Comics reviews: Batman 341, Detective 508, Brave & the Bold 180

Batman 341 coverBatman #341 – “The Ghost of Wayne Mansion” – Gerry Conway/Irv Novick/Frank McLaughlin

This one starts with three kids running out of Wayne Manor during a thunderstorm, freaking out because they’re sure they saw a ghost. There is a strange shape flying out of the mansion, but it’s impossible to tell just what it is. The kids almost get run over by a cop and they tell him their story. The next day, Commissioner Gordon asks Bruce Wayne for permission to search Wayne Manor, saying that the kids’ story isn’t the only weird thing that’s happened at the mansion lately. Bruce refuses to let the cops traipse around in his house (since he doesn’t want them to stumble upon the Batcave), so Gordon says he’ll get permission from the Gotham Historicalbackroom politics Society, who’ve been taking care of the place since Bruce left. Downtown, a guy whose face we can’t see (the same guy who was released from Arkham Asylum last issue) attends a meeting at the Tobacconists’ Club with all of Gotham’s movers and shakers. The Tobacconists’ Club is Gotham’s version of Tammany Hall, where power brokers meet to decide how the city is governed, and by whom. All the rich dudes tell the mysterious figure that he’s yesterday’s news and they don’t have to listen to him anymore, but they change their minds when he plays a blackmail tape of them conspiring to ignore safety regulations for the ill-fated Gotham Nuclear plant. They realize they have no choice but to do whatever this guy wants; he tells them he owns one of the candidates in the upcoming mayoral race (either Reeves Batman surveys the Batcaveor Hill) and he wants his man to win. Bruce reviews camera footage of the original Batcave from the new headquarters under the Wayne Foundation Building and sees the secret door behind the grandfather clock is ajar. He heads out to Wayne Manor to make sure Gordon and company don’t find anything, but it’s worse than he’d feared: Gordon has retained famous “ghost-breaker” Dr. Terrence Thirteen to figure out what’s going on at Wayne Manor. Batman listens as Gordon tells Thirteen (and a woman from the Historical Society) that there have been reports of weird lights and noises from Wayne Manor lately, and some bum saw a ghostly apparition while trying to sleep there. Gordon mentions the kids we saw at the beginning of the issue and adds that the cop who found them went into the mansion to check things out. He saw glowing red eyes and a strange shape in the darkness and freaked out, emptying his revolver and running like hell. Batman knows Dr. Thirteen will check the house top to bottom and is boundDr. Thirteen attacked to find one of the hidden entrances to the Batcave. Batman shorts an outlet to knock out the lights and sabotages Thirteen’s sonar device so he won’t be able to detect the secret passages behind the walls. Thirteen finds evidence of Batman’s tinkering with the lights and knows someone else is inside the house, but Thirteen doesn’t think it’s a ghost. (Dr. Thirteen’s whole schtick is that he debunks ghost sightings, proving they aren’t real.) A high-pitched shriek echoes through the house, startling everyone. A blurred shape attacks, knocking Dr. Thirteen down and taking off before Gordon can get a shot at it. Batman goes after the shape, but it gets away upstairs. Since the others have seen him, Batman tells Gordon he was asked to Check things out by Bruce Wayne. Batman asks Gordon to give him an hour alone to investigate the “ghost” and Gordon agrees, though Thirteen’s not too Batman strangled by Man-Bathappy. Batman finds the grandfather clock ajar and hears another shriek from below. He heads down into the Batcave and cranks up the lights, finding just what he expected … Man-Bat has been using the Batcave as a refuge. But something’s wrong with Man-Bat … he’s gone bestial, wild with anger, and he attacks Batman. Meanwhile, Dr. Thirteen has snuck back into the mansion and found the secret staircase behind the clock. He makes his way down to the Batcave, assuming the stairs lead to old smugglers’ tunnels and the “ghost” is some hobo who’s been using the lace as a refuge. But when he reaches the Batcave, Thirteen is shocked to see Man-Bat strangling Batman. We’ll see what happens ( and how batman keeps Thirteen from revealing his secret) next issue.

Noticeable Things:

  • Batman figures he left the secret door behind the clock open after fighting the Mole last issue. It’s said that two weeks have passed since that issue, so the Batcave is no longer flooded, just a bit damp.
  • There’s a “Just a Moment Mystery” by Snyder/Gonzales where Batman picks the murderer from three suspects after one of them makes a stupid mistake.
  • There’s also a Robin back-up story (by Conway/Von Eeden/DeCarlo) about Dick (Robin) Grayson returning from the Hill Circus where he’sRobin conked on the head been for the last few issues. He gets a lift from a weird old dude with a scarred face and a strange tattoo on his hand. Dick’s suspicions are raised, so when the guy drops him of, he jumps on the back on the truck. The guy drives off into the fields and changes into a robe. Dick changes to Robin and learns the guy is part of a coven who are preparing to sacrifice a hitchhiker. Robin pounds a guard and takes his robe, but while he’s watching the coven, the recovered guard decks him from behind.

