Comics Reviews: Batman 366, Detective 533, New Teen Titans 37, Firestorm Annual 1

Batman 366 coverBatman #366 – “The Joker is Wild” – Doug Moench/Don Newton/Alfredo Alcala

Last time, Batman and Vicki Vale both ended up in Guatemala, where Joker has been stirring up trouble between the government and some rebels, hoping they’ll decimate each other so he can take over the country and turn it into a gigantic theme park. Batman and Vicki escaped Joker’s hideout in an ancient Mayan temple, but Joker still plans to kill a top General (Diaz) and make sure the rebels are blamed. Back in Gotham, Jason Todd is bored without Bruce or Alfred around and decides to snoop through the house. In Dick Grayson’s old room, he finds something interesting in the closet. On the way to Mixtaya (the city whereBatman tells Tloani what's up General Diaz is stationed), Batman and Vicki run into a truck full of “peasants” who offer them a lift. One of the peasants (Tloani) pulls a knife and Batman decks him. Turns out these guys are rebels heading for the city, but Batman convinces them he doesn’t care about their internal politics, so they let him and Vicki tag along. Back in Gotham, we see Alfred hanging out with Julia Remarque (from Detective 501), who found out he was her real father after her adoptive father died and came to find him. She tells Alfred she thinks someone might’ve killed Remarque. In Guatemala, Batman asks Tloani about the cargo his truck is carrying and why the rebels aren’t wearing uniforms. Tloani says he and the rebels take their cause seriously and don’t want to be walking billboards for the Cubans or Russians … though they’re certainly happy to take their guns. Tloani mentions the uniformed thieves Bullock tells off Hillwho hijacked a weapons shipment last issue, assuming them to be government troops in disguise. He says the rebels are heading to Mixtaya to hear General Diaz speak and maybe get a look at his forces. Batman tells Tloani that the guns weren’t hijacked by rebels or government troops, but by the Joker trying to stir up trouble. Batman talks to Vicki about her troubles with Bruce Wayne, but when he sees Joker’s choppers heading for Mixtaya, he bails out of the truck to cut through the jungle. In Gotham, Mayor Harold Hill offers to promote Harvey Bullock now that Commissioner Gordon is in a coma in the hospital. But Bullock’s feeling guilty (since his stupid prank caused Gordon’s stroke), so he tells Hill to shove the promotion. In Guatemala, General Diaz is giving a speech about the rebels and how they’re all a bunch of filthy commies. Joker’s choppers show up and start blasting everyone, but before Joker can finish Diaz, Batman shows up and gets the General to safety. Tloani and hisBatman saves Diaz rebels show up and start shooting at Joker’s choppers. Joker realizes he’s outgunned and orders a retreat. Batman lets Diaz know the rebels had nothing to do with attacking him and then snags Joker’s helicopter with his Batline. Tloani and Diaz eye each other, but both realize they’ve been played, so Tloani and the rebels take off and Diaz lets them go. Diaz tells his men they need to go after the real perpetrators of the carnage, so they prepare to head for the Mayan temple, with Vicki tagging along again. Batman causes Joker’s helicopter to crash and burn and starts picking off Joker’s men as they head through the jungle back to the temple. Joker makes it back and orders his men to break out the heavy machine guns. Batman is forced to hang back until rebels and government cooperateTloani and the rebels show up and engage In a firefight with Joker’s men. Diaz and his troops arrive and decide to help against Joker, so instead of causing a rift between them, Joker has actually united the rebels and the government troops, at least for the moment. Taking advantage of the distraction, Batman charges up the side of the temple toward the peak, where Joker is enjoying the chaos below. Joker pulls out a submachine gun and is ready to waste Batman when Robin shows up out of nowhere to disarm him. The Dynamic Duo take Joker out quickly and the stunned Batman realizes it’s Jason in Robin’s costume. Tloani and General Diaz exchange pleasantries and compliment each other before Tloani and the rebels take off. Vicki is ecstatic at gettingJoker pounded photos of the two saluting each other, and she’s practically creaming her jeans at getting shots of Batman and Robin together again. Jason explains how he found Robin’s costume and used detective skills to track Batman down (after stealing money from Bruce’s dresser for a plane ticket). Batman is vaguely impressed with Jason’s resourcefulness, but gives him shit for swearing Robin’s costume, saying he hasn’t earned that right.

