Comics Reviews: Batman 316, Detective 486, Brave & the Bold 155, Warlord 26

Batman 316 coverBatman #316 – “Color Me Deadly” – Len Wein/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with some punk being pursued through an alley by Robin. The punk is cut off by Batman and freaks out, surrendering immediately. Apparently, he started a fire at the hospital, which makes Robin want to pound him a bit, but he decides the guy is probably some kind of nut and forgoes the beating. The Dynamic Duo hauls the dude back for the cops and Commissioner Gordon says the fire is already out and there was only some minor damage on the tenth floor. Across town at STAR Labs, three scientists finish work on a new laser intensifier, but they won’t be holding on to it for long because a weirdo villain named Crazy Quilt showsBatman and Robin hit the wall up to steal the intensifier. Batman and Robin bust in and start wailing on Crazy Quilt’s henchmen, but Quilty uses his own color-helmet to blind them. Quilt and his men escape with the intensifier and Batman and Robin almost knock themselves out slamming into the wall while blinded; maybe they’ve been taking lessons from Green Lantern. In the Batcave, Bruce tells Dick he’s been seeing Selina Kyle lately, which gets Dick’s attention since he’s more familiar with her as the villainous Catwoman. Elsewhere, Crazy Quilt shows up at the apartment of Gotham Hospital administrator Dexter and says he wants Dexter’s help. We get a quick version of Quilt’s origin (he was an artist/crime-boss, shot by a rival gangster and lost his sight, forced a doctor to operate but could only see bright colors afterward); now his sight has deteriorated even more, so he wants Dexter to use a revolutionary surgical technique to restore it. Dexter says he’d need a focusing laser, which Quilt proceeds to whip out, and Dexter finally agrees to the trapped stairssurgery after Quilt says he’s responsible for the hospital fire and next time he’ll make sure the whole building burns down. At Wayne Enterprises, Bruce and Dick run into Lucius Fox and Bruce confides to Dick that Lucius seems to have some kind of problem, but he’s not sure what. Bruce tries to call Dexter to offer money for the hospital repairs, but he’s told Dexter disappeared without telling anyone where he was going. Bruce and Dick put the pieces together and figure Crazy Quilt must have something to do with it, so they head for the hospital. Batman says there’s no point in alarming the staff in case they’re wrong, so he and Robin head for the operating rooms by separate staircases. On the tenth floor, Dexter is prepping to operate on Crazy Quilt, who has his men watching Dexter and refuses any anesthetic except a local. Batman and Robin find traps in the stairwells (flares and hypno-wheels), but manage to get past them. QuiltCrazy Quilt blinded doesn’t want them interrupting the operation, so he sends his goons after them but the Duo make short work of the thugs and bust into the OR. They’re too late, as the operation was successful and Crazy Quilt can see properly again. He tries to blast them with the surgical laser and uses his color-helmet to try and bind them. But Robin reflects the helmet’s beams back into Quilt’s eyes with a shiny surgical tray, blinding the villain all over again. Quilt goes nuts and tries to shoot them, but can’t aim because of his blindness and just ends up wasting all his bullets. He’s despondent about his condition, which Batman predicts will be permanent this time.

Noticeable Things:

  • Dick is on summer vacation from college, which explains why he’s hanging out with Batman here (and next issue).
  • I have no idea how Batman and Robin knew Crazy Quilt was robbing STAR Labs or how they managed to show up right at that time.
  • Robin fought Crazy Quilt before (back in Batman 255), but there’s no mention of Quilt fighting the Boy Commandos, so maybe this is meant to be a different version.

Detective 486 coverDetective #486 – “Murder By Thunderbolt” – Denny O’Neil/Don Newton/Dan Adkins

