Comics Reviews: Batman 314, Detective 485, Brave & the Bold 153, Warlord 24

Batman 314 coverBatman #314 – “Once Beaten, Twice Sly” – Len Wein/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

This one opens with Batman in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. An informant has told him that Two-Face took the stolen nuclear codes to New Orleans, so Batman has come looking for him. Batman wants to get the stolen nuke codes  back, but he also wants to prevent King Faraday from killing Two-Face. Batman rousts a local pickpocket, who gives him Two-Face’s hiding place. Minutes after Batman leaves, King Faraday threatens to blow the punk away if he doesn’t cough up the info again. On an old paddle-wheel riverboat (now a restaurant) called the River Queen, two men enter separate doors that lead them to Two-Face. One guy represents the United Stateslasers government, the other is from some foreign country, and each wants the stolen nuclear codes. The two guys are pissed off that Two-Face has asked both of them to be there, and they immediately start trying to outbid each other. But Two-Face says the deal was for $22 million, so there’s no point in trying to sweeten the deal. He says he’ll meet them both at the Mardi Gras parade later and flip a coin to see who gets the nuclear codes—as long as they both bring the money. Hmm, I wonder if Two-Face is planning a double cross? Back in Gotham, Selina Kyle stops by Wayne Enterprises to see Bruce and Lucius Fox starts talking to her. Lucius lets it slip about the dossier Bruce asked him to compile on her, which pisses her off and she walks out in a huff. In New Orleans, Batman and Faraday show up in Two-Face’s office and start Selina gets mad at Luciusarguing over who gets him. Two-Face takes advantage of their distraction and exits through a hidden door. The other doors disappear and heat-seeking lasers pop out of the walls. Batman grabs some cover behind the desk and Faraday uses a mirror to deflect the laser beams. The mirror starts melting from the lasers and Batman tosses a magnesium flare that the lasers lock onto. They burn a hole in the wall, setting the office on fire. The boat’s crew shows up to put the fire out and Batman and Faraday take off. Batman grabs a doodle from Two-Face’s desk before leaving; it has a drawing of a crown on wheels, which gives Batman a clue to where to find Two-Face. In Gotham, Lucius Fox runs into his daughter Tiffany and tells her about insulting Selina and losing a deal to Gregorian Falstaff. Tiffany says things can’t get worse and we see some blond scumbag watching them from the shadows. In New Orleans, Two-Face and the two bidders are in costume on a “royal” float—with Two-Face as king, naturally. He flips his coin and catches it edge-first between his fingers. He says neither bidder wins then grabs all the money and is hauled up to a blimp overhead byFaraday shoots Two Face's coin his henchmen. Batman and Faraday follow, using the bat-line to catch onto an advertising banner trailing the blimp. Two-Face notices the extra passengers and cuts the banner loose, but Batman busts into the gondola. Two-Face knocks him back and Batman ends up clinging to the doorway. Two-Face is ready to stomp his fingers when Batman says he deserves a coin flip. Two-Face hesitates, but Batman says if Two-Face doesn’t flip the coin, his whole life is built on a lie. Two-Face gives in to his compulsion, but it was just a ruse to give Faraday time to come through the gondola roof. Faraday fires a warning shot that hits Two-Face’s coin and sends it flying out the door. Two-Face jumps out to grab it and falls from the blimp. Batman feels a bit sorry for Two-Face, but the nuclear codes went with him to the bottom of Lake Ponchartrain, so that crisis is averted. Naturally, Two-Face isn’t gone for good … like all great villains, he’ll show up again.

Noticeable Things:

  • I’m not sure how Batman knew a local informant in New Orleans; it’s not exactly his regular territory.
  • There’s a real-life riverboat called the Cajun Queen, but I don’t know if Len Wein based the boat in the story on her or not.
  • It’s never stated what country Korsakoff represents, but he refers to it as the “People’s Republic”, so I assume it’s meant to be Russia or something similar.
  • Faraday gives a maudlin speech at the end about how he gave up any chance at happiness or a normal life to be a government agent. Boo-hoo; nobody forced him to become a government stooge.

