Friday, March 15, 2013
DETECTIVE COMICS #661 - Early June 1993
City on Fire
Credits: Chuck Dixon (writer), Graham Nolan (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), John Costanza (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)
Summary: Joker and Scarecrow force the mayor to instigate a firefighters’ strike, as Firefly continues to burn various Gotham landmarks. Batman allows Robin to investigate Firefly, and after researching his childhood as orphan Garfield Lynns, Robin deduces Firefly’s next target and notifies Batman. Batman arrives and tries to stop Firefly from leaving the scene, but instead drags him down into the fire as the building collapses. Meanwhile, Riddler sends a letter to the police, and Ventriloquist continues his search for Scarface.
Dramatic Exits: A nun that knew Garfield Lynns as a child abruptly disappears after giving Robin information on his sister. Robin remarks that she could give Batman lessons on dramatic exits.
“Huh?” Moment: Speaking of that nun, for some reason she’s only depicted in shadows during the story. And there’s no obvious reason for her to suddenly disappear, making me wonder if this was intended as the set up for another mystery.
I Love the ‘90s: Robin decides to search credit bureaus and voter registrations to find Firefly’s sister, which probably were his only options pre-Google. Dr. Simpson Flanders also appears on what’s clearly an analogue for Rush Limbaugh’s ‘90s TV show.
Review: We’re still following the same basic structure as the previous chapters, although this issue allows Robin to actually do more than just complain about Batman’s attitude, and there are a few amusing moments with some of the other Arkham escapees. Riddler has my favorite scene, as he painstakingly spends time writing the perfect riddle, only to have his letter sit on a police officer’s desk because they’re too busy to do little things like open the mail. I also like Ventriloquist’s subplot, which has him torturing the lawyer who last saw his dummy, although unfortunately the art and colors make him look virtually identical to Mayor Krol, who’s also being tortured while in his pajamas during a different subplot.
Batman’s spent a lot of time fighting numerous C-list villains since the storyline began, but this chapter manages to get the best material out of the concept so far. The battle-fatigued Batman material doesn’t offer any new angles, but this issue does allow Robin to perform actual detective work and track down a villain, a staple of Batman and Robin adventures that “Knightfall” has only skimmed over up to now. The rationalization for Firefly’s crime, he’s destroying all of the places potential foster parents promised to take him as a child but never did, also reminds me of something you could easily see on Batman The Animated Series. Dixon also continues to write a smart, sympathetic Robin, which is a precursor to the solid work he’ll do on that character’s solo title.