Comics Reviews: Batman 346, Detective 513, Brave & the Bold 185

Batman 346 coverBatman #346 – “Half a Hero …” – Gerry Conway/Don Newton/Frank Chiaramonte

This one starts with a couple of prison guards taunting Two-Face about his incarceration. Two-Face says nothing and just sits there flipping his coin, but in between flips, he disappears. The guards mount a search and find tire tracks outside, but he tracks are over an hour old. Batman comes up with the solution to the mystery … Two-Face hypnotized the guards with the spinning coin, giving him over an hour to get away before they came out of it. Batman notices Commissioner Gordon isn’t his usual self and asks if it’s because Hamilton Hill won the mayoral election. Hill promised to clean up Gotham’s police department and wants to start by getting rid of Gordon.Bruce mouths off to Lucius Batman’s not the only one who’s noticed Gordon’s mood; his daughter Barbara is at his place to make dinner and notices that he’s just a shell of his normal self. When Batman returns home, Alfred warns him that Lucius Fox is waiting to see Bruce Wayne. Batman manages to change into civilian clothes and slip into the den without Lucius noticing anything strange. Bruce acts like a real dick to Lucius, making him feel stupid for bringing Bruce a business problem. Bruce resigned from the Wayne Foundation because it was cramping his style as Batman, so I guess he’s being an asshole to Lucius to keep him from showing up at the penthouse again. The next day at Hudson College, Dick Grayson tries to talk to Dala, a girl he’s been seeing, but she blows him off and gets in a car with some dude. Dick writes down the license plate so he can check it out … which Batman invades the halfway houseis exactly what Dala wanted him to do. That night, Bruce and Vicki Vale are out on a date when Bruce gets an idea about Two-Face. He sends Vicki home after making a lame excuse, but she’s already figured out that he’s Batman, so that just confirms her deduction. Batman remembers Gordon saying Two-Face had applied to go to a halfway house, which is strange for an inveterate criminal like him. Batman checks out the halfway house, but Two-Face is expecting him. He flips his coin and the scarred face lands up, so Two-Face orders is men to kill Batman. The halfway house ends up being aptly named … the rooms are divided down the middle into crappy and elegant sides and Two-Face sends two sets of thugs after the Caped Crusader, one bunch are street toughs and the other are refined gentleman thugs. Batman gets past them and works his way through numerous traps, finding a cache of weapons inBatman gassed by  Two-Face one of the rooms. On the top floor, he finds Two-Face in a darkened room, but when the lights come on, the split-room motif continues. The real Two-Face is behind a bullet-proof partition with more of his men, while the Two-Face confronting Batman turns out to be the real one’s girlfriend, Margo. She attacks Batman as Two-Face seals the room and pumps it full of knockout gas. Margo is wearing nose filters but Batman is knocked out and grabbed by Two-Face and his men. Downtown, Commissioner Gordon finally gives in and hands Hill his resignation. After Gordon leaves, Hill’s puppet master, Boss Thorne, congratulates him on getting rid of Gordon and introduces him to the new police commissioner, one of Thorne’s loyal lackeys named Pauling.

Catwoman – “In the Land of the Dead” – Bruce Jones/Trevor von Eeden/Pablo Marcos

Last issue, Catwoman was asked to investigate a train that supposedly disappeared along its regular route, with the passengers telling wild stories about seeing ghosts and other impossible phenomena. She checked it out Catwoman pounds thugsand ended up seeing some freaky illusions herself, one of which was a noose that almost strangled her. This story starts with her being carried by some thugs in an underground tunnel. She wakes up and sees the missing train, then starts pounding the thugs. She interrupted by the mastermind of the whole scheme, Detective Stuart, the cop in charge of the investigation. Stuart tells a convoluted story about how his father (a Nazi spy in the U.S.) stole secret documents and inscribed the info onto diamonds which he smuggled out of the country. He had the formula for something big (nukes, maybe?) on a diamond, but the FBI were onto him so he hid the stone. Selina Kyle’s father accidentally ended up with it and after Stuart’s father stole it back, he was killed … but the diamond was never found. Stuart figured his father hid the diamond on the train he was on, but that particular carriage was broken up and incorporated into four newer ones, so Stuart had to “steal” each train car and search it. He got himself assigned to the case and brought Selina inStuart run over by the train so he could avenge his father’s death. The trains were brought into an underground tunnel through a hidden ramp and the illusions were created by holograms … and in the case of the noose that almost “strangled” Selina, by nerve gas. Stuart has just hijacked the final train car and leaves Selina tied to the railway tracks while he searches it. He finds the diamond and runs the train over Selina as he leaves, but she surprises him, saying he’s not the only one who can use a hologram. The train ends up on a collision course with another locomotive and Stuart tries to jump off but ends up in front of the other train, where he’s run over. Selina does get the diamond back before Stuart gets mulched.

