Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

October 10th, 2014, 9:28 pm #81

Batman #506-507
Everybody's after Abbatoir, now, after a bounty has been placed on him by Graham Etchison's dad, an incarcerated crime boss. Okay... but it was hammered home, pretty well, last issue that Graham was the last of the clan.

"Everybody" includes another worthless New Blood hero, Ballistic. Plus some Three Stooges homages called the "Maniaxe", who are described as a failed band that was "Gotham's post-punk answer to Seattle grunge" (groan). They're just too ridiculous and are given way too much screen time.

Batman and Ballistic have an uneasy team-up that ends when they collect the bounty "in advance" (given solely to Ballistic) and learn where Abbatoir may be hiding. Ballistic leaves Gotham City, but I think he'll return, circa 1997, for another team-up with Batman (Bruce).

The letter pages for the past few issues have been split right down the middle. Half are saying they've stopped buying, hate the new Batman, and damn DC to hell for ruining an iconic character. The other half are saying it's a great story and to watch it all unfold; specifically that it's better than the rushed "Death of Superman" and subsequent return. Plus one or two letters from kids, asking for pen pals and thanking Batman for his cartoon.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

October 14th, 2014, 9:23 pm #82

Showcase '94 #5-6, Robin #6 (Knightquest: the Crusade)
Sort of a re-hash of the "Robin III" mini-series, as it's a straight-up team-up between Robin and the Huntress. It all revolves around Huntress's old mob ties and is pretty straightforward. Nothing substantial to this, as it's yet another attempt to make Huntress seem significant. It's just to show Robin working with others, but this story was referenced in a small intermission panel in "Batman #507".

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #59-61 (Knightquest: the Search)
The blow-off to Bruce Wayne's search for Shondra. The trail leads him back to Gotham, which is where Alfred FINALLY has enough and leaves. He goes to Wayne Manor one last time and asks Jean-Paul to maybe help out Bruce. Jean-Paul's apathetic, but follows up and walks into a wild goose chase that had been laid by Bruce.

Benedict Asp turns out to be "Benjamin Asplin", and Shondra was his adopted sister, "Sandra Asplin". Their father was a child abuser and took to whaling on Sandra. In the first outbreak of the duo's powers, they accidentally killed their father. In the present, using his new helmet to command the remote killing powers, Asp kills the duo's mother just by thinking about her. Asp also tries to kill Bruce's undercover ID of "Sir Hemingford Gray", which leads Asp to figure out that Bruce is Batman. Bruce goes after Asp and his flunky, but gets knocked out and taken to Santa Prisca.

Shondra and Bruce attack Asp and his thug, but Asp is killed in the melee by a combination of Shondra's powers and a drug injection. Bruce confides in Shondra that he had planned to ask her to marry him, back in Batman #499. They both pass out on top of one another and Shondra's powers heal Bruce.

Shondra has a mental breakdown and reverts to a child-like state. Bruce takes her back to Gotham and puts her in a home.

This is the end of "The Search"...and it wasn't very good. I think they had grander plans for Asp, but he didn't turn out too well. The Santa Prisca location (used twice) made it seem like Bane would be involved, but it was just a coincidence. A sick part of me wanted to see crippled Bruce taking on crippled Bane.

After making Shondra into a love interest for Bruce, they do a sudden switcheroo by giving her powers, then writing her off. She would rarely be mentioned, again. After this, I don't think we'd see her until 1995 and an issue of "Azrael". For someone whom Bruce was considering MARRYING, she's quickly gone and forgotten.

Another note is that DC had begun teasing "Zero Hour" in early 1994, which MAY have been why this story was carried in "Legends of the Dark Knight". As mentioned earlier, it had been off-limits to modern Bat-continuity. It's possible they had to speed-up Bruce's return in time for Zero Hour, so they had to use "Legends". It also carries a few installments of "KnightsEnd", as well.