This one starts with Bruce Wayne at an airfield watching a guy named Reuben Rice do some skydiving. Rice doesn’t open his parachute and as he gets closer to the ground, Bruce notices Rice is just a skeleton, so he slips away to change to Batman. After the skeleton crashes to earth, it burns to ash and blows away, leaving Batman and the horrified onlookers stumped. In prison, Maxie Zeus (the crime boss who fancies himself a Greek god—literally) gets a report from his lackey, Calvin telling him Rice is dead. Seems Rice was Zeus’s second-in-command and tried to make a power move while Zeus is locked up, but Zeus cursed him, saying he’d die a strange death. Zeus claims the next person who betrays him will die by brimstone. Batman drops by a laundromat and shakes down a dude named Iggy for information. Iggy tries to waste Batman with a grenade, but Bats tosses it in a washing machine and gives Iggy a face wash. ApparentlyBatman interrogates Iggy Iggy is a provider of certain illegal chemicals and he tells Batman he recently delivered a shipment to someone in the Zeus mob. Batman infiltrates a mob meeting where a guy named Plowboy (whose schtick is talking like some hick) talks about taking over Zeus’s mob. Calvin, Zeus’s toady, warns Plowboy about Zeus’s threat and reminds him how Rice died. Plowboy’s not too worried, but he gets a shock when Batman drops his waiter disguise and starts pounding thugs. Plowboy says he might be able to give Batman some info about Rice if the Darknight meets him on a barge at the pier that night. In the Batcave, Batman tells Alfred what he’s figured out so far: Rice never really parachuted from the plane … it was a dummy, treated with a special chemical (supplied by Iggy) that burst into flame after the dummy landed. Batman makes some Batman pounds thugsspecial modifications to the Batmobile, then heads to the pier. Plowboy has prepared for him, loading the barge with TNT, so when the Batmobile drives onto the barge, it’s blown to shit. Flaming debris from the explosion flies out into the harbor, hitting the boat of a young couple. Batman rescues them and brings them to shore, then takes off. But Batman notices a second fire out in the harbor, and now knows who’s behind everything. He  goes after the culprit, taunting him over the phone before confronting him. Now, bear with me because Batman’s (or Denny O’Neil’s) logic is kinda convoluted here: Batman knows whoever staged the skeleton stunt was trying to make it look like Zeus had some kind of mystic power to kill his enemies, which means whoever did it must want Zeus’s mob to continue operating. And since Batman is the biggest threat to the Zeus mob, only someone who wants the mob to continue would try to waste Batman. That makes sense, except we saw Plowboy planting the explosives on the barge earlier,Batman catches Calvin which seems to go directly against what Batman just said. Anyway, it turns out Zeus’s lackey Calvin was behind everything, because Zeus is the only person who treated him half-decently and he “loves” Zeus. Dude should probably see a therapist. Batman bags him with a minimum of trouble and later explains to Alfred that the second burning boat in the harbor belonged to Plowboy, who was waiting on a second barge to see Batman get blown up. The freaky part is, another piece of flaming debris hit Plowboy’s barge, which just happened to be carrying sulfuric acid; that ignited and burned the barge in minutes, thus fulfilling Zeus’s prophecy about his next betrayer dying “by brimstone”.

Noticeable Things:

  • It’s never said exactly what happened to the real Reuben Rice, but I assume Calvin killed him (in a more conventional fashion) before staging the parachute stunt with the dummy to make Zeus’s “curse” about a strange death come true.
  • When Batman rescues the young couple from their burning boat, the girl says “Why did you bother? I thought you only cared about catching criminals.” When Batman catches Calvin, he says “Why did you bother? I thought you were only interested in helping people.” In both cases, Batman’s response is “You’re not alone in thinking that. I wish you were.”

Chance attacked by sharkHuman Target – “The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea Contract” – Len Wein/Dick Giordano

This one starts with Christopher Chance underwater about to be eaten by a shark, then quickly goes into a flashback. (Have I mentioned how much I hate that particular storytelling device?) A few days ago, Chance met with Judy Dorrance, who took him to meet her husband Dane, currently recovering in hospital. (In case you’re wondering, yes, this is Dane and Judy from the Sea Devils.) Dane tells Chance he came to the Caribbean to look for his friend, Hank Bonner, who disappeared while investigating an old shipwreck. Dane and Judy met Hank’s partners in the venture (Payton and Scott) and they all went down to check out the wreck. The mast fell on top of Dane, almost killing him, and their own boat was almost wrecked in high waves. Dane says he saw someone push the mast over on him, but he couldn’t see who it was. Chance disguises himself as Dane and accompanies Judy back to the pier where they tell Payton and Scott that he wasn’t badly hurt after all. They all go back out to the site of the wreck. Chance figures whoever tried to kill Dane must have something to hide,Chance triumphs so he heads down to search the wreck at night and gets attacked by a shark, which is where we came in. Chance uses his flashlight to punch the shark’s vulnerable nose and it swims away. Chance finds a half-buried chest near the wreck with Hank Bonner’s skeleton inside—skewered by a fishing spear! Scott shows up out of nowhere and tries to spear Chance, who manages to evade the deadly missile. Scott confesses he wanted the treasure all to himself and killed Bonner when he saw the loot. He couldn’t let Dane find Bonner’s body, so he had to kill him too. Chance takes the spear from Bonner’s corpse and goes after Scott, but gets jumped. Scott cuts Chance’s air hose, but Chance stabs Scott with the spear, which brings the shark back. Chance swims for it while the shark chows down on Scott.

