Comics Reviews: Batman 326, Detective 493, Brave & the Bold 165, Warlord 36

Batman 326 coverBatman #326 – “This Way Lies Madness” – Len Wein/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with Selina (Catwoman) Kyle breaking up with Bruce Wayne. Selina’s pissed off that Bruce didn’t trust her when she was dying and was accused of robbing the museum. Bruce tries to apologize, but Selina says they’re through and heads out of town. It’s obvious they both love each other, but they just can’t get past their trust issues. After Selina leaves, Bruce wonders if his life as Batman has made it impossible to have a real relationship—and if being Batman is worth losing that. Later, Batman goes on patrol, hoping for some action to work off his frustrations. After almost pounding an innocent store owner, he finds a real thief robbing a jewelry storemotorcycle attack on a motorbike. The guy actually gives Batman a bit of a fight before the Caped Crusader uses the old “stick in the spokes” trick to crash the motorbike. But Batman gets a faceful of helmet for his trouble and the thief gets away, laughing like a maniac. Turns out he is a maniac; Batman recognizes him as Mad Dog Markham, a psycho who’s supposed to be locked up at Arkham Asylum. He goes to see Commissioner Gordon, who tells him about the murder from last issue that has all the hallmarks of Kid Gloves McConnell, another psycho who’s supposed to be incarcerated at Arkham. Gordon calls Arkham to check and the administrator (whose face we never see) assures him that all the inmates are locked away where they’re supposed to be. Gordon and Batman get the feeling something’s going on, so Batman says he’ll come up with a way to figure it out. The next day, a raving maniac named Shank Taylor is in the Gotham jail, threatening everyone within earshot because they’re all out to get him. He’s diagnosed with paranoid delusions and hauled off to Arkham. We get a Milo revealbrief interlude at the Wayne Foundation, where Bruce’s secretary (Caroline Crown) is freaking out because Bruce hasn’t been in and hasn’t sent word about where he is. It almost seems like she’s obsessed with him or something. Lucius Fox assures her that Bruce is old enough (and rich enough) to take care of himself, but her fretting has gotten Lucius worried about Bruce now. At Arkham, Shank Taylor (who’s Batman in disguise, in case you were wondering) is taken to the administrator’s office. He keeps up his paranoid routine, threatening to kill everyone in sight, but the administrator doesn’t seem too bothered. He says he can be a very good friend to Taylor, once he learns to calm down. Taylor is then injected with a tranquilizer and hauled off, and we see that Arkham’s administrator is … Moe from the Three Stooges! No, wait, it’s actually Professor Milo, but he has Moe’s haircut. How did Milo become Arkham’s boss and what’s he planning to do with Batman? We’ll find out next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • In case you’re not familiar with him, Professor Milo is an old foe that Batman has fought a few times before; Milo appeared way back in the Golden Age and his schemes are usually science related, like subjecting Batman to a drug that made him afraid of anything bat-shaped, gassing Batman with a compound that made him lose his will to live, or (in their last encounter) screwing around with werewolves.

Detective 493 coverDetective #493 – “Riddles in the Dark” – Cary Burkett/Don Newton/Dan Adkins

