Monday, May 6, 2013

DETECTIVE COMICS #665 - August 1993

Lightning Changes
Credits:  Chuck Dixon (writer), Graham Nolan (penciler), Dick Giordando (inker), John Costanza (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Jean-Paul becomes increasingly violent as Batman, forcing Robin to question if he can fill the part.  Disobeying Bruce’s orders, Jean-Paul targets Bane.  He crashes a gangland meeting and corners Bane’s emissary, Tough Tony Bressi.  When Bressi reveals Bane is holding his children hostage, Jean-Paul swings away with him, leaving Robin behind.  Meanwhile, Bruce travels to the Drakes’ home to see Shondra.  Bane’s men arrive simultaneously to kidnap Jack Drake and Shondra.  Bruce tries to stop them but is knocked out of his wheelchair and left on the ground.

Irrelevant Continuity:  Tim Drake’s father Jack is paralyzed following a previous story that hasn’t been mentioned in the crossover yet.  Bruce met Shondra through Jack.

I Love the ‘90s:  One of the gang members Batman and Robin face in the opening scene is wearing a Malcolm X baseball cap.

Review:  Probably my biggest surprise when reading “Knightfall” in one collection is seeing that Jean-Paul didn’t descend into madness after assuming Batman’s identity.  He just started out that way.  Considering the sheer length of this storyline and DC’s commitment to it, that just seems like an odd choice to make.  Bruce Wayne hands over the reins to a man the audience immediately sees is unhinged?  What does that say about Bruce?  If Jean-Paul started out as a sincere believer in Batman’s cause and was slowly driven over the edge by the crime and corruption in Gotham, not only would this help to sell him as a legitimate replacement in the early issues, but it would also provide a lot of material that could stretch out over several months of the storyline.  I realize that Azrael-as-Batman, or AzBats as he’s often called, was always intended as a parody of the Frank Miller style of Batman that the fans claimed to want so much, but I don’t see the dramatic significance of starting him out that way.  

Bruce Wayne’s other bit of idiocy was not realizing that if Bane knew his identity, he knew Robin’s as well, so now Tim’s father is exposed.  Dixon does have Bruce curse himself for not realizing this sooner, but it’s only after he heads to the Drakes’ home to…reveal his secret identity to Shondra.  Unless there’s a lot of material with Shondra that precedes the stories reprinted in the collection, this is far too abrupt to work.  If the story really needed a motivation to get Bruce over to the Drakes’ home, Bruce could’ve independently realized that Jack was in trouble, and heroically wheeled himself there on his own (since no one was around to help).  He still would’ve failed and ended up in the same position, but at least he wouldn’t look quite as dumb.


Anonymous said...

Now that I think about it, Jean-Paul does start off pretty unhinged. he does still manage to go further off the deep end later (especially towards the end of the second omnibus collection), but he doesn't start off all that balanced to begin with. An odd choice, to say the least.

Teebore said...

Yeah, all that business with Shondra never seemed to work for me. Maybe it's just because I only ever read her in the context of "Knightfall", but it seemed odd that Bruce was willing to let her in on the secret.

You make a good point about Jean-Paul already being unhinged that I'd never considered before. He does get increasingly more unhinged, which helps sell the overall idea of the story, but you're right that it would have been even better if he'd started out normal, so to speak.

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