 

Detective 533 coverDetective #533 – “Look to the Mountaintop” – Doug Moench/Gene Colan/Bob Smith

This one starts with four crooks (with the colourful monikers of Mr. Bang, Hitman, Cobra, and Slinker) planning to get into the hospital where Commissioner Gordon is laid up and kill him. Gordon’s daughter Barbara has been keeping a bedside vigil for her father, who’s still in a coma since his stroke a few issues back. Barbara remembers back to her childhood, when her tomboy ways set her apart from the other kids. Her father told her to “look to the mountaintop”, which she took to mean striving toward something better, no matter how out of reach it might have been. She remembers a race where she was the only girl entered and ended up beating all the boys because her father’s quiet faith gave herflashback to Barbara's race the strength she needed. She urges him to look to the mountaintop and fight to come back to her, but Gordon remains comatose. Meanwhile, Harvey Bullock is on the roof of the police station, still feeling guilty and getting philosophical. At Wayne manor, Bruce apologizes for freaking out on Jason for wearing Robin’s costume, but explains that he and Dick have been through a lot together, and seeing someone else as Robin really bugged him. Jason isn’t sure who he’s meant to be and Bruce says he should just be himself, since that’s sometimes the most heroic thing anyone can do. At the hospital, Slinker bluffs his way in after taking the place of an electrician scheduled to do some work. Slinker starts disabling the alarms as Cobra confronts a Barbara calls for helpguard, drawing him into Hitman’s line of fire. They all don gas masks and Slinker releases gas through the ventilation system, knocking out everyone in the hospital. Barbara recognizes the danger and holds her breath while trying to summon help. (Commissioner Gordon is already wearing an oxygen mask, but he’s still in a coma.) Barbara gets through to the police station and tells them there’s trouble at the hospital right before Slinker cuts the phone lines. Mr. Bang wires the hospital entrances to blow up if anyone tries to get in, leaving the crooks time to go up and waste Gordon. The cops mobilize and Bullock sends a SWAT team before activating the Bat-Signal personally. Barbara pushes her father’s bed out of his room to the elevator and tries to head for the roof, but the gas finally gets to her and she keels over, her foot preventing the elevator door from closing. When the killers get to Gordon’s room, they’re surprised to find it empty. But not for long, as Batman jumpsBatman decks Slinker through the window and decks Slinker. Mr. Bang tosses a grenade and when the smoke clears, Batman is gone. They assume he was blown out the window, but they notice the cops surrounding the place and freak out. Hitman points out they’ve got a building full of hostages, including Gordon if they can find him. And since he’s comatose anyway, they can waste him and still use him as a hostage, since the cops won’t be able to tell he’s dead at a distance. Batman is hanging from the roof and decides he’d better find Gordon before they do. He runs into Mr. Bang, who tries to toss another grenade. This time, Batman knocks it out of his hand with a Batarang and Mr. Bang barely survives the explosion. Batman notices the elevator is stuck on the top floor Barbara wins the race for the gunand heads up to find Barbara and the Commissioner. Gordon starts coming out of his coma and mumbles “look to the mountaintop”, which gives Batman an idea. He sends the elevator down one floor, then pries open the doors and pushes Gordon’s bed (with Barbara on it too) onto the top of the elevator. Then he brings the elevator back up, putting them within reach of the maintenance hatch to the roof. Cobra and Hitman search the whole building and finally make it to the roof, where Batman is waiting. He decks Hitman, who drops his gun, then goes hand-to-hand with Cobra. Hitman goes for the gun, but Barbara revives and runs another race, beating him to the gun just as Batman finishes Cobra. Barbara is relieved her father is out of his coma and safe.

