Comics Reviews: Batman 352, Detective 519, Brave & the Bold 191, Firestorm 5

Batman 352 coverBatman #352 – “The Killer Sky” – Gerry Conway (plot), Paul Kupperberg/Don Newton/John Calnan

This one starts with Batman going to visit Jim Gordon in the hospital. Gordon was roughed up last issue by some crooked cops as a warning to him and his private eye partner (Jason Bard, who also got pounded) to stop investigating the recent mayoral election. To reinforce the message, the new Commissioner (Pauling) and one of his bent cops (McClosky) stop by to warn Jim again. Barbara Gordon is there and almost goes for Pauling’s throat, but it’s Batman showing up that gets Pauling and McClosky to leave. Jim tells Batman he and Jason are sure there’s something fishy about the election, but they’ve gone about as far as they can. Batman agrees to see what he can find out. Out in the North Atlantic, a submarine surfaces and the crew are astonished to see a zeppelin looming up out of the fog. The zeppelin uses a magnet to pull the sub out of the water and fly off with it. AtMonroe kills himself Wayne Manor, Alfred apologizes for hiring Christopher Chance (aka the Human Target) to impersonate Bruce Wayne, but he says it was the only way to make Vicki Vale believe she was wrong about Bruce being Batman. Bruce thanks Alfred for looking out for him and plays the bored rich guy when Chance shows up to collect his fee. Downtown, at the offices of Picture News, Boss Rupert Thorne gives the editor (Monroe) shit for wasting his time with another false lead to Batman’s identity. Vicki comes in and recognizes Thorne, chasing after him so she can take his photo. Monroe figures his life is over now that Thorne is pissed off at him, so he takes a gun from his desk and blows his brains out. Vicki hears the shot and freaks out when she finds Monroe’s body. That evening, Vicki and Bruce attend a party on a yacht and she tells him about Monroe’s suicide. She also tells Bruce she thought he was Batman barely saves himselfBatman and was planning to go public. He forgives her and they almost say “I love you”, but Vicki’s reticent to admit it. They’re distracted when a zeppelin shows up and grabs a Navy battleship from the harbour, flying off with it. Vicki starts taking pictures, giving Bruce a chance to change into Batman and latch onto the ship as it’s pulled into the air. Vicki sees Batman and notices Bruce is gone, but for some reason her suspicions aren’t raised; I guess Chance really convinced her she was seeing Bruce and Batman at the same time last issue. Batman climbs up to the zeppelin and disables one of the engines. He scrambles over to sabotage the other engine, but is jumped by one of the repair crew. Batman is knocked off and barely manages to save himself, jamming a small hook from his utility belt into the side of the zeppelin. The repair guy swings a lead weight at Batman, trying to knock him off. The Caped Crusader uses his laser torch to blow the other engine, unbalancingBatman almost falls off the blimp the zeppelin and almost knocking the repairman off (he’s saved by a safety line). When the repairman checks, Batman is gone and he reports to the zeppelin’s captain what happened. They figure their troubles are over, but we see the hook Batman left embedded in the zeppelin is actually a miniature transmitter. Later, Batman stumbles into the Batcave half-dead and Alfred takes care of him. When he wakes up, he tells Alfred and Dick (Robin) Grayson that he managed to glide to the deck of the captured ship with his cape, then lowered the ship’s anchor and climbed down. He jumped off and landed in some trees, banging himself up but saving his life. Despite the brush with death, Batman is ready to track the zeppelin and Robin insists on coming along. They track the transmitter deep into the New Jersey woods—land mine totals the Batmobilea great place to hide a zeppelin and a stolen battleship—but almost get blown away by a land mine. They bail out of the Batmobile just in time and find the transmitter stuck in a nearby tree. Batman says he’s just figured out a way to find what they’re looking for. Elsewhere in the woods, in an abandoned zeppelin hangar that’s no longer abandoned, the captain of the zeppelin (who calls himself Colonel Blimp … yeah, you heard me) says they’ve proven the superiority of the lighter-than-air craft and now it’s time for some payback. He doesn’t say who he’s paying back, or what he’s paying them back for, but we’ll find out right away in the review just below. I gotta say, I really love Don Newton’s art; he’s probably my favourite Batman artist.

