This one starts with Batman tearing down a wanted poster of himself. Apparently, Commissioner Pauling has canceled Batman’s special status with the police and declared him an outlaw, ordering the cops to shoot on sight. Batman sneaks into City Hall to confront Pauling and Mayor Hamilton Hill. Batman knows they’re working for Boss Thorne, Gotham’s secret puppet-master, and that Thorne tried to have Deadshot killed in prison to cover up the fact Thorne hired Deadshot to kill Bruce Wayne. It was Batman’s helping Deadshot escape that supposedly prompted Pauling to declare him an outlaw, but the Caped Crusader knows Pauling’s just covering his—and Thorne’s—ass. Hill and Pauling swear they know nothing about Thorne; Pauling and Hill are actually worried that Deadshot might testify against them, but they aren’t aware that he’s refused to cooperate with Batman so far. Pauling pulls a gun, saying he has every right to shoot Batman, but Batman isn’t worried, knowing Pauling doesn’t have the guts to shoot him face to face. He’s right, but after he leaves Pauling sounds the alarm, telling the cops to shot Batman down. Most of them are reluctant, but a crooked cop named McClosky grabs a rifle and puts a bullet between Batman’s shoulders as he swings away. But when they rush to the alley where Batman fell, he’s gone. Across town, Boss Thorne goes to Greytowers to meet Dr. Thirteen. Thorne has hired Thirteen to figure out if the ghost of Hugo Strange that’s been haunting him since his men killed Strange (way back in Detective 472) is real or not. When Thorne reaches Strange’s secret lab at Greytowers, he’s startled to see the ghost rise up and to hear Strange’s voice. Thirteen soon assures him it’s just high-tech fakery; Strange set a trap in the lab to set off a tape recording and hologram. Thirteen figures all the “ghosts” Thorne has been seeing are also holograms, used by someone trying to gaslight him. Thorne assumes it’s Hill and Pauling who are behind it, trying to drive him nuts so they an run Gotham on their own. Thirteen leaves, saying he doesn’t want any of Thorne’s dirty money and Thorne vows to take care of Thirteen … right after he gets rid of Pauling and Hill. At the Batcave, Alfred is feeding Deadshot, who’s caged like an animal and raving about how important he is. Batman stumbles in half dead from a gunshot wound and Alfred takes care of him. Across town, Vicki Vale gets a threatening phone call from a woman, warning her to stay away from Bruce Wayne. We can’t see who the woman is, but she looks pretty slinky and seems to like cats … . At Thorne’s townhouse, he’s contemplating what to do about Hill and Pauling when Batman shows up. Of course, we know this can’t be the real Batman, since we saw him almost dead from the gunshot wound, but Thorne assumes he’s the real deal and starts raving, spilling his guts about rigging the election and hiring Deadshot to kill Bruce Wayne. “Batman” doesn’t say a word, just lets Thorne vent. Naturally Thorne assumes Hill and Pauling (and Deadshot) sold him out and he gets all worked up. In his frenzy, he drops a carafe full of booze near the fireplace and the apartment starts on fire. Thorne takes off and “Batman” calls the fire department after trying to put the blaze out himself. At City Hall, Hill, Pauling, and McClosky are discussing whether Batman is really dead or not. Thorne shows up with a gun to tell them Batman’s alive, but he’s the least of their worries. Thorne accuses them of trying to drive him crazy and take over. Of course they have no clue what he’s talking about, but Thorne’s too far gone to reason with. Thorne shoots Pauling and McClosky shoots Thorne, just as the ersatz Batman busts in. Batman decks McClosky before he can shoot him and Hill freaks out, saying none of what happened is his fault. Batman still doesn’t say a word, just gives Hill the evil eye and walks out. Of course, “Batman” is actually Dick Grayson and he had a microphone to record what everyone said, as well as a link to Bruce and Alfred in the Batcave. Dick wonders how damning the recordings will be and Bruce assures him that Thorne (who apparently didn’t die from his wound) will definitely be spending a long time behind bars, but Hill will probably get away clean, since Pauling’s dead, Thorne is crazy, and Deadshot still won’t talk. Dick isn’t thrilled with two-out-of-three, but figures it’s better than nothing. He wonders about the “ghosts” Thorne was raving about, since Hill and Pauling had no idea what he meant. Dick figures Thorne has gone nuts again, but we soon find out otherwise. A limo has been parked near City Hall, observing the bodies being taken out after all the excitement. Who’s in the limo? None other than the living, breathing Hugo Strange. So much for holograms.
