This one gets heavy into the world of boxing, so I assume Doug Moench (and maybe Don Newton, since he’s credited as co-plotter) were big fight fans. Dr. Fang is still hot to fix a championship bout and make a ton of money betting on an underdog. Fang settles on an up-and-comer named Tommy Dunfey, currently ranked tenth in the boxing scene. He sends his goon to talk to Dunfey’s trainer (Rudy) and suggest that Dunfey might have a chance against the champ. Dunfey’s a straight shooter, so he goes to see the champ (Michael Greene) in person, to ask him for a shot at the belt. Greene wonders if there’s some racial politics at play, since he’s black and Dunfey is white, but Dunfey says he just wants a fair shot at the title, but none of the fighters ranked two through nine will fight him because they all have their eyes on Greene too. Greene finally agrees to give Dunfey a chance and shows Dunfey his kids, who he says are the only things more important to him than the belt. A few days later, Dunfey and Rudy talk to the boxing commissioner, who’s kind of a dick. They convince him to sanction the match by hinting at all the money to be made … and pointing out that a white dude like Dunfey might look better with the belt than Greene. (Rudy is black, so he’s not being racist, he’s just playing into the commissioner’s racism to get his cooperation.) When news gets out about the fight, it becomes a sensation. They even get a great retired fighter named Jake DeMansky (who I assume is based on Jake LaMotta) to referee the fight. There’s a sub-plot with a racist nutcase (George Straite) who idolizes DeMansky and wants to keep his reputation intact. Straite doesn’t want Greene to humiliate a white contender, so he plans to take his gun to the fight. During training, Dunfey and Rudy have a talk about race and Rudy says maybe people are born different so they can have a choice on whether to be decent people or not. At Wayne Manor, Alfred and Bruce are discussing the fight and Julia gives them the standard lecture about barbaric male displays. Bruce sees the Bat-Signal and cuts out, heading to police headquarters where Commissioner Gordon shows him a weird letter that DeMansky received. Gordon says DeMansky is shrugging off the threat and asks Batman to be at the fight to watch over things. Dr. Fang’s plan is working, as Dunfey’s odds are 5-1 against and Fang is the only one betting on him. Fang sends some of his men to have a chat with Greene right before the fight. Rudy gives Dunfey a pep talk before the fight and the fans go nuts when the two contenders come out (and really go wild when Jake DeMansky shows up to referee the bout). The fight is pretty boring for the first few rounds until Dunfey lands a good punch and Greene goes down. Dunfey can tell Greene is faking it and starts giving him shit, saying he wants to win clean. Dunfey kicks Greene and calls him a sell-out, which pisses Greene off. They start pounding the shit out of each other and DeMansky is powerless to stop them. George Straite is in the crowd and hates seeing his idol so impotent, but before he can shoot DeMansky, Batman tackles him. Straite wings Batman is the arm before getting decked and the shot stops everything cold. Everybody clears out and the bout is declared no-contest, with Greene retaining his title. Naturally, Dr. Fang isn’t too happy about that. As Greene is leaving the gym later, Dunfey apologizes for kicking him and says he’s disappointed Greene would sell out. Greene says it was never about money, but before he can explain, he’s gunned down. Dunfey realizes too late that someone must’ve threatened Greene’s family to get him to cooperate.
- The ringside announcer looks and talks like Howard Cosell.
This one continues from the above story, with Greene’s funeral. Dunfey tells a reporter he’s going to find out who’s behind this and bring them to justice. He talks to Rudy, who tells him about Fang’s thug (Woad) who planted the idea of Dunfey fighting the champ. Dunfey combs the streets looking for Fang’s henchman but comes up empty until he runs into Batman. Batman tells Dunfey who Woad works for, but Dunfey isn’t deterred, so Batman agrees to team up with him. At Wayne Manor, Jason finishes some training in the Batcave and heads upstairs where he runs into Julia. He’s kind of an asshole to her, hinting that she’s in the way and should move out. As Batman and Dunfey keep looking for leads on Woad and Fang, Harvey Bullock is worried that Batman might get the credit for his work investigating Fang. At Wayne Manor, Dick decides he should apologize to Julia, but she’s ready to move out anyway. She tells Alfred she’s probably screwing things up by being there and figures she can get a job at Picture News, since she kinda knows Vicki Vale. Batman and Dunfey finally track down Fang, who’s so deluded about his former boxing career, he’s ready to fight both of them. As Fang’s men hold Batman at gunpoint, Fang and Dunfey square off in the ring. Dunfey beats the shit out of Fang, but one of his men shoots Dunfey in the shoulder. The distraction is enough for Batman, who pounds all the gunmen as Dunfey finishes off Fang with a haymaker. Dunfey goes to the boxing commission and takes the championship belt, giving it to Greene’s family and telling them Greene only lost it protecting them.
