Comics Reviews: Batman 313, Brave & the Bold 152, Warlord 23

Batman 313 coverBatman #313 – “Two for the Money” – Len Wein/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with a guy making an anonymous call to the police to report the theft of some nuclear codes (which we saw last issue). The tipster turns out to be the hacker who stole the codes, but before he can tell the cops where he hid them, his boss shows up to chastise him. Since his boss is Two-Face, that’s gonna be some heavy chastising. The hacker says he was worried about Two-Face’s idea of selling the codes to a foreign country. Two-Face says he wasn’t planning on committing treason, he was going to work out some kind of a double-cross. The hacker says he can’t give the codes back because he hid them someplace where they’ll be inaccessible for the next two days. Two-Face flips his coin and the scarred side lands up, so he blows the hacker away. In Gotham Park, there’s a live 48-hour telethonCatwoman action raising money for needy children, complete with a giant steel piggy bank to hold the donations. The piggy bank even has a special time lock that can’t be opened until the telethon is over. Bruce Wayne makes a donation and then takes Selina (Catwoman) Kyle out to dinner. She says she’s put her criminal career behind her and is ready to have a real life. She and Bruce seem pretty taken with each other (and they smooch it up a bit), but he makes an excuse about having a meeting when he sees the Bat-Signal. Commissioner Gordon tells Batman about the dead hacker and the Darknight Detective quickly deduces Two-Face is responsible, since the man was shot twice even though the first shot was fatal. Batman tracks Two-Face to his hideout and starts pounding his henchmen. One of them is about to stab Batman in the back when the knife is shot out of his hand by a white-haired dude with a gun. Two-Face Faraday saves Batmandrops a steel wall in the middle of the room and by the time Batman finds the release switch, the crooks are gone. Batman’s rescuer turns out to be King Faraday, who tells Batman he’s working for the government to retrieve the stolen launch codes. Faraday was watching Two-Face to see if he went after the codes, but Batman screwed it up by busting in. Batman says he’s sorry, but he owes it to his old friend Harvey Dent (Two-Face’s alter ego) to make sure Two-Face is brought in so he can get psychiatric help. Faraday agrees to work with Batman and the Caped Crusader gets an idea where Two-Face might be going next. We get an interlude with Lucius Fox having dinner with his daughter Tiffany and son Timothy. Lucius gets on Timothy’s case about is grades and his friends and Timothy walks out in a huff. At the telethon, the time-locked piggy bank opens and all the donations are transferred to an armoured car. But the armoured car deviates from its planned route to the bank and we soon learn Two-Face and his thugs replaced the real security guards; people were so busy gawping at theBatman saves Two-Face money, they never even noticed the guards had been switched. Batman and Faraday catch up to the armoured car in the Batmobile and try to ram it off the road, but it’s too heavy. Batman uses lasers to shoot out the tires, causing the armoured car to crash. Batman starts pounding the thugs and Faraday saves his ass again when a thug is about to shoot him in the back. Two-Face takes off with the stolen nuclear codes (which the hacker hid in the giant piggy bank) and Batman goes after him. Two-Face knocks the ladder off the side of the building and Batman barely saves himself from splattering on the ground. Faraday tries to shoot Two-Face, but Batman stops him, saying Two-Face is mentally ill and needs therapy not a bullet. Faraday gets pissed off since Two-Face still has the nuclear codes and says he’s going after Two-Face. Batman insists on going with Faraday to make sure he doesn’t get too trigger happy; we’ll see how that works out next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Bruce is interested in pursuing a relationship with Selina, but worries she might figure out his secret identity. That becomes an ongoing storyline in the comic.
  • When the crooks are watching the telethon, one of them mentions Daphne Dean being on the show. Daphne Dean was Barry Allen’s high school girlfriend and last appeared in Flash 251.
  • If you’re wondering how Batman tracked Two-Face to his hideout so easily, it’s because Two-Face was hiding at 222 Second Street, Apartment 2-B. As Batman says, Two-Face’s particular psychosis makes him quite predictable.
  • King Faraday was a character from the 1950s; this is only his second modern appearance (the first being in Showcase 100), and his first meeting with Batman. Faraday shows up all over the place after this, eventually joining Checkmate.
  • I’m not sure how Batman knew the hacker had hidden the stolen codes in the giant piggy bank. The hacker told Two-Face he hid them somewhere that couldn’t be accessed for 48 hours, and the telethon lasted for 48 hours, so it’s a logical deduction that the codes were in the piggy bank with the time lock … except the hacker never told the cops the part about the codes being inaccessible for two days, so how did Batman know that part?

Brave and Bold 152 coverBrave & the Bold #152 – “Death Has a Golden Grab” – Bob Haney/Jim Aparo

