The Venom Connection
Credits: Doug Moench (writer), Jim Aparo (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Ken Bruzenak (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)
Summary: Bruce Wayne examines a blood sample left on one of the kidnappers’ masks and discovers he’s vaccinated against a specific strain of malaria. With Oracle’s help, he learns that the nearest country with that strain is Santa Prisca. He departs on his private jet with Alfred, and while in midair, learns that Selina Kyle has snuck along. Meanwhile, Robin helps Batman rescue mobster Tough Tony’s children. With the aid of his new gloves, subconsciously designed by the System, Batman defeats Bane’s main henchmen. Later, Robin returns home to discover his father’s been kidnapped.
- Selina Kyle introduces herself to Bruce Wayne as someone he once met at a charity function. It’s amazing to think that the two characters have such a meager connection so deep into post-Crisis continuity.
- This issue marks the debut of the Azrael-Batman’s new gloves. Not only are they ridiculously large, but they have sharp talons and shoot out tiny bat-shuriken. If Kenner never made toys out of these things, I would be amazed.
Total N00B: Batman calls out to Harold in the Batcave and discovers he’s gone. In the 600+ pages of this book, Harold only makes a one-page cameo in the last story, and there’s no explanation of who he is. Later, Robin asks if Ace is gone, too. I’m guessing this is a reference to a post-Crisis Ace the Bathound, which I had no idea even existed.
Review: Is Moench making an intentional point by having Bruce Wayne leave the country without telling Tim Drake his father’s been kidnapped, or is this indicative of his plotting style? If Moench is making the case that Bruce is so divorced from normal human interaction that he can’t be bothered to comfort his teenage ward, then it’s a defensible move (and having Alfred, not Bruce, sign the note left on Tim’s bed explaining the situation is a nice touch). If not, this just comes across as shoddy plotting. Structuring the issue to give Bruce and Tim some time together, or at least more than a few panels for Tim to react to his father’s kidnapping, wouldn’t have hurt the story one bit. Instead, Robin spends the entire issue angsting over Jean-Paul/Azrael/Batman (who’s acting so much like All-Star Batman it’s past comedy at this point), which is of course what he’s already been doing the past few issues. One subplot is advanced, as Bane reacts to the news that Batman has returned, but unfortunately Moench doesn’t get a lot of material out of the scene. He writes Bane as an irrationally angry steroid-freak, lashing out as his flunkies for no real reason, which doesn’t seem to match his characterization from the Chuck Dixon chapters.