This one starts with a guy named Archie Skyler on death row, scheduled to be executed in 24 hours. All his hopes for clemency have been exhausted, so he puts the word out that he’s got $10 million in gold stashed away and it’ll go to whoever kills the man who put Archie on death row in the first place … Batman. We see some would-be assassins practicing their Batman killing, but they’re a couple of losers who use a cowboy schtick. In Gotham, Bruce Wayne goes to the hospital to see Lucius Fox (who got the crap kicked out of him) and Lucius is mumbling about his son, Timothy, who’s in some kind of trouble. Dick Grayson shows up to check on Lucius; things are tense between Dick and Bruce since Dick quit college a couple issues ago, but Dick invites himself along when Bruce goes to Lucius’s place to look around. They change to their costumed identities and Robin tries to reason with Batman, saying that he’s not a kid anymore and should be able to decide what to do with his own life. Before Batman can reply, a sniper takes a shot at him. They take the guy out, plus a few more thugs in a speeding car, and one of the gunmen spills about the price on Batman’s head. They go to see Skyler on death row and he confirms it, saying he’ll happily go to the chair as long as he knows Batman is already dead. Robin suggests Batman just change back to Bruce Wayne and wait out the day; once Skyler’s executed, the hit will be off. Batman says he can’t do that, since he found something at Lucius’s place. Timothy has been hanging out with a gang and they’re planning something big for tonight. When Lucius confronted Timothy, he called his dad an Oreo and took off. Lucius tried to follow and got pounded, probably by Timothy’s hoodlum friends. Batman figures he can’t ignore whatever’s going to happen, especially if Timothy is involved. Batman rants about Timothy being ungrateful after all Lucius has done for him … I think that might be his own anger at Dick showing through. Robin decides to go along, to make sure Timothy doesn’t get the brunt of Batman’s anger. More hitmen try to earn Skyler’s reward, this time by blasting the Batmobile with a rocket launcher. Before they can get off another shot, Talia shows up (in some short shorts) and shoots the assassin (with a sleep dart, not a bullet, so Batman’s conscience can stay clear). Robin sees someone lurking nearby and checks it out, but when he gets back, Batman and Talia are gone. Robin heads home and complains to Alfred about Batman ditching him. Batman calls Alfred and says he found a lead on Timothy, but wants Robin to stay out of it. Robin doesn’t like that, and vows to help whether Batman likes it or not. Batman and Talia go to a pool hall where the gang that recruited Timothy is hanging out. Batman goes in and pounds them, telling them to call off their job for that night. Naturally, that just pisses the leader off and he calls his boss, who turns out to be Gideon Falstaff, Bruce Wayne’s the tubby business rival. We haven’t seen Falstaff lately, but I guess he’s still manipulating things behind the scenes. We also learn that the gang is planning to break into Bruce Wayne’s office and they’re going to kill Timothy once he’s no longer any use to them. Batman gets attacked by more killers, this time in a helicopter, and he takes them out too. The cowboy goofball we saw earlier is ready to waste Batman, but gets interrupted by some local mobsters after the reward. The cowboy kills the mobsters, but Batman gets away. Commissioner Gordon tells Batman the hit is starting to affect innocent bystanders, so Batman broadcasts a message that he’ll be alone on Grosvenor’s Island for the next two hours, unarmed. Robin overhears Timothy at the hospital telling his (unconscious) father that Bruce Wayne is a slumlord and he and his gang friends are going to get something back from “the Man.” Robin figures whatever evidence the gang showed Timothy is fake, since Bruce doesn’t own any tenements. Robin decides to follow Timothy, to keep an eye on him. On Grosvenor’s Island, Batman is attacked by a motorcycle gang and assorted other assassins, but he pounds them all and leaves them in a collapsed building. The cowboy killer watches and trails Batman as he heads back into Gotham. At Wayne Enterprises, Timothy and his scumbag friends invade the building and head for Bruce’s office. Robin is ready to tackle them, but Batman shows up and says it’s his responsibility. He pounds all the gang members and gives Timothy a lecture on morals. Robin points out that Timothy was manipulated, but Batman says people have to take responsibility for their own actions. Robin says circumstances can sometimes make people do things they wouldn’t normally do. They’re so busy arguing that the cowboy gets the drop on them. Whatever their differences, Batman and Robin still work together perfectly, distracting the cowboy long enough for Batman to punch him out. He’s still in lecture mode, but Robin says he needs to lay off Timothy, and that it’s time he and Batman had a long talk. The issue ends with Skyler taking the long walk to the chair, still lamenting that Batman didn’t die before him.