Barbara meets the kidBatgirl – “Crime Calls Killer Moth” – Jack C. Harris/Don Heck/Joe Giella

This one starts with Killer Moth ranting about Batgirl kicking his ass again (which we saw in Batman 311). Moth runs a service where criminals call him to help them escape their crime scenes or bust them loose if they’re caught by the cops and Batgirl apparently stumbled onto one of his “rescues” the other night. He swears not to let her interfere again. Speaking of Batgirl, we see Barbara Gordon at work at the Congressional Office building. She’s meeting with another Congressman when some kid named Donny Halsey comes in to see her. Donny is from Gotham (Barbara’s congressional district) and wants Barbara’s help; his father was killed almost a month ago and the cops haven’t done anything. She says she’ll look into it and puts him up at a hotel (I think he was hoping he’d be staying at her place). When she sees something on TV about a robbery, she takes off to change to Batgirl. She starts pounding the bank robbers, but Killer Moth shows up to help them escape. Batgirl realizes they must haveBatgirl catches Killer Moth some kind of “moth signal” to alert him when they need help. Moth takes off, but Batgirl nabs the robbers. Later, when Barbara is talking to Donny about sending him home, he mentions his dad worked for a guy named Van Cleer right before he was killed. Barbara knows that’s one of Killer Moth’s aliases and asks if Donny’s dad was an electronics expert, but Donny says he was just a shoemaker. Barbara gets an idea and heads to the police station as Batgirl, where she takes the bank robbers’ shoes. Killer Moth gets a signal in his hideout and goes to rescue his client. The client is already in a cop car, so Moth disables the cops and springs the client, who turns out to be Batgirl. She activated the signal in the crook’s shoe after realizing Donny’s dad must’ve placed it there, then been killed by Moth so he couldn’t blab. Batgirl kicks Moth’s ass and later tells Donny the man who killed his father has been caught.

Alfred jumpedAlfred Pennyworth – “The Hospitable Hostage” – Bob Rozakis/George Tuska/Bob Smith

This one starts with Alfred returning home with some groceries while Batman is out on patrol. Three thugs push their way into the elevator (after taking out the security in the lobby) and force Alfred to take them to the penthouse. They’re impressed by all the fancy shit, but Alfred’s worried Batman might return with his mask off, thus giving the three scumbags his secret identity. Alfred tries to cooperate, hoping to prevent them from tossing the place (and possibly discovering the Batcave secret entrance). Alfred tries to gather information on them (like serving coffee so he can get their fingerprints) and opens the safe to keep them from blasting it. They’re not happy with the few thousand that Bruce keeps in the safe and want to wait around and force him to sign some bearer bonds. Alfred gives them a worthless stamp album (his own), but that doesn’t motivate them to leave either. He finally mentions that Bruce is out with Commissioner Gordon and might bring him back for coffee. The thugs get worried, since they don’t want to kill the Police Commissioner. They cut the phone lines (this was way before cell phones, kids) and say they’re going to jam the elevator after they reach the lobby, trapping Alfred in the penthouse. As soon as they’re in the elevator, Alfred jams it himself and Batman shows up (without his mask) and asks what’s up. Alfred says there’s a small matter he should take care of before heading to bed. This isn’t the two-fisted Sean Pertwee Alfred from the TV show; he’d have just beat the shit out of the thugs.

Robin in cemeteryRobin – “Fear Times Four” – Jack C. Harris/Kurt Schaffenberger/Jack Abel

