Comics Reviews: Batman 343, Detective 510, Brave & the Bold 182

Batman 343 coverBatman #343 – “A Dagger So Deadly” – Gerry Conway/Gene Colan/Klaus Janson

This one starts with Batman searching the area around the original Batcave for any sign of Man-Bat, who he fought last issue. He can’t find any clues so he finally gives up and heads home. On the way, he sees a weirdo (Dagger) on a motorcycle shaking down a truck driver for protection. Dagger lives up to his name and throws a knife so accurately that he forces the truck to crash. Batman goes after Dagger, who expertly tosses another knife, destroying the Batmobile’s engine and starting it on fire. To save the bystanders, Batman steers the burning car off a bridge, snagging the railing with his Batline as the Batmobile plunges into the river. Dagger gets away, butPoison Ivy cashes in Batman vows to find him. The next day, Bruce Wayne shows up for a meeting between the board of the Wayne Foundation and the head of Gotham National Bank. A woman named Ivy has presented the Bank with papers saying she owns all Wayne Foundation assets and wants them liquidated. Bruce and the board confirm the documents are legit, but what they can’t say is that Poison Ivy hypnotized them into signing over the Foundation’s assets. The same hypnosis prevents the from telling anyone what Ivy did; whenever they try, the words just choke off in their throats. Ivy shows up to collect her money but the banker tells her it’ll take a week to liquidate that much capital. Later that day, Dagger busts up a jewelry store, trying to extort more protection money. He gets away from the cops who come after him. Mayoral candidate Arthur Reeves notices the disturbance and pledges to make Gotham safe again if he’s elected. Reeves is currently a couple points behind in the polls, but he Dagger smashedgoes to meet a shadowy figure who says he can help Reeves win. When Reeves agrees, the mysterious guy (who we know is Boss Thorne, though Reeves doesn’t) gives him some photos that supposedly contain proof of Batman’s secret identity. Speaking of Batman, he’s currently under water, retrieving Dagger’s knife from the wrecked Batmobile. He finds a manufacturer’s mark on the blade, leading him to Rennington Steel (ha!), a blade-maker upstate. Batman meets the owner, David Rennington, who’s bitter that his company has fallen on hard times since he took over. Rennington turns out to be Dagger, running a protection racket to help the floundering company, which Batman figures out in time to keep from being skewered. Batman leads Dagger on a chase through the plant and fakes him out long enough to pound him. Batman leaves Dagger for the cops and heads home.

Noticeable Things:

  • A caption says it’s been about a week since Batman’s fight with Man-Bat last issue, but that his Egyptian adventure took place in that time, delaying him from looking for Man-Bat.
  • It’s said that the Wayne Foundation assets that Poison Ivy is trying to grab are worth $10 million; that doesn’t seem like a lot, even for 1982.

Robin – “Odyssey’s End” – Gerry Conway/Trevor von Eeden/Rodin Rodriguez

This one continues from last issue as Dick Grayson drops off the girl he rescued (Deanna) from the cult last issue. But he notices something weird about the “doctors” at the clinic where he takes Deanna (one of them is wearing his caduceus symbol upside down), so he comes back to checkRobin knocked out things out as Robin. Turns out the phony doctors are thieves waiting to hijack a drug shipment to the clinic. Robin figures he better get Deanna out first, but she’s so traumatized by almost being sacrificed by the cult that she’s totally out of it. The thieves just stashed her in an empty room, but when Robin tries to drag her out she freaks and pushes him over, knocking him out. The thieves strap him to an operating table and put an anesthetic mask on him, cranking the gas all the way up. They leave him to die with Deanna as a witness. But she gets her shit together in time to save him and Robin pounds the thieves. He’s finally ready to head back to Gotham, where we’ll see him next issue.

Detective 510 coverDetective #510 – “Head-Hunt by a Mad Hatter” – Gerry Conway/Gene Colan/Klaus Janson