Detective 519 coverDetective #519 – “Like a Dreadnought in the Sky” – Gerry Conway (plot), Paul Kupperberg/Don Newton/John Calnan

This one starts with Batman hanging out on top of the Washington Monument. The Caped Crusader is in the nation’s capital trying to get info on Colonel Blimp, who stole a submarine and a warship using a zeppelin equipped with powerful magnets (as we saw in the review immediately above). As Batman is wondering what to do next, another zeppelin appears over Washington broadcasting Colonel Blimp’s demands … ten million dollars or he’ll snatch more government property … or kill the crews of the ships he’s already taken. As Blimp boasts about how he’s hidden the stolen vessels somewhere nobody can get to, Batman swings up onto the zeppelin. He finds it empty, Blimp’s voice coming from a recorded message. He also notices a self-destruct and bails out into the river seconds before the zeppelin blows, causing a conflagration that looks a lot like that famousoh the humanity photo of the Hindenburg. Batman realizes Blimp must’ve used flammable hydrogen (instead of inert helium) in the zeppelin on purpose, to prove how dangerous he can be. Back at the Batcave, Batman tells Robin he figures Blimp is hiding the stolen vessels in the Arctic, so Robin takes the Batplane and heads north. Batman goes back out to the New Jersey woods; he knows there are a number of disused zeppelin hangars scattered through the forest, so he checks each one until he finds the one currently being used by Colonel Blimp. Batman sneaks inside and overhears Blimp saying the Navy has agreed to his ransom, and confirming that the ships are hidden in the Arctic. Up north, Robin uses a metal detector to zero in on the stolen vessels, which are surrounded by ice. The crews welcome him and he tells them to get Batman catches Colonel Blimpready for a visit from a zeppelin. (Blimp didn’t leave anyone to guard the crews, assuming they’d be safe stuck in the middle of the Arctic.) A zeppelin shows up to hook onto the battleship and Blimp’s men are surprised when the crew is nowhere o be found. Turns out they’re hiding under the snow and they jump out with their rifles trained on Blimp’s men, who give up without a fight. Robin signals Batman that the crews are safe and gets on the radio to distract Colonel Blimp. Once Batman knows the sailors are safe, he goes after Blimp, who tells Batman his obsession with zeppelins started with his father, who was part of the canceled Navy zeppelin program back in the 50s. Batman distracts Blimp by igniting some hydrogen (Blimp was smoking a cigarette) and decks him.

Batgirl – “When Velvet Paws Caress the Ground” – Barbara J. Randall/Trevor von Eeden/Rodin Rodriguez

Last issue, Batgirl saved a tech guru named Ward Gilbert from his sister Lani (who calls herself Velvet Tiger), but she managed to get away with a computer program that’ll allow her to access any computer that uses Gilcom software … which is quite a few. Batgirl has gone to the Gilcom offices to stop Velvet Tiger, but Ward has come to stop his sister as well …Batgirl pounds Velvet Tiger's men and he has a gun. Batgirl busts in and starts pounding Velvet Tiger’s henchmen. Tiger goes to access the Gilcom files while Ward destroys all evidence of his sister’s criminal life before confronting her. She tells him she wants real power, more than she ever got being half owner of Gilcom. As she talks to her brother, one of her men prepares to ambush him. Batgirl takes down the gunman and deflects Ward’s aim with a Batarang, causing him to blast the mainframe. Now that the computer holding the master program is destroyed, as well as all the files, Velvet Tiger’s scheme is finished. She vows revenge on Batgirl and takes off. Batgirl gives Ward shit for not stopping her, but he seems kinda out of it, saying that even though Velvet Tiger tried to kill him, Lani is still his sister and he has to protect her. Batgirl is pissed off at Velvet Tiger’s callousness and Ward protecting her. She goes home and vents to her father, who makes her feel better.

