This is another Dr. Tzin-Tzin story, so you know what that means: more mystical crap. After busting out of prison using ants, Tzin-Tzin uses some kind of elixir to make everyone in Gotham into a dimwit … except Batman; he’s spared so Tzin-Tzin can gloat. But Bats acts like he’s whacked out too, thus robbing Tzin Tzin of his gloating privileges. Tzin-Tzin falls for Batman’s trick and brings the Caped Crusader to his lair for another shot of antidote. Bats smashes Tzin-Tzin’s spell, then scalds him with steam. Gotham is restored to normal and everything’s fine … except Tzin-Tzin could easily escape from prison again. But Bats doesn’t seem to care, saying they’ll worry about it in “a few months” when Tzin-Tzin finishes regrowing some new skin.
- The ants Tzin-Tzin uses are thief ants (Solenopsis molesta); he starts with one, then takes over a whole bunch and has them eat the mortar from the stone locks making up his cell. From what I could find, thief ants do like a wide variety of food (especially grease) but there was no mention of them eating mortar.
- Tzin-Tzin (or David V. Reed) makes a bunch more mystical references, though not as many as last issue. He calls the elixir he uses to addle the people of Gotham “Nepenthe”, which is a Greek term for a potion that makes one forget sorrow. Reed seems to be mixing his mythologies a bit.
- There’s also mention of a “dagger of the mind”, which is from Macbeth, but immediately made me think of the Star Trek episode.
- I’m still not sure if Tzin-Tzin’s illusions are supposed to have physical substance or not. Batman keeps reminding himself they don’t, but the bear and the scimitar-wielding demons he fights are both solid enough to touch.
- This is a Christmas story and there are references to Tzin-Tzin “stealing” Christmas from the people of Gotham, like some mystical Grinch.
This is the final (for now) chapter of the Calculator storyline, which has been running in the Detective backup stories for a few months. Supposedly, Calculator lets various heroes defeat him while analyzing them, so those particular heroes can never defeat him again. The issue starts with Batman beating Calculator, after a somewhat drawn-out fight. Later Bats heads up to the JLA Satellite to talk to Green Arrow, Black Canary, Atom, Hawkman, and Elongated Man (each of whom has defeated Calculator before). They get a report that Calcy has already escaped and is in Central City, so they head down to confront him. But Calcy’s boasts prove true … none of the heroes who’ve beaten him before can defeat him now. All their efforts fail—sometimes hilariously—and it looks like Calculator is set to be unstoppable. He slaps down the JLAers and walks off, planning to make himself “immune” to more superheroes. Batman feels like crap, but after ruminating for a bit, he plants a story in the paper designed to draw Calculator out. Bats confronts him again and captures him by tricking him into drooping a cage on himself, which makes his fancy calculating gizmo blow up. Yeah, it didn’t make much sense to me either.
- Marshall Rogers art is really good.
- There’s a weird sub-plot running through the issue about Morgan Edge wanting Bruce Wayne’s proxy for some vote at a Galaxy shareholder’s meeting or something; Bruce keeps putting him off and Edge ends up stuck with some money-losing book publishing arm. I’m not sure what the point of the whole sub-plot was … maybe just filler, although we do get a weird scene at the end of Batman laughing his ass off.
- When the JLA beam down from the Satellite to Central City, they materialize right where Calculator is. I always thought they had special “receiver booths” for the teleporter? Did that change, or was Rozakis just being plot-expedient?
- Atom switches to Ray Palmer (ineffectively) to fight Calculator, but doesn’t seem worried about the villain figuring out who he is.
- Calculator’s defenses sometimes seem like magic; I can buy a force-field that keeps him from being touched, and I can even buy his stupid-looking helmet using dust particles from the air to create weapons. But how does he redirect GA’s arrows and Black Canary’s sonic attacks?
- The way Bats defeats Calculator is pretty stupid; he goads Calcy into using a cage, then spins the floor around 180 degrees so Calcy ends up in the cage instead of Batman. First of all, the 180-platform looks pretty small … what if Calcy had taken a few steps back or sideways? Second, the cage that comes out of Calculator’s headgear is still attached to him when the platform spins, so it should’ve spun with him and still landed on Batman. The only way Batman’s plan works is if Calcy detaches the cage from his headgear, tosses it up in the air above Batman, and then Bats rotates the platform really fast so the cage comes down on Calculator.
- It’s also pretty damn convenient that Calcy’s rig blows up right after he accidentally traps himself. I guess it’s meant to be one of those “logical paradox” things that always make computers explode in SF, but it’s a bit of a stretch here.