Posts tagged ‘Ventriloquist’

Detective 804 – the problem with Mr. Freeze, and The Barker ends

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Lapham, Bachs and Massengill continue with City of Crime in Detective 804 (May 2005).

I guess I should admit that this is a storyline I have never read until now. I am a few issues ahead of these posts, but generally I know the whole story before writing it up.

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The best scene in the issue, in my eyes, once again deals with the dead girl, Haddie McNeil.  Bruce attends her funeral, and tries to give some consolation to her father, who assumes that Bruce was sleeping with his underage daughter, but also doesn’t care at all.

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Mr. Freeze has fallen in love with the girl he kidnapped, and so he kidnaps a minister, so the two of them can get married.

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The Penguin sends a message to the Ventriloquist.  Mr. Freeze has gone out of control, and the Penguin needs someone reliable.  Apparently, that means someone who talks through a dummy.  Ah, Gotham.

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Batman goes to talk to Dr. Jeremiah Arkham, a wonderful character, getting his first real scene in Detective Comics, despite having been around for over a decade.  Arkham explains that Freeze was undergoing a complete re-building of his psyche when he escaped.  Being midway through the process means he is even more deranged than usual.

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Batman tracks down Freeze, and is about to bring him in when a sniper shoots through his helmet, which will cause Freeze to die.  At the same time, Batman finds himself surrounded by masked attackers.

The story continues in the next issue.

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Mike Carey and John Lucas bring The Barker to an ending in this issue.

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The circus folks realize that the killer is the man who owns the circus, that he has been using them all along, while pretending to be on their side.

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The Barker kills him, and winds up in prison for his efforts to seek justice.  Downer.

Not a bad story, but like The Tailor before it, it made me want to see more of the person in their titled position.

 

Detective 775 – a new life for Sasha Bordeaux, and The Hunt ends

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Greg Rucka’s run on Detective Comics comes to an end with issue 775 (Dec.02), as he joined by Rick Burchett and Jim Royal, bringing Sasha’s storyline to a close.

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Batman has been interfering with Checkmate operations in Gotham ever since hitting a brick wall in his search for Sasha.  Checkmate does not want to get into a war with Batman, he is too vital to the city to take down.  Jessica Midnight is ordered to resolve the situation, and convinces Sasha to meet with him.

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Alfred challenges Bruce on his reasons for not giving up the search.  Bruce claims that Sasha knows too much about them, and needs to find her for his own safety, but Alfred points out that she has not talked in all this time, and is not likely to.  Bruce must have a different reason.

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So they meet.  It does not start well, as Sasha finally gets to vent all the frustration she has felt for her months behind bars.

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But once the anger and suspicion have passed, the truth comes out.

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Still, it’s not a happy ending.  Sasha’s life was destroyed, and she cannot go back to it.  Bruce admits setting her up to find his weaponry, to bring her into his world.  And then to making it all about the costume and the rules, to control her and keep her at a safe distance.  They did love each other, but neither could act on it at the time, and now it’s too late.

Sasha leaves, and Greg Rucka takes her along as he moves to to develop Checkmate, first in The O.M.A.C. Project miniseries.

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The Hunt, by Moore, Hoberg and Gaudiano, also comes to an end in this issue.

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It’s set in Arkham Asylum, as the scary beast man hunts for his latest prey.  Loads of cameos by inmates in this story – the Ventriloquist, Clayface, Calendar Man, Zsasz and Croc.  The creature does not kill his enemy, instead leaving him trussed up, with a note detailing his crimes, for Montoya and Allen to find.

Is this a new vigilante on the scene, or something else?

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The final panel just adds to the mystery.  We see that the beast is a man in a costume, and part of a much larger game.

This is really all a teaser for the Batman: Family miniseries, which begins this month, and reveals the beast to be called Tracker.

Detective 730 – No Man’s Land begins

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For a full year, the four Batman books would be devoted to No Man’s Land.  In probably the greatest achievement in the Batman series to date, the year was spent on a number of linked stories, exploring the changed Gotham, and the lives of the villains and heroes who remained.

Detective 730 (March 1999) is the first issue of this book to be part of the saga, and it concludes the opening storyline, No Law and a New Order, by Bob Gale,  Alexander Maleev and Wayne Faucher.

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Batman is learning the new language of Gotham, and has begun tagging his part of the city.  But he no longer holds much sway, and his tags get covered, both by Gordon and the police, who want to show that they are in charge, and also by the Ventriloquist and Scarface, who not only cover his tag, but also kill a person and tag their corpse.