Detective 485 coverDetective #485 – “The Vengeance Vow” – Denny O’Neil/Don Newton/Dan Adkins

This one starts with Batman at the circus; but not just any circus, the one run by Kathy Kane who used to be Batwoman. Batman finds an armed man outside a tent and silently takes him out. Inside, Kathy Kane is being accosted by three scumbags, but she uses her martial arts skills to fight back. Batman comes in just in time to prevent her from getting skewered by a dagger. Kathy is happy to see him, but their reunion is interrupted by some more thugs, led  by Bronze Tiger. He says they’re there for Kathy and Batman squares off with him, but Bronze Tiger is a better fighter than Batman expects and puts him out of action with a kick to the solar plexus. Kathy is knifed and the assassins take off. When Batman recovers, he follows Kathy’s blood trail to find her dead body; she crawled into her tent and died clutching her old Batwoman costume. Batman’s mourning is interrupted by Ra’s Al Ghul, who tells Batman he’s theBronze Tiger surprises Batman one who sent a note saying Kathy needed help. He tells Batman it was a guy named Sensei, head of the League of Assassins, who sent Bronze Tiger and the others to kill Kathy. When Batman points out Sensei had no reason to kill Kathy, Ra’s says he suggested she might be a threat to Sensei, so he had her killed. Batman is ready to pound Ra’s, but the assassin points out that catching Kathy’s killers is more important than chastising him and offers to help. Batman refuses any help from Ra’s and swears once Kathy’s killers are brought to justice, he’ll make sure Ra’s pays for all his sins too. After Batman leaves, Talia comes out of the shadows and asks her father why he’s manipulating Batman. Ra’s says Sensei has taken control of the League of Assassins away from him and with Bronze Tiger on Sensei’s side, Ra’s needs Batman to even the odds. Talia is conflicted, since she still loves Batman. In the Batcave, the Dark Batman fights dogsKnight stocks his utility belt with antidotes to every poison he can think of and wonders how Bronze Tiger could’ve taken him out with one kick. We see Bronze Tiger training in an Assassins’ hideout, but he refuses to kill his vanquished opponents. Sensei tells his aide they’ve wiped Bronze Tiger’s memories, but his morals haven’t been changed. We learn that Bronze Tiger is Ben Turner, old partner of Richard Dragon, and Sensei vows he’ll control not only Tiger’s mind, but his soul as well. The alarms go off and Sensei knows either Batman or Ra’s Al Ghul has found their hideout. He sends Dobermans out to deal with the intruder, who turns out to be Batman. Bats tosses the dogs into a wall and enters the hideout. Sensei tells the guy monitoring security that he knows he’s a spy for Ra’s Al Ghul; he says the guy can proveBatman vs Bronze Tiger himself by defeating Batman. Since it’s either that or be executed, the guy goes after Batman with a nunchaku, but Batman pounds him. Sensei confronts Batman, who says he’s there to take everyone in who was involved in Kathy’s murder and throws down Kathy’s cowl as a challenge. Bronze Tiger comes in and Sensei tells his other men to stay out of the fight. Batman and Bronze Tiger mix it up and are pretty evenly matched. The nunchaku guy knows he’ll be killed for failing to waste Batman (and for being a spy) so he figures he can get back on Sensei’s good side by helping Bronze Tiger. He goes to get a blowgun and hits Batman with a poison dart. Batman uses his anti-toxin and Sensei (who was enjoying the fight) kills the nunchaku dude for interfering. Batman is still weak from the toxin and Sensei orders his men to Bronze Tiger backstabbedkill him, but Bronze Tiger won’t let them kill Batman while he’s down. Tiger starts pounding the other Assassins, but he’s badly outnumbered. Batman crawls to a light switch, figuring Tiger will have better luck in the darkness because of his skill. Another Assassin attacks Batman, but the anti-toxin has kicked in and he pounds the guy. Sensei’s aide stabs Bronze Tiger in the back right before Batman turns out the lights. Batman captures the aide, but when the lights are back on, Sensei and Bronze Tiger are gone. Batman follows Tiger’s blood trail outside, where he finds Bronze Tiger’s mask and Kathy’s cowl. He wonders if that means Kathy has been avenged. We’ll have to wait to find out the answer to that question.

