Comics Reviews: Batman 368, Detective 535, Batman & the Outsiders 7, Firestorm 20, Vigilante 3

Batman 368 coverBatman #368 – “A Revenge of Rainbows” – Doug Moench/Don Newton/Alfredo Alcala

This one starts with Jason Todd (who’s now officially Batman’s new sidekick) still trying to come up with a name for his costumed identity. They’re stuck until Dick Grayson shows with a suggestion of his own. Across town, Crazy Quilt is talking to a scientist named Kinski who’s built a device to help Crazy Quilt regain his eyesight (which he lost fighting Robin back in Batman 316). Kinski has built a cybernetic implant that bypasses Quilt’s eyes and transmits images from a helmet-camera directly to his brain. The helmet also has Quilt’s usual weapons—strobe lights and lasers—built into it. The helmet works and Quilt is ecstatic to have his sight back. Kinski gets pushy about getting paid and Quilt’s gratitude soon evaporates; he burns Kinski toDick hands over Robin costume a crisp with his laser, before vowing to his men that he’ll get Robin back for blinding him. In the Batcave, Dick tells Jason that he’s ready to stop being Batman’s sidekick and find an identity of his own. He’s not really sure what that identity is yet, but he’s happy to let Jason become the new Robin, even giving him his old costume. Jason is thrilled, but Batman’s a bit down about formally ending his long partnership with Dick. They part on good terms and Jason realizes that he’s taking on a legacy with a long history. He worries about living up to it and knows that anything he does (good or bad) from now on will be attributed to Robin. The anonymity bothers him a bit, but Batman says it’s about what they do, not bar brawlwho gets credit for it. The new Dynamic Duo head out for their first night’s patrol, stopping a slew of minor crimes like arson, mugging, and a bar brawl. Vicki Vale shows up following a tip and gets a photo of them for Picture News. She seems to believe that this is the same Robin Batman’s worked with for years, even though he’s shorter and must sound younger. Crazy Quilt reads about Batman and Robin’s exploits and is ready to take his revenge on the Boy Wonder for blinding him. Meanwhile, in Montreal, Alfred and his daughter Julia go to see an old friend named Letrope. They find him dead, with a message written in blood for Julia to back off. She tells Alfred that this confirms her suspicionsCrazy Quilt pounds Robin about her adoptive father, Jacques Remarque … he was murdered. That night, Batman and Robin go on patrol again and notice three coloured lights blinking a few blocks away. Batman remembers Crazy Quilt and figures he might have a grudge against Robin, so he tells Jason to stay behind while he goes to check it out. Naturally, it’s just a ruse and Crazy Quilt surprises Robin, thinking he’s the original, and blinds him with his strobe lights. Crazy Quilt then beats the shit out of Robin, leaving him for Batman to find after he rushes back from the decoy lights.

Detective 535 coverDetective #535 – “One Hole in a Quilt of Madness” – Doug Moench/Gene Colan/Bob Smith

Following immediately from the story above, Batman takes Robin back to Wayne Manor to recover from the beating he got from Crazy Quilt. In Montreal, Alfred and Julia discuss Letrope’s murder and Alfred wonders why Julia keeps holding back on telling him everything about Jacques Remarque’s death. Julia says even though Remarque raised her, Alfred is her biological father and she doesn’t want to put him in danger. Alfred says he’ll face anything to help her. At Wayne manor, Jason wakes up in pretty bad shape and tells Bruce how Crazy Quilt surprised him with his strobe lights and pounded him. Jason’s ready for a rematch, but Bruce says their business is no place for revenge. Jason reminds him that revenge isJason knocks Batman out Batman’s entire raison d’etre. Jason finally agrees to wait until he’s recovered and heads to the Batcave to do some research. At the police station, Sgt. Bullock tells Commissioner Gordon that several gang bosses have been eliminated lately. Bullock is sure it’s some new crime-lord making a power move, but Gordon’s not convinced. Gordon thinks even if Bullock is right, there’s not much they can do while this new player stays hidden in the shadows. At Wayne Manor, Batman is surprised to see Jason in costume, and he’s shocked when Jason pulls out one of Joker’s old batons from Batman’s trophy room. Robin knocks Batman out with the baton and takes off, heading to an old warehouse by the docks, where Crazy Quilt and his men Batman fights Crazy Quiltare waiting. Robin seems to be moving against his will and Crazy Quilt is expecting him. Quilt orders his gang to pound Robin. At Wayne Manor, Batman wakes up and finds a note tied to the Joker baton with an address on it. At the warehouse, Robin fights back against Crazy Quilt’s thugs, but they get the upper hand through sheer numbers. Before they can do much damage, Batman shows up to challenge them. Crazy Quilt notices Robin has disappeared and goes to find him. Robin turns the tables and ends up following Crazy Quilt, but the multi-coloured villain devises a ruse. He hangs his helmet on a post, knowing the cybernetic implants will allow him to see through it even when it isn’t on his head. As Robin tries to figure out why Quilt took off his helmet, he’s attacked from behind. Before Quilt can finish Robin, BatmanRobin hypnotizes Crazy Quilt shows up to stop him. Quilt manages to get his helmet back on and uses the strobe effect against Batman, stunning him. Crazy Quilt reveals that his strobe lights can hypnotize victims, which he did to Robin last night, ordering him to attack Batman and then come to the warehouse. Before Quilt can hypnotize Batman to waste Robin, Robin pulls out a little mirrored pinwheel and uses it to direct the strobe’s light back at Crazy Quilt, hypnotizing him. Robin orders him to destroy the helmet and go to sleep. Robin explains to Batman that Crazy Quilt hypnotized him in the alley, ordering him to attack Batman and go to the warehouse, but he didn’t have time to erase Robin’s memory of the hypnotism. So Robin knew what had happened, he just couldn’t tell Batman. He devised the pinwheel in the Batcave and wrote the note so Batman could follow him. Batman congratulates him on his initiative, saying he’s doing Dick’s legacy proud.

