Comics Reviews: Batman 334, Detective 501, Brave & the Bold 173

Batman 334 coverBatman #334 – “Infinity Island” – Marv Wolfman/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

Last issue, Batman was trying to figure out who was behind Gregorian Falstaff’s attempt to ruin Wayne Enterprises. As Bruce Wayne, he (and Talia) followed the trail to Hong Kong, where he was gassed aboard a ship. Meanwhile, Robin, Catwoman, and King Faraday followed a separate trail that also led to Hong Kong. Faraday was supposedly killed and Catwoman and Robin (in disguise) were captured by an informant (Chin) she asked for help. As this issue starts, Batman wakes up (in his Batman costume) in a fancy bedroom, but when he opens the curtains to see where he is, he’s confronted by a hellish tableau: a mob of half-crazed freaks claw at the window, like damned souls in a Hieronymus Bosch painting. The freaks bust through the window and attack. Batman tries to fight, but the mob overwhelms him and a booming voice from above tells them to take him toCatwoman and Robin escape a golden dome that sits nearby. When Batman awakens the second time, the voice tells him he can be an ally (and live in an Earthly paradise, lacking nothing), or an enemy (and be condemned to toil in the mines as a slave, tormented by mutates). Back in Hong Kong, Catwoman and Robin are about to be killed with drug overdoses when Catwoman uses her claws to get loose. Robin busts loose too and chases Chin while Catwoman pounds his thugs. Robin catches Chin and finds Faraday tied up. Catwoman threatens to inject Chin with the hot shot he’d planned for them—the needle was empty, but Chin didn’t notice that—unless he talks. They head out into the Indian Ocean and are attacked by the Prisoner-style “retriever” balls we saw a couple issues back. They’re captured by the balls and taken to the island where Batman is being held. Unfortunately, they’re all tossed into the slave mines. Talia is nearby watching, but leaves without trying to help. She makes her way into the escaping from the minescompound, knocking out guards as she goes. She’s observed from a monitoring room, but the imperious voice tells the observer not to eliminate her, since he’s certain Talia will betray her friends in the end. Gee, I wonder who the big voice could be? Batman is still in the golden dome and the voice shows him Robin, Catwoman, and Faraday in he mines. The voice demands Batman choose between paradise and hell, so Batman chooses hell and is taken to the mines. Meanwhile, Talia is still heading for the golden dome, wasting mutates as she goes. Batman and the others break each other’s chains and fight their way out of the mines, heading for the dome. They make it inside and find Talia already there, but she’s not the same Talia we’re used to seeing … she’s aged to anfighting mutates advanced degree. She begs Batman to help her, but the voice offers respite from her torment. She can’t resist and heads for a curtain. The mutates attack, keeping Batman and the others from interfering as Talia moves behind the curtain. The others are still in the dark, but Batman has figured it out (as I’m sure most of you did a long time ago) … yup, the mastermind behind the whole scheme is Ra’s Al Ghul. He steps from behind the curtain, with a once-again young and hot Talia, and makes Batman a final offer: join him and gain immortality, or defy him and die. We’ll see which one Batman chooses next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • I’m not sure why Batman was placed in the bedroom at first and attacked by the mob; if he was going to be taken to the golden dome anyway, why not just place him there first, while he was still unconscious?
  • Catwoman’s claws (or fingernails) are shown to be retractable, like real cat.
  • Catwoman is wearing a disguise (including a rubber mask) in one panel, but in the next panel she’s in her regular costume. She’s shown taking the mask off, but I have no idea where the rest of the outfit went. I’m also not sure why she wore the mask; it looked just like her real face, and she was using the name Selina Kyle when she went to see Chin, so why bother with a disguise?
  • There’s one-page filler story of Commissioner Gordon using logic to solve a crime, like Batman usually does.