Hold on to your hats people, this one’s a typical Haney roller coaster ride. It starts with Bruce Wayne landing his private jet at Gotham Airport and almost getting smashed by a jet airliner. The controllers swear the jumbo jet never showed up on their instruments. Other malfunctions are taking place all over Gotham: traffic lights screwed up, ticket print-outs mixed up, false fire alarms, and the cells in the jail opening for no reason. Batman happens by and puts the criminals back inside, but he and Commissioner Gordon wonder why every computer in he city seems to be fucking up at the same time. Meanwhile in Ivytown (at Ivy University), Ray )Atom) Palmer’s computer screws up one of his experiments for no reason and he decides to head to Gotham to check the manufacturer. Ray runs into Batman at Amalgamated Technics, where the company’s troubleshooter (Howard Trask) says the malfunctions were probably just coincidentaljailbreak overloads. That sounds like bullshit to Batman and Atom, but Trask assures them everything will be fine, so they leave. Back at Ivy University, Ray Palmer is told the entire physics department fund has been transferred to a Swiss bank account … in Ray’s name! Ray is arrested and take to jail. In Gotham, Bruce Wayne learns his corporate accounts have been similarly looted, transferred to a holding company that went bankrupt immediately. Ray changes to the Atom and escapes, and Bruce changes to Batman and takes off just minutes before Commissioner Gordon shows up to arrest him for grand larceny. Since when do corporate thieves get such speedy comeuppance? Batman and Atom check out Amalgamated Technics, assuming the earlier computer fuck-ups were a cover for stealing the money. Trask says they’re welcome to check him out, so Batman goes through his files and Atom shrinks and goes inside the computer. Batman can’t find any records of Trask before five years ago, so he confronts car troublehim. Trask says he works for the government and shows Batman a special ultra-violet tattoo to prove it. Batman checks with the JLA’s government liaison and Trask checks out, so he and Atom go to Switzerland to investigate the bank where the money ended up. There’s a truck with a calliope  outside the bank playing “Mairzy Doats”; why do I mention that? Because it’ll be important later. Bruce Wayne is told to fuck off, even though his money ended up in the same bank as the money from Ivy University. As Bruce leaves his car is grabbed by a helicopter with a giant magnet and dropped off a cliff! Atom (who was hiding in Bruce’s pocket) uses his weight controls to push Bruce safely into a river. That night, they break into the bank and check the computers, but are found by guards. They pound the guards and head back to the States. Batman goes to see Trask, who gives him some bullshit about fixing the computer malfunction, then conks Batman and throws him on a conveyor that leads into a huge shredder. Atom is searching Trask’s apartment (apparently the bank computer gave them Trask’s name as the one behind everything, so Batman went to Trask’s office toAtom saves Batman keep him occupied) and finds the evidence (a program on a reel-to-reel tape) of Trask’s thievery. Trask comes in and Atom hides in the garbage. Trask takes the tape from its hiding place and tosses out the garbage. Atom barely keeps from being incinerated, but manages to salvage a letter from the trash. He checks Trask’s office, but it’s locked up. Atom notices a truck with a calliope playing the same song as the one outside the Swiss bank. Trask is inside and activates the shredder in his office by remote control, but Atom pounds him and turns it off just in time to save Batman. The letter Atom found reveals that Trask was blackmailing the JLA liaison, which is why he cleared Trask when Batman checked up on him. So all the money goes back where it belongs, Ray and Bruce are cleared, and Atom chows down on some Swiss cheese.

Noticeable Things:

  • I’m not sure what Atom went inside the computer for … did he think he’d find evidence on the microchips?
  • I have no idea why a computer hacker would steal money from a university’s physics department; it seems so random—or maybe that’s the point?
  • The ultra-sophisticated bank computer uses a paper tape printout.
  • I don’t know why the bank guards are dressed like 18th century peasants.

Warlord 23 coverWarlord #23 – “The Children of Ba’al” – Mike Grell/Vince Colletta

This one starts with Travis Morgan bathing in a stream. He hears some voices and sees a bunch of golden-skinned youths bathing nearby, looking like a bunch of Greek gods and goddesses. Suddenly a troop of green-skinned Neanderthal types attack the golden people and Morgan (naturally) leaps to their rescue. The goldskins just stand and watch as Morgan fights the intruders, not trying to help him or even defend themselves. After Morgan wastes the last greenskin, he gives them shit for not being more aggressive, but they say their ways are peaceful. They take him to their shelter (which is basically just a gazebo) and tend to his wounds. Their representative (not leader—they don’t grok the concept of leadership) says they are the Children of Ba’al. He says the Orms (the greenskins) prey on them, but the Children don’t fight back because they’re pacifists. Their society is perfectly equal and completely pacifist. Morgan says they can’t just sit around being victims all their lives and exhorts them to fight backpacifist gone against the Orms. They show him a passage to the Orms’ underground lair and he says he’s going in to put the Orms on the defensive. Only one of the Children volunteers to accompany him, a girl who thinks it might be time for the Children to rethink their pacifism. They head through a bunch of tunnels and run into some guards. Morgan takes most of them out, but the girl skewers the last one with a spear as he’s running for help. Morgan is surprised that a pacifist has caught on to violence so fast. They find the Orms’ main chamber which houses an artificial sun, their source of power. Morgan and the girl sneak up and he blasts the machine with his Automag. The artificial sun begins to overload and Morgan and the girl flee back to the surface. She thanks him for showing her the ways of violence, then conks him on the head. Morgan wakes up tied to a stake over a pyre and learns the Children are going to sacrificesacrifice him to Ba’al in gratitude for his help. Oh, and it turns out they’re cannibals too. Morgan is about to be lit up when a bunch of Orms attack and slaughter all the Children of Ba’al. Morgan figures he’s really up shit creek, but the Orms release him. They explain that Morgan upset the previous balance the Orms had with the Children; when the Children kidnapped an Orm to sacrifice to Ba’al, the Orms would retaliate—which was what they were doing when Morgan intervened at the stream. But if Morgan taught the Children to fight, that would’ve made them too dangerous, so the Orms had to wipe them all out. They let Morgan go, but warn him to think twice before interfering in future. Something tells me he ain’t gonna listen to that bit of advice.

Noticeable Things:

  • When he’s giving the Children shit for not fighting, Morgan says “you’ll change your mind when it’s your turn in the barrel”, which is the punchline of a rather bawdy joke. I’m surprised that made it in.

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