This one starts with Batman following a tip and spotting a burglar inside an apartment. But when he goes in to confront the thief, it turns out to be a dummy dressed like the Riddler, complete with a riddle pinned to it. (“Why is a cook’s brain pan like an overwound clock?”) Batman checks with Commissioner Gordon and finds that Riddler has just busted out of prison and is preparing to leave town. Batman goes back to the Batcave to work on the riddle, but he’s stumped. Luckily Alfred is there to help; he recognizes the riddle as a quotation from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Yeomen of the Guard”. Alfred says the riddle is spoken by a character named Jack Point, but there’s no answer given in the play. Batman figures out that Jack Point refers to Jackson Point, a small airstrip outside Gotham, probably where Riddler is leaving from. Turns out he’s right, Riddler is taking off in a small plane from Jackson Point and Batman tries to catchSwashbuckler shows up him with the Whirly-Bat. Riddler’s plane is too fast, but Batman manages to tag it with a tracer. Riddler tosses another riddle out of the plane before flying away. (“When is a horse most like a stamp collection?”) Batman goes back to the Batcave to pick up the Bat-plane so he can track Riddler’s flight. He figures out that Riddler is headed for Houston; the answer to the riddle is, “When it’s a Hobby horse”, and Houston’s airport is called William Hobby Airport, so that fits too. Batman beats the Riddler to Houston with the Bat-plane’s superior speed and surprises the villain when he lands. Riddler takes off as Batman pounds his henchmen, but can’t help leaving another riddle for Batman to ponder. (“Who is a greater riddler than I?”) Before Riddler gets out of the airport, he’s jumped by a dude in a red fetish outfit who turns out to be a local superhero calling himself Swashbuckler. Riddler’s costume is made of tearable material, so he wriggles free and jumps into a getaway car. His thugs at the trailerget away clean after  almost shooting Batman and Swashbuckler down. Swashbuckler is the nephew of Greg Sanders (aka Vigilante), whom Batman has worked with before. Batman got the license plate number of the getaway car, so they sneak into the Records Office to track it down, assuming that Riddler’s henchmen would’ve felt safe enough to use their own vehicle. (Why do they have to break into the Records Office? Apparently Swashbuckler doesn’t have the lovey-dovey relationship with the cops that Batman enjoys in Gotham.) They track the car to a trailer outside town, but Riddler has prepared a trap. He shines a spotlight on Swashbuckler, which Batman shatters with a Batarang. Swashbuckler pounds some thugs while Batman confronts Riddler inside the trailer. Riddler sets the place on fire, leaving Batman to roast. The Caped Crusader pops out a window and goes after Riddler, who hides in a nearby amusement park. Riddler fakes Batman out and shoots him with a sleep dart before escaping. Later, Batman and Swashbuckler try to figure out Riddler’s clue andRiddler caught come up with two possibilities: A racehorse named Conundrum that’s worth a fortune, and a gold sphinx statuette that’s being donated to a museum by local zillionaire J.R. Noone. Both could qualify as bigger riddler than Riddler himself, but how do thy know which one is the real target? Later, Riddler shows up at J.R. Noone’s place, planning to hold him for ransom, but Swashbuckler is hiding there and disarms him. Then Noone turns out to be Batman in disguise, who decks Riddler and explains that they figured out Riddler’s clue. Who would he consider a bigger riddler than himself? No one … which pointed toward tycoon J.R. Noone. I’m not sure if Swashbuckler was meant to be an ongoing character, but as far as I know he never appears again.

Red Tornado in GothamRed Tornado – “The Face of Humanity” – J.M. DeMatteis/Jose Delbo/Joe Giella

This one starts with Red Tornado showing up in Gotham and stopping some punks who just mugged an old lady. He intimidates the punks into apologizing, but she wails on them with her purse, recognizing the insincerity of their words. She asks Red Tornado to take her home, where he slaps around a junkie who tries to grab them. Tornado is weirded out by all the crime and shit in the neighbourhood and wonders why the old lady (and her daughter and grandkid) live in such a place. They explain that they don’t really have a choice, since they can’t afford better. They head off to church and Tornado tags along to experience “faith”, which he’s heard so much about. As the service winds down, local gang boss and caricature Mr. Kool shows up to demand everyone get out of the church. He wants the building for his numberschurch fight operation, since it’s in a prime location. Red Tornado pounds all of Kool’s thugs, but Kool points out that Tornado will leave to save the universe and the people will be at his mercy. The old lady knows he’s right, but tells Kool that if he comes back, the people of the neighbourhood will stand up to him, and they’ll keep doing it until he leaves them alone. He’s impressed by her guts and tells them the church is theirs. The old lady tells Tornado she knew Kool’s dad years ago and he got dealt a shitty hand in life, so he’s not really as bad as he seems. Tornado is surprised, but she says the Lord’s light is like the sun—it shines on everybody. Tornado leaves, still pondering faith … and hope.