Bard splashTales of Gotham – “From the Ashes” – Mike W. Barr/Dan Spiegle

This is a Jason Bard story that takes place when Bard is feeling disillusioned with being a detective. After catching his mother’s killer, he’s lost his passion for detective work, so when a woman named Susan Talley asks him to investigate the fire that burned down her boardinghouse, Bard isn’t sure if he wants to take the case. But the insurance guy (Algren) comes by and he’s a real prick, saying Susan torched the house herself for the insurance money. She begs Bard to prove her innocence; she needs the insurance money to rebuild since she and her husband split up and she has no way to provide for her son. You know Bard’s gonna help with a sob story like that, so he checks out the ex-boarders first, none of who had motive to torch their own residence. Bard checks out the burnt-out house and gets conked on the head. When he wakes up, he finds a piece of pipe that implicates one of the boarders … aBard catches the real arsonist pretty obvious frame job. But he also notices a piece of cloth snagged on some wreckage and deduces who the real arsonist is—Susan’s ex, David. He goes to see David (taking Susan and the kid along for some reason) and finds the guy has captured Algren, the insurance agent. David plans to burn his own trailer, hoping the cops will assume it’s his dead body inside. Bard busts in and decks David, then drags Algren out just as a shattered lamp sets the accelerant on fire. David burns up in his own death trap and Algren says he went there to question David and he freaked out and tied him up. With Algren’s testimony, Susan will get her insurance money and it seems like she and Bard are kinda hot for each other, so maybe she’ll get a little something extra.

Detective 501 coverDetective #501 – “The Man Who Killed Mlle. Marie” – Gerry Conway/Don Newton/Dan Adkins

This one starts with Batman lurking around Paris, France. He’s watching Alfred and Lucius Fox, who have both come to Paris secretly, leaving Batman suspicious as to why. We then get an extended flashback to bring us up to the opening scene … have I mentioned how much I hate that device? Well, I do. Anyway, Alfred got a telegram from Paris that morning a got all weird, which made Bruce a bit suspicious. But later that day, Lucius also got a telegram from Paris that freaked him out. Bruce stewed about it all day and finally checked Alfred’s room, only to find him gone. He caught up to Alfred (and Lucius) in a taxi and followed them to the airport, boarding the same plane as them. In Paris, he followed Lucius and Alfred out of the airport, where he heard them hail a cab to the Hotel Vendôme. Before Bruceairport attack could follow, he saw a baggage handler whip out a silenced pistol and aim at the taxi. Bruce spoiled the guy’s aim and got decked, but managed to grab a piece of the guy’s suit before he took off. Conveniently, the scrap of cloth just happened to have the label on it, so now Batman is prowling through the Paris night, heading for the clothing store mentioned on the label. He watches the place for a while, seeing nobody go in or out, so he moves in for a closer look. He overhears a couple of guys (including the gunman from the airport) talking about screwing up the chance to kill the “traitor” earlier. The men talk about how trying to kill the traitor may have been a mistake, since the woman they work for wants to confront the traitor in person. They hear Batman eavesdropping and rush outside, but he pounds them pretty quickly. Turns out these two are ex-members of the French Resistance and when Batman Mlle. Marie biographyhauls them in, the inspector in charge says Resistance members are like gods … they’ll never be convicted of gun possession, which is all Batman really has on them. Batman shows the inspector Alfred’s telegram, which says if he wants justice for Mlle. Marie he’ll meet a woman named Julia at the Hotel Vendôme. The inspector tells Batman about Mlle. Marie (“the burning soul of the Revolution”) and says Lucius and Alfred both worked with her (separately) in World War II. Mlle. Marie was shot (though her body was never found) at the end of the War, so the guys who tried to take a shot at Alfred or Lucius at the airport must think one of them is Marie’s killer. The inspector says there were rumours of a girl born shortly before Mlle. Marie died, a girl named Julia who was raised by a farmer named Lamarque. Obviously she’s the JuliaJulia confronts Alfred mentioned in the telegram, and probably the woman the guys at the clothing shop were talking about as well. And if she’s Mlle. Marie’s daughter, either Alfred or Lucius could be her father. Batman goes to see Alfred and Lucius, but they’re not happy to see him. They’re interrupted when Julia and a couple of thugs come in with guns. Batman smashes the lamp and pounds the thugs, but when he tries to disarm Julia, Alfred knocks him out with a fireplace poker. Julia shows her gratitude by saying she’s there to kill her mother’s murderer … then points her gun at Alfred. We’ll see how he gets out of this one next issue.

