Comics Reviews: Batman 335, Detective 502, Brave & the Bold 174

Batman 335 coverBatman #335 – “Ashes to Ashes” – Marv Wolfman/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

Last issue, Batman and friends (Robin, Catwoman, and King Faraday) were all captured and taken to a remote island in the Indian Ocean. Batman’s sometime love, Talia, was involved, but it turned out she had her own reasons for going to the island; she was aging rapidly and needed treatments to renew her youth … treatments that could only be administered by her father, Ra’s Al Ghul. Ra’s restored Talia’s youth, then offered Batman immortality if the Caped Crusader joined him willingly. As his issue opens, Batman accepts Ra’s Al Ghul’s offer, shocking his friends, who are dragged off to the mines to work. Talia takes Batman on a tour of the facility and Ra’s confides to his majordomo (Saltzer) that he doesn’t really believe Batman’s heel turn, butBatman pounded by mutates wants to see how far the Darknight will take it. Ra’s takes over the tour and shows Batman the source of his immortality … the Lazarus Pit. Ra’s says he uses other methods to keep Talia young, since immersion in the Pit would kill anyone but him. He mentions that Bruce Wayne accidentally acquired this island along with other Asian land, and Ra’s made it his business to investigate Wayne—eventually discovering he was Batman. Ra’s confesses that he wanted to take all of Wayne’s holdings from him to bolster his own wealth and power. He used Gregorian Falstaff as a front to bankrupt Bruce Wayne, but when that didn’t work he decided t get personally involved. Ra’s dips his hand in the Lazarus Pit and offers it to Batman, saying he can have immortal life if he pledges himself to Ra’s. Batman drops his charade and tries to leave, but gets pounded by Ra’s Al Ghul’s mutates. In the mines, Talia shotRobin and the others escape, fighting their way through mutates and back into the complex. Turns out Batman signaled them that he was just playing along with Ra’s, but Robin has a feeling Batman’s in trouble, so he’s moving things forward. In the control room, Talia knocks Saltzer out and directs Robin’s team to the lab. They get there just as Ra’s is about to turn Batman into a mindless mutate. They attack and Batman busts out of the cylinder he was in and grabs Ra’s. Ra’s is disappointed when Talia admits she fell in love with Batman for real while she was supposed to spying on him for her father. Saltzer comes in with a gun and when Talia tries to take him out, he shoots her. Ra’s kills Saltzer with one strike, but Talia is near death. Ra’s takes her to the Lazarus Pit, immersing her for only a moment … but it’sBatman throws Ra's in the Pit enough to save her life. Her first words on reviving are for Batman, which pisses Ra’s off to no end. He challenges Batman to settle things once and for all, so Batman tells the others to get off the island. He and Ra’s duel and are pretty evenly matched, but when Ra’s threatens to harm the people Batman is close to, the Caped Crusader rallies and tosses Ra’s into the Lazarus Pit. Batman and Talia are ready to leave, but Ra’s staggers up out of the Pit, body on fire and mind completely maddened with pain. He attacks Batman, who tells Talia to get out. Ra’s and Batman fight and Ra’s fiery condition almost proves too much. But Batman knocks him into the Pit again and this time he doesn’t come out. The fight has started a fire in the chamber which quickly Ra's goes into the pit on firespreads, so Batman takes off. Talia is waiting in a helicopter and they leave just as the entire island explodes into flames from the volcano at its heart. Back in Gotham, we learn that the others got most of the mutates off the island and Faraday is trying to rehab them. Catwoman has disappeared, trying to sort out her feelings for Batman. Talia leaves too, saying that now her father can’t keep her young anymore she wants to experience real life—alone. Bruce and Dick decide they need to have a serious talk and clear the air between them … but they figure it can wait, and they go out for a leisurely walk.

Detective 502 coverDetective #502 – “Who Shot Mlle. Marie?” – Gerry Conway/Don Newton/Dan Adkins