Robin on the prowlRobin – “The Man in Black Wears Green” – Jack C. Harris/Charles Nicholas/Vince Colletta

For the last few issues (or a month in internal chronology) a mysterious man in a black suit has been following Dick Grayson around Hudson University. Dick has finally decided to confront the guy, as Robin if need be. He tracks the man to a phone booth, where he figures out the number he’s calling belongs to Wayne Enterprises. He figures maybe he should talk to the guy as dick Grayson, but by the time he changes, the man in black is gone. Dick heads to the campus newspaper office, where his girlfriend Jennifer gives him shit for not being around much, and not paying attention to her when he is around. Dick gets mad and mentions that he’s being followed and he’s going to Gotham to figure out who’s behind it. After he leaves, a couple of guys show up looking for him, but neither one is the man in black so I guess this is some new plot thread. In Gotham, Dick stops by Wayne Enterprises but can’t find Bruce or Alfred. He does run into Lucius Fox, but learns nothing from him, so he changes to Robin and  heads out to Wayne Manor to get the Batmobile so he can investigate more easily. NearRobin catches the lurker the gate, he spots the man in black and jumps him. The guy turns out to be a detective named Myers who was hired to watch Dick Grayson and make sure he’s safe. But Myers keeps losing Dick and is ready to quit; Robin figures out who must’ve hired Myers and tells him to report back to his boss before he does anything else and assures him everything will be fine. Later, Myers turns up at Wayne Enterprises with Dick Grayson to talk to the guy who hired him … a Wayne Enterprises lawyer named Lloyd. Lloyd figured since Dick is Bruce’s sole heir, he needed some kind of protection. Dick going missing all the time just confirmed his fears, but Dick says he was following Robin on some of his cases because he’s doing a story for the school paper. Lucius realizes Dick would rather keep his privacy intact, so he tells Lloyd to forget about any more bodyguards. So, mystery solved, I guess.

Chance leaps between trucksHuman Target – “The 18-Wheel War Contract” – Len Wein/Dick Giordano/Steve Mitchell

This one starts with Christopher Chance being hired by a woman named Jody Ann Cole. She and her brother Jeremy run a small trucking company and they’ve been having a lot of “accidents” lately since a rival company wants their territory. Her brother was run off the road and killed and she wants Chance to impersonate him to flush out the killers so she can get vengeance. Chance takes the job and everyone at the company is freaked out to see “Jeremy” back from the dead. He claims to have bailed out at the last second and wandered around in a daze for a week before finding help. The accidents continue as Chance finds his brakes have been sabotaged and he barely survives by running the semi safely into some roadworks. Later, he sees a prowler at the truck garage and goes to investigate, almost getting flattened between two rigs. The would-be killer takes off in a semi and Chance and Jody speed after him. As Jody drives, Chance jumps from one truck to the other and punches out the driver before stopping the semi. The killer turns out to be one of Jeremy and Jody’s employees who was offered a pile of money to betray them. His testimony will put away his confederates, but Jody finds vengeance isn’t as sweet as she thought, since it can’t bring back her brother.

