Comics Reviews: Batman 378, Detective 545, Batman & the Outsiders 16, Firestorm 30, Vigilante 13

Batman 378 coverBatman #378 – “One Hat Madder” – Doug Moench/Don Newton/Alfredo Alcala

This one starts with Batman gaslighting Mayor Hill some more, letting him know his term will soon come to a premature end. It seems to be working, as Hill is paranoid and jumpy, sending his bodyguards out to chase shadows. Elsewhere, Mad Hatter is using a computer to figure out where the loot amassed by Sturges Hellstrom and his Nightmares Inc. scam went. Mad Hatter figures since Anton Knight killed Hellstrom and Anton’s ex Natalia lives in a fancy penthouse, she probably has a pretty good idea where the stolen money went. The next day, the family court judge allows Natalia Knight to adopt Jason Todd, despite the objections of Jason’s caseworker, Amanda Groscz. Jason is planning to get evidence that Natalia is a criminal, so he and Bruce have acourtroom drama fake emotional scene in front of the courthouse. Amanda apologizes to Bruce for setting all this in motion, but Bruce knows Mayor Hill bought off the judge, so he isn’t mad at Amanda. Of course, Bruce has to pretend to be devastated at losing Jason, but when the sympathies of Alfred, Julia, and Vicki get to be too much, he gives them shit and takes off. Bruce changes to Batman and tries to figure out where Anton Knight disappeared to last issue after being shot by Natalia. Speaking of Natalia, she’s having suspicions about the judge in her court case too, since she never expected to win so easily. Before she can ponder the implications, Mad Hatter delivers a new hat to her and when she puts it on, he uses a link from his computer to Natalia attacks Batmanput her into a trance so he can download all the information in her brain. Of course, we know (though Mad Hatter doesn’t) that information includes Batman’s secret identity. Batman has been methodically following Anton’s blood trail and ended up back at the penthouse just in time to go after Mad Hatter before he leaves. Hatter uses his computer to screw with Natalia’s head, turning her into a puppet. She attacks Batman, using various weapons that double as her jewelry. Batman realizes Mad Hatter has his identity on the computer, but he’s too involved fighting Natalia to do anything about it. Luckily Jason was bored and shows up as Robin to help. While Batman holds Natalia off, Robin races down the stairs to waitRobin fights a chimp for Mad Hatter, who’s on he elevator. After dealing with Hatter’s pet chimp, Robin recovers the computer and heads back to the penthouse, where he frees Natalia’s mind from its murderous trance. She feels guilty for trying to kill Batman, but he points out she had no choice … then he reminds her of all the other shady stuff she’s done when she wasn’t mind-controlled. She still wants to be Batman’s wife, but he’s not interested and takes off with Robin.

Noticeable Things:

  • If you’re wondering how Mad Hatter survived getting hit by a train in Detective 526, he apparently jumped off the elevated tracks and landed on a mattress in a truck that just happened to be passing by. Seriously, that’s Moench’s explanation.

Detective 545 coverDetective #545 – “By Darkness Masked” – Doug Moench/Gene Colan/Bob Smith

As this issue starts, we finally find out what happened to Anton (Night Slayer) Knight after he was shot last issue. Apparently, he found a manhole in the alley where he disappeared and headed down to he sewers where he was washed out onto a beach. A blind woman (Tina) and her dog (Cerberus) found him on the beach and brought him home to take care of him. Anton wakes up in bed in a shack and meets his rescuer. At Wayne Enterprises, Bruce asks Lucius Fox to get their computer experts to work on cracking Mad Hatter’s computer, claiming the cops asked for his help. At the shack, Tina tells Anton how she found him while scrounging on the beach and says she didn’t take him to hospital becauseTina thinks she found Batman she thought he might be in some kind of trouble … plus, she’s very lonely. Yeah, I think Tina’s hot for Anton. Anton says he’d prefer not to go to the hospital and Tina blows his mind by telling him she knows the truth … that he’s Batman. She deduced it from the gunshot, the skin-tight costume and mask she removed from him, and the fact that he wants to keep everything hush-hush. Anton plays along, pretending he was shot by some criminal, but Cerberus isn’t so easily fooled; the dog can sense Anton’s true nature and keeps a close eye on him. Batman goes back to the alley where Anton disappeared and finally finds the manhole; you’d think that would’ve occurred to him Anton pretends to be Batmanearlier, but I guess he’s had a lot on his mind lately. In the shack, Tina tells Anton she’s dreamed of meeting someone and falling in love with them. Anton has no interest in her, but has to play along to some extent so she doesn’t see through his “Batman” ruse. Cerberus knows Anton’s true mind and tries to warn Tina, but she thinks the dog is just jealous that she’s showing affection for someone else. Meanwhile, Batman has taken up Anton’s trail through the sewers and draws ever closer to a confrontation …

