With this issue we’re getting into what looks like the next big story arc, involving a group of very familiar (and very appropriate) villains. It’s another good blend of plotting and action.
By the way, if you were missing Troy Brownfield’s sit-down with Kurt Busiek for the last couple of issues, they’ve played catchup right here. As for the identity of the woman Bagley’s sketched, I say she’s Ms. Marvel.
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“Crumbs In The Forest” was written by Kurt Busiek, pencilled by Mark Bagley, inked by Art Thibert, colored by Pete Pantazis, and lettered by Pat Brosseau; Elisabeth V. Gehrlein, assistant editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: After Batman fights Howlers and Wonder Woman fights Swashbuckler, the Trinitarians track mysterious disappearances.
– Someone in the D.C. area would know more, obviously, but The Google pointed me to the Westfield Shoppingtown Mall in Bethesda, Maryland, as a possible Earth-Prime counterpart for the mall which Diana and Etta were patronizing.
– A character called “Swashbuckler” had his fifteen minutes of fame in a story from Detective Comics #493 (August 1980), written by Cary Burkett and pencilled by Don Newton. His real name was Michael Carter (not to be confused with Michael Jon “Booster” Carter, a/k/a Booster Gold), and he was the nephew of the original Vigilante. That Swashbuckler helped Batman on a case involving the Riddler, and his costume had red highlights too; so there may be a roundabout connection with this story, but I doubt it.
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– In panel 6, Batman pulls a spare Utility Belt out of a hollow tree. (I would dearly love to think that there’s another hollow tree on the Wayne grounds where Batman can grab some cookies.) Maybe it’s the heat, but this reminded me of an odd little story from the late ‘70s/early ‘80s featuring Robin, in which he let a bad guy think he was an alien with a base in a hollow tree. How I wish I could be more specific. Rest assured that I’ve combed through those old giant-sized Detective Comics and looked at every Robin index I can find. As the pirate with the steering wheel in his pants once said, “Arr! It’s drivin’ me nuts!”
– Also, the Earth-1 Supergirl stored her secret identity’s robot duplicate in a hollow tree, as shown (for example) in Action Comics #276 (May 1961).
– You know, I’d be willing to bet that Wayne Enterprises has cornered the fake-tree market, and not just because the old Wayne Foundation building had a giant hollow tree in its center.
– (Did I mention how hot it’s been …?)
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– “Rabat, Morocco. Bangalore, India. Aykhal, Siberia. Strassfurt, Germany.” Not surprisingly, these match up with Lois’ recitation of mass disappearances last issue, although she also mentions Karachi, Pakistan.
– Because Batman doesn’t use guns, he wouldn’t have silver bullets handy. Silver nitrate is toxic, corrosive, and poisonous, so kids, ask your parents’ permission before throwing it on were-creatures.
– Normally, magic poses at least some problems for Superman, but it doesn’t look like that extends to the Howlers here.
– The giant mechanical dinosaur is a souvenir of “Dinosaur Island!” in Batman #35 (June 1946), and the penny is from “The Penny Plunderers!” in World’s Finest Comics #30 (September 1947).
– Again, Batman, Robin, and the Demon faced a pack of Howlers in The Demon vol. 3 #s 23-24 (May-June 1992).
– The Eternity Book was written by Merlin and contains the history of all existence. Morgaine Le Fay has been trying to possess it ever since The Demon vol. 1 #1 (August-September 1972). It was also the subject of a Demon story serialized in Detective Comics #s 482-85 (February-March 1979 to August-September 1979).
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– The Crime Syndicate of America, the JLA’s counterpart group on the evil parallel world of Earth-3, was created by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky and first appeared in Justice League of America vol. 1 #29 (August 1964). This incarnation is based on the evil Earth of the Anti-Matter Universe and first appeared in JLA: Earth 2 (2000), which was written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Frank Quitely. Members pictured include Power Ring, Ultraman, Owlman, Johnny Quick, and Superwoman. However, the current Power Ring is the third we’ve seen, and first appeared in JLA #107 (December 2004), written by Mr. Busiek and pencilled by Ron Garney.
– You’ll remember that last issue, Tarot instructed the Troika to assemble “artifact[s] of target friend and foe. And of foundation.” Therefore, they need three artifacts for each of the Trinitarians. Swashbuckler has now given Morgaine an artifact of Wonder Woman’s friend — eight to go!
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“Making The Pieces Fit” was plotted by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, scripted by Nicieza, pencilled by Scott McDaniel, inked by Andy Owens, colored by Allen Passalaqua, and lettered by Ken Lopez; Elisabeth V. Gehrlein, assistant editor; Mike Carlin, editor.
In Brief: Nightwing fights Swashbuckler as Oracle coordinates the Bat-clan.
