Comics Reviews: Batman 300, Firestorm 3, Warlord 13

Batman 300 coerBatman #300 – “The Last Batman Story?” – David V. Reed/Walt Simonson/Dick Giordano

This is an imaginary story, set some time in the future. As a rule, I don’t like imaginary stories since they don’t really “count”. Some of them are really good, but generally I find it hard to get excited about them since they’re outside of current continuity. Anyway, this story starts with Robin at Gotham Airport, checking on an injured woman who’s about to be flown (via space shuttle) to an orbiting hospital. And you thought health care was expensive now! Before the shuttle can launch, the airport is attacked by thugs with blue skin. A chopper comes out of nowhere and blasts their aircraft and when it lands, Batman takes them out. The shuttle takes off and robin takes Batman to the Batcave to brief him. He was at some party (as Dick Grayson) and a guy wanted to buy an antique car that Dick owns. He refused and the guy freaked out, threatening he’d be sorry. In the ensuingBatman pounds blue guys weeks, Wayne International has had several “accidents” that affected their bottom line. Dick sent one of their best undercover operatives, Annie Morgan, to check things out. She was in deep cover, but managed to send a couple of one-word transmissions: “moonbeam” and “bank”. She was discovered on a beach near Miami next to her blasted out car, so Dick had her rushed to the space hospital. She drew a weird design in the sand before passing out, which Batman interprets to refer to Sinus Iridum, the Bay of Rainbows, on the moon. They check things out and find a beam transmitting from Earth to the moon, then being bounced back as seven discrete signals. They intercept some of the signals and listen in on a secret “nostalgia sweepstakes” where people rate antiques and the owners get points … or something. It sounds complicated and kinda stupid. They realize Annie Morgan is still in danger, so Batman heads up to the space hospital (which looks nothing like Sector General). He finds some Batman pounds red guysguys (all in red) about to explosively decompress Annie’s room, but he turns the tables on them. When he gets back to Earth, Robin tells him the Wayne International computer data bank has been stolen, hence Annie’s message earlier. Batman figures out that Rainbow is the name of the organization, since there are seven beams and the killers were wearing different colours. Batman remembers a similar data bank theft from a few years ago and calls Commissioner Gordon to get the name of the boat involved. Gordon is retired and writing his memoirs, but he tells Batman the boat was the Arco Iris, which means “rainbow” in Spanish. Batman figures Annie might have been on the boat, which is why she ended up on a beach. Batman traces the Arco Iris to the Bahamas and finds the signal to the moon is being beamed through Rainbow Bridge in Utah, but originates in Mesa Verde. He and Robin head straight there (using a sightseeing helicopter as cover) and take out some guards so they can infiltrate. They find a room where members of the Rainbow organization are called in front of a seven-man tribunal to account for their actions. The guy who sabotaged Wayne International speaks and the tribunal absolves him of wrongdoing, but mentions thatBig blast Batman and Robin are aware of their existence now. Batman has Robin do an atmosphere test (since the chamber they’re in is airtight) and he finds traces of succinylcholine, a muscle relaxant that also has psycho-galvanic properties. Batman realizes the organization isn’t based on the rainbow, it’s based on the spectrum and says they have to get out of there. They fake a fight and are dragged out, but make short work of their guards. They go outside and find a hidden entrance to another chamber. Inside, they find the two missing members of the Spectrum—ultra-violet and infra-red, surrounded by orbiting air-mines. Ultra-violet freaks out and his movements cause a chain reaction that blows them both away. Batman says the succinylcholine was used by the pair to control the seven members of the tribunal from behind the scenes. Later, Bruce tells Dick he’s ready to hang up his cape and cowl and maybe run for governor. He figures he’s done all he can as Batman, so maybe it’s time to do something as Bruce Wayne. It’s left ambiguous as to whether he will or not, but Dick wishes him well either way. He also mentions planning to propose to someone, but we don’t learn who. Presumably it’s not Catwoman, since she’s in Kathmandu, so I don’t know who it would be … Silver maybe? Something tells me that’s a plot thread that’s gonna keep on dangling.