- There’s an interlude with Bruce’s new secretary, Caroline, stealing documents for Falstaff. I’m not sure if that’s what Len Wein had in mind for her, but Wolfman seems to be addressing some of Wein’s dangling plotlines.
- I don’t know why no costumed criminals came after Batman, instead of just regular guys. You’d think ten million in gold would tempt some of the big boys.
- After leading Batman to the gang, Talia just disappears. I’m not sure what the point of her appearance was, although Batman said he owed her so maybe that’ll be important in future stories.
- If you look at the pool hall fight above, there are several panels that look like swipes from the fight in Arkham Asylum from Batman 260, which also had Novick art.Detective #497 – “Bad Night in Baja” – Gerry Conway/Don Newton/Dan Adkins
This one starts with a bedraggled Bruce Wayne stumbling into the Hotel Dolan in Baja on a rainy night. Some guys are inside, discussing a job one of them has as a bodyguard for a guy named Halston. We also see the hotel’s owner (whose name is Waldo Pepper, like the Redford movie) has a can of gasoline behind the counter; Waldo was planning on burning his place down for the insurance … until it rained. Bruce Wayne asks where the phone is, dropping a satchel he’s carrying as he reels to the booth in back. Waldo picks up the satchel and when he sees what’s inside, figures it’s his lucky day. Bruce calls Alfred and says he’s been shot and needs help. We get a series of flashbacks leading us to this moment: Batman was asked by the government to find a crime boss named the Squid, who’s been stealing secret documents and smuggling them into Mexico to sell. Squid was a crime boss in Gotham, so Batman’s eager to go after him. He and Alfred entered Mexico in civilian garb and Batman tracked Squid down and got the documents back, but was shot. He changed back to Bruce Wayne, hoping to throw Squid and his men off the trail, and made his way to the Hotel Dolan. But Waldo has the satchel full of government documents and immediately recognizes how valuable they are. He keeps the documents, but replaces the satchel, reasoning that if Bruce discovers the theft, Waldo will have to kill him. There’s a newly married couple at the hotel (David and Marie), but Marie is not happy about spending her honeymoon in a shithole like the Dolan, so she walks out. There’s some weird captions about how Marie thinks life is a Capra movie and how she’s about to be disillusioned. She sees Bruce Wayne half-hanging out of the phone booth and helps him get outside right before Squid and his men bust in. Bruce tells Marie to take off and he changes to Batman. Inside, Squid finds the blood and the empty satchel and wonders if one of the other people there is Batman in disguise. He’s ready to start wasting people (and Waldo is ready to give himself up) when Batman shows up. He turns out the lights and when Squid’s men get them back on, they see a blood trail leading out the door. They rush outside and Batman uses the gasoline canister he found behind the bar to blow Squid’s car to shit … although I’m not sure what ignited the gasoline, since it looks like Batman just tosses the can. The cops to show up and arrest Squid and his men. In the aftermath, Waldo is pissed off that he can’t burn the place now (the cops were suspicious about the gasoline can being in the bar), the other guy from the bar lost his bodyguard job (because he tried to run away when Squid was threatening everyone), and Marie and David get back together (and we learn Marie’s the one who called the cops). Meanwhile, Bruce is pretty happy about how everything turned out.
