Monday, April 8, 2013

DETECTIVE COMICS #663 - Early July 1993

No Rest for the Wicked
:  Chuck Dixon (writer), Graham Nolan (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), Richard Starkings (letterer), John Costanza (colorist)

Summary:  Batman rescues the mayor but nearly drowns in the process.  As he recuperates on a rooftop, he’s ambushed by Trogg.  Using gas from his utility belt, Batman neutralizes him, but Zombie and Bird soon launch their own attacks.  Batman defeats them and returns home to an empty Batcave.  He goes upstairs to discover Bane standing over Alfred’s unconscious body.  Elsewhere, Ventriloquist murders a police officer and retrieves his Scarface dummy from GCPD impound.

Total N00B:  Was Scarface always colored chalk-white in the comics?

Review:  The cycle of Batman pushing himself too far while fighting Arkham escapees ends this issue, and it’s not a moment too soon.  Batman’s rescue of the mayor is probably the best in the extensive series of “exhausted Batman fights pain and exhaustion to save the day” scenes, but it’s past time for this storyline to move on to the next phase.  The bulk of this issue is spent on Batman fighting Bane’s three henchmen, Trogg, Zombie, and Bird.  Trogg is such a Silver Age throwback (he even refers to himself in the third person) he disrupts the tone of the issue, and Zombie is spontaneously a knife-throwing expert simply to give him something to do against Batman, so neither of these fights are that great.  Batman’s hand-to-hand with Bird is a better match, and it manages to work in the fulfillment of Bane’s original prophesy fairly naturally.  The deadpan narration of “He said I would scream his name.” as Batman in fact screams Bane’s name while beating his henchman savagely is the kind of melodrama that only comics can get away with, and the storyline has more than earned this little moment after over 200 pages of relentless Batman torment. 

The cliffhanger is also one of the strongest scenes in the event so far.  Batman coming home to Bane standing over a possibly dead Alfred?  How could anyone resist buying the next issue?  In retrospect, this cliffhanger would’ve worked even better if the reader didn’t see Bane magically discern Bruce Wayne’s secret identity back in Batman #495.  Wouldn’t it be an even greater shock to discover Bane knows Batman’s identity just as he makes his move on Wayne Manor?  (Then again, this storyline has been all about Bane’s methodical dissolution of Batman, so perhaps the creative team thought it was important to show the exact moment Bane learned the secret.)  Regardless, this works as a great cliffhanger and dramatic payoff to an awful lot of teasing.


Teebore said...

Then again, this storyline has been all about Bane’s methodical dissolution of Batman, so perhaps the creative team thought it was important to show the exact moment Bane learned the secret.

I think that Batman's ID is considered such a closely guarded secret that I imagine the creative team wanted to establish exactly when/how Bane figured it out (of course, you'd also think they'd have wanted Bane to figure it out in a more clever way...).

It's hard to say whether this ending would have been more effective if we didn't know Bane had worked out the ID. I know it would have bugged me if Bane just appeared in Wayne Manor and we never learned how he figured out Batman's ID, but assuming they established how he did it at some later point, it probably would have worked.

Steven said...

Never thought of that before. Maybe if the next issue's fight scene had Bane explain how he figured it out, it would have worked. I still found the ending a shock, as far as I can remember.

Also, this issue's cover is pretty spectacular. I'd be interested to hear what some non-fans of Kelley Jones think of it.

Dan Lichtenberg said...

I remember this cover being on a pog. Yep.

G. Kendall said...

I do like this cover, especially the rats.

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