Noticeable Things:

  • Batwoman was a Silver Age character who appeared in a bunch of stories, usually as a romantic interest for Batman. She had retired from crimefighting to run the circus. I don’t know if she’s considered canon post-Crisis, but I suspect most of her old adventures probably aren’t in continuity any more.

body thievesRobin – “The Case of the Cavorting Corpse” – Paul Kuperberg/Kurt Schaffenberger/Dave Hunt

This one starts with a young dude named Danny Hayes dying in a car crash near Hudson University. Robin shows up, but Danny was speeding so there’s no mystery as to how he died. A couple of punks see Danny’s car and try to sneak up to his dead body, but Robin sees them. They take off before he can catch them. Later, Danny’s body goes missing from the morgue and while Dick Grayson ponders the case, he sees the car the two punks were driving go by … but now it’s being driven by Danny Hayes’s corpse! The car screeches off before Dick can figure out what the hell’s going on, but Chief McDonald has a bunch of corroborating reports of Danny Hayes driving around town. Robin examines Danny’s personal effects and deduces he was at New Carthage Lake up in the woods. The effects also include a bag of diamond dust, so Robin heads for the Lake. He finds the car with Danny’s dead body propped behind theRobin wraps up the thieves wheel, and a briefcase full of diamonds. He gets in the car and it takes off by itself; Robin soon figures out it’s being operated by remote control. The car stops at a cabin where a guy named Preston is waiting to buy the diamonds. Robin pounds Preston’s thugs, but Preston takes off into the woods. Robin tracks him and finds the two guys who were messing around with Danny’s body roughing Preston up. Robin captures all of them and gets an explanation. Danny was an exchange student in Africa and smuggled diamonds back, he made a deal with Preston, but after Danny died his friends needed his corpse in order to close the deal because Danny was the only one Preston would deal with. One of them is an engineering student and rigged the remote control on the car to make it look like Danny was still alive and driving.

magic duelDemon – “The Fatal Finale” – Len Wein/Steve Ditko

This one starts with Demon suddenly appearing in the office of Abner Beckermann, scaring the shit out of him. You may remember Abner’s brother was the keeper of the Book of Eternity, but the Book was stolen by a sorcerer named Baron Tyme, who wants to use it to reverse a spell that left his body split between dimensions. Demon tells Abner the Book is his responsibility now, but Abner wants nothing to do with it. Demon threatens him and Abner acquiesces, but as soon as Demon leaves, Abner throws the book in the garbage. At home, Demon changes back to Jason Blood and calls out to his fiends (Harry, Sandu, and Glenda), but Baron Tyme is already there and holds them in a spell. Tyme says he wants the Book of Eternity, but Blood refuses. Tyme starts torturing Blood’s friends, which pisses him offTyme tortures Glenda enough to change back into Demon. He and Tyme fight and Tyme realizes he doesn’t need the Book; while Demon exists, Jason Blood is in Limbo, so he exists in two dimensions at once, kind of how Tyme is split between dimensions. Tyme figures he can tap whatever energy Demon uses for his transformations and use it to free the half of his body that’s stuck in the other dimension. Demon refuses, since letting Tyme use his energy like that could end his transformations forever. But when Tyme starts torturing Glenda and the others again, Demon gives in. Tyme casts a spell that makes Demon appear as half-Demon, half-Jason Blood. He casts another spell to transfer Demon’s energy. As half of Tyme’s body returns to normal, Demon’s human half disappears. Randu realizes if the spell is completed, Jason Blood will no longer exist. He and the others concentrate and somehow turn the lights off, which fucks up Tyme’s spell before Tyme disappearsit finishes. One of Tyme’s arms is still other-dimensional, so when Demon pops up in front of him, he casts the spell again to finish what he started. But instead of returning him to normal, the spell pushes Tyme completely into the other dimension, where he’s trapped. Turns out, Tyme cast the spell at a reflection in a magic mirror, so it had the reverse effect to what he wanted, and turned Demon back to Jason Blood. Blood says with Tyme trapped and the Book of Eternity in safe hands, everything is coming up roses. But we see a janitor (who looks like J. Jonah Jameson) in Abner’s office, emptying the garbage and fining the Book of Eternity. He decides to take it, since the clasps are made of gold, and figures he might as well read it before he throws it away …