Last issue, Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox were lured to France by someone claiming to have information about the death of Mlle. Marie, famous French war hero. Batman followed, thinking something was fishy, and he was right: a gunman tried to take a shot at Alfred and Lucius at the airport and they were later kidnapped by a group of former Resistance members who were certain either Alfred or Lucius was responsible for Marie being shot in the closing days of the War. Batman was also captured by a bitter woman named Julia Remarque, purportedly Marie’s daughter. This issue starts with Batman tied up in a barn, where the Resistance members have convened a kangaroo court to decide who’s guilty of Marie’s murder … and carry out summary justice. Julia has already decided that Alfred is the guilty one, but Batman convinces her that she can’t just kill him in cold blood, so she says there willMarie's history be a fair trial. Lucius offers to defend Alfred and they hear from the first witness … a kid whose grandmother (and great-aunt) fished Marie out of the river after she was shot back in 1945. according to the girl’s second-hand, hearsay evidence, Marie (who turned out to be pregnant) thought she’d been shot by someone in the Resistance, but was in some kind of shock after it all happened. She kept repeating the name “Alfred” over and over again, and after she had the baby, she took off. A woman’s body was found in the river a few weeks later and everyone assumed it was Marie. Lucius points out that none of this is real evidence against Alfred, but when he asks Alfred to refute the girl’s testimony, Alfred breaks down into tears and doesn’t say a word. Julia is ready to kill him, but Batman busts loose and says he’ll come back in twelve hours with proof of Alfred’s innocence. Batman goes to see the cop who helped him last issue (Dupré) and gets some info on the woman who Batman catches the real traitorwas fished out of the river so long ago. Apparently, she had no wounds or scars on her body at all, suggesting she wasn’t really Mlle. Marie. As Bruce Wayne, he tracks down one of the women who helped Marie and finds out she saved the bullet. The old lady says there was a collaborator in Marie’s circle, a cop named Roget who was playing both sides. Bruce notices movement outside and saves the old lady from being shot. He dives through the window, but the gunman is already gone. Bruce knows where he’s going and beats him there. When Dupré comes in, Batman is waiting in the shadows. Turns out he suspected Dupré all along because Dupré knew way too much about Marie and even about Julia. Dupré tries to shoot Batman, who decks him and takes him back to the barn. Batman hands over the bullet that was taken from Marie all those years ago and tells Julia it’ll match Dupré’s gun. She wonders why Marie repeated Alfred’s name so much during her delirium; the answer is rather obvious, but Batman says he doesn’t know …Farewell for Alfred and Julia and points out that it doesn’t really matter, since she has her mother’s real killer. Later, Julia and her adoptive father, Jacques Remarque, see Alfred and Lucius off at the airport. We find out that Julia is Alfred’s daughter and that he’s been secretly supporting her for years, ever since Jacques first let him know about her (which wasn’t until she was two years old). Julia doesn’t know about Alfred being her father, but the look she gives him as she’s leaving says she might have an inkling.

Noticeable Things:

  • It’s strongly suggested that Mlle. Marie survived after giving birth to Julia, but I don’t know if that’s ever followed up on.
  • Mlle. Marie’s story has been changed many times over the years (and it’s been established that there were many different women who went by that name), so this particular story needs to be taken with a grain of salt—especially post-Crisis. Obviously Gerry meant this to be canon at the time, but the Crisis wiped out the whole idea of Julia being Alfred and Marie’s daughter (or even of Alfred being old enough to have served in WW II). After Final Crisis, it was shown that Marie survived the War and had a son who looked a hell of a lot like Sgt. Rock.
  • I’m not sure why a collaborator who was trying to get away from his past would hang on to the German Luger he used to shoot one of France’s greatest heroes; maybe he told everyone it was a war souvenir, although considering the wounds the Occupation left on France, you wouldn’t think they’d want such tangible reminders around.

Batgirl splashBatgirl – “To Live a Nightmare” – Cary Burkett/Jose Delbo/Joe Giella

Last issue, Batgirl was targeted for revenge by Dr. Voodoo, who used his mystic powers to infect her with negative emotions (hatred, guilt, and doubt) to prepare her soul for Voodoo’s takeover. It’s worked to some degree, with Batgirl’s heightened emotions causing havoc in her personal life and leaving her open to Voodoo’s physical attack. But instead of finishing her off, he leaves her unconscious so he can use his powers to corrupt her soul later on. Batgirl wakes up feeling like shit and heads to work where her negative emotions cause her to get into a confrontation with her asshole coworker, Bob Barton (she slaps his face!). The pressure mounts as she’s told her department has a new deadline for a project, and her father calls to tell her Tracy Dover (herBatgirl pounds Dr. Voodoo boyfriend’s daughter) has been kidnapped by Dr. Voodoo. Batgirl swears to rescue Tracy, even though she knows it’s a trap. Voodoo has filled the house where he’s holding Tracy with mystic objects designed to incapacitate Batgirl with fear and doubt. But by concentrating on Tracy, Batgirl is able to fight past her fear and kick Voodoo’s ass, severing his mystic connection to the dark forces. Batgirl rescues Tracy, who says she wasn’t really scared, since she knew Batgirl would save her. Batgirl admits she was scared enough for both of them, but fear can be overcome if you try hard enough.