Noticeable Things:

  • I’m not sure how far into the future this is supposed to be. There’s a space hospital and people routinely travel to space. Everyone uses video phones, but Batman and Robin don’t look too old … though Alfred and Commissioner Gordon certainly do. I’m guessing 20-25 years … maybe around the turn of the millennium or so.
  • The shuttles used to go to space look just like the old space shuttles that were just coming into use in the late 70s.
  • Judging by what Annie’s wearing in that one photo, future fashions are pretty sexy—and retro!sexy outfit
  • This Batman isn’t Frank Miller’s twisted Dark Knight, but it seems he’s a bit more ruthless than we’re used to. He crashes the killers’ plane at the airport (we’re told they all “walked away” but Batman couldn’t know that would happen), he lets one of the red killers in the hospital get blown out into space, and when they’re infiltrating Spectrum, he tells Robin to save a falling guard because they “need his uniform”, implying that if they hadn’t needed the uniform, he wouldn’t have cared if the guard fell off the mountain. And he didn’t seem too broken up when Spectrum’s leaders got blown up either.
  • When Batman’s talking to Gordon, we learn what some of his Rogues Gallery are up to: Penguin is studying penguins in Antarctica, Catwoman is in Kathmandu, Joker and Two-Face are rehabilitated (though still incarcerated), and Riddler disappeared without a trace … his ultimate puzzle.
  • Batman and Robin are still disagreeing about stuff, especially Batman’s tendency to leave Robin behind on adventures. But Robin manages to get his own way, so maybe Batman’s mellowed in his old age.argument
  • If you’re wondering what caused the chain reaction, Batman says neither of the leaders trusted each other, so they had to ask each other’s permission for even the most innocuous of moves. When Ultra-violet moved without permission, that activated Infra-red’s air-mines, which activated Ultra-violet’s, and KABOOM.

Firestorm 3 coverFirestorm #3 – “Kiss Not the Lips of Killer Frost” – Gerry Conway/Al Milgrom/Bob McLeod

This one starts with Ronnie using the Firestorm identity to get to school on time, and to freak out his rival, Cliff Carmichael. Professor Stein’s not happy about Ronnie using Firestorm for his personal agenda (especially since Ronnie hijacked Stein from his lab), but Ronnie doesn’t really give a shit. They split and Stein is left with another memory gap that makes him think he’s going nuts. But he can’t dwell on it too much, since he has to rush to Long Island to catch a plane. Ronnie runs into Carmichael, who’s so freaked from his encounter with Firestorm that he forgets to be a prick. Ronnie’s so jazzed about it, he totally ignores Doreen, who’s not too happy. If Ronnie paid less attention to Cliff and more to Doreen, his problems would be solved. Stein makes his plane and we find out he’s heading for a top secret research station (Mohole One) in the Arctic. Mohole One has been trying to tap geothermal energy from Earth’s core, and Stein has invented an experimental condenser they need to make everything work.Mohole One When they land, Stein is surprised to find an old student of his (Crystal Frost) leading the project. She’s happy to see him, but gets pushed aside by her colleagues. She takes Stein to show him her project, called the Thermafrost. It’s a chamber that can drop to -1000 Celsius when the door is closed, which is cold enough to handle the heat they plan on bringing from Earth’s core. We get a personal flashback of Dr. Frost and find she was picked on when she was younger and her input was ignored in most of her science classes … until she took Professor Stein’s class. There, she found a place where her intellect was valued and she ended up falling in love with Stein. She assumed that he “secretly” fell in love with her too (uh, you might wanna actually mention something instead of assuming, Doc), so she puts the moves on him. Of course, he’s totally blindsided and doesn’t react well, so she gets pissed off and goes on a rant about men. She notices the door to the Thermafrost unit is open and goes to check it, but accidentally locks herself in. Hours later, everyone is looking for Dr. Frost and can’t find Frost madher. Stein says it’s his fault and remembers she was near the Thermafrost chamber. They open the door and one of the scientists is blasted by an ice beam. Dr. Frost emerges (now calling herself Killer Frost) and kisses another scientist, freezing him solid instantly. Stein takes off after calling security, but when they show up, Killer Frost freezes them solid with her icy blasts and chases Stein. Back at Bradley High in Manhattan, Ronnie is playing basketball and doing pretty well. He’s glad to see Doreen cheering for him, but notices Principal Hapgood talking to some weirdo in a hat and trenchcoat. I knew there was something strange about Hapgood. Anyway, as Stein is being kissed (and frozen) by Killer Frost in the Arctic, Ronnie can feel it in Manhattan. He abandons the game (causing Carmichael to revert to prick mode again) and changes to Firestorm, immediately appearing in Stein’s place. Firestorm enjoys Killer Frost’s smooch (even without any tongue) until he starts to freeze up.