Detective 513 coverDetective #513 – “… is Better Than None” – Gerry Conway/Don Newton/Frank Chiaramonte

It’s been a week since Batman was last seen (in Batman 346 above) and Robin and Alfred are really worried. Vicki Vale shows up and she’s freaked out too, and lets Alfred know she’s aware that Batman and Bruce Wayne are one and the same. At a press conference, the new police commissioner (Pauling) tells a reporter that Batman’s disappearance may just be a publicity stunt to make the public think he’s indispensable. Pauling says Batman’s free ride is over and he’ll get no preferential treatment from the new administration. Elsewhere, new mayor Hamilton Hill consults with his benefactor, Boss Thorne. Hill is grateful that Thorne got him elected, but is worried about Batman’s disappearance, thinking he might’ve uncovered the connection between Hill and Thorne. Thorne admits that’s possible andBoss Thorne freaks out says Batman will have to be removed. Hill doesn’t like that and Thorne figures he’s weak because he’s afraid to kill, unlike Thorne. But Thorne sees the face of the man he killed (Hugo Strange) in his wine glass and freaks out. He was let out of Arkham Asylum because he was no longer hallucinating Strange’s face everywhere, but now he wonders if he really is crazy or if Strange’s ghost is haunting him. In the park, James Gordon is feeding the pigeons and his daughter Barbara stops by to give him shit, saying he should be out looking for Batman. We finally see Batman, being held prisoner in Two-Face’s halfway house. Two-Face wants to kill him, but his coin has landed with the good side up every day this week, so he keeps putting off Batman’s death. His coin does land scarred side up when he flips it to determine whether he should carry out his criminal plans Robin tackles Two-Face and his gangsthough, so Two-Face assembles his two gangs (one refined and one slovenly) and the coin dictates the scumbags take the lead in Two-Face’s plan. After they leave the halfway house (leaving Margo, Two-Face’s girlfriend, to look after Batman), the Caped Crusader puts his own plan into motion, pulling apart various pieces of his cell for material. Downtown, Two-Face and his gangs hit Duo Records and steal all the gold and platinum discs after gassing everyone in the building. A guard manages to set off a silent alarm and Robin hears the call on the radio. He shows up and starts pounding Two-Face’s men, but Two-Face gets away. He makes it back to his halfway house, knowing the cops and Robin will get the location from his thugs. He flips the coin again and it lands scarred side up, so he can finally kill Batman before he flees. But Batman’s been busy, breaching a steam pipe inside hisBatman freaks Two-Face out cell; when Two-Face shows up to kill him, the steam pipe explodes, catching Batman right in the face. Batman’s screams remind Two-Face of his own disfigurement and when Batman turns around … half of his face is horribly scarred. Two-Face freaks out, thinking Batman is a mirror of him now. He can’t accept that, so he opens the cell and tells Batman to get out, but Batman just decks him. When Robin shows up, he’s freaked out by Batman’s face, but it turns out Batman just molded his plastic lunch tray to make his face look scarred. Later, Bruce Wayne tells Dick and Alfred that living at the Wayne Building has made him too accessible … yup, it’s time to go back to Wayne Manor.

Batgirl – “Duel With Demons” – Cary Burkett/Jose Delbo/Joe Giella

Last issue, Barbara Gordon went on TV to denounce the actions of a biker gang, the Demon Riders. They took exception to that and trashed Barbara’s Batgirl getting poundedapartment. When Barbara arrived home, the Demon Riders were waiting to trash her too. She pretends to faint and catches them off-guard, fighting past them into the hall. They go looking for her, but none of them think to look on the roof, where she’s already changed to Batgirl. She jumps the Demon Riders in the street and starts pounding them, but the leader grabs her cape and starts dragging her down the street. She gets knocked around by the bikers, but a good Samaritan helps her by pulling her off the street so she can catch her breath. She goes after the Demon Riders again and kicks the shit out of them. Her rescuer has disappeared, but she figures maybe society hasn’t lost all its morality after all.