This one starts with Batgirl foiling a robbery at the garage where she keeps her Batcycle. That makes her think it might be time to move it to a more secure location. The next day, Barbara has lunch with a colleague (Doreen) and talks about how much she likes Jim Dover, the new man in her life. Doreen points out that Richard Bender (another co-worker) has the hots for Barbara. Barbara says she tries not to encourage Bender, but he always seems to get the wrong idea. She goes off on a spiel about how she doesn’t think of herself as attractive because she grew up with male influences and spent most of her time studying, trying to compete with men instead of attract them. Back at work, a police detective named Cameron asks Barbara about a party she attended at Congressman Scanlon’s place a while back. She remembers leaving the party early to change to Batgirl and chase an art thief who’d been active in the neighbourhood, but naturally she can’t tell Cameron that, so she says she felt sick and left the party early. Cameron shows her photos of herself heading upstairs, so she claims she went to find some Aspirin. Cameron shows her a pill bottle (which really should be in an evidence bag) that belonged to Scanlon and says a poison pill was slipped into the bottle … which has Barbara’s fingerprints on it. Apparently Scanlon didn’t die from a heart attack like everyone thought … he was poisoned. Barbara denies having touched (or even seen) the pill bottle when she was at Scanlon’s house, but Cameron isn’t convinced—especially since Barbara and Scanlon disagreed on several political issues. He says if she wasn’t the Commissioner’s daughter, she’d already be under arrest, and warns her not to leave town. During Barbara’s conversation with Cameron, her asshole co-worker (Barton) is listening at the door, but he’s chased away by Bender—who then proceeds to listen at the door. Barbara tries to get a hold of her father, but nobody knows where he is. She remembers finding a pill bottle on her desk one day and tossing it into her drawer, but it’s not there now. Obviously someone planted it to get hr prints on the bottle, then picked it up later. She figures she can’t really trust anyone, since whoever planted the bottle has access to her office, so she decides to follow Cameron to see who’s feeding him information about her. She loses him when he goes into an office building, but we see Cameron meeting with a District Attorney named Turner (a political rival of Commissioner Gordon), who tells Cameron he’s got more evidence against Barbara. Turner says Scanlon was going to cut government funding for HRD, the think tank where Barbara works … and he has proof Barbara bought the same kind of poison that killed Scanlon. That evening, Barbara is preparing dinner for her boyfriend Jim (and his daughter Tracy) when a couple of cops show up and arrest her for killing Scanlon. We’ll see where all this goes next issue.
This one starts with Batman interrupting a gunfight on the grounds of the Marcy Temple, where a faith-healer named Angela Marcy holds meetings. A couple of cops were investigating the death of Angela’s husband (Raymond Marcy) when they saw a couple of wanted thugs (from Steel Springer’s gang) come out of the temple, so they got into a gunfight. Batman takes one thug out, but one of the cops gets overzealous and almost gets killed. He’s saved by Zatanna, who was attending Angela’s meeting. Angela uses her healing abilities to help the wounded cop, but Batman’s not buying it; he says he has some questions about Angela and Zatanna is happy to answer them. In the Batcave, Batman tells Zatanna that Angela’s husband was murdered a week ago and now gangsters are coming out of her temple … something fishy is going on. Zatanna insists Angela is clean, and says she saved Zatanna’s father years ago when regular doctors could do nothing. She agrees to help Batman look into things, but says she’ll do some digging on her own first. Batman heads back to the temple and breaks in, checking out Angela’s diary. The diary has her husband’s last words, something about how she now has the power, and how he’ll come back but has one more thing to do. Zatanna is downtown, looking for a kid that Angela healed the night before, as proof to convince Batman of Angela’s power. A young couple in a car decides to speed toward the kids in the street just for the hell of it, and the “healed” kid suddenly can’t walk again. Batman saves the kid (and Zatanna