We're nearing the end!
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

October 15th, 2014, 7:23 pm #83

Batman & Punisher: Lake of Fire
An unofficial part of "Knightquest: The Crusade". It's set in current Batman continuity, so it's a rarity for an inter-company crossover. In the big picture, it is a little odd that the Punisher is getting Jean-Paul Valley after fans had been pining for years over this team-up. I'm pretty sure this was the first Marvel/DC crossover since the early 80's, too.

Batman begins losing it even more, directly asking St. Dumas to clarify the visions and voices he's been hearing. Punisher comes to Gotham following old nemesis Jigsaw, which also ties into mobster Tony Bressi (from Batman #499-500) and a stolen rocket fuel formula that can turn regular water into fire-- so there's your "lake of fire". Batman prevents the reservoir from igniting, while Punisher takes out Jigsaw. Things conclude with a fight between Batman and Punisher to make fans happy. Joker makes a cameo, too. This would actually be concluded, later in the year with a separate special, with Bruce Wayne back in the costume.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

October 16th, 2014, 5:00 pm #84

Outsiders (vol. 2) #7-9
Another milked crossover, as Batman only makes a cameo appearances in two issues. In issue 8, he attacks this new version of the Outsiders, since they're "wanted for murder" by everyone, including Commissioner Gordon in a sizable role. Batman captures the Outsider Faust and takes him to the Bat-cave...then drops him off at the cops. Batman acts and speaks very much like a super-villain in this story.

The rest is full of Outsider subplots and happenings. Halo is killed and gets a new body. Geo-Force, Faust and Wylde all go to "Slagside Prison" and run into some old villains.

Commissioner Gordon seems much more hands-on and capable in this title. Same for GCPD and wherever this super-powered Slagside Prison fit in. This was a weird title, overall. It probably beat DC's 80's nostalgia boom by about 10 years. Has the same writer (Mike Barr) and an artist (Paul Pelletier) who tries desperately to mimic Alan Davis's work on the 80's Outsiders. Had it been released in the early 80's, it would've been a hit.

Role call of Outsiders:
-Technocrat. An industrialist, sorta' like Tony Stark, who runs around in armor that looks like something Cobra Commander would sport.

-Geo-Force. Same as he was in the 80's. Only he bangs some single broad in a bathrobe at her town-home.

-Katana. Same as the 80's, only now she wears some metal braces

-Halo. Same as 80's, but she "dies" and gets a new body (Technocrat's wife) and costume.

-Wylde. Technocrat's pal, who's possessed by a "bear spirit" or some shit. He basically looks like the Red Hulk, but with CLAWS and is REALLY BIG since it's the 90's.

-Faust. Lame magic guy with sunglasses and a t-shirt. I think he was Felix Faust's son or something.

-Eradicator. Returns in issue 9. One of the Superman knock-offs who's just...there. I can't hear his name without thinking of "The Kids in the Hall".

-Dervish. Sorta' joins in issue 9. From the 80's "Suicide Squad" villains, the Jihad.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

October 21st, 2014, 9:43 pm #85

Batman: Shadow of the Bat #26-27 (Knightquest: The Crusade)
When escaping from Batman and the bus in issue 505, Abattoir stumbled upon the remote cave of the Clayfaces -- Clayface III (the armored guy) and Lady Clayface. He kidnaps their little baby, "Cassius", and forces the Clayfaces to kill Batman and abduct Graham Etchison. Obviously, the former doesn't work, while the latter does.

Most of this is told from the Clayfaces' narrative and it's somewhat touching. They just wanted to live in a cave and have a baby.

Abattoir escapes, again, and hooks Etchison into a time-delayed deathtrap; strapped on a bed of nails, with weights being added every hour.

Detective Comics #674 (Knightquest: The Crusade)
Gunhawk, a sniper, and his girlfriend Bunny come to town, hoping to steal a high-tech machine gun. Batman's only partially successful, as Gunhawk escapes. Two low-level villains on the run-- really eats at Batman, as we go to...

