Comics Reviews: Batman 311, Brave & the Bold 150, Warlord 21

Batman 311 coverBatman #311 – “Dr. Phosphorus is Back” – Steve Englehart/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with a quick recap of Dr. Phosphorus’s origin: a guy named Sartorus invested in an offshore nuclear plant, but the construction was shoddy and he got caught in an explosion that turned him into Dr. Phosphorus. He blamed everyone but himself and tried to poison Gotham’s water supply with his own radioactive body, but Batman confronted him and he fell into the reactor core of the offshore nuclear plant. Why are we getting a recap of that? Because the rebuilt reactor went critical for ten minutes and when Batman came to check it out, he found flaming footprints leading out of the core and off the platform. That can only mean that Phosphorus survived somehow. Batman runs into Commissioner Gordon on the nearby docks and meets an anti-nuke protester named Peter Curtis who leads a group that wants the plant shut down. Batman says the alertBatgirl vs Killer Moth had nothing to do with plant failure, but Curtis says it’s still dangerous. Phosphorus is lurking nearby and is pissed off to hear them talking about shutting down “his” plant. The scene shifts to Washington, D.C. where Batgirl is dodging bullets from Killer Moth at the Jefferson Memorial. She fakes him out and kicks his ass, turning him over to the cops. Batgirl changes to Barbara Gordon and goes to Congress, where she votes against her party line. Afterwards, a couple of her colleagues tell her she’s supposed t do what the party wants, not what her constituents want, and they say the party won’t be backing her for re-election. She says she doesn’t care and she’ll trust the voters to do what’s right. Back in Gotham, Batman goes to Arkham Asylum to see Rupert Thorne in case he knows something about Phosphorus. But Thorne’s still a raving lunatic and there’s a vigilante debatebig hole burned through the wall of his cell. Batman goes outside to chase Phosphorus, but can’t catch him. Phosphorus taunts him, saying the rally to shut down the nuclear plant is his next target and he’ll soon reign over all of Gotham. Batman goes to the anti-nuke rally that night, after getting Gordon to provide extra security. He makes sure to wear a specially treated costume to resist Phosphorus’s burning touch. Barbara Gordon is a guest speaker and she goes on about the dangers of nuclear power. She and Batman talk afterwards and Batman realizes Phosphorus was saying he would “rain” over Gotham, not “reign”. He and Batgirl head for the airport and find Phosphorus about to take off in aPhosphorus wrap up small plane. Batman rams the plane with the Batmobile, disabling it but knocking himself out. Phosphorus goes after Batgirl and she evades him, then tries to run him over with her motorcycle. He gets the upper hand, but she grabs the cape off Batman’s unconscious body and wraps it around Phosphorus, reasoning that since phosphorus burns in air, Batman’s chemically-treated cape will cut off the air supply. It works and Phosphorus stops burning and goes back to normal—well, back to being a skeleton, which I guess is his new normal. Batman wakes up and congratulates Batgirl, who says fighting murderous super-villains is still better than politics.

Noticeable Things:

  • When Batman comes out of the fog on the docks, he’s almost shot by a freaked-out cop. Apparently, criminals aren’t the only ones he makes nervous.
  • When Batgirl turns in Killer Moth, a couple of cops are eyeing her up like they want to jump her.
  • At the rally, a couple of bystanders have a debate about Batman’s brand of vigilantism, wondering if he’d pound protesters if the cops were trying to arrest them. I’m not sure if that’s a set-up for something, or just an interesting aside.