Batgirl catches burglarBatgirl – “The Case of the Untouchable Crook” – Jack C. Harris/Don Heck/John Celardo

This one starts with Batgirl returning home to find some scumbag robbing Barbara Gordon’s apartment. She pounds him and notices he was trying to steal her file on a crooked Congressman named Cartwright. She calls the cops and quickly changes to Barbara Gordon, showing up outside (along with a couple more Congresspeople she was meeting at her place) in time to act surprised at the police presence. The cops tell Barbara the burglar’s name is Karyov and he works with the Sarandian Embassy, so he has diplomatic immunity. I don’t think diplomatic immunity allows people to rob apartments, but whatever. Barbara ditches her guests and changes right back to Batgirl to follow Karyov and see who his boss is. Karyov notices her and shoots out the tires on her cycle, causing it to crash and explode. Batgirl leaps clear, but isn’t too happy at losing her cycle, saying it’ll take her weeks to whip up a new one. I don’t know whycycle crashes Karyov didn’t just shoot her instead of the cycle, but again, whatever. Barbara Gordon goes to the Capitol to chair a hearing against Congressman Cartwright. Apparently the country of Sarandia has been using American financial aid on a nuclear program, which is a big no-no. Cartwright (and everyone else who voted in favour of aid to Sarandia has received kickbacks. Cartwright says he’s outraged that Sarandia used the aid money for nukes, but points out there’s no evidence of the alleged kickbacks, so there’s nothing anyone can do. He walks out of the Capitol and Barbara changes to Batgirl. She follows him, certain he’ll meet with Karyov for his last pay-off, but Cartwright goes to the airport instead and jets off for the Bahamas. Batgirl figures Cartwright must be using a go-between to keep him insulated from the money, but she isn’t sure how to find out who it is. She gets a stroke of luck back at Barbara Gordon’s office, as Cartwright’s secretary, Gloria Mann, comes in to spill her guts. Gloria Batgirl attacks Karyovknows some underhanded shit is going on with Cartwright and wants to wash her hands of it. Barbara tells Gloria she’ll put her in touch with a “friend”, who naturally turns out to be Batgirl. Gloria tells Batgirl she was supposed to meet someone for Cartwright, but she’s scared. Later, we see Gloria meeting Karyov in an alley. He gives her a briefcase full of money and when she acts like she doesn’t know what it’s for, he helpfully spills everything. Gloria fades into the shadows and we see it was Batgirl in disguise. She fakes Karyov out with her cape and pounds him. The FBI were listening nearby and Karyov offers to testify against Cartwright in exchange for asylum, knowing he’ll be executed if he returns to Sarandia. Batgirl is happy Cartwright will get what’s coming to him, but has a sour taste in her mouth at the thought of Karyov getting off and someday becoming an American citizen.