This one starts at a mayoral debate between candidates Arthur Reeves (whose main issue is stopping Batman’s vigilantism) and Hamilton Hill (whose rhetoric centres around Commissioner Gordon, who he blames for the recent spate of police shootings and other violence). Batman is watching the debate and actually agrees with some of Hill’s points (police shootings have been more numerous), but thinks Hill’s dog whistle crowd-baiting is dangerous. Gordon is nearby with the Riot Squad is case things get crazy. Batman sees a couple of thieves robbing a store and goes after them, catching one. Reeves assumes Batman is attacking innocent citizens and ends up looking like an idiot when the truth comes out. ButMad Hatter ransoms Lucius Fox Reeves isn’t too bothered, since he has an ace in the hole … photos showing Batman’s true identity. That night, Lucius Fox is working late at Wayne Enterprises, using some fancy computer. Suddenly, the computer goes crazy and explodes, knocking Lucius out. We see the culprit come in and drop a hat on Lucius’s unconscious head … yup, it’s Mad Hatter. Commissioner Gordon calls Bruce Wayne, who rushes over to find the place a shambles and Lucius nowhere to be found. Bruce notices a power pack attached to the destroyed computer that doesn’t belong there and his secretary gives him a card (for Head Hunters Inc.) she found on her desk. Gordon tells Bruce to call the number and of course it’s Mad Hatter; he says he finds executive talent for Batman pounds Hatter's mencompanies who need it and has just noticed that Wayne Enterprises has an opening. Bruce agrees to pay $2 million into a certain account by that afternoon. Bruce takes the power pack all over town until he finds the place that sold it (to a short, fat guy who wears funny hats); the guy also bought a bunch of bio-feedback devices, including an alpha wave monitor, which was delivered to an old restaurant in the Torytown district of Gotham. Bruce has a pretty good idea who’s behind Lucius’s kidnapping, but sends the money to insure Lucius’s safety. The money is transferred through an endless array of accounts and dummy companies so it’s impossible to trace. But Mad Hatter wants to double down, so he prepares to use his alpha wave monitor to drain all the knowledge from Lucius’s mind. Unfortunately, that’ll leave Lucius a mindless shell. Before Hatter can start the process Batman shows up, blinding Hatter and his men with a magnesium flare. Batman pounds the thugs but Hatter threatens toBatman fakes Hatter out wipe Lucius’s mind. Batman offers himself instead and Hatter can’t pass that up, so he straps Batman into the machine and throws the switch to make the Caped Crusader’s mind a complete blank. Naturally, Batman was faking him out and he grabs Mad Hatter when he’s celebrating his triumph. Turns out Batman was wearing an insulated rubber skullcap under his cowl; he knew Hatter had an alpha wave monitor and bio-feedback devices, so he wore the skullcap as a precaution against any mind-altering. Hatter is taken away, but Batman’s joy is short-lived as Gordon shows him a newspaper with Arthur Reeves claiming to have proof of Batman’s secret identity.

Noticeable Things:

  • In business parlance, a head hunter is someone who recruits executive talent for big firms who need it; Mad Hatter has put a twist on the concept by kidnapping the talent and selling him back to the original company.
  • This is the original Mad Hatter (from way back in Batman #49), the one who looks like the Alice in Wonderland character and has a pet chimp that he calls “darling”. This Mad Hatter has been institutionalized since then; the Mad Hatter Batman’s fought in the last few years was an impostor, but this Hatter claims to have eliminated him.
  • If you’re wondering how Batman found the right restaurant in Torytown, Hatter picked one called the Top Hat; he might as well have left a trail of bread crumbs.

Batgirl – “Bride of Destruction” – Cary Burkett/Jose Delbo/Joe Giella

Last issue, Batgirl and Supergirl were fighting a goofball called Annihilator, a former geologist who discovered some kind of energy that mutated him into a powerful futuristic being. But the energy also warped his mind, so Annihilator wants to use the energy to transform everyone else … starting with Batgirl, who he’s chosen to be his “bride”. Supergirl knocks Batgirl outAnnihilator busts loose of the path of Annihilator’s energy beam and the two super-heroines go after the nutcase. He tries to blast them and lights the building on fire, but Supergirl puts it out and rescues Batgirl. Batgirl notices that Annihilator has transformed again, but he’s still crazy. Supergirl traps him in a brick prison with her super-speed, leaving Batgirl feeling a bit inadequate. Annihilator busts out and blasts Supergirl with his enhanced power, then tries to transform Batgirl. She gets an idea about how to beat him and soaks him with water from a fire hydrant, then revives Supergirl and tells her to hit Annihilator with her super-cold breath. She does and that changes him back to a normal human again. Batgirl noticed that heat triggered Annihilator’s transformations, so she reasoned cold would change him back.

Brave and Bold 182 coverBrave & the Bold #182 – “Interlude on Earth-Two” – Alan Brennert/Jim Aparo