Batgirl workoutBatgirl – “Flames of Fear” – Cary Burkett/Jose Delbo/Joe Giella

This story starts with Batgirl working out at the police gym. She’s pretty much fully recovered from being shot a couple issues ago, so she finishes her workout and heads to her job as Barbara Gordon. Barbara now works for HRD (Humanities Research and Development Center), some kind of think tank that studies problems in Gotham City and also encourages cultural development. Today, they’re discussing some new low-rent housing that’s supposed to go up in a neighbourhood that sorely needs it. But one of the HRD guys (Bob Barton, who Barbara doesn’t like … and the feeling seems to be mutual) says the housing development will mean knocking down a historic theater, so he’s against it. Barbara says she’s already working on a way to put upBatgirl catches arsonists the housing without tearing down the theater, and leaves to check things out in person. At the theater, she’s surprised to see protesters outside, since the plans to knock the place down haven’t become public knowledge yet. She’s even more surprise when the protesters prefer picketing to talking about their grievances; protesters always want to talk about their grievances. Suddenly, a building next to the theater catches on fire and the flames engulf the building quickly. Barbara changes to Batgirl and sees a couple of suspicious guys running away. It’s even more suspicious when they try to shoot her, but she kicks their asses. The cops tell her somebody pulled the fire alarm as soon as the building was on fire, so everyone got out. Turns out it wasn’t quite everyone; a dude runs up, freaking out because his daughter is still inside the building. He says his daughter Batgirl saves kidcan’t get out because she has hysterical paralysis, for which he blames Batgirl. Apparently, this is the same kid that Cormorant used as a human shield a couple issues ago; she fell off the roof and wasn’t injured physically, but was so traumatized she hasn’t been able to walk since. Batgirl heads inside to save the kid (which surprises the father, after his diatribe against her) and finds the girl in her bedroom. The girl is surprised to see Batgirl, since the last time she saw her Batgirl was getting shot and falling off a roof. Batgirl wraps the kid in her cape and jumps out a window, landing in the firemen’s safety net. The girl is reunited with her father and wonders if Batgirl is an angel; Batgirl wonders who started the fire and if it has anything to do with the uncommunicative protesters at the nearby theater. We’ll have to wait until next issue to see if she finds any answers.

Brave and Bold 165 coverBrave & the Bold #165 – “Prescription for Tragedy” – Martin Pasko/Don Newton/Dan Adkins

This one starts with Batman going after a milk truck. Why would Batman go after a milk truck? Because he noticed a discrepancy with the licence plates and when he jumped on the truck, the guys inside freaked out and hit the gas. He manages to disable the truck (though his arm is wounded) and pound all the heavily armed thugs, but almost gets a bullet in the back. He’s saved by Man-Bat, who swoops down from nowhere to disarm the gunman, then flies away again without a word. When Batman checks the back of the truck, he finds a load of drugs (which is what he expected); medicine the FDA has classified as ineffective, but still worth money on the street for recreational use. Batman notices that one of the boxes is open. We see Man-Bat returning to Gotham to a free clinic where his daughter Rebecca is being treated. She has some kind of mysterious disease and her prognosis isn’t good. Man-Bat turns back into KirkMan-Bat saves Batman Langstrom as he and his wife Francine each blame themselves for Rebecca’s condition, because of their “batty” alter egos and their desire to have a child. Rebecca is some kind of mutant, since she has hyper-sensitive hearing, which is keeping her from falling asleep. But whatever disease she has can only be cured if she sleeps, so Kirk shows Francine the drug he lifted from the truck. It’s Serotonal, a drug that’s supposed to induce sleep to combat insomnia. The doctor at the clinic (Lucerne) is a bit shady, so he doesn’t ask too many questions about where Kirk got the drug. At the police station, Batman and Commissioner Gordon are asking questions. They know Serotonal wasn’t approved by the FDA because it doesn’t work properly and it has dangerous side-effects. The shipment confiscated from the truck is three ampules short and Batman has a pretty good idea who took them, although he doesn’t share his suspicions with Gordon. Gordon tells Batman this particular batch of Serotonal is tainted with some kind of deadly bacteria due to the unsanitary conditions where it was serum destroyedmanufactured. At the clinic, Lucerne is making some educated guesses about where Kirk got the Serotonal (and about who Man-Bat might be), but before he can give Rebecca the drug, Batman busts in to arrest him. Turns out Lucerne is the one behind the drug smuggling ring (which is why Kirk came to him, a fact Batman found out by questioning Kirk’s partner Jason Bard). Batman smashes the deadly vials of Serotonal and Lucerne tries to get away. Kirk is pissed off that Batman has ruined Rebecca’s last chance at a cure, but Batman doesn’t feel like explaining right now, so he decks Kirk and goes after Lucerne. Kirk changes to man-Bat and plucks Batman right out of the Batmobile, trying to strangle him. Batman explains about the tainted medicine and asks Man-Bat to help him put Lucerne away before he brings any more poisoned shit into the country. Lucerne heads for a house in the suburbs where he meets with his mob connections. He tells them the heat is on and they’re just about to waste him when Batman and Man-Bat show up. Man-Bat sends a draft down the chimney to fillLucerne conked out the room with ashes and Batman busts in and starts pounding thugs. Lucerne tries to flee again and Batman (who lost his Batarang back at the clinic) pulls a convenient plaque off the wall and downs Lucerne; it turns out to be his Hippocratic Oath plaque. Man-Bat takes off and when Batman looks for him later, there’s no trace. Kirk, Francine, and Rebecca have disappeared with no clue as to where they went. At the police station, Gordon tells Batman that only half the Serotonal shipment was contaminated, so the vials at Lucerne’s clinic might have been clean. Man-Bat is listening outside the window and wonders if the Serotonal he stole would’ve cured Rebecca. He vows to find some other way to help her—and also vows to make Batman pay for his interference. Looks like Man-Bat might be turning back into a villain.