Green Arrow – “The Devil You Don’t Know” – Joey Cavalieri/Shawn McManus/Sal Trapani
This one starts with Oliver (Green Arrow) Queen getting shit at the Daily Star for dressing like a hippie. He finds out the publisher is considering selling the paper to an Australian publisher who owns a string of sensationalistic tabloid … hmmm, I wonder who that could be referencing? The Rupert Murdoch analogue tells the staff he doesn’t care what they write as long as people buy the paper, which he claims is the limit of activism these days. Oliver can’t really argue with that; he figures most people read newspapers to reinforce their own opinions, not to actually learn what’s going on in the world. As he’s leaving work, he runs into a weirdo in a goat-head devil costume (calling himself Printer’s Devil), who sets the fresh newspapers on fire before they can be shipped out. Green Arrow fights him, but Printer’s Devil’s fire ignites the surroundings and comes perilously close to a gas station across the street. Before Green Arrow can do anything about that, Printer’s Devil pins him to the wall and prepares to kill him.
This one starts with Brion (Geo-Force) Markov and Tatsu (Katana) Yamashiro being accosted by some muggers. Brion actually tosses them some gold Markovian coins, but they assume the gold is fake and attack. Between Brion’s powers and Tatsu’s martial arts, they take care of the muggers pretty easily and go on their way. We see some dude dressed like a ninja (with a sword that looks a lot like Tatsu’s) hiding nearby, pissed off that the thugs he hired couldn’t take care of Tatsu. Back at her penthouse, Tatsu gives Gaby (Halo) Doe a present … a kitten. Gaby names him Tiger and takes him to her room to play. Tatsu meditates and cleans her sword. Hours later, the ninja dude sneaks into the penthouse and attacks Tatsu, who’s now wearing her Katana costume. She seems to know who he is and they have a sword fight. The noise wakes Gaby, who changes to halo and blasts the guy out the window. When she goes outside to find him, he knocks her out and when Katana comes after him, he knocks her unconscious too. Instead of killing Katana, the guy (whose name is Takeo) switches swords with her. Katana’s sword can communicate with whoever holds it and recognizes Takeo, who takes off with the sword. Katana pretends she doesn’t know who the intruder was, even as she realizes he took her sword. At school the next day, Jefferson (Black Lightning) Pierce handles a punk student, proving that he’s got his confidence back after coming to terms with his past last issue. In the cafeteria, a studly guy named Phil Collins (!) asks Gaby out on a date and she’s thrilled. When she gets home, she finds a goodbye note from Tatsu and freaks out. Tatsu is on her way to Japan to confront Takeo and it seems like she doesn’t expect to survive the encounter. She gets a shock when she finds Batman and the Outsiders waiting in her hotel room. Batman says they’re there to help her and Tatsu is reluctant until Gaby gives her shit, saying how worried she was about her. Tatsu and Gaby have a big emotional moment and Tatsu tells her friends that Takeo (who’s with the yakuza) stole her sword and she has to get it back … because it contains the spirit of her dead husband. Elsewhere in Tokyo, Takeo takes Tatsu’s sword to his oyabun, Noguri, who has Takeo carry out an ancient ritual that frees the souls trapped in the sword. Four of them are stereotypical villain henchmen, eager to serve the man who freed them: Shuriken, a female warrior; Nunchaku, a wild-looking dude; Blowdart, a short assassin; and Anthor Stoneaxe, a mouthy Viking. The final person freed from the sword is Maseo Yamashiro, Katana’s husband, and Takeo’s brother. Noguri tells Maseo that he expects him (and the others) to serve him … by killing Katana.