This one starts like a horror movie … Vicki Vale is walking down a dark street in Gotham, followed by some ominous footsteps. She starts to run but gets jumped by an almost demonic-looking Catwoman, who tears her to pieces with her fingernails. Yeah, this is a nightmare sequence, but it isn’t Vicki having the nightmare, it’s Selina (Catwoman) Kyle. Ever since she returned to Gotham and found out Bruce Wayne is dating Vicki, her jealousy has grown more and more intense. Selina (who apparently sleeps naked) is sickened by the wanton violence in her dream and stumbles to the bathroom to puke her guts out. She wonders if she’s going crazy, but decides that since she gave up her criminal life to be with Bruce in the first place, she can’t just walk away now. She phones Wayne Manor, waking Alfred from a sound sleep, and asks to talk to Bruce. Of course Alfred can’t say that Bruce is out as Batman, so he says he’s asleep, which Selina doesn’t buy for a second. She assumes Bruce is out with Vicki and Alfred is covering for him, so she gets pissed off and slams down the phone. Bruce is going after a woman, but it’s not Vicki; a gang of punks called the Lords (led by a rather butch gal named Maisy) have kidnapped a woman to get Batman’s attention. Apparently Batman violated their territory a while back, so they kidnapped this girl (and tipped the TV news) so they could lure Batman to an abandoned subway station and make an example of him. I guess they don’t know much about Batman, but they’re about to get a lesson. The Caped Crusader shows up and kicks all their asses. Maisy figures she’s clear because Batman would never hit a woman, but he ends u decking her too; I guess he makes exceptions for women brandishing knives. At Vicki Vale’s place, she’s shocked to wake up and find a pissed off Catwoman (and a panther) in her bedroom. (For the record, Vicki doesn’t sleep naked, but she wear a pretty sexy nightgown.) Catwoman says Bruce is hers, that she needs him to be her “compass” and Vicki better back off. The next morning, Vicki has breakfast with Bruce and tells him what happened. She says she’s willing to step aside if Bruce wants to help Catwoman get her shit together, but Bruce says Selina made her choice when she dumped him and left town, so she’ll just have to live with it. Catwoman is watching from a nearby rooftop and she does not look happy.
- This story is said to take place a week after the above story in Batman 354, which I guess is why Bruce seems to have recovered from his wound.
- The art credits say Irv Novick (and I’m no art expert) but a lot of the faces and some of the poses look like Alex Saviuk to me.
Green Arrow – “The High-Tech Highwayman” – Joey Cavalieri/Trevor von Eeden
This is the new back-up strip for Detective. Apparently Oliver (Green Arrow) queen is now a columnist for a newspaper (the Daily Star) and is doing a story on a high-tech criminal who steals money from banks electronically. The paper’s computers go on the fritz and Oliver soon figures out it’s not just the usual bugginess, as a costumed goofball called Hi-Tek pops up on screen to say he’s behind the problems. He doesn’t want Oliver writing a story about his criminal methods, so he’s shutting down the computers and even the phone lines. Oliver finds out from the editor that they rent data space from another computer firm. He heads over (as Green Arrow) to check things out, but Hi-Tek is expecting him (well, he was expecting Oliver, not Green Arrow, but he doesn’t seem too bothered either way). Hi-Tek unleashes a Dalek wannabe that tries to crush Green Arrow, who takes it out with an acid arrow. He’s stunned by the explosion and when he recovers, he finds himself surrounded by the computer company’s security guys, all pointing guns at him.