Batman #508 (Knightquest: The Crusade)
Batman tracks Abattoir to his hideout (conveniently listed on the Etchison family records as "Abandoned Warehouse"). He pursues him into a metal foundry, with Robin following behind. Abattoir is left dangling over a bessemer of molten steel. Batman is torn whether to throw a line to pull him in, or to shoot him with a shuriken and let him fall.

St. Dumas and Jean-Paul's father appear, again, with opposing sides (think of the little devil and little angel on a guy's shoulder in cartoons). Batman can't decide...so he walks away and lets Abattoir fall into the vat and DIE. Robin bears witness to it, too. By letting Abattoir die, Batman also condemned Graham Etchison to death, as a final panel shows Etchison getting squished into a bed of nails.

This is the unofficial end of "Knightquest: the Crusade", as the St. Dumas ghosts even mention that. Two more issues/stories left with "AzBats" and then we hit KnightsEnd.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

October 22nd, 2014, 4:49 pm #86

Batman: Shadow of the Bat #28 (Knightquest: The Crusade)
GCPD confirms that Graham Etchison bled to death. Commissioner Gordon finally confronts and has it out with Batman. Batman tells him to stay out of his way. Overwhelmed with frustration, Gordon smashes the Bat-signal with his gun. A very telling and symbolic scene for the whole "new Batman" story.

There's also an underlying plot about "Vermin & the Rat Gang", whom Batman beats to a pulp. I only mention it because it finally dawned on me that Alan Grant (writer of this title) did a lengthy stint on Judge Dredd. Most of the villains in this series were similar to the one-time, borderline absurd, wackos that Dredd usually faced. The way most stories were told from the villains' viewpoint would've also worked well with Dredd.

Detective Comics #675 (Knightquest: The Crusade)
It's an anniversary mark (675), so we get a special FOIL EMBOSSED cover. Batman modifies his armor to include a machine gun-like mechanism for his shurikens, plus a flamethrower. He gets into a big firefight with Gunhawk. Complete opposite of what you'd expect in a "Batman", as it's basically: "who has more firepower"?

Batman's thoughts are becoming decidedly more psychotic, too. He has no remorse over letting Abattoir die and wants to do the same to Gunhawk and all future villains. To "clean up the dark city" in his Crusade. Ever since Batman #505, they've made him a rather unlikeable character. The key point in this change would be his new modified armor (Shadow #25). Whenever you see him in the helmet and spiky cape, it's an indicator that this is "bad" Batman.

Gunhawk doesn't die, but he's a direct shot at the '92-'94 Image and "indy" characters with nothing but GUNS. I think he came back, once, in the late 90's. Memory tells me that was a story also involving Deathstroke. One day I'll get into my '94-'99 Batman comics, my blissful enjoyment period of the character.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

October 23rd, 2014, 4:28 pm #87

Robin #7 (KnightQuest: The Conclusion)
Bruce and Tim are reunited, along with Jack Drake. Bruce is considering retiring, until Tim finally comes clean on what's been happening. They go to Wayne Manor to find it neglected and sealed-off. They break into the Bat-Cave and come face-to-face with Jean-Paul Valley.

JP and Bruce have a brief argument. Bruce demands he step down, but JP ruffles feathers when he mentions Batman would've saved lives had he killed people like the Joker (flash to Jason Todd's broken memorial). THAT pushes Bruce over the edge, as he literally throws the first punch. JP catches it, shoves him into the computer bank and drives off. Robin pursues him, for a bit, in the Redbird, but is run off the road.

Bruce admits that his reflexes are shot and needs to re-train himself to become Batman, again.

Bruce Wayne vs. Jean-Paul Valley: it's ON, like a steaming pot of neck-bone.