Brave and Bold 191 coverBrave & the Bold #191 – “Only Angels Have Wings” – Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn/Jim Aparo

This one starts with Bruce Wayne watching a news report on TV which is interrupted by the Penguin. Before the Feathered Fiend can make any demands, the Joker shows up and shoots some Joker gas into Penguin’s face, killing him. Penguin’s men take his body away and Batman can’t find their trail, nor can he figure out why Joker would kill Penguin on live TV like that. After a day of frustrated searching for clues, Batman sees what he thinks is the Bat-Signal, but it turns out to be a “Joker-Signal”. Batman follows it and finds the Joker waiting for him. Before Batman can take him down, Joker insists that he’s not the one who killed Penguin, pointing out that if he had, he’d be more than willing to take credit for it. Joker tells Batman he went to Penguin’s hideout after the televised murder and saw his own double leaving, which makes him thinkJoker in Penguin's hideout Penguin’s men were in on the killing. Joker pretended to be the double to get more information, but Penguin’s goons saw through him. One thug tried to escape on a custom motorbike, but Joker had already doctored the gas tank so the exhaust spewed out Joker gas. The other thug tried to skewer Joker with an umbrella trap, but Joker dodged the deadly projectiles. The guy on the motorbike got away and the other one died from Joker’s gas, so he figured he’d lure Batman into clearing up the mystery. From Joker’s description of the motorbike, Batman figures out which custom shop it came from and figures the guy will take it back there to flush out the system. Sure enough, Batman and Joker see the guy come out of the shop and follow him to a special clinic for crooks, where they offer medical Joker almost runs Batman overservices and plastic surgery to underworld denizens. Joker tries to run Batman over outside the clinic and says he didn’t really mean it, he’s just so used to trying to murder Batman that he couldn’t help himself. Batman actually seems to accept that explanation. Inside the clinic, they confront Penguin’s henchman, who is there to make arrangements for the funeral. He denies being involved in Penguin’s death, insisting Joker was behind it, but Joker is blubbering over Penguin’s corpse. The thug tells Batman the funeral is at St. Vitus Cathedral, so Batman goes to check it out. The priest tells him Penguin had been donating money to the Cathedral lately, trying to make up for his misdeeds. The priest says he believes Penguin wasthe old acid-above-the-door gag sincere, which is why he’s allowing the funeral to take place there. He mentions some relics that have recently been brought to the Cathedral from Rome and worries the funeral might attract thieves intent on stealing the relics. Batman wonders if Joker might want the relics, but figures the scheme is too elaborate. He dismisses Riddler and Two-Face as well, then figures out who must be behind the whole thing. He goes to tell Joker his theory and almost gets a bucket of acid dumped on him … another of Joker’s “harmless” pranks. At the funeral, Batman spots his quarry in disguise and confronts him; yup, it was Penguin all along, faking his death so he could Joker nabs Penguinget into the Cathedral. He’s not after the relics either, he wanted to hold a visiting Cardinal for ransom (appropriate for Penguin, I guess). But the Cardinal turns out to be Joker in disguise, so Penguin releases a flock of birds to cover his escape. While Batman calms the crowd, Joker chases down the penguin and captures him. He’s pissed off about Penguin setting him up for his supposed death (and apparently Joker genuinely cared about Penguin and wanted his killer brought to justice), so Batman has to stop Joker before he kills Penguin for real. Batman hauls both of them off to prison.

Nemesis decks ButcherNemesis – “Dead Man’s Bluff” – Cary Burkett/Dan Spiegle

Last issue, Nemesis tracked down Butcher Boston, a hired killer sent to waste Sheffield, who himself had killed Council member Kingston on orders from another Council member, Maddox. Got all that? Nemesis found Butcher about to kill Sheffield and busted in, allowing Sheffield to take off and Butcher to knock Nemesis out. Sheffield’s woman distracts Butcher until Nemesis can recover and disarm him. Since Butcher isn’t being paid to kill Nemesis, he takes off to find Sheffield. Nemesis finds out the woman isn’t just some floozie, she’s Sheffield’s wife and she’s really worried about him. She tells Nemesis where to find her husband and Nemesis disguises himself as Butcher and busts inSheffield's wife wonders if she made the right choice on Sheffield. Instead of wasting him like the real Butcher would, he knocks Sheffield out and calls the cops. When Sheffield wakes up, “Butcher” tells him Maddox ordered him to let Sheffield take the fall for Kingston’s murder. Sheffield says he’ll sing to the District Attorney and take Maddox down with him … which is exactly what Nemesis is counting on. He goes back to tell Mrs. Sheffield that his plan succeeded, but she’s not exactly thrilled that she helped put her husband away for life. Nemesis says that Maddox will be taken out of circulation and at least Sheffield is still alive, but she wonders what kind of life it’ll be.