This one starts with some well-organized terrorists setting off a bomb in Washington. Batman is on the scene and almost gets blown up, but manages to avoid the blast. He plans to follow the terrorists back to their base, but he overhears them reporting in and realizes they’re going to a separate hideout, so he jumps them. After beating the crap out of them, he unmasks them and finds one of the terrorists is a cheap hood from Chicago. He can’t help wondering how small-time Chicago muscle ends up working for a slick terrorist organization and thinks back to how Nemesis tipped him off to the terrorists in the first place. That’s right, it’s flashback time. A few days ago, Bruce Wayne was reading about the wave of bombings in Washington when Alfred started spouting a bunch of stuff about how crime is a cancer that needs to be removed, even if you take part of yourself with it. Bruce realized that wasn’t really Alfred; turned out to be Nemesis in disguise, trying to contact Batman through Bruce. (Last time they worked together, Batman told Nemesis to leave a message with Bruce if he needed to get in touch again.) Nemesis told Bruce to tell Batman to meet him in Washington, which is where we came in, since Batman was on his way to meet Nemesis when he stumbled on the terrorists’ latest bombing. After dumping the terrorists at the police station, Batman heads to the meeting place, which just happens to be Marjorie Marshall’s house. Nemesis has sent Marjorie away for a while, knowing his connection to her has been uncovered by his enemies. Batman sneaks into the house, startling Nemesis, who explains that the terrorists are being sponsored by the last remaining Council member (Irene Scarfield). Nemesis mentions a prominent “law and order” Senator, Thomas “Longtom” White, who’s trying to push through a tough new anti-crime bill. Nemesis says Ms. Scarfield is having some weapons delivered to the terrorists tonight, in exchange for which they’ll make sure Senator White is killed by one of their bombs. Since the Senator’s death will appear to be from terrorists not criminals, the anti-crime bill will die on the vine and never be passed. They head to the exchange point, where a bunch of terrorists are waiting for the weapons. Their leader is a guy with sharp metal fingernails who calls himself Bloodclaw. Batman and Nemesis attack, pounding the terrorists and destroying the weapons. Once the weapons are gone, Bloodclaw decides to retreat. Batman tries to stop him, but it turns out Bloodclaw can shoot his fingertips and Batman ends up pinned to the wall. Batman’s not too worried, since he managed to plant a tracker on Bloodclaw while they were fighting. They split up, with Batman tracking the terrorists and Nemesis taking up his disguise as Ms. Scarfield’s boy-toy, Peter. She gives Peter shit for staying out without calling and tells him she won’t be banging him tonight. It’s meant as a punishment, but Nemesis is pretty relieved, since Ms. Scarfield makes his skin crawl. At the terrorist base, a scanner detects Batman’s tracking device and Bloodclaw destroys it. Batman was homing in on the base, but now he’s forced to crisscross the general area looking for clues. Nemesis observes Ms. Scarfield sneaking out and follows her to the river, where she boards a boat. He latches on underwater and hitches a ride, but is forced to ditch all his weapons that aren’t waterproof, leaving him with only a compressed-air gun. Batman finally finds the terrorist base, in the back room of a seedy bar. He’s just in time to overhear confirmation of the target, something to do with the “Princeton President”. Meanwhile, Ms. Scarfield has gone to a building on an island in the Potomac River. Nemesis sneaks in and finds a helicopter ready to be launched. He overhears Ms. Scarfield talking about the back-up plan to kill Senator White: if Bloodclaw’s group fails, she’ll launch the helicopter (which is remote-controlled and packed with explosives) and send it straight to where Senator White will be later today … the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Batman has made his way to the same place (after deducing that “Princeton President” referred to Woodrow Wilson, who was once head of Princeton) and attacks Bloodclaw and his men. This time Bloodclaw can’t surprise Batman by shooting his fingertips, but he still manages to get the upper hand. Batman ends up tossing him into the river. At the building on the river, Ms. Scarfield prepares to launch the helicopter, so Nemesis busts in and starts pounding everyone. He gets on board the chopper to try and stop it, but Ms. Scarfield seals the doors remotely, locking him in. Nemesis finds out the controls are locked, so he can’t change the chopper’s course. Before the chopper starts on its way, he uses his air gun to blast through the chopper’s roof, smashing the blades and causing the chopper to fall like a rock … right on top of the building where Ms. Scarfield is. Batman combs through the wreckage later and finds a shredded piece of Nemesis’s uniform. During his long fight with the Council, Nemesis has been adding engraved bullets to the scales on a statue of Lady Justice at Marjorie Marshall’s house. One side has a weight with Ben Marshall’s name on it, while the other holds all the names of the dead Council members. The scale still wasn’t balanced when this issue started, but Batman goes to the Marshall house and puts a weight with Nemesis’s name on one of the scales, finally balancing things. Of course, Nemesis ended up coming back from the dead years later (post-Crisis) and starring in Suicide Squad. I can’t remember what the explanation was for where he’d been, but I think he as in prison the whole time, or something like that.