This one starts with Firestorm hanging out at Coney Island, pondering his problems (which we saw last issue). An electricity-based villain named Byte attacked Professor Stein’s old friend (or possibly girlfriend) Belle Haney at a computer fair and swore to kill her before midnight tonight. Firestorm interrupts his reverie to save some kids from falling to their deaths and is pleasantly surprised when Firehawk shows up to see him. As they’re talking, they get attacked by drones and Firehawk says this is the second time she’s been attacked and wants Firestorm’s help figuring out who’s after her. (It’s a shadowy bunch of baddies called the 2000 Committee, but our heroes don’t know that.) Firestorm tells her about his problem with Byte and since there’s a deadline on that one, Firehawk volunteers to help him sort it out first. After transforming into their civilian identities (and dropping Stein at his lab), Ronnie and Lorraine head over to the Bonner house to confront Blythe, who Ronnie’s sure is actually Byte. Blythe’s brother Barney lets them in and they find Mr. Bonner (who’s also Ronnie’s drama teacher) passed out drunk on the couch, clutching a photo of Belle Haney. Barney takes them to his room, which is full of high tech computers. Barney says his mom sends him cutting edge tech as a way of avoiding actually having to see him. He’s pretty bitter about it, although he claims to prefer computers to humans since they always do what they’re supposed to. Blythe comes in and tells Ronnie and Lorraine to get the hell out. Ronnie figures Belle must be Blythe and Barney’s mom and thinks they should head over to Concordance Research. They run into Doreen, Cliff, and Jefferson and Ronnie rather awkwardly introduces them to Lorraine; Doreen immediately gets the picture. After changing back to Firestorm and Firehawk (pulling Professor Stein out of the middle of an experiment), they go see Belle and Ronnie asks point blank about her kids. She tells them how she was trying to build a career as a research scientist when Blythe and Barney almost electrocuted themselves in her home laboratory. She pulled them away in time, but her husband freaked out and told her to leave. She hasn’t seen the kids in eight years and figures they’re better off without her. Firestorm mentions how Mr. Bonner is boozing himself stupid over her, but before she can react to that, Blythe and Barney show up to attack her. The kids admit the accident gave them powers, which they’ve just recently mastered: Blythe (Byte) can turn her body to electricity and Barney (Bug) can send himself through any computer linked to a phone line. Bug and Byte attack their mother again, blaming her for their father being a hopeless drunk. It sounds like Byte is the one with the real anger issues and that she had to talk her brother into going along with this revenge scheme. After knocking Firestorm and Firehawk around, Byte converts Belle into electricity too and pulls her inside the computer. Firehawk surmises that the accident might’ve affected Belle’s physiology too and tells Firestorm they have to help her. Firestorm uses his molecular powers to take himself and Firehawk inside the computer where they confront Bug. By combining powers, they overload Bug, sending Barney right out of the computer network. Byte goes nuts and tries to kill them, but Firestorm reflects her energy back at her. Firehawk grabs Belle and they follow Byte back toward her home. Byte urges Barney to shut off the computer while the others are inside, thereby killing them, but Barney refuses. Byte zaps her brother and takes off before Firestorm can stop her. Mr. Bonner comes in and realizes he started all this by driving his wife away in the first place. He and Belle tend to Barney (who seems okay) and Firestorm and Firehawk leave them to work things out.
This one starts with Cannon and Saber escaping from the hospital by tossing a plastic fork into Captain Hall’s throat. In the park, Adrian is jogging with his girlfriend Marcia and they run into a judge who mentions a new spot coming up on the bench because of a retiring judge. He says Adrian would make a good replacement and Adrian promises to consider it. At the mobster meeting we saw last issue, Donna Omicidio is ready to walk after the mastermind behind the meeting is revealed to be the cyborg Controller. He says if she (and the other mob bosses) give him an hour of their time, he’ll give them the opportunity to make a ton of money. Back at their mobile headquarters, Adrian finishes telling J.J. And Terry the story he started last issue. After his wife and kids’ funeral, he was approached by a woman in a cloak who took him for a ride out to the desert. For whatever reason, he never really questioned it until they got to the desert. The woman (Lynn) didn’t feel like telling him anything and slapped him around a bit. She told him some others were expecting him and led him into the desert on foot. After almost dying of heat stroke, Adrian made it to an underground hideout, where he met the others: Chaka, Chastity, and Bloody Knife. They offered him a chance to make a difference in the world, to fight for justice against people who used the system to get away with their crimes. Adrian was tired of guilty people going free, so he agreed and the quartet started an intensive training regimen that lasted six months. He also received injections to amp up his strength, stamina, and regenerative powers, but couldn’t bring himself to test his recuperative abilities by plunging his hand into a fire like Lynn repeatedly did. He had other setbacks too, failing at the rigorous training and contemplating giving up. Lynn kept haranguing him and finally reminded him how he’d failed to save his family. That galvanized him and he kicked the shit out of all his opponents and stuck his hand in the fire, the burn instantly healing. Bloody Knife proclaimed his trials over and revealed that all the trainers were already dead. They were victims of un-avenged crimes throughout history and had been training people to fight injustice for centuries. If Adrian had failed, he’d have become a trainer too, but now he could use his new powers to fight for the innocent. He walked out of the hideout and back through the desert (much more easily) and returned home to become Vigilante. His story finished, Adrian wonders how many others like him are out there and if he’ll ever find them.