Wednesday, March 20, 2013

DETECTIVE COMICS #662 - Late June 1993


Burning Questions
Credits:  Chuck Dixon (writer), Graham Nolan (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), John Costanza (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  The Riddler’s gang turns against him, forcing him to work alone.  He targets a live talk show in order to broadcast his riddles to the public.  Robin decides to apprehend Riddler while Batman’s busy confronting Firefly.  Batman defeats Firefly at the Gotham Zoo, while the Huntress suddenly appears across town and overwhelms the Riddler’s former henchmen.  Robin stops the Riddler, but Sergeant Bullock chastises him for behaving recklessly during a hostage situation.

Dramatic Exits:  Robin abruptly disappears on Sgt. Bullock while he’s in the middle of telling him off.

I Love the ‘90s:  The Riddler takes over the “Cassie Josie Rudolpho Show,” which is clearly a Sally Jesse Raphael parody.

Review:  Isn’t this the third Detective issue in a row that shifts the focus from Batman to Robin?  I suspect Dixon realized that issue after issue of Batman pushing himself to the brink while fighting second-stringers would get old fast, so perhaps he decided to turn the spotlight on Robin for a change of pace.  Even though the story follows the same basic formula as most of the “Knightfall” issues, there is a sense that some advancement is taking place.  I’m assuming this chapter marks the end of the ongoing Dr. Flanders gag, as Flanders is forced to abandon his philosophy when confronted by the Riddler, who’s quite proud of being insane.  (Although lumping Riddler in with all of the “crazy” Batman villains was still a new idea at the time, right?)  Having the Huntress stop the Riddler’s gang also seems to be paying off an ongoing storyline, establishing her capable enough to solve the clues Riddler dropped on television and apprehend his gang.  And Batman’s finally starting to realize that he’s pushed himself too far, even though the storyline’s still several issues away from bringing in his replacement. 

None of this is bad, but if this truly was the end of Dr. Flanders’ run, you would think Dixon would’ve gotten more material out of bringing the pop psychologist face-to-face with one of the villains he defends.  Having Robin take out the Riddler by spraying his hand with foam from a distance is also a bit of an anti-climax.  It is interesting to see Bullock cast as the voice of reason, though.  Establishing that Robin is still green enough to make basic mistakes helps to establish that Batman has legitimate reasons for holding Robin back, making this one of the few good decisions Batman makes during this storyline.

1 comment:

Teebore said...

Riddler can be a problematic character depending on how he's handled, but I've always loved his henchmen walking out on him in the opening of this issue, basically saying "nuts to this".

I mean, if you've going to work for a crazy (and in Gotham, you pretty much have to), you may as well work for one who isn't going to try to foil his own plot.

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