SST breaks outMan-Bat – “SST—the Super Sonic Threat” – Bob Rozakis/Don Newton/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with a lovely domestic scene, as the hideous monstrosity known as Man-Bat feeds his baby daughter a bottle. Next day at the detective office Kirk (Man-Bat) Langstrom shares with Jason Bard, Kirk tells Jason about his late night and laments that he hasn’t had a case in a while. Bard asks about Man-Bat’s origin (and we get a Spider-Man joke as Bard asks if he was “bitten by a radioactive bat”) and Langstrom tells how he was studying bats and injected himself with their blood which turned him into Man-Bat. He also mentions that he uses pills to switch back and forth now. A good-looking woman named Cara Eliot comes in, wanting to hire Bard to shadow her husband. Bard says he doesn’t do divorce stuff, but Langstrom is desperate enough to take anything. Cara says her husband Wayne used to come home at 5:30, but now stays to “work late” every night, but she can never reach him at the office. Langstrom follows Wayne as Man-Bat to a sleazy apartment. But Wayne’s not cheating on his wife …Man-Bat pounds SST he’s building a battle-suit! Wayne tries the suit on and crashes through the window, almost pulverizing Man-Bat. Man-Bat’s “instincts” tell him Wayne is trying to be a hero, not a villain, but his erratic flying causes destructive sonic booms all over the city. Man-Bat tries to grab him and realizes the suit is out of control and Wayne is scared shitless. Man-Bat manages to cause enough turbulence to knock the suit into the water. The next day, Bard tells Langstrom he’ll never get paid, since all the Eliots’ money will be going to pay for the damage Wayne caused. Langstrom says Wayne wanted to be a super-hero called SST and feels sorry that things got so screwed up for him when he was trying to do something good. Bard compares that to Langstrom’s own situation. Supersonic planes were a big thing in the late 70s, and pretty controversial because of the noise; I’m assuming that’s what inspired this story.

Brave and Bold 153 coverBrave & the Bold #153 – “Menace of the Murder Machines” – Cary Burkett/Don Newton/Bob Smith

This one starts with some dude in a fancy office getting wasted by an unseen assailant. Batman shows up later and Commissioner Gordon tells him the victim is named Gibson and it looks like the murderer busted through a third floor window. Batman finds clues that make him think a machine was responsible and a witness—a drunken homeless guy—says something climbed right up the wall outside and smashed through the window. Batman takes off and changes to Bruce Wayne to attend a charity ball. He’s not just filling out his social calendar, though; Bruce knows Gibson’s partner (Rand) will be at the ball and thinks Rand may know something, since he stands to gain by Gibson’s death. But when Rand finds out about the murder, he’s obviously scared shitless, and says something about “it” coming after him. Rand home where it’s safe and Bruce decides to stop by Gibson and Rand’s offices. He figures it’s noRed Tornado manhandled by robots coincidence that Gibson was probably killed by a robot and their firm is manufacturing robots to explore Mars. A disturbance in Rand’s office prompts Bruce to change back to Batman and he runs into Red Tornado, also checking on the noise. Reddy busts into the office and finds a couple of robots trashing the place. Reddy gets pounded and immediately starts kvetching about it until Batman tells him to knock off the pity party. Batman follows the robots to a nearby lab with a simulated Martian terrain. He realizes some human intelligence must be guiding the robots’ actions. Bats almost gets crushed and tries to use some acid from his utility belt to corrode the robot’s circuits. Red Tornado comes in and sends both robots flying through the wall. They find the acid-corroded robot outside, but the other one is gone. Red Tornado says they should ask Dr. Tarre for help, since he’s the leading expert on robotics; that’s Batman crushed by robotwhy Reddy was there, for Tarre to give him a “checkup”. They find out Tarre doesn’t work there anymore and the receptionist seems to think Red Tornado should’ve been aware of that, but Reddy says he had no idea. Batman suggests they check Rand’s house, in case the robot goes after him there. Rand is fine and soon tells them that Tarre is the one who killed Gibson and is trying to kill him. He says Tarre had an accident at the robotics lab that fucked him up and he blames Gibson and Rand for not having the proper safety precautions in place. Tarre vowed revenge and said he’d waste their families too if they went to the police. Rand mentions that Red Tornado saw Tarre after his accident, but Reddy has no memory of it. Reddy realizes someone screwed with his memory banks, so he and Batman ask the scientists at Rand’s company to check him over. The head scientist restores Reddy’s memory and he recallsRed Tornado remembers Tarre being all bitter and twisted after the accident. He also remembers Tarre strapping him down and tapping into his power source to provide extra power for his murder-robots, then wiping Reddy’s memory. Batman figures Tarre must’ve duplicated Reddy’s power source to make the robots so strong, but the head scientist has been examining the robot Batman defeated and says the power duplication was flawed; the robot would’ve exploded if Batman hadn’t shut it down when he did. Batman realizes the second robot could explode any time, devastating the city. Naturally, Red Tornado blames himself and has another pity party, but Batman tells him to quit whining and challenges him to pit his computer logic against Batman’s human brain to figure out Red Tornado absorbs energywhere Tarre is. Reddy comes up with nothing, but Batman deduces that Tarre would need a fancy lab for his robots, and he’d pick a place where he felt comfortable—like Gotham University, where he did his doctoral work. They bust in on Tarre—whose face is bandaged up like Negative Man—and he tries to kill them with the robot. He won’t listen to reason, so Batman knocks the control out f his hand and turns off the robot, but it’s too late. The robot starts glowing like it’s ready to blow up and Batman convinces Red Tornado he can absorb the energy from the robot, since it was ultimately derived from his own power. Reddy isn’t sure, but he tries anyway and manages to absorb all the robot’s energy, stopping the explosion. Maybe Reddy will be less angsty from now on … nah, probably not.