Brave and Bold 150 coverBrave & the Bold #150 – “Today Gotham, Tomorrow … the World” – Bob Haney/Jim Aparo

This one starts with Batman staking out a guy named Weeks; apparently, Mr. Weeks is the target of a terrorist group called the Battalion of Doom. The terrorists attack and manage to abduct Weeks right out from under Batman’s nose, which doesn’t make Commissioner Gordon happy. The terrorists leave a note saying Bruce Wayne is their next target. At home, Batman (aka Bruce Wayne) thinks he should go underground to thwart the terrorists. He gets a call from a museum curator, Carleton French, who tells him one painting from his father’s collection has been stolen. The weird thing is, it’s not a valuable painting, just some crappy little print. Bruce tells French to step up security, but when he hangs up he’s shocked into unconsciousness and grabbed by the terrorists. They hide Bruce in a silo on a farm outside Gotham and when he comes to, he’s told he (and the other hostages) will be killed one at a time if GothamKarns pounds Bruce doesn’t completely surrender all political, financial, and police power. The terrorists think Gotham is just a stepping stone to the rest of the country, but Bruce says they’re crazy. They remind him they also have Alfred at their mercy and introduce him to a guy named Karns who’s going to be guarding him to make sure he doesn’t escape. Bruce and Karns mix it up and Bruce gets slapped down, since Karns is a big bruiser. Bruce fakes being stunned and Karns says he’ll be right outside … with the door unlocked. Cocky bastard. Bruce fashions a rope from his mattress webbing and climbs out the top of the silo. In Gotham (as Batman) he talks to the Commissioner and checks his messages, which include one from French about the stolen painting. He returns to the silo, but when he’s climbing back inside he’s reeled in by Karns, who slaps him down again right before the terrorists come in. They have Weeks Karns fades inwith them and threaten to kill him if Bruce doesn’t sign the manifesto they’re preparing to send to the Mayor. Bruce refuses and they kill Weeks. He freaks out, but is held back by Karns, who removes Weeks’s corpse while Bruce signs the manifesto to prevent any more deaths. Bruce is ready to escape again, but figures Karns will be watching for him to climb out. So he gets a piece of wood from the bed and calls Karns in, planning to ambush him. But Karns fades in right through the wall like a ghost! Bruce clonks him anyway and takes off. At the morgue, he discovers Weeks is alive, all his bullet wounds repaired as if “by a master surgeon”. He tells the Commissioner to let Weeks stay “dead” to protect him, then goes out to look for Alfred. But Karns finds him and grabs him, revealing he knows Bruce Wayne is Batman. Karns rushes Batman back to the silo at super-speed, letting Batman know he’s not an ordinary punk, he’s some kind of super-villain. The terrorists are waiting for them and are ready to kill Bruce and KarnsKarns revealed (for allowing Bruce to escape). Bruce says they can’t just keep wasting people one-by-one and they admit they’ve planted a nuke somewhere in Gotham. They bring Alfred in and prepare to kill all three of them, but Karns protects Alfred and Bruce decks the gunman. They all take off and when Bruce sees their pursuers’ bullets melting, he figures out Karns is really Superman. Supes tells him to keep it quiet, then flies him and Alfred to the Batcave. Superman says Jimmy Olsen was investigating white-collar crime in Gotham and got mugged by the terrorists, who sent Morgan Edge a letter telling him to kill the story. Edge was ready to run the story anyway, but Superman also got a letter saying Jimmy’s kidnapping was really to keep him out of Gotham. Supes made sure Edge killed the story, then went incognito as Karns, hoping he’d be assigned to guard Jimmy. When he was assigned to Bruce instead, he let Bruce escape searching the cityand helped him return before the terrorists realized. He didn’t clue Bruce in because he figured the silo was bugged. Supes is also the one who saved Weeks, with some super-speed surgery. Alfred has a newspaper one of the terrorists was carrying and points out that eight letters are circled in it. Batman superimposes the paper over a map of Gotham and finds eight addresses. He assumes that’s where the hostages are and tells Gordon to raid all eight places simultaneously. They rescue the hostages, but Jimmy isn’t among them. Superman figures Jimmy is being held wherever the nuke is. The cops are canvassing the city with nuclear detectors, but can’t find anything, so Batman and Superman start their own search. Batman swings by the museum and finds a message scribbled by Carleton French about the missing painting. He checks French’s office and figures out the painting was a clue to the location of an oldbomb tossed lead mine that’s right next to the Batcave. Modern buildings have obscured the location, so the terrorists stole he painting to find out where the mine is. Since it’s a lead mine, neither Superman’s vision nor the cops’ detectors can penetrate it, so Batman figures the nuke must be there. Superman disguises himself as a sewer inspector and walks into the mine. The bomb is there, as well as Jimmy and French. Superman rescue them and tosses the bomb into space seconds before it explodes, where I’m sure the nuclear fallout will be harmless. I guess they rounded up the terrorists too, although there’s no mention of it.