Green Arrow – “The Black Box” – Joey Cavalieri/Chuck Patton/Shawn McManus

This one starts with Green Arrow fighting a nut called the Detonator, who’s been shaking down a millionaire named Whelmsley for some protection money. Whelmsley has refused to pay, so Detonator destroys a building heGreen Arrow buried owns, getting away after burying Green Arrow in rubble. Detonator doubles his asking price, threatening to blow up Whelmsley’s private plane where he’s giving a birthday party for his girlfriend, artist Meredith Moran. Whelmsley refuses to pay, saying he doesn’t want to be on the hook to every blackmailer that comes along. Meredith begs him to at least cancel the party on the plane, but Whelmsley says he won’t live in fear and insists the party go ahead. Naturally, the plane gets sabotaged and ends up crashing, although it seems like everyone aboard survived. Whelmsley announced that he’d installed a special Black Box to record everything on the plane, so it may contain info Detonator gets the black boxon Detonator’s true identity. I’m not sure why Whelmsley would announce that publicly, since it tips Detonator off. Detonator goes to the wreckage to find the Black Box and Green Arrow is waiting for him. Detonator knocks Arrow on his ass and finds the Black Box, but before he can take off a motorcycle gang shows up and surrounds them, saying the plane crashed on their turf so everything in it belongs to them. By the way, the gang call themselves the Werewolves of London. Yeah, you heard me. We’ll see where this goes next issue … maybe they’ll swing by Tranverse City and request some Lawyers, Guns, and Money.

New Teen Titans 37 coverNew Teen Titans #37 – “Light’s Out, Everyone” – Marv Wolfman, Mike W. Barr (plot)/George Perez/Romeo Tanghal

You’re probably wondering why there’s a New Teen Titans review here instead of the usual Batman & the Outsiders. This is the first half of a crossover between the two titles; I’ll do the second half next week in my Batman & the Outsiders review. This one starts with Gizmo (of the Fearsome Five) heading to Tri-State Prison to facilitate a break-out. He cuts off the power long enough for Shimmer to escape her stasis field and fight her way outside. As soon as Mammoth knows his sister is free, he smashes he way out of his cell and joins her. (Apparently, he could’ve escaped any time he wanted, but stuck around because his sister was locked up.) On the way out, Mammoth frees the Five’s erstwhile leader, Dr. Light, who promises him aMammoth and Shimmer origin lot of money in return. Outside, the architect of the break-out (and new leader of the Fearsome Five) Psimon has immobilized all the guards with his mental powers, allowing the Five to take off. In their hideout, Shimmer notices an article in the newspaper about Dr. Helga Jace and we get a rundown of Shimmer and Mammoth’s origin. They were born with their abilities (Mammoth is super-strong and Shimmer can transmute matter) and were shunned and eventually driven out by the normal people. They went to Dr. Jace, who had figured out a way to give people superhuman powers, but she couldn’t help them. Dr. Light is bored with Shimmer’s story, but Psimon sees some intriguing possibilities; if Dr. Jace could enhance the powers the Fearsome Terra takes offFive already have, they’d be unstoppable. At Titans’ Tower, the team is just concluding a meeting. Terra finally has her own seat at the table and they’re about ready to tell her their secret identities when an alarm on Terra’s bracelet goes off. She’s pretty cagey about what it means and takes off without telling them, which makes them wonder if they were wrong to trust her. Of course, we know Terra is actually working for the Terminator, trying to find out the Titans’ identities so he can eliminate them. Apparently the alarm on her wrist is keyed to Dr. Jace, meaning she must be nearby somewhere. Terra follows the signal, freaking out because Dr. Jace knows how she got her powers and could contradict the stories she’s been telling the Titans. Terra arrives at a burnt-out building and runs into the Outsiders (Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Katana, and Halo, but no Batman). She doesn’tTitans fight Outsiders recognize them and figures they might’ve killed Dr. Jace, but the Outsiders are actually looking for Dr. Jace and wonder if Terra has something to do with her disappearance. They mix it up and Metamorpho ends up trapping Terra under a steel dome. Raven shows up to defuse things, but none of the Outsiders know her, so they’re hostile. When Kid Flash shows up, Metamorpho and Black Lightning know him, but Terra busts loose and is ready for a fight. The rest of the Titans show up and Wonder Girl recognizes Metamorpho and Black Lightning, so the two groups stop fighting. When Geo-Force shows up (he was off looking for Jace’s trail), he and Terra recognize each other immediately … makes sense, since they’re brother and sister. Geo-Force is thrilled to see Terra again, but Changeling can’t help wondering why Terra Terra and Geo-Force reunitedand her brother have almost the same costume, since Terra told them she made her own costume just recently. The reunion is put on hold as Metamorpho reminds them they’re looking for Dr. Jace. (Apparently, Geo-Force had the same proximity alarm on his wristband that Terra does.) They find a lab door that’s been transmuted to lead and Starfire suspects Shimmer’s involvement. When Wonder Girl finds out Batman is the Outsiders’ leader, she suggests they get both teams together. At Wayne Manor, Dick (Robin) Grayson is telling Bruce Wayne that he’s ready to step outside Batman’s shadow and be his own man. Jason Todd is thrilled, hoping he can take Dick’s place as Robin, but Dick says he’s not quite ready to give that up yet. Alfred interrupts to tell them their respective teams are calling. At the Fearsome Five’s hideout, Dr. Jace refuses to cooperate until Psimon uses hisPsimon tortures Jace psionic powers to torture her into complying. While comparing notes at Titans’ Headquarters, the heroes get a call from a cop telling them about a break-in at Bio-Tron Ltd. The steel door had been transmuted to paper and inside were a number of homeless people half-changed into some kind of mud creatures, kinda like Clayface. Cyborg suggests Dr. Jace could’ve done it, since her science gave Geo-Force and Terra their earth-based powers. Terra says Jace wouldn’t do that to innocent people, but Kid Flash says she may have been forced. They all go to Bio-Tron and Raven uses her empathy to communicate with one of the victims, finding out where he came from. They head to the shithole bar where the guy was picked up by the Fearsome fighting earth creaturesFive and find traces of tetryl explosives. Robin remembers Psimon was a chemist before his transformation and Starfire recalls he had a lab on a small island outside Gotham. By the time they get to Gotham, it’s too late. The Five’s latest “recruits” have been transformed into earth elemental-type creatures by Jace’s machine. The heroes and villains fight, but Psimon uses his powers to direct the earth creatures to attack and the heroes’ powers are ineffective against them. Psimon activates a machine that blows the whole island to pieces. The Fearsome Five are protected by Dr. Light’s solid light bubble, and the earth creatures climb out of the water unharmed, but the Titans and Outsiders sink with what’s left of the island.