Brave and Bold 174 coverBrave & the Bold #174 – “To Trap an Immortal” – Gerry Conway/Jim Aparo

Last issue, a Guardian of the Universe came to Earth to get Batman’s help. Sinestro, the renegade Green Lantern, had infiltrated himself into the Guardians, cutting off all contact with the Green Lantern Corps. Since all the Guardians are fundamentally alike—even to each other—they needed a detective of Batman’s calibre to root out Sinestro. Batman started by contacting Hal Jordan, Earth’s Green Lantern, and restoring his memory. The three of them then headed for Maltus, the Guardians’ homeworld. Batman is blown away when they arrive on Maltus, but soon gets his shit together. He explains that he wants to recruit some extra help, in the form of the Guardian who traveled the country with Green Lantern and Green Arrow (in the classic O’Neil/Adams run on Green Lantern in the early 70s). That Guardian (who GL refers to as Old Timer) was stripped of his immortality and banished back to Maltus forknight attack helping GL and Arrow, but he agrees to help root out Sinestro despite how the Guardians have treated him. On Oa, they’re attacked by a gigantic emerald knight generated by the Central Power Battery. Obviously Sinestro is tapping into the Battery to animate the knight, but even after defeating it they’re no closer to knowing which Guardian is Sinestro in disguise. Batman gets an idea and sends GL off on a mission. Old Timer has a way to reveal Sinestro and sends Batman to the main temperature controls. As a group of Guardians is meeting, they notice something has changed in their environment. Old Timer admits that’s true and teases them by offering them food, which they don’t need since they’re immortal. But Sinestro is mortal and gives himself away by shivering in the lower temperature. His masquerade revealed, Sinestro attacks the Old Timer, who’s saved by Batman. But Sinestro’s time the corps shows upon Oa has been spent absorbing energy directly from the Central Power Battery; not only is he strong enough to fight the Guardians, he’s strong enough to enslave their minds and use them as his puppets. Luckily, GL returns with the rest of the Green lantern Corps, who fight the controlled Guardians. Old Timer tells Batman the Guardians (and Sinestro) are taking power straight from the Central Battery, so Batman comes up with a plan. He gets GL and the other Corps members to direct all their power at the Central Battery, overloading it. Since Sinestro is linked to the Battery, he’s overloaded too, and soon keels over from the excess energy. In gratitude for his help, the Guardians offer to return Old Timer’s immortality, but he declines; he says his mortality makes him more alive than any of his fellow Guardians, since he knows his life will end someday.

Nemesis splashNemesis – “Bishop’s Sacrifice” – Cary Burkett/Dan Spiegle

Last issue, Nemesis continued his pursuit f the Council members by going after Chesterton, a chess master who’s been playing a real-life game. Chesterton started by kidnapping Sir Robert Greene (a knight) and when Nemesis tried to stop him, he was mistaken for the kidnapper. Nemesis tries to explain to the Scotland Yard detective that he’s innocent, but the detective won’t listen, so Nemesis punches him out and takes off. The fact that Nemesis left the detective’s gun behind makes him think Nemesis might just be telling the truth. We see Nemesis’s ersatz partner from a couple issues ago, Valerie Foxworth, arriving in London even though Nemesis told her to stay out of this case. But Valerie has a grudge against the Council too, so she’s determined to help bring them down. Nemesis goes back to his room and disguises himself to get into Chesterton’s house. On his way out, he passes some of Chesterton’s goonsNemesis takes out some thugs who trailed him to his hotel. They bust in but of course, Nemesis isn’t there, so they decide to wait for him. Nemesis bluffs his way into Chesterton’s house and finds notes detailing Chesterton’s real-life chess maneuvers—which seem to indicate Chesterton will kidnap the Bishop of Winchester tonight, and the Queen of England in nine days’ time. Nemesis notices the lights on in his hotel room and sneaks up the fire escape to see the thugs waiting for him. He overhears them talking about some woman who showed up looking for Nemesis; he takes the thugs out and realizes the woman (who the thugs captured and stashed someplace) is Valerie. But in order to rescue Valerie, Nemesis will have to sacrifice the Bishop to Chesterton’s machinations. we’ll see how that plays out next issue.

2 thoughts on “Comics Reviews: Batman 335, Detective 502, Brave & the Bold 174”

  1. The art on all of these stories was top shelf, Mike! I’ve always found it easier to review comics when I like the art. Some great Batman artists on display today!

    Doug

    1. Yeah, I’m more of a “writing” guy than an “art” guy, but Batman had great artists back in the Bronze Age; Aparo, Novick, Newton, Adams, Colan … what’s not to like?

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