Noticeable Things:

  • We see in this issue Doctor Dundee who knows Batman’s secret identity and treats his wounds without question because he was a friend of Bruce Wayne’s parents. Dundee first appeared in a back-up feature in Batman #304.

Warlord 36 coverWarlord #36 – “Interlude” – Mike Grell/Vince Colletta

This one starts with Morgan and Shakira in Bandakhar, a haven of vice, looking to acquire some horses so they can head back to Shamballah. Some thugs try to abduct a good-looking girl (Morgan never seems to rescue any ugly women) and naturally Morgan jumps in to help. He kills a couple kidnappers and drives the rest away, but the girl isn’t too grateful. Her name is Karelle and she tells Morgan that getting involved with her would be a bad idea, then runs off. Of course, Morgan wants to follow, but Shakira decides she’d rather hang out with the local tomcat. Morgan tracks Karelle and finds her getting choked by a freaky-looking demon. Morgan gets sliced but manages to skewer the demon with his magic sword, Hellfire. Karelle is somewhat grateful this time and explains why she’s such bad news. Some horny wizard wanted to marry her, but her father refused so the wizard killed him. Now the wizard would rather kill Karelle than let her live free, and she’d rather die thanMorgan vs demon marry him; she even carries a poisoned dagger to kill herself in case the wizard captures her. Morgan instantly gets hot for her (way to be faithful to Tara there, Morgan), but before they can get down to business Morgan passes out from his wounds. He has nightmares about the shit he’s gone through with Tara, having to kill his son Joshua, and fighting Deimos. He wakes up and hears Karelle screaming; he runs to see what’s going on and finds his nightmare has come true … Deimos is the wizard that’s been pursuing Karelle and he’s torturing her right now. Morgan freaks out and goes after Deimos, who says he can’t be killed since he’s technically already dead. He uses his magic, but Morgan’s sword Hellfire protects him from all spells, so he walks right Morgan the butcherthrough Deimos’s sorcery and starts hacking him to pieces—literally. After the battle madness passes, he releases Karelle but she pulls away from him. She says what he did to Deimos wasn’t battle, it was slaughter, and what’s worse, Morgan enjoyed doing it. He admits she’s right and Karelle leaves. Shakira finds Morgan feeling sorry for himself. She has found horses for them (and probably had some hot cat sex as well) and as they ride out of town, Morgan admits that all the problems in his life for which he tried to blame Deimos are at least partly his own fault. Shakira realizes Morgan had real feelings for Karelle and we see Karelle watching them ride away with a sorrowful look on her face.

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