This one starts in a cemetery, with Robin watching a bunch of fraternity punks running away like the devil is after them. (I have no idea why Robin is hanging around a cemetery in the middle f the night.) Robin soon finds the cause of the frat boys’ fright … noises coming from a freshly dug grave. He digs it up and finds a guy buried alive. It turns out to be Dennis Harmon, a benefactor of Hudson University. Robin finds three straws in the coffin, telling him Scarecrow is behind this. At the Admin Building we see Scarecrow threatening another big benefactor named Carson Crispin. Scarecrow knows Crispin is afraid of cold and threatens him with a fire extinguisher … are CO2 fire extinguishers really that cold? Anyway, Crispin leads a delegation of benefactors to see Chief McDonald the next day. Each of them is being extorted by Scarecrow, who seems to know all their phobias: Crispin is afraid of cold (Psychrophobia), Harmon of being buried alive (Tapephobia), Malcolm Maxwell has Claustrophobia, and a dude named Reynard has Autophobia, the fear of being alone. Robin decides to tail the bigwigs, even though they asked not to have a security detail assigned (because they’re businessmen who deal in sensitive materials). That night, Maxwell is locked into his bedroom and starts freaking out. Robin shows up and gets him out, but Maxwell’s so scared he agrees to pay Scarecrow the money he wants. The next day, Dick Grayson is in class and his new Psychology professor (Foster) gives a demonstration on fear that mirrors one given by Jonathan (Scarecrow) Crane back whenRobin catches Scarecrow he was a Psych prof. Dick wonders if Scarecrow could be using the extorted money to fund Foster’s research—or maybe Foster is Scarecrow. Robin checks the records that night and finds Foster’s Psych project just received $250,000 … the exact amount Maxwell paid Scarecrow. Scarecrow jumps Robin and they fight, but Scarecrow takes off. Robin tackles someone in the hall, but it turns out to be Reynard, who was checking up on Foster’s accounts too. Chief McDonald shows up and after looking at the records concludes that Foster must be Scarecrow. Reynard and Maxwell go to confront Foster, but Robin stops them. He says Foster is innocent and reveals Scarecrow is actually disguised as Reynard. Scarecrow takes off, but Robin distracts him (by playing on Scarecrow’s fear of Batman) and pounds him. Robin explains to Chief McDonald that he suspected Reynard because Scarecrow would be the only one interested in Foster’s fear research, plus Reynard was supposed to have a fear of being alone, but he was wandering around the Admin Building by himself that night. that’s some good deducing, Robin.

Brave and Bold 155Brave & the Bold #155 – “Fugitive From Two Worlds” – Bob Haney/Jim Aparo

This one starts with an earthquake in Gotham. Batman heads to the Science Museum where a helpful geologist tells him where the epicenter of the quake was … right where the city has been excavating for a new water tunnel. Batman checks it out and a construction worker shows him the fault line and mentions finding a huge rock wedged into the fault the day before—a rock that’s now missing. Judging by the old tools and blasting materials, somebody jammed the rock into the fault line a couple hundred years ago, but now that it’s gone there’s nothing preventing the fault from slipping and shaking Gotham to pieces. Luckily, the construction worker took pictures of the rock, which was glowing. That, and the weird footprints leading away from the tunnel, convince Batman that the rock was some kind of meteorite and was taken by an alien. He checks with the JLA Satellite and finds that an alien ship did visit Gotham theGreen Lantern gets his assignment previous night and took the meteorite. Batman figures out the alien is from a planet called Calphonus and prepares to go after him. On Oa, Green Lantern Hal Jordan is called in by the Guardians of the Universe, who tell him about the alien (whose name is Tri Vul) stealing the meteorite. The Guardians say this is an interplanetary crime, so it’s up to the Green Lantern Corps to apprehend and judge Tri Vul. GL heads to the Satellite and tells Batman to back off and that he has jurisdiction. Batman (and GL) immediately starts acting like a five-year old and they almost get into a fight, but finally decide to work together to catch Tri Vul and hash out the jurisdiction problem later. Privately, both of them are planning to take custody of Tri Vul once they’ve brought him back. They go to Calphonus where they’re told Tri Vul is a respected scientist and couldn’t possibly be a thief. The Calphonians don’t want to piss off the Batman poundedGuardians, so they promise not to interfere, but they also won’t help. Batman and GL split up and Batman gets jumped by Tri Vul fans who kick the shit out of him. Batman takes the beating (not wanting to get arrested on an assault charge) and overhears his attackers talking about Tri Vul’s base being out in the desert somewhere. Batman steals (or borrows, as he tells himself) a rocket sled and finds Tri Vul’s lab out in the desert. GL has been following Batman and swoops in to claim the prize. Batman invades the lab, but Tri Vul goes nuts and almost strangles him. GL comes in and pounds the crazed alien, then he and Batman start arguing over ho gets custody. GL tries to use his ring on Batman, but the Caped Crusader is prepared and uses his laser to generate a yellow force shield. He decks GL and heads back to Earth with Tri Vul. But when the alien wakes up and realizes he’s being taken to Earth for trial, heBatman vs Green Lantern freaks out. He says the “Black Moon has won” and tries to jump out the airlock. Batman figures there’s more to Tri Vul’s story than he’d previously thought, so when three Green Lantern Corps members show up to take the alien to Oa, Batman insists on going along—as counsel for the defense! On Oa, Tri Vul admits that he’s been overcome by periodic fits of madness caused by the evil influence of Calphonus’s Black Moon, plus the radioactive sand in the desert surrounding his lab. During certain phases of the Moon, Tri Vul turns evil; when he found the meteorite in Gotham, he was going to take a small sample to cure his madness but his evil side took over and stole the whole meteorite, dooming Gotham to be wiped out by an earthquake. Tri Vul doesn’t know where his evil side hid the meteorite, but Batman figures it’s probably on the Black Moon since Tri Vul basically worships the Moon when he’s evil. They find the meteorite on the Moon and head back to Earth. GL almost runs out of power, but Batman and Tri Vul add their will power to his own to create a space warp and the meteorite is replaced just in time to prevent Gotham from being shaken apart.