This one starts with a nutcase in a black bodysuit threatening to blow up a huge gasoline storage tank in New Jersey. Firestorm shows up to help, but the cops are kinda nervous so he has to transmute their guns to calm them down. Firestorm is acting really cocky, showing off by letting the terrorist’s bullets pass right through him, and thinking he’ll have no problem taking this crazy bastard down. The guy turns out to be a French-Canadian named André, pissed off because the American gas company has “stolen” the gas from Quebec. He’s planning on blowing up the storage tank (and half of New Jersey) with the bombs in his costume to prove a point. Firestorm decides he’d better take this dude down, despite Professor Stein trying to warn him against doing anything rash. Firestorm assumes the terrorist is bluffing, but it turns out the Professor was right; the guy sets off the explosives, but Firestorm manages to absorb all the energy from the blast into his own body, which knocks hi out. When he comes to, he’s surrounded by cops and a reporter is asking him questions. But this isn’t just any reporter, it’s Ed Raymond, Ronnie’s dad. Firestorm takes off as fast as he can. In a hotel room in New York, a good-looking redhead with a French accent watches the reports of the failed bombing attempt. She thinks to herself that even though André failed, she will complete the mission as planned. She opens a suitcase containing a costume just like the one André wore. Downtown, Ed Raymond rushes into the offices of the New York News Express, trying to get his story on the bombing finished. He can’t help wondering why Firestorm took off so fast, or why he seems so familiar. Ed is surprised when his son Ronnie comes in, saying he has something important to tell his father. Ronnie isn’t sure he should tell Ed the truth, but Professor Stein told him it was for the best, so here he is. Before he gets a chance to say anything, a woman in a trench-coat comes out of the editor’s office after a heated meeting. She was trying to get him to publish something, but he’s not interested and tells her to get lost. Probably a mistake, since it turns out to be the French-Canadian woman we saw earlier. She blows out the windows of the building and reveals she’s wearing a bomb-laden outfit like André had. The woman (Plastique) says she’ll blow the whole building to hell if her demands aren’t met, but she’ll only tell her demands to a TV news crew. Professor Stein is grabbing a bite across the street and sees the commotion. When he finds out what’s going on, he knows Firestorm is needed, but if he (or Ronnie) triggers the transformation while Ronnie is surrounded by people, that’s it for Firestorm’s secret identity. Upstairs, Ronnie has come to the same conclusion, hoping he can get away from his father long enough to change to firestorm. The news crew shows up and Plastique says she wants Americans to stop raping Quebec for their own profit. She demands the News Express stop using pulp and paper mills in Quebec or she’ll blow up the building and everyone in it … and she only gives them a half-hour to comply. Professor Stein has snuck into the building, thinking he might be able to get to the basement and shut off the lights, giving Ronnie a chance to trigger the firestorm transformation while nobody can see. But the cops are looking for Stein and he’s too freaked out to concentrate. The cops spot him and he breaks his glasses while running away. Upstairs, Ed is ready to jump Plastique, but Ronnie warns him against doing anything rash. Ed gives Ronnie shit, calling him a coward and a quitter; I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … Ed Raymond is a real prick. As time ticks down, the cops are closing in on Stein, but they’re called off when the anti-terrorist squad shows up. Stein wonders if he should trigger the Firestorm transformation; it would expose Ronnie’s secret identity, but saving a building full of people is more important than keeping a secret … isn’t it? As Plastique’s deadline looms, the anti-terrorist squad moves into position downstairs. Some of the people in the newsroom are getting restless, so Plastique grabs a copy-girl as a hostage to insure nobody tries any heroics. Ronnie figures he’d better change to Firestorm, secret identity be damned, but Stein has found the control room in the basement. He turns the lights off and Ronnie ducks out of the room in the darkness, merging with the Professor to become Firestorm. He phases into the news room just as the anti-terrorist squad busts in. Plastique is ready to kill the copy-girl, so Ed jumps her and pulls the girl away. Firestorm transmutes the anti-terrorists’ guns to stop them from shooting up the place, just as Plastique tosses a miniature bomb at Ed and the girl. Firestorm phases them through the floor in time to avoid the explosion, but Plastique is ready to set off all the other bombs in her costume, taking out the whole building. Firestorm uses his molecular powers to make Plastique’s costume disappear, leaving her completely naked and allowing the explosives to fall off. Stein calls Ronnie’s solution “brilliant but cruel”; Firestorm grabs the explosives and flies them outside before they detonate. Later, Ronnie finds his dad, who gets mad because he didn’t know where Ronnie was and was worried. Ronnie says his dad sometimes acts like he’d prefer to be rid of him. That gets through to Ed and he says it’s time he and Ronnie had a long talk. I hope that means he’s going to stop being an asshole now.