Tuesday, October 4, 2016
PART 11: DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL #4
WRITER: Louise Simonson
PENCILS: Tom Grindberg
INKS: Tom Grindberg
COLORS: Tom Grindberg
LETTERS: Albert DeGuzman
SUMMARY: In a remote and barren area, Waverider crawls along toward Batman. No explanation for the scenario is given other than Waverider's general description of his mission, emphasizing that some heroes need be examined more than once. He makes contact with Batman and the future begins to unfold.
In the Himalayas, Batman and Ra's al Ghul battle on a catwalk inside a mountain fortress. Below them, a vat containing a deadly virus Ra's hopes to unleash upon the world. As they struggle, the two topple over the edge. Batman catches himself with a well-timed line, but can't hang on to Ra's, who falls into the chemical virus soup. Above them, Talia screams and her goons apprehend Batman as he tries to escape. However, Ra's is not quite dead yet. He climbs out of the vat, only to collapse. Talia orders him taken to the Lazarus Pit, with Batman in tow.
As they lower Ra's into the Lazarus Pit, Batman uses a small capsule filled with acid to make his escape. He leaps and tumbles his ways free, escaping through a nearby window. However, the snowy mountain proves more than Batman had counted on and he slips, tumbling end over end down the mountain. Talia orders her men to pursue. In the meantime, Ra's body is removed from the Lazarus Pit. The men repel down the slopes, but can not find Batman's body.
As it turns out, Tim Drake and Alfred happened to be nearby to retrieve Batman. Tim brings Batman down the slopes to where Alfred has a plane waiting for them. Batman is alive, but it seems his leg and back are broken. Once in the air, Tim and Alfred discuss taking Bruce somewhere for medical treatment. Batman orders them to take him to the Batcave. Before slipping into unconsciousness he says that he doesn't want to die in a hospital.
We see glimpses of how bad things in Gotham have gotten. People protesting in the streets, rioting because only the rich can afford medical treatment.
Weeks go by without any sign of Batman in Gotham. James Gordon has begun to give up hope. He lights the signal, hoping against hope that Batman will appear. Robin shows up instead. Gordon informs him that there is about to be a new commissioner of police, one who is a known mob associate. Gordon also wants to know if the rumors are true. "Is Batman dead?" Afterward, Robin returns to the Batcave where Bruce tells him that it looks like he will never walk again, so yes, by all accounts the Batman is indeed dead. But Tim wonders if the matter is as closed as it sounds.
For the next few weeks, Batman patrols the nights in Gotham. The Batman has returned and once again inspires hope in the good people. Fighting crime is tough, and Batman is only one person. The strain is taking a toll. One night he attempts to stop a break in. However, the crime is just a trap set for Batman to be an assassin's target. He is shot. Talia steps forward, removes the cowl and exposes Tim Drake. Talia surmises that Bruce may truly be dead and tosses Tim's body off the side of the building. When Batman hits the streets below, he is indeed dead and word of Batman's death circulates fast.
The news brings grief to Alfred and Bruce, but it also stirs something else within Bruce Wayne--a desire to once again become Batman to bring Tim's killers to justice. Bruce goes on to design a functional exo-skeleton that will allow him to not only once again walk but also maneuver just as agilely as before, if not better. In fact, it also enhances his own natural strength.
Bruce as Batman stirs up old fears in criminals once again. He puts out word that he's looking for Tim's killers. This Batman is no longer playing around. He still doesn't kill, but he makes absolutely certain that everybody knows he is no longer the "nice" Batman. Batman's investigations intensify, eventually going through the new police commissioner and even to the point of questioning the criminals housed in Arkham Asylum. He finally gets his answers, though, and they lead him back to the Himalayas.
There, Bruce encounters Talia. She informs him that Ra's did not survive his last treatment in the Lazarus Pit. Talia implores Bruce to take Ra's place, which he refuses. She has her men attack him, which ends in Bruce falling down the slopes a broken mess again. Talia takes Batman to the Lazarus Pit in an effort to restore him and have him rule at her side. However, Bruce has had this plan all along as he activates a bomb while in the pit and destroys the entire complex, thus avenging Tim's murder.
Back in the present Waverider decides once and for all that Batman will not become Monarch. He vanishes, leaving Batman bewildered.
MY THOUGHTS: What the heck is up with Talia's giant 80's hair in what is supposed to be 2001?! I know styles are cyclical but not that drastically! It only occurs in the early pages, but still...wow.
Well, this is a pretty decent Armageddon story. It's pretty bleak and dark. As much as I hate the idea of Tim being killed, it would give Bruce a bit of a push toward the darkness, much as Jason's death did in the main run. With the exo-skeleton in place it would help explain Batman becoming Monarch, especially if he had taken Talia's offer and ruled in Ra's al Ghul's place.
The art is pretty good for Batman stuff. There are a few instances of things getting somewhat exaggerated or off model but nothing too extreme. I can't stand the way Ra's looks during all of this, but since he dies off fairly quickly it's not too tough to look at.
Not a lot of deep thoughts on this one, but it's definitely a better fit into the overall story than some of the other entries.