even worse, when Gotham’s slums become too dangerous.

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Batman can beat the creatures to pieces, but simply cannot defeat something that is willing to pull its own head off to show that the Body is not confined to any one body.

The story concludes next issue.

 

 

Detective 812 – protecting the Ventriloquist

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Lapham, Bachs and Massengil move City of Crime towards its ending in Detective 812 (Dec. 05).

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In his longshoreman identity, Batman was living with a work buddy, who beat on his wife.  By this issue, he has managed to convince the woman to leave her husband, and gives him a sock for her.

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Robin, now with Jim Gordon helping, watches over the unconscious Arnold Wesker as the mudpeople – who are called The Body – take over the hospital.  They keep Scarface near the Ventriloquist, which is really nice of them.

The story continues in the next issue.

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