Green Arrow – “On the Cheap” – Joey Cavalieri/Shawn McManus

Last issue, Green Arrow tracked the Werewolves of London (a biker gang) to their hideout in a junkyard. After dealing with the guard who grabbed him, Green Arrow rescues OzoneArrow sneaks in to find the black box that the Werewolves recovered after Detonator blew up Whelmsley’s plane. But Green Arrow’s old foe Ozone (the tagger who uses modified spray cans as weapons … no, seriously) has been scavenging from the Werewolves’ junkyard and got caught. As Green Arrow finds the black box and overhears the Werewolves’ plan to steal plutonium, he realizes Ozone has been captured and decides he’d better keep the bikers from killing him. Arrow rescues Ozone, using some of Ozone’s spray cans to fly away. They’re pursued by the bikers, who turn their tin shed into a helicopter (have I mentioned how stupid this whole storyline is?), which Green Arrow crashes by fouling the rotors. When Green Arrow and Ozone land, they’re confronted by Detonator, who still wants the black box.

Batman and Outsiders 7 coverBatman & the Outsiders #7 – “Cold Hands, Cold Heart” – Mike W. Barr/Jim Aparo

Last issue, Cryonic Man froze most of the Outsiders in solid ice, kidnapping Katana in the process. Some bystanders try to bust the Outsiders loose from their icy prison, but their tools just shatter. Back at Cryonic Man’s hideout, he prepares to harvest Katana’s organs to transplant to his comatose wife in the stasis tube. Katana actually manages to break free, but is recaptured by one of Cryonic Man’s robots. Back by the freeway tunnel, the cops (including a Lieutenant Freeman) and a doctor show up to check out the frozen Outsiders. The doctor can’t even tell if they’re still alive, but at least one of them is … Halo busts free of the ice. She’s exhausted from the effort, but frees her friends before collapsing. Turns out Halo used her stasis aura to stave off the effectsHalo busts out of the ice of Cryonic Man’s gas, but it took her a while to adjust to the cold before switching to her heat aura. Metamorpho is impressed with Halo’s resourcefulness, since he’d kinda pegged her as a dumb blonde. While the others debate how to find Cryonic Man, Halo notices Katana’s sword and grabs it. She’s startled to hear a voice inside her head coming from the sword. The voice tells her it can track Katana, but thy have to hurry because she’s in danger. Halo tells Batman she can track Katana, but refuses to say how she can do it. Batman decides to trust her and they take off, leaving Lt. Freeman to wonder if Batman made the right move leaving the JLA. They find Cryonic Man’s hideout, an old house out in the country. Katana rescuedBatman and Geo-Force go in hard, smashing the robots that try to stop them. Metamorpho has formed his body into a tunnel-borer so he, Black Lightning, and Halo can come up from underneath, guided by Halo’s communication with Katana’s sword. They take out some more robots and rescue Katana (who isn’t thrilled that Halo knows the secret of her sword). Batman says they have to take Cryonic man down for good, so Black lightning tackles him first. Cryonic Man tries the same trick as last issue, but Lightning is ready and generates a magnetic field to stop Cryonic Man from using superconductivity against him again. Geo-Force smashes Cryonic Man’s suit and they break into his inner sanctum to find the three comatose people in the stasis tubes. Black Lightning manages to communicate with the people by matching the electrical frequency of the tubes. The older man is Professor Raymond andCryonic Man defeated the older woman is his wife, Bella. Raymond is surprised to learn it’s 1983, since Philip (aka Cryonic Man) has been telling them it’s still 1955. In 1947, Raymond invented cryonic stasis tubes because he was worried about nuclear war. He, his wife, his assistant Philip, and his wife (Melissa) were put into cryonic stasis, with Philip set to waken at intervals to make sure everything was working properly. Philip told them it was 1955 and there had been a devastating nuclear war, but Black Lightning tells him that’s bullshit. Philip explains that Melissa has some kind of degenerative disease and he figured there might be technology in the future to enable organ transplants, tech that didn’t Philip rejected by the othersexist in their time. Black Lightning brings Bella and Melissa into the conversation and they condemn Philip for lying to them, as well as killing people and using their bodies for spare parts when his own began to break down. Philip says he only wanted to save Melissa and claims they’re really all one body because of their plight. The others agree they are one body, but they reject Philip and everything he’s done, sending a lethal dose of electricity at him. That effort kills them too, since it de-powers the stasis tubes, but Batman says their souls died a long time ago, when they chose to run from the world instead of facing it.

