Wednesday, August 29, 2012
SPOILERS: Detective Comics Annual #1
Black Mask has escaped, but the staff at Arkham don't seem to be aware of the fact, as before he left during the Night of the Owls, he used his mask's powers to make all the doctors at Arkham believe he was still there. Such is the case as Gordon finds Jeremiah Arkham talking to no one, in Black Mask's old cell.
Elsewhere, at a visiting carnival, Batman battles a big brutish looking dude who is going by the name Mad Bull. While Bull forces Bruce to save some citizens in distress, he goes off into a closed part of the carnival, looking for masks. While this is happening, in Arkham, Gordon and Bullock are questioning an uncooperative Clayface as to Black Mask's old associates, and finally get him to talk by holding his pain medication hostage. Back at the carnival, with Bull distracted due to the lack of masks he's looking for, Bruce sneaks up from behind him, get's his own mask off, and knocks him out. Looking into Bull's eyes, Bruce can tell he's being controlled by the Black Mask.
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce meets with Alfred and does the typical "we haven't seen this villain in a while, so let's talk some history, shall we?" sort of deal, revealing that after Black Mask was taken down, he had someone close to him make sure the False Face society was dismantled properly, incase the head was ever cut off, so to speak. Bruce figures that there aren't many other villains in Gotham who are that into mind control... all but one, the Mad Hatter, who may prove useful in finding Black Mask.
Back at the carnival, a business man by the name of Dempsy enters a tent looking for his assistant, only to find a dwarf clown. Some "who the heck are yous" and some misdirects, all lead to a knock on the back of the head for Dempsy, and Black Mask appearing with his false face society, looking for his masks.
On the top of the GCPD, Gordon meets with Batman, telling him about Dempsy, as Clayface finally spilled the beans. Dempsy was going to use the false face society's masks to help persuade the jury in Black Masks' trial, but never did. In turn, Black Mask had no other chance but to use the insanity defense, only to become insane being stuck in Arkham so near his old mask, but unable to wear it. Gordon already has men looking for Dempsy, but asks Batman why Dempsy would leave his boss high and dry. With a picture of Mad Hatter in hand, Bruce points out that Black Mask's competition may have some part in that.
While Black Mask uses his powers on Dempsy to reveal where the old False Face Society masks are, Bruce interrogates the Tweeds as to Mad Hatter's location. Dempsy eventually leads Black Mask to Gotham's museum, where he's covertly had the masks on display as part of an exhibit. Black Mask doesn't recognize the masks, and that's when Dempsy tells him that his new boss had changed and experimented on them, as he reveals he's being protected by said boss' powers, while those wearing the masks reveal themselves to be actual people and attack Black Mask and his thugs.
The dwarf in Black Mask's crew then reveals himself to be Mad Hatter and he temporarily gains control over Black Mask... then Batman breaks into the museum, starts fighting everybody, and Mad Hatter and Black Mask get locked in a mental battle, not unlike that one episode of South Park where Cartman pretended to be a psychic and "battled" the other "psychics."
Long story short, Batman throws a bulldog on Mad Hatter, and ends up cracking Black Mask's mask. People are sent to Arkham, masks are locked away, and... well, that's it. That ending really accelerated.
I liked this issue just fine. Like Detective Comics #8, and hell the Night of the Owls tie in as well, I think Tony Daniel's stories work way better in short bursts, and his long form storytelling hasn't done anything for me recently. Sure, the story was a little loose, and could be tighter, the ending really just happened with out anything too satisfying, but when it comes down to it, overall it was an alright one and done story. I mean, I guess you can't really make the ending that impactful when you're no longer writing anything in the Batman universe, but whatever.
The art was pretty darn good. Romano Molenaar was originally supposed to do the full issue, but then Birds of Prey happened. Once again, Pere Perez stepped in and filled in perfectly. You can sort of tell when the change is made, just from a visual standpoint, but Perez alters his style from fill in to fill in, that allows his art to blend in nearly seamlessly. That's how you do fill in art, combined with consistent coloring from page 1 to the end.