Brave and Bold 185 coverBrave & the Bold #185 – “The Falcon’s Lair” – Don Kraar/Adrian Gonzales/Mike DeCarlo

This one starts with Penguin testing his attack bird against a Batman robot. The bird does pretty well, but the real Batman is a bit harder to kill. Speaking of the Caped Crusader, he’s about to invade the hideout of a criminal named Quintero (the gangster from last issue) when he’s surprised by Green Arrow, who offers to help. They bust in and start pounding crooks, capturing everyone including Quintero. Batman asks Arrow for a favour … he’s supposed to show up at a birthday party for a rich dude named Hamilton Mellor, at a mansion called the Falcon’s Lair. But Bruce Wayne has to go to Washington, so he talks Green Arrow into appearing at the party. The Falcon’s Lair is a faux castle on anGreen Arrow faked out and captured island in the river and Mellor’s party has a medieval theme, so Green Arrow should fit right in. Behind the scenes, Penguin was expecting Batman to show up, so he has to change his plans on the fly … so to speak. Arrow notices right away that Mellor is talking like a robot, so Arrow figures he’s either hypnotized or drugged. The tricks Mellor requests are too easy and Arrow soon gets bored. He notices Mellor sneaking off and as soon as the guests leave, he goes to investigate. In the courtyard, Arrow sees Black Canary tied to a stake with a fire at her feet. Penguin’s bird swoops down and grabs Green Arrow’s bow and Arrow finds out “Black Canary” was just a robot. Arrow is caught in an electrified net and wakes up in the dungeon, Batman fights a knightwith Penguin there to taunt him. Penguin says he’s going to replace Mellor with a robot who’ll sign over Mellor’s assets to Penguin. He knows Arrow sent a JLA distress signal, so when Batman shows up, Penguin is planning a surprise for him. Unfortunately, Batman’s arrival will be the signal for Penguin’s men to kill Arrow and Mellor. Batman shows up and has to make his way past more of Penguin’s animatronic traps, including a dragon. He swims under the moat and through the sewers, coming up inside the castle where he’s attacked by a knight on horseback. Meanwhile, Green Arrow has burned through his ropes and rescued Mellor. Arrow pounds some guards and tries to get Mellor out of the castle, grabbing an old crossbow from theGreen Arrow catches Penguin and Batman deals with the robot Robin wall on the way. Batman deals with the knight and finds Robin tie to a burning stake, but when he rescues him, Robin grabs him. Penguin sends his robot bird after Batman, but Green Arrow skewers the bird with a crossbow bolt and shoots a net over the Penguin. Batman knocks Robin’s robot head right off and they get Mellor out of danger. As Penguin is being taken away, Batman invites Arrow to join him in another crook-bashing caper and Arrow eagerly accepts.

Nemesis splashNemesis – “Triple Threat” – Cary Burkett/Dan Spiegle

This one starts with Marjorie Marshall receiving another bullet from Tom Tresser (aka Nemesis), who’s trying to balance the scales of justice since his brother killed Marjorie’s husband, Ben. Marjorie is grateful, but worries Tom’s vengeance trail will lead to his own destruction. In New York, Nemesis is being tended to (after being wounded by Greyfox last issue) by Valerie Foxworth and her brother Chris. Valerie and Chris start arguing and when Nemesis tries to cool things down, Valerie gets pissed off at him. Elsewhere, the three remaining Council members (Kingston, Scarfield, and Maddox) are at Kingston’s estate (which is set up like a Roman villa, complete with lions roaming the grounds!) discussing the recent losses to Nemesis of the rest of the Council, as well as who should be the new leader. Maddox suggests theyNemesis's cover is blown each come up with a plan to eliminate nemesis and whoever’s plan succeeds becomes the new leader. Nemesis is gearing up to go after the council, starting with Kingston whose info he got from files at Solomon’s place a few issues back. He replaces one of Kingston’s top lawyers and infiltrates a meeting, but Kingston has taken precautions, giving each of his subordinates a special code word. Nemesis doesn’t know the code word and has to fight his way through Kingston’s security to get out of the mansion. The combat rips Nemesis’s wound and he stumbles into the trees surrounding the mansion, unaware that one of Kingston’s lions is following the scent of his blood.

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