Green Arrow – “Fair Raid” – Joey Cavalieri/Shawn McManus

Last issue, a couple of disgruntled villains (Bad Penny and Pinball Wizard)Oliver checks on the hostages took hostages at the Star City World’s Fair to protest how automation is making thousands of people jobless. One of the hostages is Oliver Queen’s new photographer, Sharon Greenglass and Ollie volunteered to to go inside the building where the hostages are being held to check their condition before the ransom is paid. After bluffing Bad Penny that the costume in his bag is from a production of Romeo and Juliet, Ollie confirms Sharon and the other hostages are alive. He pretends to leave and the villains electrify the outside of the building again, but Ollie actually sneaks off to change to Green Arrow. He pounds the villains and gives them a speech about sympathizing with Gree Arrow wraps up Bad Pennytheir cause, but points out that the girls they took hostage need the jobs provided by the fair. He has to swallow his words when the “girls” turn out to be robots. (He also gets pissed off when Bad Penny calls him Hawkeye.) After he rescues her, Sharon says she knows his secret identity, but Green Arrow doesn’t seem too bothered by that (which is weird, considering everything he did last issue to keep her from finding out). The story ends elsewhere in Star City, with a goofball in a costume (calling himself Vengeance) blowing some dude’s head off in an alley and promising there’ll be plenty more deaths to follow.

Batman and Outsiders 16 coverBatman & the Outsiders #16 – “Goodbye …” – Mike W. Barr/Jim Aparo

This one starts with Gabrielle (Halo) Doe having a nightmare (the latest of many) about how she has no memory of her true identity. Tatsu (Katana) Yamashiro comforts Gaby and tells her everything will be fine. The next day, Tatsu goes to see Batman to give him shit for not looking into Gaby’s past. Batman actually has been checking things out and through a series of deductions has narrowed Gaby’s origin down to her being a runaway from the Mid-West (although I think his conjecture that Gaby’s real name is Violet because she’s reluctant to use her violet aura as Halo is a bit of a stretch). Batman tells Tatsu he put Jason Bard on the case and we see Jason has been going from town to town checking high school yearbooks for Gaby’s likeness. In Arlington, MissouriJason Bard finds Gaby's real name he finally gets a hit, finding a picture of Gaby under the name Violet Harper. Jason drops by the Harper house to let Gaby’s (or Violet’s, I guess) mom know her daughter has been found. Back in Gotham, Batman calls the Outsiders together and tells them he’s found Gaby’s parents and that her real name is Violet Harper. Gaby is ecstatic and Batman says she can meet her parents this weekend. She invites the other Outsiders to come (in their civilian identities, of course) and they all accept, except Metamorpho, who has some personal business to take care of. In Arlington, we see Violet’s mom is excited about Violet coming home, but her dad is a bit skeptical, reminding his wife that their Halo and Geo-Force talk about their relationshipdaughter has broken their hearts before. In Gotham, Halo and Geo-Force talk about their relationship and Halo says she needs to concentrate on her family right now, so Geo-Force tells her he’s willing to wait until she’s ready and they lock lips again. Katana is out for a jaunt when she overhears a gunshot and finds a junkie trying to rip off a doctor. She slices the junkie up, but the doctor coaxes her into helping him save the guy’s life. When the cops show up, Katana takes off. Meanwhile, Dr. Helga Jace is helping Metamorpho in his bid to see his ex-girlfriend, Sapphire Stagg. Metamorpho gets inside and tells Sapphire he’s sorry for pretending he didn’t love her, but he just wanted her to have a shot at life with a “normal” guy. Sapphire admits she still loves him and they start making out, but Sapphire’s father (Simon Stagg) has theMetamorpho knocked down by Orbs room wired and sends his thug Java to break things up. Metamorpho decks Java and Simon comes in with the Orb of Ra, which gave Metamorpho his powers and can kill him. But Dr. Jace gave Metamorpho a device that lets him break the Orb. Unfortunately, Simon has equipped his goons with multiple Orbs and Metamorpho is overcome, turning into a pile of sludge. Jace comes in and knocks out Simon and his men, telling Sapphire they need to get Metamorpho out of there if they want to save him. In Arlington, Violet is reunited with her parents and everyone is thrilled … except Tatsu, who’s obviously broken up saying goodbye to Haloabout losing Gaby as a surrogate daughter. Batman skips the reunion to break into the local police station and look up Violet Harper’s record. Seems she hung out with a local kid named Mark Denninger, who ended up dead of a drug overdose in Paris … right around the time Halo showed up in Markovia with amnesia. The party finally breaks up at the Harper house and the Outsiders leave Violet with her family. Tatsu is still having trouble letting go, and Violet is sad to say goodbye to her too. But don’t worry … I don’t think Halo’s story is quite finished yet.