Firestorm Annual 1 coverFirestorm Annual #1 – “All the Answers” – Gerry Conway/Rafael Kayanan/Rodin Rodriguez

Last time, Tokamak used his new powers to crush Firestorm in plasma rings, but because of Firestorm’s unique molecular powers, he isn’t crushed to death. Instead, he shrinks down to infinitesimal size, which is incredibly painful and if he can’t figure out a way to stop it, probably fatal. Back in the regular world, Tokamak assumes Firestorm is dead and goes after his original target, Lorraine Reilly. Lorraine tries to run but Tokamak still has some control over her, implanted in her mind when he gave her the Firehawk powers. He commands her to surrender and takes her to a helicopter where Enforcer and Multiplex are waiting. Lorraine’s will is strong and she begins to fight off Tokamak’s control, so he orders Enforcer to toss Lorraine in a holdingFirestorm blasts back to full size cell with her father. Multiplex is worried about the physical toll Tokamak’s empowerment is taking on him (since as Henry Hewitt, he was in pretty bad shape with a compromised immune system), but Tokamak refuses to take off his containment suit. In the microverse, Firestorm finally comes up with a plan. Ronnie admits he’s more jock than scientist, but decides he needs more power to break free of the plasma rings, so he blasts a nearby atom to start a chain reaction. That blows him loose and returns him to full size, but it also sets off a small nuclear explosion. After containing the explosion, Firestorm hears that Tokamak took Lorraine and goes to look for him, but he’s long gone. Meanwhile, Doreen Day and her father (Burt) are dropping by the police checking police filesstation where Burt works to check the computers. Last issue, Doreen and Ronnie were almost run down by thugs working for a gangster named “Shoe” Shine, so Burt wants to check the records and see if Ronnie’s dad (who was recently blown up by a bomb planted at his house) had any connection to Shine. Burt finds a tag on Ed Raymond’s file that points to the Feds, so he sets up a meeting with a friend to learn more. Firestorm returns to Harry Carew’s place and splits into Ronnie and Professor Stein so Stein can get his clothes. Stein’s ex Clarissa is there looking for him and when she notices Stein, she puts the moves on Harry to piss Stein off. Harry doesn’t see Stein, but he follows the Bro Code and tells Clarissa to get lost. After leaving, Clarissa reports in to her mysterious contact … who turns out to be Enforcer. SheClarissa puts the moves on Harry passes the word to Tokamak, who orders her to go get Stein. At a coffee shop across town, Burt’s friend is cagey about Ed Raymond’s connection to the Shine gang, but Burt gets pushy and the guy says he might know someone who can clear things up. At Harry’s place, he tries to explain about Clarissa but Stein says he doesn’t have any claim on her anymore … though he is disappointed. Before Harry can tell him what really happened, Enforcer busts in and slaps Harry down when he tries to stop her from grabbing Stein. Stein “accidentally” falls out the hole Enforcer made in the wall, giving Ronnie the chance to trigger the change to Firestorm. Since Enforcer doesn’t know Ronnie and Stein are Firestorm, she’s taken by surprise and captured. At Multiplex caught by FirestormTokamak’s hideout (which is Hewitt’s mansion in Virginia), Multiplex is worried about Tokamak’s health, but he still refuses to take off the armoured suit he’s been in since gaining his powers. Tokamak seems to be going nuts, pulling Lorraine and her father from their cells to take them to Washington and kill them. Multiplex reminds him that Lorraine’s father is a U.S. Senator, but Tokamak is past caring and just slaps Multiplex down. As Tokamak and his men herd the prisoners onto a fancy aircraft, Multiplex decides