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Batman realizes he needs to rebuild his authority, and decides to take down Ventriloquist to do so.  He adopts the look of a regular Gothamite, and approaches the Ventriloquist’s men to barter, which has become the economic model in No Man’s Land.

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After a couple of trades, building his credibility, he lures Ventriloquist by offering to trade a cache of oil.

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It’s a trap, but the Ventriloquist falls for it, and Batman takes him down, in an exceedingly brutal fashion.

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Taking the Scarface doll with him, he then “rebuilds” his image, allowing himself to be shot by the Ventriloquist’s men.  He was armoured against it, and stands up again after each bullet.  By the end of his walk, rumours are spreading that he cannot be killed.

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Batman attempts to “free” the people who have been in Ventriloquist’s region, but freedom means nothing now.  Gotham has reverted to a feudal dependency.  Batman realizes that Ventriloquist’s henchman, Rhino, has been being as good a leader to these people as they could get.  So he leaves Rhino in charge, and accepts the tribute from his new subjects.

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Alfred questions what he is doing, but Batman has simply learned the language, and become part of No Man’s Land.

 

Detective 721 – Robin catches key words

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Dixon, Nolan and Janson handle chapter 15 of Cataclysm, in Detective 721(May 1998).  It’s another of those issues in which the story jumps around all over the place, trying to keep up with all the plots, but Dixon has shown himself particularly adept at these kind of tales.

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The story opens as Batman and Nightwing watch a mass grave of burning bodies in the middle of the street.  A shocking and powerful start to a story.  Quakemaster is inset on the page, the villain who may or may not be behind the destruction.

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Robin and Alfred study the tapes of Quakemaster’s broadcast, claiming responsibility and threatening another quake if he is not paid off.  Robin’s comments about the Quakemaster’s choice of words made me pause and think, and I am proud to say I finished this page with very firm suspicions about who the Quakemaster really was.

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Batman and Nightwing, trying desperately to maintain some sense of order in Gotham, come across the Huntress.  In her eyes, this is martial law time, but Batman disagrees.

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The Quakemaster makes another broadcast, and this time, with Robin’s words in my mind, I confirmed my suspicions.  Read the page closely.

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The Quakemaster’s demands are not even practical, Gotham is close to broke.  But people take it seriously, believing that Mayor Grange has access to the millions, and despite Jim Gordon’s presence, City Hall gets attacked by thieves.

The story continues in the next issue of Robin.

Detective 664 – Broken Bat

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Things are looking really grim in Detective 664 (Late July 1993), the 12th chapter of Knightfall, by Dixon, Nolan and Hanna.

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Having broken Batman’s back, Bane tosses the hero down into the street.

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Alfred and Jean-Paul show up, as ambulance drivers, taking Batman away before anyone else can.  Fortunately for them, Renee Montoya had been keeping back the curious crowds.  Alfred refuses to allow Jean-Paul and Tim to take Bruce to a hospital, and does all he can for him.  Robin and Azrael make an emergency run to get a drug, decadron, that is needed for his spine.

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Meanwhile, the Joker turns on the Scarecrow, ending their alliance and taking the Scarecrow down.

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While the Ventriloquist finds that Scareface simply cannot share him with the other puppets.  The argument turns into a gunfight.  Brilliant and crazy, and it adds a lighthearted note to an otherwise heavy issue.

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At this point, Knightfall kinds of spreads out, with the next chapter taking place in Showcase 93.

Detective 663 – Batman comes face to face with Bane

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Things continue to fall apart in Detective 663 (Early July 1993), the 10th chapter of Knightfall, by Dixon, Nolan and Hanna.

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Batman saves Mayor Krol from drowning in the sewer, leaving the mayor much more impressed with Batman than he had been.

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The Ventriloquist finally gets Scarface back, but is reluctant to give up his other new puppets, leading to conflict between them.

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With many of the villains now captured, Batman has to face Bane’s men, and spends much of this issue fighting, and defeating, Trogg, Zombie and Bird.

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Batman returns home, finding Alfred unconsious, and Bane ready for their big fight.

The story continues in the next issue of Batman.

 

Detective 661 – Gotham in flames

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In Detective 661 (Early June 1993), Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan and Scott Hanna provide chapter 6 of Knightfall.

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Things have fallen into chaos in Gotham.  The Joker and the Scarecrow, working together, have kidnapped Mayor Krol, and are tormenting him for their own amusement.

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Garfield Lynns, the Firefly, who had been a minor villain for thirty years, gets his best outing to date in this story, as he sets fire to large swaths of Gotham, with Bane’s blessing. His new costume really helps make his character more menacing.