Noticeable Things:

  • I know Morgan Edge is an asshole, but would he really condemn one of his reporters to death just for a story?
  • I’m not sure how Alfred got the newspaper the head terrorist was carrying, or how he knew it was so important.

Warlord 21 coverWarlord #21 – “Terminator” – Mike Grell/Vince Colletta

This one starts right where we left off: Morgan has tracked down Deimos, his son Joshua’s kidnapper, only to find the evil sorcerer has used a combination of magic and ancient Atlantean technology to age Joshua to an adult. Deimos says he wanted to raise Joshua to hate Morgan, but he’ll settle for this short-cut, as long as one of them kills the other. Outside, Tara, Machiste, and Mariah are fighting Deimos’s hellish minions and are almost overwhelmed. They retreat into a cave which turns out to be a tunnel. Machiste collapses the entrance and they head deeper inside, following Tara’s war dog, Shadow. Tara uses the Hellfire Stone to light their way and the others wonder why Morgan didn’t take it to use against Deimos. Tara says when the two halves are joined, it’s a powerful artifact, but unpredictable and they didn’t want to take the chance of the power backfiring on them. Tara and Mariah are still at oddsMorgan kills Joshua over Morgan and Machiste has to separate them. In the throne room, Morgan says he won’t fight his son, but Deimos says he controls Joshua’s soul, so Morgan will either fight him or die. Joshua attacks and Morgan fights defensively, losing all his armour and weapons one by one. He’s down and Joshua is about to split his skull, ignoring all organ’s pleas, so Morgan acts on instinct and shoots Joshua with his Automag. Deimos is thrilled that he forced Morgan to kill his own son, but he’s less happy when Morgan’s anger turns toward him. Deimos reminds Morgan he’s immortal now, but Morgan says he can still cut him into pieces. Deimos warns him he’s still a master of magic and when the others burst into the throne room a few moments later, Deimos has transformed himself into a huge serpent. He and Morgan are fighting and Mariah exhorts Tara to use the Hellfire Stone. She zaps Deimos with it, which Deimos over the edgetransforms him back to his normal form. Before Morgan can do anything, Shadow attacks, knocking Deimos and himself off the tower’s balcony. Morgan admits to Tara that he killed their son and suggests using the Immortality Mask to resurrect him, but Tara won’t hear of it. She reminds Morgan that Deimos used the Mask and came back as something less than human, condemned to rot in sunlight and drink human blood to sustain himself. She says she won’t force her son to live like that and destroys the Mask. Morgan wonders how it came to this, saying he just wanted to have a little fun and forget civilization for a while. Mariah says he gave the people of Skartaris hope, so he’s stuck being their messiah whether he likes it or not. Morgan says he has to get away and get his shit together and asks if the others want toepilogue with real Joshua come. Nobody does, not even Mariah, so he leaves, haunted by what he’s done. As Morgan rides off, we see a hand coming out of the moat full of hellfire, so maybe Deimos isn’t dead yet. On the other side of Skartaris, we see Ashiya, Deimos’s witch minion, giving a red-haired kid to a young couple with a bunch of money. She says they’re to raise the kid, but not to let anyone know about his existence—especially his father. Since Deimos cloned Joshua last issue, it’s easy to assume that this is just the clone … except he’s wearing Morgan’s watch around his arm, which the original Joshua always did. So I guess Ashiya (who did have some motherly feelings toward Joshua) pulled the old switcheroo on Deimos and left the clone behind. Too bad Morgan has no way of knowing that.

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