it’s time for him to bail. He heads out the front door and runs right into Firestorm, who learned about Hewitt’s mansion from Enforcer. Firestorm punches Multiplex out and when Multiplex tells him Tokamak’s plans, he drags the reluctant villain with him as he chases theTokamak pounds Firestorm aircraft. Firestorm demands Tokamak release Senator Reilly and his daughter, but Tokamak is too far gone to listen to reason. Multiplex uses the distraction to slip away, as the damage from Firestorm’s attack sends the aircraft into a dive. The crew all bail out and so do the guards, leaving Lorraine and her father tied up. Tokamak and Firestorm leave the aircraft, but continue fighting all over Washington. (At the Jefferson Memorial, Firestorm uses his powers to animate Jefferson’s statue, making it punch Tokamak in the face.) Tokamak plays possum and surprises Firestorm, pounding him and dumping him in the Reflecting Pool by the Washington Monument. Lorraine and her father fall out of the damaged plane and as they plunge Firehawk blasts Tokamakearthward, Lorraine’s memory returns. She remembers the experiment Hewitt subjected her to and becomes Firehawk again, busting through her restraints and saving her father. Conveniently, the Senator has already passed out, so he doesn’t know his daughter is Firehawk. She notices Tokamak about to waste Firestorm and slams into him, saving Firestorm’s ass. When Tokamak realizes who his attacker is, he tries to exert his will over Lorraine again. Ronnie wants to stop him, but Stein says this is something Lorraine has to do herself. She resists Tokamak’s control and blasts him, knocking him on his ass. Firehawk gives Firestorm a big smooch to thank him, but they’re interrupted by Tokamak’s power suit glowing. Stein realizes Hewitt has lost control of his powers ad is about to explode, so Firestorm puts a shield around Tokamak and lifts him high in the air. He explodes, but nobody onFirestorm saves the day and gets a reward the ground is hurt, and Firehawk locks lips with Firestorm again. A couple hours later, Lorraine has returned to normal, Stein has gone home to get some sleep, and Ronnie comes back to Doreen’s place (where she immediately greets him with a big smooch too). Ronnie is surprised to find a bunch of FBI agents at Doreen’s place, as well as his school principal (Hapgood). Hapgood tells Ronnie he finally has permission to let him know everything about his father. Seems Hapgood was a lawyer years ago and Ed Raymond was a journalist named Ed Rockwell, who testified against gangster Shoe Shine. Shine promised to kill Rockwell, and did blow Ronnie’s mother away. Ed was ready to go down swinging, but Hapgood convinced to him change his Ronnie's dad alivename and move across the country, for Ronnie’s sake. Ed agreed but swore he’d come back to new York someday. He did and when someone told Shine Ed was back, he planted the bomb at Ed’s house. Ronnie doesn’t feel much better knowing the truth, since his dad is still dead … except he’s not. Ed walks out of the other room and Ronnie is stunned. Apparently, the explosion at Ed’s house only killed the guy who went there to plant the bomb, but the Feds decided to let Shine think Ed was dead to protect Ronnie. Shine was killed in a shootout with the cops a few hours ago, so they don’t have to hide anymore. Ronnie isn’t too worried about the details, he’s just glad to have his father back.

Noticeable Things:

  • In case you’re wondering how Shoe Shine found out about Ed being back in New York, it was Maxwell, the 2000 Committee guy working for Hewitt who recognized Ed (in Firestorm 15) and clued Shine in. Maxwell got his just desserts though; he was on Tokamak’s plane an got electrocuted trying to keep Lorraine and her father from getting out.

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