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The Ventriloquist has been adapting to a variety of puppets, as he continues to search for Scarface.

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And the Riddler sends off clues to his latest caper – but amidst all the madness, no one in the force bothers to read his letter.

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The Cavalier makes, I believe, his final appearance to date in this issue.  And even then he is dismissed by Batman as barely a menace.  He had last appeared in an issue of Justice League America a couple of years earlier, losing his sword in a poker game.

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The issue closes on the Firefly, as Batman prepares to confront him.

Although this issue jumps around all over the place, it’s really not the weakness that it might be.  It helps convey the multitude of threats the city is facing at once, and each of the individual scenes is well done.

The story continues in Batman.

Detective 659 – Batman vs Amygdala

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Chuck Dixon and Norm Breyfogle helm Detective 659 (Early May 1993), the second part of Knightfall.  Much of this years run would be devoted to this storyline, which sees Bane push Batman to his breaking point.

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The issue begins as felons flee from Arkham Asylum, after Bane breaks it open.  Maxie Zeus makes it no further than the nearest tree, but in the background one can see the Ventriloquist making a sock puppet, to replace his missing Scarface.

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The other villains are simply cannon fodder for Bane, and Lieutenant Kitch discovers the corpse of Film Freak, murdered by Bane.

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Amygdala, recently introduced in Shadow of the Bat, partners up the the Ventriloquist.  His sock puppet is not an adequate subtsitutue for Scarface, and he decides to find his lost friend.

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Robin keeps spotting a circling falcon, and takes off from Batman to follow it, correctly assuming it to be connected to Bane.

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Batman has been tracking the Ventriloquist, and manages to defeat Amygdala, but Arnold Wesker gets away during the battle.

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While Batman deals with Amygdala, Robin faces Bird.

The story continues in the next issue of Batman.

Detective Annual 5 – Commissioner Gordon gets Eclipsed

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Detective Annual 5 is part of the Eclipso: The Darkness Within crossover running through the DC annuals in 1992.  Alan Grant, John Wagner, Tom Mandrake, Jan Duursema and Rick Magyar are the creative team on this issue, which launches a storyline that runs through the various Batman annuals.

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The Ventriloquist has been released from prison, and re-opened his old club, claiming to be going straight.

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Batman is busy, stopping a robbery of ancient Egyptian artifacts. One of the pieces has a number of black diamonds hanging from it,one of which comes loose, and winds up in Batman’s possession.  He brings it to police headquarters, where he winds up meeting with Bruce Gordon, who explains about Eclipso, and the diamonds’ power to either possess someone, or have them evoke an Eclipso.

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The Ventriloquist has bugged all the tables in his club, so that he listen on the conversations of the hoodlums who dine there, and learns that the Joker’s men are waiting for their boss to lead them to a huge stash of money.

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So the Ventriloquist and Scarface have their men grab the Joker first, forcing him to take them to his hideout, in a toy factory.

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Commissioner Gordon hears of the Joker’s breakout, and his suppressed anger at the Joker’s shooting of Barbara causes him to evoke an Eclipso.  Curiously, the diamond almost seems to draw Gordon to it.

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Powered by Gordon’s anger, the Eclipso demon makes a beeline for the Joker, which also leads the police in the right direction.  The Ventriloquist and Scarface are less then pleased with all the attention.

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Batman and Gordon struggle with the Eclipso, while the Ventriloquist finds himself surrounded by the police, and surrenders.

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Together, Batman and Gordon manage to take down the Eclipso demon, but the Joker used the distraction to get away.

The story continues in the Robin annual.

 

Detective 642 – very much a middle chapter

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Alan Grant and Jim Aparo helm Detective 642 (March 1992), the middle chapter of a Ventriloquist and Scarface story, which began in the previous issue of Batman.

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The Ventriloquist and Scarface catch up with their old gang, who have been driven out of the drug trade by the Street Demonz gang.  When some are reluctant to go back to crime, Scarface simply kills them.

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Bruce has become jealous of Vicki Vale, and the amount of time she is spending with her friend Horton.  But she is none to thrilled with Bruce’s unexplained absences, and the two break up.  It’s a bit of a jolt, as she hasn’t really appeared in Detective, so this comes out of the blue, but their relationship had been progressing in the pages of Batman.

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Renee Montoya makes her first appearance in this book.  She had been introduced in the first part of this story, in Batman.  Along with Gordon and Harvey Bullock, she is dealing with the street drug trade.

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Vicki and Horton wind up at the wrong place at the wrong time, in the middle of the gang war.  While Vicki takes pictures, Horton gets shot.

The story concludes in the following issue of Batman.

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