Frost kiss
Good thing Stein wasn’t plowing her when Ronnie showed up

Frost realizes Stein is gone and goes to look for him. As she rampages through the facility, Firestorm uses his heat power to melt himself free. He goes after Frost and almost gets blasted. When he hits her with a heat beam she soaks it all up instead of melting. She ices up the ceiling and brings it down on Firestorm’s head. He uses his Frost finds Firestormtransmutation power to change the falling ice into snow, which impresses Frost. He tries to transmute her, but the power backfires and blasts him off his feet. When Firestorm goes after Frost, she blasts him and he slips through the floor to escape. He and Stein try to figure out how to fight her, but Frost hears Firestorm talking and blasts through the floor. Stein realizes Killer Frost needs to absorb heat to keep going (which is what she did when she kissed those dudes earlier), so Firestorm changes the walls in the room they’re in to refrigeration units. He then seals her inside, where the lack of heat causes her to become immobile. Ronnie feels bad about leaving her frozen like that and Stein says he may finally be growing up.

Noticeable Things:

  • I’m not sure why Stein had to go to the Arctic; couldn’t he have just sent the condenser? Maybe nobody else knows how to make it work?
  • Stein thinks if the geothermal energy project works, it might make his “safe nuclear energy” research obsolete … but he doesn’t seem to mind much. I guess he’s one of those scientists who really does want to better humanity.
  • This issue is interesting in the way it deals with Dr. Frost. I think Gerry was trying to do a balanced, feminist portrayal, but it ended up going off the rails. Frost’s unrequited love makes her seem like a nutcase (and Stein even says she was “almost psychotically withdrawn” in her student days) and her rants about men and not needing friends doesn’t help. The ironic thing is, a story about how hard it is for women to be taken seriously in STEM fields would have been great (and ahead of its time); the skeleton of that story is here, but Gerry went in the wrong direction and Frost comes off looking like one more woman who went psycho because she couldn’t get the man she wanted.
  • Killer Frost kisses with her eyes closed, so she didn’t notice Stein turning into Firestorm right away.
  • Usually when Ronnie and Stein “talk” they do it mentally, but in that one scene Ronnie was talking out loud, which is how Killer Frost found him. How convenient.
  • I guess the scientists and soldiers Killer Frost iced up are dead? It’s not mentioned, but Firestorm just walks away at the end, past all the human popsicles, so I’m assuming they’re beyond help.

Warlord 13 coverWarlord #13 – “The Hunter” – Mike Grell

This one starts with Morgan, Mariah, and Machiste cutting through a swamp on the way to Shamballah. Morgan’s eager to get back to Tara, but they’re attacked by a sauropod. Morgan tries to ride like a bucking bronco and stabs at it. The sauropod goes down and Mariah says Morgan must have a guardian angel. She’s right, as they find a shell casing from a rifle further along the trail, which means someone from the outside world has come into Skartaris.  But the guardian angel turns out to be a devil and starts shooting at them. They flee, but get slammed by a tree trunk trap. When they come to, Morgan sees it’s Stryker, the CIA asshole who tried to catch him in Peru back in issue #6. When Morgan left him in the collapsing chamber, Stryker was badly hurt: he lost an eye, had to get a pin in his hip, and his jaw is now plastic. He also got fired from the Company, so he tortured the archaeologist to find out where the tunnel to Skartaris was, and dug his way in. Now hesnake fight wants to hunt Morgan down like an animal and kill him. To insure Morgan’s cooperation, he has Mariah and Machiste tied up and wired with C-4. He says the explosives will go off in an hour and the remote to disarm the timer is a mile away. He lets Morgan keep his sword and dagger and says his Automag is somewhere along the way as well. Morgan gets a five-minute head start. He immediately runs into a snare, letting him know the entire route is probably booby-trapped. Mariah says Morgan was never a traitor, but Stryker doesn’t give a shit about that; he just wants revenge for all the pain he’s been through. Morgan makes his way through the jungle, avoiding a big trap, but getting stabbed in the leg by a punji stake. He also gets jumped by a big-ass snake, which he slices in half with his sword. A little further on, he sees his Automag in a clearing. He knows it’s too easy, but figures the gun will tip the balance in his favour, so he chances it. He runs across the clearing as arrows shoot at him from concealed crossbows. He makes it to the gun and as he’s about to grab it, we can see it’s wired to a bunch of explosives. Stryker hears the explosion and thinks Morgan is dead, so he decides to circumvent the timer and blow Mariah and Machiste to shit, but the detonator is gone. Morgan appears, saying he smelled the C-4 near the gun, and Stryker gets ready to shoot him. But Morgan drops the detonator and whips out his Automag, blowing Stryker away.Morgan shoots Stryker

Noticeable Things:

  • I guess Morgan avoided the booby trap on his Automag, then triggered it intentionally afterwards.

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