This one starts on Earth-2, with Dick (Robin) Grayson and Ted (Starman) Knight investigating a wild thunderstorm that Ted claims isn’t natural. Robin can only think of one guy who could control the weather like that, but he supposedly died years ago. Turns out Robin is right though, as Professor Hugo Strange (the Earth-2 version, naturally) manifests in the storm and zaps Starman, stealing his Cosmic Rod. Strange promises to destroy Gotham as payback for Batman defeating him years before. Speaking of Batman, we see the Earth-1 version having a sudden compulsion to visit a certain Gotham cemetery, even though he doesn’t know anyone who’s buried there. There’s a storm in Earth-1’s Gotham too, and after a particularly big lightning strike, Batman finds himself standing in front of Bruce Wayne’s grave. He realizes he must be onRobin meets Batman at JSA HQ Earth-2 (since that version of Bruce Wayne/Batman died a few years ago) and heads for JSA headquarters so Dr. Fate can send him back to his own Earth. On the way, he stops some muggers, but the victims are freaked out to see Batman back from the dead and run away screaming. As Batman tries to break into JSA HQ, Robin comes by looking for help against Strange and jumps him. Robin’s startled to see Batman, but soon realizes he’s the Earth-1 version (they’ve met before, briefly). Robin tells Batman about Strange and Batman agrees to help, which freaks Robin out a bit since “his” Bruce Wayne is dead and buried. Robin had come to terms with it, but now he’s got a walking, talking reminder staring him in the face. The JSA HQ is attacked by Catwoman's jetattacked by Selina Kyle’s Pantherjet, which was supposedly destroyed years ago. Batman figures Strange is using the Cosmic Rod to recreate menaces from the past; he starts barking orders and jumps into the plane, aiming it at a radio tower at the airport to force it to crash. Batman bails out but mistimes his jump. Robin saves his ass and reminds him he’s not Batman’s junior partner; in fact, they’re probably about the same age, so Batman better stop treating him like a kid. They’re attacked by another recreated threat (a giant top belonging to the Spinner) and Batman comes up with a way to beat it that mirrors what the Earth-2 Batman did originally. Before he and Robin can put that plan into action, someone stops the giant top with a rope. It turns out to be Batwoman (aka Kathy Kane), who’s freaked out to see Batman, even after finding out he’s from a different Earth. Batman’s a bitBatwoman saves the Dynamic Duo shaken seeing her too, since Earth-1’s Batwoman was killed not that long ago. But this version retired from crimefighting after Batman married Catwoman (Kathy didn’t know who Batman was, but she “sensed” that he’d married someone else). They’re attacked by a recreation of the Batmobile and Batman grabs some stuff from the trunk before Robin disables the vehicle, making it crash. Batman hoped his Earth-2 counterpart would have the same items stashed in the Batmobile’s trunk and it turns out he did … three Whirly-Bats. Robin wants Kathy to leave because Kathy is married and has kids, but she says she never felt so useful as when she was fighting crime and wants to help. Robin notices a plaque he etched on the Batmobile when it was retired and killing the dinosaur in the Batcavehe and Batman realize they haven’t been fighting recreations … Strange is sending the real devices to attack them, and the only place he could get them is in the Batcave. They all head for the Batcave, but they aren’t exactly a well-knit team; Robin resents Batman wearing his friend’s costume (and face), Batman senses that resentment, and knows that Kathy is freaked out just being around him. Kathy is freaked, partly because being around Batman is stirring up all her old feelings for him; even though this Batman is much younger and from a different Earth, Kathy’s afraid she might fall in love with him again. Batman and Robin blindfold Kathy before taking her into the Batcave (just like old times) and Batman points out Strange is probably leading them into a trap. Robin and Kathy had already figured that out, but before they can get too pissed off, Strange sends the giant dinosaur trophy after them. By cooperating, they manage to impale it with a stalactite. They’re confronted by a Batman robot, which Robin and KathyStrange disintegrates himself can’t bring themselves to fight until Batman reminds them it’s not real. Robin smashes the robot and they finally confront Strange, whose body is all twisted and mangled from when he almost fell to his death fighting Batman years ago. He threatens to kill them and destroy Gotham, but Batman knows what he really wants is for them to kill him and end his suffering. Batman refuses, but Strange finally admits he craves death and uses the Cosmic Rod to disintegrate himself. Batman, Robin, and Kathy make peace and thank each other for helping realize what’s important. Starman uses the Cosmic Rod to send Batman home and speculates about Strange’s unnatural storm bringing Batman to Earth-2. Starman wonders what drew Batman to that cemetery on Earth-1, but Robin says he’d rather not know.

Nemesis teaching Valerie to shootNemesis – “Enter … Greyfox” – Cary Burkett/Dan Spiegle

This one starts with Nemesis training his companion (Valerie Foxworth) to shoot, before he goes after the remaining Council members. Speaking of the Council, the last three members (Maddoks, Kingston, and Scarfield) are meeting to discuss the threat Nemesis poses. Ms. Scarfield has decided to bring in some help; notorious French assassin Renard Traquer, better known as Greyfox. Greyfox has figured out that Valerie is connected to Nemesis and figures he can get to her through her brother, Chris. Greyfox has some thugs bust into Chris’s place in Las Vegas and rough him up, asking questions about Valerie. After they leave, Chris calls Valerie and she tells him to come to New York. Naturally Greyfox tapped Chris’s phone and plans to follow him straight toNemesis disables Greyfox's taxi Valerie … and Nemesis. When Nemesis hears about Chris being threatened, but not really harmed, he figures something’s up. He disguises himself as a blind beggar to keep an eye on Chris when he arrives at the airport. Nemesis notices Greyfox (who he recognizes) and his men trailing Chris, so he pops the tire on their taxi. Greyfox realizes what happened and figures out Nemesis must be the beggar. He goes after Nemesis, trying to shoot him, but Nemesis uses a smoke screen and his quick-change spray to switch disguises and escape. Greyfox is happy to be challenged by someone so resourceful and vows to track Nemesis down and kill him.

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