Monday, July 15, 2013

DETECTIVE COMICS #667 - October 1993

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

Summary:  The new Batman rescues a family in the park from muggers, but is unsympathetic towards the anxious father.  Meanwhile, long-lost twin brothers Tom and Tad meet during a bank robbery.  They come to Gotham and are soon employed by “Dirty” Dan Doyle.  In the Batcave, Batman discovers a hi-tech subway car designed by Harold, as Robin learns his entrance to the cave has been blocked off.  Batman takes the subway car into the city, but carelessly drives into the path of an oncoming train.

Irrelevant Continuity:  
  • This issue marks the modern debut of the Trigger Twins, two cowboy-themed crooks.
  • Somehow, the Batcave has a hidden path that leads directly into Gotham’s subway system.  Batman wonders if his predecessor even knew about this.
  • Jean-Paul has his first vision of St. Dumas, who will continually appear and give Jean-Paul vague messages about transforming from angel to demon, embracing the darkness of Gotham, etc., for several months.

Review:  The era of Azrael as Batman truly begins, as Bruce Wayne is shuffled totally off-panel during his vague “quest” subplot (which is barely acknowledged for months at a time in Batman and Detective).  With Azrael as the focus, and without Robin as a sounding board, the narrative captions now try to elucidate his point of view in a more theatrical style than I’m using to reading in Dixon’s work.  (Actually, I can barely recall Dixon ever using third-person captions.)  The point is made that a) Azrael craves action, b) Azrael is exceedingly reckless, and c) Azrael is still under the influence of the System.  And we’ll see these ideas repeat themselves in virtually every issue for the next few months.  

Dixon alleviates the dark tone with some divergences into Silver Age silliness, such as the post-Crisis debut of the Trigger Twins.  Their origin is absolutely ridiculous, but as the story points out, not entirely implausible.  There are numerous instances of twins separated at birth who end up following remarkably similar journeys in life.  And the absurdity of two grown men dressed as cowboys hitting up Gotham’s underworld is a welcome break from Azrael, who’s rather flagrantly being treated as a borderline ‘90s parody by now.  As for the introduction of the Bat-subway car, I have to admit that I don’t get the appeal.  Not only is the premise that the Batcave somehow leads directly into the Gotham subway system questionable, but I don’t understand the need for an alternative to the Batmobile.  Is it really so important that Batman make his way into the city a few minutes faster by subway?  Isn’t sharing the subway tracks with other trains more of an inconvenience than highway traffic?  What does he get out of this?


Teebore said...

I too am befuddled by the Bat-subway car. Seems more of a hassle than an improvement.

Adam Farrar said...

I've never understood how there are subway tracks under Wayne Manor. Why would they bother running the train that far out of the metropolitan area? It couldn't be so Alfred could commute to work. When was this line built? There would have to be all sorts of surveying, zoning and environmental impact studies before the train tunnels were dug. That would have involved noticing a massive cave system or Bruce (or his father) saying, “No, I don’t really want you digging up my property.”

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