Hine, McDaniel and Owens conclude their story of Batman and Joker impostors in Detective 870 (Dec. 10).
The carnival location helps add to the feel of this final chapter. Most of the issue takes place there, and the setting is packed with imitation Jokers and Batmans.
Batman, who is clearly smarter than I am, has figured out that as well as being the main Joker impostor, Winslow Heath is also the masked Batman impostor. I thought it was the Joker himself. I get a half a point.
Winslow’s motivation is less personal than it seemed. He had a girlfriend with him the day he was attacked by the Joker, who had been doing the same drugs. Batman and the police did not see her, so she lay there, also paralyzed, and was eaten alive by birds. Winslow blames both Batman and the Joker for her death.
Batman briefly captures Winslow, but when he tries to take him through the crowd, they get separated, and of course he melts in and vanishes.
The end of the story lays the ground for his return, but Flashpoint wipes out this universe before that can happen.
Hine, McDaniel and Owens continue the war of the Jokerz and the Guardian Bats in Detective 869 (Nov. 10).
Winslow Heath, the mastermind of the fake Joker venom, leaves a clue for Batman, a canned laughter device. But what does it mean? Not much beyond the obvious, it seems. Fake laughter instead of real.
Oracle has been doing some digging on her own, and has figured out that Heath is the most likely person to be the Joker impostor. He has been setting up and promoting a Batholomew Fair for Gotham.
Batman goes to confront Heath, and accuse him of being the Joker impostor, but Heath denies everything.
As Barbara suspected, the Bartholomew Fair is a huge trap, and Heath explodes balloons of Joker toxin, infecting the crowd and turning them all into Jokerz. It’s not that different from a real Joker plot – except that the Joker would have just killed everyone.
The story ends as a young boy, the little brother of a teenage Guardian Bat, is told he cannot join them because he is too young. He decides to become a Robin instead, and approaches the Batman impostor to be his sidekick. Instead, he gets thrown off the roof to his death.
I must admit, this panel made me think that the real Joker was in disguise as the Batman impostor. Killing Robin and all. But I was wrong.
The story concludes in the next issue.
A new type of gang war breaks out in Detective 868 (Oct. 10),by Hine, McDaniel and Owens.
As the Jokerz gang continues to grow and run wild, those opposed to the madness start dressing up as Batman to fight them. Well intentioned, but it hardly brings peace.
The fake Joker toxin is being used voluntarily by the Jokerz, and Batman tries it himself, to see how strong it’s effects are. He almost attacks Alfred, but retains enough self-control not to.
The Batman impostor also makes the scene, cutting down any Jokerz violently and without mercy.
When Batman tries to restore order, he simply blends in with the chaos, and the normal effect his costume has is completely lost.
The issue ends as we learn who the Joker impostor is who started this all. Winslow Heath had been hit with Joker toxin years earlier, but had been doing drugs just before that and the combination saved his life, but left him paralyzed for years, and permanently disfigured.
The story continues in the next issue.
David Hine, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens begin a four-part story in Detective 867 (Sept. 10), as impostors prove as troublesome as the original.
A fake Joker shows up in Gotham, causing mayhem and havoc, if not death. More start appearing, causing major amounts of damage.
One fake Joker does have a version of Joker toxin, but it’s not lethal. Certainly not as lethal as the guns of the police who kill him.
His death at the hands of the police turns into a big issue, with all manner of people dressing as the Joker in protest – and using this to act crazy and violent. The media and police are on high alert. Gordon sends some police in to break it up, and the mob turns on them, killing some cops and becoming riotous.
With chaos breaking out, a robotic looking Batman impostor declares his intention to bring order to Gotham. Dick and Barbara are not pleased.
The story continues next issue.
After a prologue in the one-shot Batman – the 10-Cent Adventure, which ended with Bruce and Sasha discovering Vesper Fairchild’s dead body in Wayne Manor, the Bruce Wayne: Murderer storyline starts off in Detective 766 (March 2002), by Greg Rucka, Scott McDaniel, and Jesse Delperdang.
Maggie Sawyer leads the investigation, with Montoya and Allen as the detectives on the case.
Montoya finds it hard to believe that Wayne would be guilty, but all she is really going on is that he bought her flowers as a present from Harvey Dent. Crispus Allen, going by the evidence, is sure he is the killer.
Much of the story takes place in the interrogation rooms, as Montoya works on Sasha, and Allen tries to break Bruce. Of course, no matter what the pressure, the two do not break.
They play the recording of Vesper’s 911 call, which includes the sound of her being shot. The cops treat this as damning evidence, despite no killer being identified in the call.
The story closes on Alfred. For the past few years, he had been serving as Tim Drake’s valet as the boarding school he attends. But with Bruce in so much trouble, it’s time to return home.
The story continues in the next issue of Batgirl.