Monday, April 8, 2013
DETECTIVE COMICS #663 - Early July 1993
No Rest for the Wicked
Credits: 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.