Noticeable Things:

  • Do Science Museums have seismographs? Wouldn’t that belong in a lab of some sort?
  • In case you’re wondering why they didn’t just slap some other rock in to hold the fault, Batman says no Earthly rock would match the hardness of the meteorite, so no substitutions are possible.
  • Almost as an afterthought, it’s mentioned that before they brought the meteorite back to Earth, Batman and GL used its radiation on the Black Moon to cure whatever caused Tri Vul’s split personality.
  • The three guest Green Lanterns in this story are Chaselon (who looks like he’s made out of diamond); Medphyll (the tree-dude with one eye); and I think the last one is supposed to be Zborra (the lizard-looking guy), though he’s coloured orange here instead of his usual green.

Warlord 26 coverWarlord #26 – “The Challenge” – Mike Grell/Vince Colletta

You’ll remember last issue, Morgan was traveling with a mercenary band tracking down a thief named Ashir. The whole band was wiped out and Morgan shot his rival, Chakal and left him for dead. Morgan then joined with Ashir and they headed off to loot a fabulous gem called the Eye of Truth from a temple. This issue opens with Chakal, still alive but barely, crawling through the snow and cursing Morgan. He’s found by Deimos, who has his own beef with Morgan and says Chakal can have his revenge if he pledges his soul to Deimos. Chakal agrees and Deimos starts by ripping his arm off. Maybe Chakal is rethinking his decision? Morgan and Ashir find the Temple of the Sun (which is warm even though it’s I the mountains, because it sits above the cloud cover in the sunlight) and Ashir shows Morgan a medallion he stole that supposedly can give them access to the Eye of Truth. Ashir rushes ahead to the Temple and almost gets killed by a three-headed hydra. Morgan saves himhydra attack and they dispatch the creature, but Morgan warns Ashir not to be so hasty. They go inside the Temple and see what looks like a fabulous jewel on an altar, but it turns out to be a mirage caused by sunlight shining on a polished altar. A mouthy parrot flies down and starts spouting riddles about “the Truth” and “the Key”; Morgan figures out the medallion Ashir stole can be broken into pieces, one of which fits a small niche in the altar where the light is shining. The light reflects upward, forming a vision of Tara; she berates Morgan for killing their son and abandoning her. After the vision fades, the beam of light reflects to one of the pillars, where another niche waits to be filled. Morgan tells Ashir to place the medallion piece this time, and the parrot warns that “those who seek the truth must face the challenge”. Ashir’s vision reveals that he’s the Prince of Kaambuka, but he ran away from his responsibilities, leaving his people to Morgan's first visionfend for themselves after his father died. The beam of light reflects to another pillar, and it’s Morgan’s turn to fit another medallion piece into the niche. This time he has a vision of Deimos, and of himself killing Joshua, which shocks Ashir. There are two medallion pieces left and two pillars, but Ashir isn’t sure he wants another vision. The parrot says if he wants the reward, he has to face the challenge, so Ashir places another piece in a niche. He’s tormented by a vision of his father, telling him the burden of his guilt will weigh much heavier than the burden of responsibility would have if he’d stuck around. Morgan places the final medallion piece and sees Machiste, Mariah, and Tara giving him shit for all the pain he’s caused and all his broken promises. When the beam has completed its circuit of the pillars, a glowing ball of light appears in the middle, which is apparently the Eye of Truth. Morgan and Ashir are disappointed it’s not some big-ass jewel, but Ashir figures the truth has set himChakal and Morgan as caveman straight and decides to go back and be a Prince (or a King, I guess). Morgan wishes he could go back and do things over and the parrot says he can—he just has to step into the light and his fondest desire will come true. Morgan says farewell to Ashir and goes into the light, wishing to start over from the beginning. Right after he leaves, Chakal shows up and tries to blast Ashir with what looks like a laser; that’s right, Deimos replaced Chakal’s torn-off arm with a laser gun. Chakal says he’s looking for Morgan and that he now serves Deimos. Meanwhile, Morgan’s wish about starting over from the beginning comes true … he’s transported back to the Stone Age as a caveman, and is about to be mauled by a sabre-tooth tiger! We’ll see what happens next issue.

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