Page 13 (story page 1)
– First on-panel appearance of Barbara Gordon in Trinity.
Pages 14/2 and 15/3
– Dr. No-Face, a/k/a Bart Magan, first appeared in Detective Comics #319 (September 1963). He lost all his facial features in an accident with a device designed to heal facial scars. He then committed crimes against anything with a “face,” along the way attempting to frame Dr. Paul Dent, the similarly-disfigured inventor of the machine. That seems to have been his only appearance, except for a mention in 52 #17 (August 30, 2006).
– [Note that Two-Face took an extended vacation from the Batman books from Batman #81 (February 1954) to #234 (August 1971), so a character named "Dent" wouldn't necessarily have been confused with him.]
– The Huntress, a/k/a Helena Bertinelli, first appeared in The Huntress #1 (April 1989), written by Joey Cavalieri and pencilled by Joe Staton. She’s one of Oracle’s “Birds Of Prey” and was also a member of two different Justice Leagues. Her appearance was based originally on the second Huntress of Earth-2, created by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton, who first appeared in DC Super-Stars #17 (November-December 1977). That character, Helena Wayne, was the daughter of the Earth-2 Batman and Catwoman.
– The Outsiders pictured are Grace and Katana. Grace (created by Judd Winick and Tom Raney) first appeared in The Outsiders vol. 3 #1 (August 2003), and Katana (created by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo), a/k/a Tatsu Yamashiro, first appeared in The Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #200 (July 1983).
– The Mad Hatter, a/k/a Jervis Tetch, first appeared in Batman #49 (October 1948). During one of Tetch’s periods of incarceration, a second Hatter committed crimes in Gotham, and popped up occasionally even after Tetch was back on the streets (for example, in Detective Comics #573 (April 1987)). Tetch was seen recently working with the villain group called the Secret Six (Secret Six vol. 2 #s 1-6, July-December 2006)).
– Swashbuckler is apparently the villain so nice, his name gets special lettering twice!
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– Note that Swashbuckler was after his second “friend” artifact; namely, Nightwing’s mask.
– I suspect that the voice-activated auto-destruct feature of Nightwing’s mask had to have been Batman’s idea. (“Now let’s be absolutely clear about this, Bruce … you’re sure the charge will be armed only when the mask isn’t touching me?”)
– Police Commissioner James W. Gordon was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and is the only Batman supporting character who goes back all the way to Batman’s debut in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939). He is Barbara Gordon’s father, although that got a little complicated a while back. Since “Batman: Year One” (Batman #s 404-07 (February-May 1987)) established that the Gordons were childless until their son was born in (you guessed it) the year of Batman’s debut, this would have made Barbara way too young to be the original Batgirl. The continuity patch made Barbara Jim’s niece, and upon the deaths of Barbara’s parents Jim adopted her.
– Gordon has smoked a pipe off and on since his first appearance. [EDIT:] Alert commenter YLu points out that it too gets pinched, presumably as a substitute “friend artifact.” Seven to go!
– “Since you left Gotham”: Barbara and the other Birds of Prey relocated to Metropolis in Birds Of Prey #86 (November 2005) before moving to the West Coast city of Platinum Flats (not too far from Star City) in BOP #117 (June 2008).
– The Penguin, a/k/a Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot, was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane and first appeared in Detective Comics #58 (December 1941). Currently he maintains the appearance of an honest businessman, and runs the Iceberg Lounge seen here.
– Arkham Asylum first appeared as “Arkham Hospital” in Batman #258 (September-October 1974), and according to John Wells was first consistently called “Arkham Asylum” in Green Lantern vol. 2 #117 (June 1979). It’s Gotham City’s maximum-security home for the criminally insane. (For some reason I thought it had appeared originally in the Wein/Wrightson Swamp Thing — guess not.) Arkham was destroyed by the villain Bane, and the rebuilt version debuted in Batman #521 (August 1995).
– The Trans-Volitional Man appears to be a new character. His name would suggest that he can force others to do his will, but his powers don’t quite match up.
– The Joker was created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson and first appeared in Batman #1 (Spring 1940). You’ve probably heard of him.
– Obviously, by taking the Joker’s laugh, TVM has picked up a “foe artifact” related to Batman. Six to go!
– Detective Harvey Bullock was created by Archie Goodwin and Howard Chaykin and first appeared in Detective Comics #441 (June-July 1974). He then disappeared for about nine years. However, he became a regular supporting character in the Bat-books, starting in Batman #361 (July 1983), and was fleshed out significantly over the next few years by writer Doug Moench and artists Don Newton, Gene Colan, and Tom Mandrake.
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Well, that’s it for me for now. See you next week!
P.S. Since we’ve reached the end of the second month, here are links to the previous issues’ annotations.