Firestorm 20 coverFirestorm #20 – “Frost Bite” – Gerry Conway/Rafael Kayanan/Rodin Rodriguez

This one starts with Firestorm and Firehawk cavorting in the sky above New York, Firestorm is really taken with Firehawk, even making out with her in mid-air, which kind of worries the Professor Stein half of Firestorm’s psyche. But the Ronnie Raymond half is too enamoured of his fiery counterpart to care. At an upstate prison, the warden and several guards make their way into a special wing that’s completely covered in ice. The only cell inside holds Killer Frost, encased in solid ice at a temperature of absolute zero. The warden tells Frost her appeal was denied, but she’s about to get a break; outside, a pigeon flies into the transformer feeding the refrigeration unit in Frost’s cell, causing a slight drop in power. That’s enough to let Frost bust out of her icy prison and startKiller Frost gets loose wasting guards with ice spears. Frost uses her chilling kiss to freeze the warden solid before shattering him into a million pieces. Unfortunately, Frost is still on her “I hate men because I can’t get a boyfriend” schtick. She still hates Martin Stein for supposedly rejecting her years ago and dreams of revenge. Back in New York, Firehawk retells her origin story, filling Firestorm in on how she (Lorraine Reilly) was kidnapped by Henry Hewitt as leverage against her father, a Senator. She apologizes for almost killing Firestorm while under Hewitt’s control, but he says he’s forgiven her and gives her another smooch. Firehawk has to head for Washington to see her father, but she promises to be back soon. Firestorm splits into Ronnie and Firestorm and Firehawk having funProfessor Stein and Ronnie confesses that he’s in love with Firehawk. Stein reminds him he already has a girlfriend, Doreen Day, which makes Ronnie feel like an asshole. He calls Doreen and tells her he can’t see her because he’s sick, but she already knows he’s not at home since she called several times. She tells him to stop lying and hangs up. Ronnie heads home and Stein meets up with Harry Carew, who thankfully doesn’t remember Enforcer busting into his apartment last issue to grab Stein. Firestorm cleaned the place up and Stein assumes Harry must’ve gotten a slight concussion that affected his memory. As Harry cajoles Stein into joining him for a run, we see Stein’s ex (Clarissa) watching them. Clarissa was working for Hewitt before, but now it seems she has a new boss … someone who still has it out for Stein. Carew tells Stein that his old company, Concordance Research, wants him back.Killer Frost watches Stein Stein can’t believe it, but it turns out to be true. He drops by Concordance and his old boss (Quale) welcomes him back, though not exactly enthusiastically. We see Quale getting a phone call from someone about setting Stein up to take a fall. In his old office, Stein finds out Concordance was bought out by a company called Century Industries and figures someone at that firm must’ve insisted Quale hire him back. Across the street, Killer Frost is watching Stein when a cop shows up to arrest her. She freezes him solid and pushes him off the roof to shatter on the sidewalk. In Washington, Senator Reilly is being hounded by his political enemies about how he basically sold his vote to Hewitt. He Killer Frost chases Stein into subwaydoesn’t tell them about Lorraine being kidnapped (which puzzles her) and tells his colleagues to expel him if they want. In New York, Martin Stein comes out of Concordance to find ice on the sidewalk. He quickly realizes what that means and runs into the subway to get away from Killer Frost long enough to find somewhere to trigger the Firestorm transformation. Killer Frost stalks him, turning the stairs to ice and hounding him into falling in front of a speeding train. Stein triggers the change and Firestorm phases through the train just in time. Killer Frost is gone and Firestorm surmises she might think Stein was killed by the train, but knows they’ll be running into her again soon. A few blocks away, Killer Frost does believe Stein to be dead and now decides to get revenge on all men instead of just him.