Noticeable Things:

  • So Dr. Tarre is the number one expert on robots? What about Will Magnus? Or T.O. Morrow? Or even Professor Ivo, who’s supposedly going straight at this point?
  • It’s mentioned that Red Tornado’s source of power is “future science”; this is before the revelation about him being given sentience by the Tornado Tyrant … and well before the revelation about him being an Air Elemental.

Warlord 24 coverWarlord #24 – “Song of Ligia” – Mike Grell/Vince Colletta

This one starts with Travis Morgan on a merchant ship, still trying to run away from the fact that he killed his son and abandoned his wife, Tara. The ship is attacked by pirates and Morgan leads the fight, his blood lust driving to slaughter the pirates without mercy. But he takes an arrow in the shoulder and falls overboard after starting the pirate ship on fire. He clings to some flotsam, delirious, and watches the pirate ship burn as he thinks about Tara. He goes under and is found by a sexy green girl named Ligia. Apparently, she’s been dreaming about getting a man and figures this is divine providence. She takes out the arrow and uses her magical empathic powers to cure Morgan’s wound. She also reads his mind and decides to take away his inner pain … by wiping his memory. She uses her magic (and his desires) to create an undersea castle for them. They start banging away, living a life of leisure; butMorgan saves Ligia Morgan has nagging feelings that something is wrong. He grows restless, thinking there’s something more he should be doing and wonders why he carries weapons when he doesn’t seem to need them. When some savage Piscines attack Ligia, Morgan’s battle-lust returns and he starts wasting them. He takes a spear meant for Ligia and she uses all her magic to heal him and return his memories. She leaves him on a beach and turns herself into a dolphin. In an epilogue, we see some thief going to Castle Deimos to loot the place. He doesn’t think much of the ancient Atlantean computers and ends up stealing the silverware. On his way out, he sees a ring gleaming in the moat—which is where Deimos fell, you’ll remember—and decides t take it. But as soon as the thief puts on the ring, his body is overcome with fiery energy. Looks like we’ll be seeing Deimos again soon …

Noticeable Things:

  • The way Ligia cures Morgan’s wounds—by taking them onto herself—reminds me of Gem in that episode of Star Trek, “The Empath”.
  • This issue has a bit of a “filler” feel to it; all the stuff with Morgan and Ligia is a side story to the main thread. Great art though, as always.Morgan and Ligia

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