Friday, May 9, 2014

DETECTIVE COMICS #679 - November 1994

The Vermin Factor
Credits:  Chuck Dixon (writer), Lee Weeks (penciler), Joe Rubinstein (inker), John Costanza (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  Using a specialized flute, Ratcatcher summons an army of rats and escapes his parole hearing.  Later, Batman discusses Two-Face’s release with Commissioner Gordon, who is wary of dealing with another Batman.  While Robin is spending time with his recuperating father, Batman tracks Ratcatcher’s rat army in the sewers.  He discovers Ratcatcher’s plan to use a giant mass of rats to block the city’s main aqueduct.  Using a high-pitched sonic device, Batman disperses the rats and takes Ratcatcher into custody.

Irrelevant Continuity:  Looking online, it seems Ratcatcher first appeared in Detective Comics #585 during the Alan Grant/John Wagner run.

Dramatic Exits:  Commissioner Gordon basically taunts Batman into doing the quick escape bit, but he doesn’t take the bait.

I Love the ‘90s:  Tim Drake “modem”s info on Two-Face’s release to the Batcave.

Total N00B:  More references to Dick and Tim missing Alfred, who’s away in an unknown location, with no clear indication of why he left.

Review:  So I guess the goal of every Bat-title in November 1994 was to do an old-school Batman/Robin team-up story featuring a fairly non-threatening villain.  (Robin’s not there at the end for the climax, since Dixon writes him off in order to tie in to an ongoing subplot in the Robin solo series, but he still has a role in the story.)  Like I’ve said before, I get it.  The books need smaller, more traditional stories following the previous two years of events.  And these issues are a nice way to explore the dynamic between Dick and Tim, who do play off each other well.  Having a brotherly bond between Batman and Robin instead of a father-son relationship is a clever way to present an alternate take on the traditional roles for the characters.  However, as someone who’s reading all of these stories collected together in one volume, seeing variations of the same basic story does get a bit tiresome at a certain point.  You start to get antsy for something real to start to happen again.  Regardless, it’s a fun action story with superb artwork from Lee Weeks.  I think it’s worth noting again that you seldom see stereotypically bad ‘90s art in these comics, and the editors deserve a lot of credit for that.

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