Batgirl – “The Five-Fold Revenge of Dr. Voodoo”– Cary Burkett/Jose Delbo/Joe Giella

This one starts with Dr. Voodoo consulting his mystic master, wanting help gaining revenge on Batgirl (who defeated Voodoo back in Detective 496). The master says Batgirl’s soul is shielded from Voodoo’s incantations Batgirl splashbecause of her powerful connection to law and order. But if Voodoo can weaken her soul, by causing guilt, hatred, fear, and doubt she’ll be left vulnerable to his dark magic. Voodoo starts by blowing up Batgirl’s Batcycle, injuring Jeff, the guy who looks after it for her. Sure enough, when Batgirl finds out Jeff was hurt, she feels guilty (since the bomb was probably meant for her) and when she finds a lion’s tooth at the scene, she vows revenge on Dr. Voodoo … thus fulfilling the “hate”quota. Voodoo isn’t done yet … he uses his power to cause Barbara Gordon’s boyfriend (Jim) to treat her like shit, which causes her to have doubts about his feelings for her. Jim realizes he wasn’t acting like himself, but by the time he calls Barbara back to apologize, she’s already gone. Voodoo ambushes Batgirl and knocks her out, then injects her with a drug that’ll magnify all the negative emotions she’s feeling … leaving her soul vulnerable. We’ll see how she gets out of this one next issue.

Brave and Bold 173 coverBrave & the Bold #173 – One of Us is Not One of Us”– Gerry Conway/Jim Aparo

This one starts with one of the Guardians of the Universe arriving on Earth. In order to blend in, the Guardian borrows (or steals) a suit from a shop window; he actually looks pretty good in it. The Guardian then seeks out Batman and tells him that something is wrong with his fellow Guardians on Oa. He says someone has infiltrated the Guardians, an impostor who’s posing as one of them. But the Guardians are so homogenized that they can’t tell which of their number is the impostor, and all attempts to contact any of the Green Lanterns have been futile. The Guardian suspects the impostor is blocking the signals somehow. Batman says he’ll help, but first he has a ship full of stolen contraband to check out. The Guardian goes along and they find the loot, but a big brawl breaks out and the ship ends up on fire. The GuardianGuardian helps Batman with fire impatiently puts out the fire and helps capture the smugglers so Batman can forget all this petty bullshit and help him with the real problem. They head out to Coast City where Hal Jordan is testing a new plane for Ferris Aircraft. Hal doesn’t recognize the Guardian (though Carol and Tom both do) and acts like he’s never met Batman before. Batman gasses him and when the Guardian’s power energy doesn’t shed any light on Hal’s amnesia, Batman uses old-fashioned hypnosis. Hal mumbles something about Sinestro and having to forget, so the Guardian uses his energy to change Hal into his Green Lantern costume and Tom helps him recharge his ring. That GL regains his memorybrings his memory back and GL tells Batman (and us) about Sinestro’s origin. Basically, Sinestro was a Green Lantern recruit from Korugar whose power went to his head and he was banished to the anti-matter universe of Qward. Batman figures his job is done, but GL points out that if Sinestro really has infiltrated the Guardians (and cut them off from the Green Lantern Corps), they’ll need Batman’s help to put things right. Batman agrees and says their first stop is Maltus, the Guardians’ homeworld. We’ll see what happens when they get there next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • This story obviously takes place a while ago, since Ferris Aircraft has been blown up and Carol Ferris kidnapped in the current Green Lantern storyline.
  • Some scenes in this comic look familiar … I think I might’ve had this one as a kid.

Nemesis splashNemesis – “Knight’s Gambit” – Cary Burkett/Dan Spiegle

This one starts with Nemesis at a chess tournament. He’s still going after members of the Council, to avenge the brainwashing and death of his brother; this time, his target is the Council member named Chesterton, a snobby British asshole with a love of chess. Nemesis trails Chesterton after the tournament and sees him signal some thug to follow a dude with a beard. Nemesis watches and sees the thug trying to kidnap the bearded guy, so he jumps in and fights off the kidnappers. The bearded guy turns out to be a retired RAF pilot named Greene, but he can’t figure out why anyone would want to kidnap him. Meanwhile, Chesterton gets a warning from a fellow Council member thatNemesis knocked through the window Nemesis might be looking for him, but Chesterton isn’t worried; he apparently thinks he whole thing is one big chess match, and he’s already got his strategy planned out. Nemesis takes Greene home, but there are two gunmen waiting for them. Nemesis tackles one and gets tossed out the window. When he gets back inside, Greene is gone but a Scotland Yard detective is waiting, and he says Nemesis is under arrest … for kidnapping Greene! Looks like Chesterton has laid a pretty deep trap; we’ll see if Nemesis can counter his moves next issue.

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