turns the asshole couple’s car into feathers), but both of them wonder why Angela’s “cure” wore off. Bruce Wayne goes to meet Angela’s business manager (Yost) and uses a ruse to get his fingerprints. Yost goes to see Angela, who’s despondent that her power doesn’t seem to be working anymore. When Bruce runs Yost’s fingerprints, he turns out to be a guy named Yoder, whose son was a patient of Raymond Marcy’s who died. Batman isn’t sure if Yoder is working for himself or as Springer’s inside man, but he and Zatanna decide they’d better keep an eye on the temple. Unfortunately, Zatanna leaves her post to go inside and talk to Angela, so she’s surprised when Springer’s thugs show up. Zatanna uses her magic to fight them, but she and Angela end up getting gassed. Zatanna sends Batman a warning, but he’s injected from behind and knocked out before he can get to the temple. Inside, Springer tells Zatanna and Angela that he has some wasting disease and wanted Raymond to heal him. When Raymond refused, Springer’s thugs tried to “persuade” him and he died. Obviously that was the last message he tried to tell Angela before he died. Batman wakes up in Raymond’s tomb and realizes who injected him. Angela tries to heal Springer, but it doesn’t work and he’s ready to waste her and Zatanna. Yoder comes in and Springer’s men shoot him just as Zatanna works her gag loose. Batman shows up and he and Zatanna take out Springer’s thugs. Yoder confesses that he joined the temple with the idea of discrediting it, but soon saw the Marcy’s were doing good work, even if all their cures didn’t work. He tried to help by injecting fake cures with a special ring (Batman recognized the mark, that’s how he knew who’d injected him), but the phony cures wore off. Yoder dies and Batman goes after Springer, who took off. Springer’s conscience gets the better of him and he thinks Batman is Raymond’s spirit coming for him. Springer freaks out and dies of a heart attack. Angela says she’s ready to close the temple after all the shit that’s gone down, but Zatanna urges her to go on with her work, and Batman suggests she open a clinic downtown for people who really need it.
Nemesis – “The Council Calls for Death” – Cary Burkett/Dan Spiegle
This one starts in upstate New York where the Council has been summoned to an impromptu meeting. The Council is the worldwide criminal cabal that Nemesis has been investigating for the last few issues. We meet the members of the Council: M.C. Curtis (who looks a bit like Ted Koppel); Irene Scarfield; Leonard Maddoks (who looks like the Kingpin); Noel Chesterton; Samuel Solomon; Jay Kingston; and head of security for the meeting, Martin Brasser. Brasser assures them the place is secure and nobody could possibly infiltrate or disrupt the meeting. Kingston is the one who called the meeting and he tells them the Council may soon be under attack from Nemesis. Kingston details the trail Nemesis followed (in the last few issues) that led to Kingston’s operation and his files on the Tresser case. Kingston helpfully recounts the story of how Craig Tresser infiltrated Vander’s mob, was found out, and was then brainwashed to kill his own Bureau chief. The Council are worried that their boss (referred t only as “The Head”) might be in trouble, but Kingston assures them the files had no reference to the Head and only a brief mention to the council itself. But Kingston admits he was spooked by Nemesis’s investigation, so he took all his ultra-secret documents out of his uncrackable safe to be certain they were intact. Later, he discovered his butler had been replaced by someone in disguise—Nemesis, obviously—and had been present when Kingston was examining the documents. Nemesis left his calling card behind … a small model of the Scales of Justice. The Council freaks, saying they have to warn the Head in Gotham right away. An alarm goes off and Brasser says there’s a bomb in the room somewhere. Everybody takes off, leaving Brasser to find and defuse the bomb, and leaving all the notes of the meeting behind because no written reference to the Head is allowed to leave the room. I’m sure you can guess what happens next; yup, turns out Brasser was Nemesis in disguise. He steals all the notes and files, goes out the window, and takes off in Kingston’s helicopter. He leaves another Scales of Justice model behind, just to let the Council know they’ve been had. Next issue Nemesis teams up with Batman to look for the Head in Gotham.