Firestorm 5 coverFury of Firestorm #5 – “The Pied Piper’s Pipes of Peril” – Gerry Conway/Pat Broderick/Rodin Rodriguez

This one starts with Firestorm rescuing a couple of kids from atop a speeding train after they decided to go on a joyride. After lecturing the kids about stupid stunts, Firestorm takes off. He asks Professor Stein for some advice on a classified ad he found in the morning paper. Lorraine Reilly (who was very grateful to be rescued by Firestorm in issue 2) has reiterated her offer of dinner. Firestorm figures he might as well say yes since Ronnie’s girlfriend Doreen has dumped him. Stein says he’ll think about it and they split into their component parts. Ronnie heads to school and tries to sweet talk his coach into putting him back on the basketball team. The coach isn’t impressed with Ronnie’s frequent absences and crappy performances of late, and says he’ll have to earn his way back onto theLorraine creeped out by Pandrakos team. In the meantime, he’ll be warming the bench. Ronnie sees his nemesis, Cliff Carmichael, making faces at him and notices Doreen is with Cliff. Ronnie wonders what Lorraine Reilly is doing right then. We don’t have to wonder, as we see Lorraine’s father (Senator Walter Reilly) indulging his passion of collecting rare musical instruments. He buys an antique set of pipes from a strange little dude named Pandrakos, who looks like a Greek sailor. The sailor is very accommodating, telling Reilly he’ll take part of the money for the pipes now and collect the rest in a few weeks when his ship returns to port. Pretty trusting guy. As he’s leaving, the sailor says hello to Lorraine (who’s still sporting her ultra-stylish perm) and she’s immediately creeped out by him. Across the street, Reilly’s townhouse is being watched by Pied Lorraine tries to take Pied Piper downPiper, who’s been tracking this particular set of pipes all over the world. At Concordance Research, Harry Carew is trying to reconstruct the tapes that Martin Stein erased. Harry figures there might be something juicy on the tapes, but all he can get is something about the accident at Hudson Nuclear Plant. Stein comes in to invite Harry to lunch and scares the shit out of him. At Reilly’s place, Pied Piper uses his own flute to mesmerize his way into the house and force Reilly to hand over the antique pipes. Lorraine hears the hypnotic music, but because she’s far enough away, she manages to put on headphones to block the effects. She tries to brain Pied Piper with a flower vase, but he notices her and knocks her out with a sonic blast. That releases her father from his trance, but Pied Piper wraps him up in the carpet and grabs the antique pipes … which he claims are the original Pipes of Pan. (Hmmm, the sailor Pandrakos was short, had slightly pointed ears, and gave Lorraine someFirestorm makes up his mind weird feelings … maybe he actually is Pan? But why would he sell his own pipes?) At home, Ronnie makes up his mind to accept Lorraine’s invitation and summons the Firestorm matrix, pulling Stein away from his lunch with Carew. Luckily Stein felt the imminent change and got out of sight before disappearing, but he gives Ronnie shit for grabbing him like that. Ronnie says they should get beepers like doctors (or drug dealers) used to have. Stein really gets pissed off when he finds out Ronnie became Firestorm just to go on a date with Lorraine, but he calms down when Ronnie reminds him that anything that happens with Firestorm happens to both of them equally. I bet Stein is thinking about the implications of getting some action from Lorraine and how enjoyable it’ll be from his point of view. But any shared poontang will have Firestorm dragged down by the crowdto wait, as Firestorm finds a crowd of mesmerized people in the street outside Reilly’s building, shuffling around like zombies. He recognizes Pied Piper, controlling the people with the Pipes of Pan, and Stein warns him in time to block his ears and avoid being hypnotized. After saving a runaway truck, Firestorm heads for Reilly’s place to check on Lorraine and her father, but Pied Piper blasts him with a sound wave that sends him spinning. Before he can fully recover, Pied Piper amps up his crowd control, forcing them to drag Firestorm down into the street and beat the shit out of him. We’ll see how Firestorm escapes the enthralled mob (and whether he gets any action from Lorraine) next issue.

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