Detective 508 coverDetective #508 – “Secret of the Sphinx Sinister” – Gerry Conway/Don Newton/Dan Adkins

This one starts with Batman checking on Selina (Catwoman) Kyle after trying to call her and finding her phone disconnected. Hr place has been trashed and her cats are starving, so Batman knows she didn’t leave willingly. He collects some strange dust from the floor that turns out to be from an Egyptian tomb … basically, it’s mummy dust. Bruce Wayne goes to the Gotham Metropolitan Museum to see an old friend, Gregory Griffin, and ask him about the mummy dust. Griffin isn’t there, so Bruce talks to his assistant, Donaldson. They find Griffin’s office ransacked and Brucesecret chamber discovers a hidden room behind the office. The room is full of Egyptian antiquities, including a death mask from Queen Kara and a photograph of Selina Kyle … who looks just like Kara. Donaldson mentions they excavated Queen Kara’s tomb last year and Griffin has been obsessed with her ever since. Donaldson finds a burial stone that he hadn’t seen before and translates it as having something to do with a pharaoh named Khafre and the Sphinx at Giza. Bruce figures Griffin might identify as Khafre and took Selina to be his version of Queen Kara, so he heads to Egypt right away. He tracks Selina and Griffin to Giza and waits around until nightfall, when he Batman attacked by jackalschanges to Batman to scrutinize the scene. A pack of jackals attacks him and he climbs the Sphinx to get away from them. Their bold behaviour makes him think something strange is going on, but before he can ponder it too much, he stumbles upon a secret entrance and climbs through a shaft into the Sphinx. Batman finds a series of chambers under the Sphinx (I guess Gerry reads the same conspiracy books as the rest of us), where he locates Selina, dressed like Queen Kara. She’s in a trance, drugged by some kind of soporific incense, but before Batman can revive her, he’s confronted by Griffin in all his crazy glory. Griffin really thinks he’s Khafre and brags about how the artifacts he found let him control denizens of the area, including the jackals outside. As he’s rambling on, Griffin tries to blast Batman with a solar wand. Since Batman doesn’t want all the driedGriffin attacks Batman mummies to go up like tinder, he surrenders and lets Griffin wrap him up like a mummy. Griffin says he’s going to burn some more tanna leaves (ah, nothing beats the classics!) so he and his “Queen” will slip into an endless sleep; basically, he’s killing himself and Selina so they can be together forever in the afterlife. Batman slices out of his wrappings and decks Griffin, grabbing Selina and heading for the exit. Griffin follows and climbs up the shaft, assuming that the controlled jackals outside will take care of Batman, or at least keep him from escaping. But when Griffin reaches the top of the shaft, Batman is nowhere to be seen. He looks up just as the Caped Crusader jumps him from Griffin set upon by jackalsabove and they tumble to the desert floor. Griffin drops the medallion he used to control the jackals and they attack, tearing into him. Batman leaves him to his fate and takes Selina to safety. The next day, Bruce Wayne and Selina tell an Egyptian official what happened. He has trouble believing it, but when they show him the secret chamber he has no choice but to take their word. All that’s left of Griffin is the medallion and a few scraps of clothing … no other remains. Bruce tells Selina he wants to discuss their relationship—or lack thereof—and she agrees it’s time they settled things once and for all. I hope she’s going to tell him she’s guessed that he’s Batman, but we’ll find out next issue.

Batgirl gets her cycle backBatgirl – “The Attack of the Annihilator” – Cary Burkett/Jose Delbo/Joe Giella

This one starts with Batgirl checking out her rebuilt Batcycle at the garage of her friend Jeff (to whom she recently revealed her secret identity of Barbara Gordon). She heads home and the next day, Barbara gives a televised speech on prison reform as part of her job at Human Resources and Development. Across town, a geologist named Anderson is pissed off that the media are wasting time on stuff like prison reform instead of talking about his big discovery. Anderson has found a meteorite of an unknown element that he thinks holds vast amounts of power. He starts chipping away at the stone and you can guess what happens next … yup, he’s bathed in otherworldly radiation. When will these scientists learn? Barbara’s colleagues at HRD congratulate her (exceptSupergirl in trouble Bob Barton, who’s still an asshole) and she catches an interview on TV with new soap star Linda Danvers. The interview is interrupted by a report on a big-headed freak causing havoc downtown, so Barbara quickly leaves to change to Batgirl. Naturally, the big-head is Anderson (now calling himself Annihilator), who’s rampaging to get people to pay attention to the great new power source he’s discovered. Batgirl jumps him but he blasts her and she almost falls to her death. Supergirl zooms in and rescues her, then goes after Annihilator, but he ends up draining the super-power out of her like the Parasite. Batgirl watches from nearby and wonders what the hell to do next.