Firestorm 30 coverFirestorm #30 – “The Depths of Despair” – Joey Cavalieri/Rafael Kayanan/Romeo Tanghal

This one continues from last issue, with Firestorm still under Mindboggler’s mental control. She makes him look crazy by forcing him to fight non-existent demons, even as the Professor Stein part of Firestorm’s persona tries to tell him there’s nothing there. Mindboggler completes her takeover of Firestorm’s mind by making him feel so sick he can hardly move. Before she can finish him off, the cops show up and Mindboggler hides, not wanting to bring the entire NYPD down on herself. The cops take the unconscious Firestorm to jail, where the other jailbirds aren’t exactly thrilled to see a superhero tossed in with them. One dude starts pounding Firestorm and Stein exhorts FirestormIncognito grabs Firestorm to wake up and fight back, but he’s too out of it. The cops break things up and a captain tells them they’re transferring Firestorm to a maximum security facility. As Firestorm is loaded into an armored car, the “captain” reveals himself as Incognito, another villain working for Breathtaker (who is also Mindboggler’s boss). Incognito (who can change his features like Marvel’s Chameleon) takes off with Firestorm in the armored car as Stein keeps trying to break through Mindboggler’s hold on Firestorm’s mind. Downtown, Ed Raymond meets with Mr. Bryant, the guy who bought the newspaper where Ed worked. Bryant (who looks a lot like Tony Stark) tells Rd Raymond meets Felicity SmoakEd he wants to revamp the paper and offers him the city editor job. Bryant also introduces Ed to Felicity Smoak, who will become a very important part of Ed’s life in upcoming issues. Felicity is hired to do a special section on computers, but she’s really just trying to make enough money to sue Firestorm for ruining her software company. In the armored car, Stein finally gets through to Firestorm, who decides he needs to rest before trying to bust out. But incognito’s plan goes off the rails when he tries to cross the territory of a gang called the River Rats. At Breathtaker’s hideout, he subjects Mindboggler to a process that renews her powers. Mindboggler is reluctant, since it’sMindboggler forced to renew her powers incredibly painful, but Breathtaker forces her to comply. Down by the docks, Incognito is taken to the River Rats’ leader (Fixx, who controls the gang members with an ultrasonic whistle), who he’s already familiar with. Seems Fixx hired Incognito to grab Mindboggler, hoping to control her and use her as a weapon. When Incognito was stopped leaving town in an armored car, Fixx assumed he has Mindboggler in the back and is trying to hide her somewhere to hold out for more money. Fixx is surprised to find Firestorm in the armored car, but figures he’ll be worth even more if Fixx can control him. Firestorm defeats FixxFixx decides to waste Incognito, but Firestorm wakes up in time to save him. After trashing the River Rats (tossing them in the river and turning the water into oatmeal) and Fixx, Firestorm grabs Incognito and threatens him if he doesn’t give up his boss’s location. Incognito spills and Firestorm sneaks into the hideout disguised as Incognito. Unfortunately, he runs right into Mindboggler, who uses her power to screw with his will again, turning him into her mindless puppet.

Vigilante 13 coverVigilante #13 – “Locke Room Murder” – Marv Wolfman/Gil Kane

This is a murder mystery story with a lot of exposition at the beginning and plenty more at the end. It’s about a guy named Stephen Locke, who died from ingesting a massive dose of sulfuric acid, clutching a note that named his business partner (Brent Wilson) as his killer. Brent was skimming money from the business (they ran a small airstrip) and banging Locke’s wife (Angela), so the cops are pretty convinced he’s guilty. Ironically, the autopsy shows that Locke had cancer and would’ve died in a few months anyway. Brent (and Angela) insist he’s innocent and Adrian (Vigilante) Chase kinda believes him because the wholeVigilante fighting thugs case seems a little too perfect. While pounding some thugs, Vigilante overhears a police call about another death at Brent and Locke’s business and heads out to see what’s up. He lurks around and finds out Angela has been murdered the same way as her husband, with sulfuric acid. Brent again insists he’s innocent, but the cops take him away. Vigilante believes Brent for some reason and snoops through the house, reading Angela’s diary. He finds what he pretty much already knew—Angela and Brent were having an affair and stealing from the company—but they planned to take off together after Angela filed for divorce. Vigilante realizes Locke must’ve discovered the embezzling while going through the books looking for extra money to pay for his Brent goes nuts and takes offchemotherapy. If Angela knew her husband had cancer, she and Brent emptying the company’s bank account would be pretty cold. Vigilante makes a phone call to check a hunch and figures out Brent is innocent of killing both Locke and Angela. But after Angela dies in hospital, Brent goes nuts and takes off, heading back to the airstrip to get out of the country. Vigilante finds him and says he can prove Brent’s innocence, but Brent’s too freaked out to believe him. He shoots Vigilante in the leg and takes off in a plane. Vigilante jumps onto the wing and makes it inside the cockpit, where he and Brent fight. They end up falling out of the plane and Brent’s the only one wearing a parachute. Despite Brent trying to shoot him in mid-air, Vigilante catches up to him and takes the parachute. Brent falls to his death and Vigilantemid-air fight lands safely, musing that he’s the only one who knows what really happened. Apparently, Angela had found out about her husband’s cancer and tried to return some of the money she’d helped steal. But Locke knew about the affair and decided to get revenge: he fiddled the books to make Brent’s embezzlement more obvious, then added sulfur trioxide to the salt at home. When sulfur trioxide mixes with water, it turns into sulfuric acid, so Locke killed himself and left the “salt” at home, knowing sooner or later Angela would also die painfully.


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