I remember reading this, "live", back in 1994, then clenching my fists and saying "YES! Go get him, Bruce"! I still get some of that excitement, 20 years later.
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Erick Von Erich
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October 28th, 2014, 4:41 pm #88

Batman #509 (KnightsEND part 1)
Bruce hires Lady Shiva to re-train him to "take back the Mantle of the Bat (tm)". Wearing a "Mask of Tengu" that evokes the "Spirit of the Bat", Shiva kills a martial arts master, getting his 7 pupils to come after Whoever is Wearing the Bat-Spirit Mask. The first two come after Bruce and he's tested fairly well while defeating them. Some of this stuff is similar to the first half of "Batman Begins".

Robin continues surveillance on JP Valley, noticing that he's flailing at the air, combating his INNER TURMOIL with the Spirit of St. Dumas. JP goes after a group of gun-runners; leftovers from Carlton LeHah's old operation (not seen since or mentioned since the original "Sword of Azrael" mini-series). One of them is carrying around LeHah's old Order of St. Dumas medallion, which freaks out JP.

Only issue with this story is the timeline. Bruce mentions that it's been a few weeks since he hired Shiva to train him. Then a few days pass in this issue. Not really a big deal, but it seems JP needs more to do in this time, aside from trailing the gun-runners. You could play Fantasy Monitor Booker and place the Gunhawk story in here, somewhere. With scheduling, it would've been darn-near impossible to pull this off.

While reading this, I thought: "hey, I'm surprised somebody hasn't made a Mask of Tengu Batman figure".... but there apparently is one.
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Erick Von Erich
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October 30th, 2014, 5:01 pm #89

Batman: Shadow of the Bat #29 (KnightsEnd Part 2)
Bruce continues his training, as the third disciple comes after him. As they fight, we get telling narrative of how the disciple is out for vengeance, but Bruce is always out for justice (a huge part of Batman's character which seems to be lost on a LOT of fans).

Meanwhile, NIGHTWING finally comes to town and eagerly joins up with Bruce and Robin. At the end of the issue, Bruce faces the 500-foot drop from Wayne Tower, again, but is still reluctant to leap.

JP goes after the gun-runners, and more references to LeHah surface.

Minor note is that Bruce is working out of an apartment in the city. You could connect-the-dots and assume this is the old Wayne Foundation building from the 80's. Or maybe it's just a random rooftop apartment... it's up to YOU.

There's an early "Photoshop bastardization" on the interior credits/title page. They use the awful "mosaic" filter effect on a rendition of the cover. Hey, this was considered ground-breaking in 1994.

Also, credit to Alan Grant, as he easily changes his writing style to match the feel of the other books.
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Erick Von Erich
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Joined: May 13th, 2005, 9:06 pm

October 31st, 2014, 4:59 pm #90

Detective Comics #676 (KnightsEnd Part 3)
Nightwing and Robin sneak into the Bat-cave to plant surveillance cameras. As they do, they meet Harold and discover the (Bat) Subway Rocket. ACE is mentioned, but not seen. Nightwing is a little somber about all the changes in the Bat-cave since he's left.

More gun-runner stuff from JP with some intense intimidation on thugs. Bruce fights two more martial arts disciples (with the second being billed as "number 6"... either DC or I can't count). Culminates in a pretty nifty fight in the middle of a speeding highway.

The KnightsEnd issues have all been extra-sized, thus far. Probably due to the speeding-up/Zero Hour effect, once again. Rumors were flying like crazy over what Zero Hour was supposed to be. DC had promoted it as far back as late '93. The common rumor amongst fans was: "they're returning to Pre-Crisis DC"!

We (fans) then thought that all of the "new" characters (Superman stand-ins, New Batman, New Green Lantern, etc.) would be shuttled off to their own Earth-4 or something. Or that Jean-Paul Valley would simply be wiped out in Zero Hour. As it turns out, Zero Hour will have absolutely nothing to do with the going-ons in the Bat-world. The only effect is a behind-the-scenes one, as the writers had to hurry to finish off their Fall/Quest/End story before the summer of 1994.
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