Noticeable Things:

  • Supergirl’s secret identity is Linda Danvers, which explains why she was nearby to save Batgirl. But I’m not sure if Batgirl is supposed toidentity issues know Supergirl’s secret ID at this point; Supergirl is circumspect about just happening “to be in the neighbourhood”, but then immediately mentions being Linda Danvers. I think the second speech bubble was supposed to be a thought bubble and Batgirl doesn’t actually know her secret ID yet.

Brave & Bold 180 coverBrave & the Bold #180 – “The Scepter of the Dragon God” – Michael Fleisher/Jim Aparo

This one starts at the Gotham Metropolitan Museum, where a security guard is hypnotized by an artifact in the Asian section. He takes the artifact (a piece of an ancient wand) and blasts an old funeral urn, freeing some kind of ethereal spirit. The guard is cut down by Samurai warriors and Batman comes in to fight them, having heard the guard’s screams. Batman is startled to find the Samurai suits of armour are empty. A museum curator (Sellman) explains that the now-open funeral urn contained the spirit of an evil wizard named Wa’ar-Zen, who was trapped in the urn by a good wizard (Kwan-Yin) years ago. Wa’ar-Zen’s wand was split into three parts and scattered, to keep him from using its power again, but obviously one of the fragments made its way to the Museum and has been reclaimed by Wa’ar-Zen. If he gets the other twoBatman blunders in pieces, he’ll be unstoppable. Sellman tells Batman one piece is still in Japan and the other is being auctioned in New York that very night. In New York, we see Jim (Spectre) Corrigan at the auction, acting as undercover security. When Wa’ar-Zen shows up to grab the wand fragment, Spectre challenges him. Spectre is barely holding his own when Batman comes busting in and distracts him. Wa’ar-Zen traps Batman in eldritch bindings and takes off. Spectre frees Batman and says they’d better figure out some strategy because when Wa’ar-Zen gets the final wand fragment, he’ll be even more powerful than the Spectre. In Shizuoka, Japan, Wa-ar-Zen finds the final fragment in the Temple of the Dragon God and reassembles the wand. Before he can go Spectre turned inside outwild with power, he’s confronted by his old enemy, Kwan-Yin. He blasts the sorcerer, who turns out to be Batman in disguise, trying to distract Wa’ar-Zen so Spectre can attack. The element of surprise ruined, Spectre gets his ass kicked on multiple planes of existence. Wa’ar-Zen brings him back to Earth’s plane to finish him off, but Batman goes old school and knocks the wand out of Wa’ar-Zen’s hand with a Batarang and blows it up with some explosives from his utility belt. Since the wand was the only thing keeping Wa’ar-Zen corporeal, he dissipates into nothingness. Spectre thanks Batman for saving his ass and returns him to Gotham.

Nemesis splashNemesis – “Be Still My Trembling Heart” – Cary Burkett/Dan Spiegle

A couple issues ago, Nemesis went after the Council member named Samuel Solomon, but Solomon turned the tables and lured him into a trap. He attached a device to Nemesis’s chest that can stimulate his heart, causing him to have a heart attack if Solomon uses a control device. Nemesis managed to escape with one of the control boxes, making Solomon think he died. But he can’t figure out how to remove the device from his chest without setting it off. His sometime partner, Valerie, is worried, but Nemesis doesn’t let her know what’s going on. He figures Solomon must’ve hired a scientist to construct the heart stimulator, so he heads to New York and contacts a pimp named Road Runner (whoNemesis about to have a heart attack looks a lot like Huggy Bear and apparently serves a similar function in this story). Road Runner ferrets out the info Nemesis needs and Nemesis repays him by pounding some thugs that are after Road Runner and giving him enough money to pay off the thugs’ boss. Road Runner’s info leads Nemesis to a guy named Ted Rice in upstate New York. Nemesis breaks into Rice’s place and finds another heart stimulator. As he’s trying to figure out how it works (so he can deactivate his own), Rice catches him and uses a controller to send Nemesis’s heart into overdrive. We’ll see if Nemesis survives next issue.

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