Vigilante 3 coverVigilante #3 – “Hunt” – Marv Wolfman/Keith Pollard/Pablo Marcos

This one starts with Vigilante tracking Cyborg (from the New Teen Titans) and a scumbag named Stryker through the woods. Stryker is a real piece of crap, a serial criminal who raped J.J. Davis’s wife, leaving her so traumatized that she never really recovered. (J.J. is Vigilante’s computer/weapons specialist, so this one is personal.) Stryker had gotten a light sentence on a technicality, so Vigilante decided to kill him on the way to prison, but Cyborg is doing his best to protect Stryker … not because he doesn’t believe Stryker deserves death, but because bypassing the law to mete out summary justice is not the right solution. Vigilante isn’t impressed with Cyborg’s moral stance and starts blasting, managing to put a round through Stryker’s shoulder beforeStryker shot Cyborg can get him to safety. Stryker isn’t all that grateful, since he thinks Cyborg is kind of a sap for protecting someone he thinks is scum. But Cyborg says he’d rather do the right thing than ignore his conscience and turn into an asshole like Stryker. We get some flashbacks showing how things got to this point. Vigilante tried to waste Stryker earlier when the cops were transporting him to prison and Captain Hall asked the Titans if one of them would take Stryker upstate. Cyborg volunteered and their car was blown away by Vigilante, whose armour-piercing bullets can hurt Cyborg. They ended up jumping off a cliff into the woods, which is where we came in. Cyborg protects Stryker from Cyborg throws a treemore bullets and tosses a tree at Vigilante, smashing his rifle. Cyborg takes Stryker (who’s in pretty bad shape now) to a farmhouse near the woods, still trying to reason with Vigilante about fixing the broken justice system instead of hacking it to pieces. The fight destroys the farm house and Cyborg leaves Stryker to go after Vigilante, chasing him into the woods and haranguing him about his twisted sense of justice. Vigilante tries to talk Cyborg into seeing his point of view, but Cyborg says Vigilante’s killing isn’t right, even if he could somehow justify it in court. He unmasks Vigilante and is shocked to find out he’s former District Attorney Adrian Chase. (Obviously Robin didn’t share that information with the other Titans.) Chase tells Cyborg how he met “some people” after his family was killed and they gave him a lifetime’sVigilante pounds Cyborg worth of training in about six months. Cyborg says he’s taking Vigilante in and Vigilante knocks him out. He heads for the farm house where Stryker has grabbed the farmer’s rifle and is holding him and his wife hostage. Vigilante confronts Stryker and the farmer tries to grab him, getting shot for his trouble. Vigilante freaks out and pounds Stryker, but thanks to Cyborg’s arguments he can’t kill him in cold blood. Cyborg busts in and doesn’t believe Vigilante when he says he’s had a change of heart. When he tries to grab Vigilante, he puts a bullet through Cyborg’s shoulder and calls the Titans to come get him. By the time they get there, Stryker is singing like a canary (I assume Vigilante intimidated him into it) and the Titans find Vigilante has J.J. thanks Vigilante for doing the right thingleft them a tape with Stryker confessing to numerous past crimes. Robin says it won’t be admissible in court, but it might steer the cops in the right direction. Cyborg is fine (and so’s the farmer) and they take Stryker in. Vigilante returns to JJ and Terry and tells them he couldn’t kill Stryker in cold blood or it would’ve made him no better tan Stryker. J.J. is disappointed at first, thinking Stryker’s death is the only way to get justice for his wife, but he finally agrees that murdering him wouldn’t have made any of them feel better in the long run. Chase sends Cyborg a Get Well card thanking him for helping him see the light. So, I guess Vigilante will be less violent from now on, only killing in self-defense. I wonder if that was editorially mandated, or if Wolfman just wanted to get Vigilante away from the obvious Punisher parallels?

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