Wednesday, February 20, 2013

DETECTIVE COMICS #659 - May 1993

Credits:  Chuck Dixon (writer), Norm Breyfogle (artist), Tim Harkins (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  The Ventriloquist teams with fellow Arkham escapee Amygdala to search for Scarface.  Batman and Robin follow their trail to a toy store.  When Robin is ordered to stand back, he decides to follow the falcon that has been tracking the Batmobile.  He soon locates Bird and engages him in a fight.  Bane radios in and orders Bird to let Robin go.  Meanwhile, a disoriented Batman defeats Amygdala but leaves Ventriloquist behind.  The Batmobile’s police scanner reports Zsasz has broken into a girls’ school.

Irrelevant Continuity:  Robin makes another reference to his encounter with Bane, which apparently occurred in the same story as Bane’s fight with Killer Croc and his dismissal of Azrael.  Robin also comments that Batman has “been sick” recently, referencing stories that are also not reprinted.

I Love the ‘90s:  “No justice, no peace” is written in graffiti in the Gotham back alleys.

Total N00B:  I’ve never heard of Amygdala before.  He’s a large, childlike brute with several mental problems.  It seems like he’d be any easy addition to any of the recent Batman video games, but apparently no one’s bothered to use him.  An “amygdala” is defined as “an almond-shaped mass of gray matter, one in each hemisphere of the brain, associated with feelings of fear and aggression and important for visual learning and memory.”

Review:  This is another chapter of the crossover that doesn’t seem to have an appropriate tone given the circumstances of the story.  The Ventriloquist’s quest to locate Scarface is not surprisingly played for laughs (Ventriloquist even creates a new puppet friend, “Socko,” this issue), and the mentally deranged Amygdala is mostly treated as a joke as well, although he stands up to Batman pretty well.  I’m also surprised to see Bird get a clear victory over Robin, but then again, I guess it’s not that big a surprise that one of Bane’s henchmen would get a strong heel push.  And yet, I have a hard time picturing a mulleted bird aficionado getting the best of Robin, who’s supposed to be one of the better hand-to-hand combatants in the DC Universe to the best of my knowledge.  At any rate, it’s another issue of Batman and Robin chasing Arkham escapees that’s so not grim I’m torn between admiring its willingness to have fun and just wondering what the tone of this storyline is supposed to be.


wwk5d said...

I can see Bird taking Robin (seriously...a bird fighting a robin) at this point in Robin's history, since Robin is still relatively new at this, and probably still is a bit behind on his training (compared to what he will become pre-The New 52).

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think this is before he trained with Shiva (he was the Robin who trained with Shiva right? Or was that Green Arrow's kid?) so he's not the h2h fighter he'll eventually become. Also, gotta love that Breyfogle Batman art; I think the next issue, the last one he draws, is when the tone shifts a bit darker.

wwk5d said...

Actually, if I recall correctly, they both trained with this point, the Tim Drake Robin has had training by Batman, and is probably a good fighter, but his age and lack of experience probably hold him back a little against people with more experience.

And that's how I choose to fanwank it lol

Adam Farrar said...

Amygdala first appeared in the same story with the new Arkham. So just a year before this story. He dies either during it or just after. So this is the golden age of Amygdala stories. You're not a noob, he's a deep cut.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember Amygdala being in the Nightwing issues of Bruce Wayne: Murderer, so he was still around about 10 years ago.

Adam Farrar said...

Oh that's right. I was out of the Batbooks by that point but apparently he was a recurring character in Nightwing as he lived in Dick's apartment building. I thought his death was earlier and now I feel old.

Señor Editor said...

Amygdala debuted in "The Last Arkham" (one of my favorite Batman stories by Grant and Breyfogle) along with Mr. Zsasz. I highly recommend this story. Really enjoying that you're taking on Knightfall! Too bad they didn't reprint some of the earlier stories that set the tone for the whole saga. If you're interested, you can click on my name for a 2012 Alan Grant interview I did where he talks a bit about Knightfall and other stories from the '90s (in the article there's also links to a Breyfogle interview and a piece about some of their stories). Knightfall imo started off really good, but became a real mess after Batman was defeated.

Teebore said...

This was my first encounter with Amygdala as well (at a time when I didn't know the amygdala was a part of the brain, and thus, pronounced his name in my head WAY wrong).

Being as "Knightfall" was one of my first encounters with Batman in comics (as opposed to TV and movies), I wasn't surprised that a lot of these villains, like Amygdala and Mr. Zasz, were new to me, and I just assumed they were mainstays with which I simply wasn't familiar.

But I was surprised years later to learn just how new they were to the Bat books in general, and very much a case of their creators being involved in the current story and bringing them along, rather than them being standards in the rogues gallery.

G. Kendall said...

Senor Editor - Thanks for the link; it confirms my suspicion that Alan Grant didn't exactly care for this storyline.