Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Back-Issue Alphabet: D is for Detective Comics #665 (1993)

Detective Comics #665 (Chuck Dixon, Graham Nolan, Dick Giordano)

First off, the cover: Wow. This is precisely what I was hoping for when I was yanking random books out of the bin. Completely screw-ball covers like this. The central focus of the cover is Batman’s cackling visage. He is just so totally pumped to be beating these thugs senseless with a board with nails in it. And this is Batman; He has a jet shaped like a bat, boomerangs shaped like bats, and a robot dinosaur back in the Batcave. When he’s beating a guy with a board with nails in it, it’s simply to inflict indignity. And look at his ears. They’re twice as tall as the rest of his head.He can’t even close the roof of the Batmobile with these things up. So he either has to detach them when he drives or just drive with the top down and have the ears covered with bugs by the time he gets home.

And I love Robin’s adorable terrified/scandalized expression on his Frankenstien-ish head and haircut. And, good Lord, Batman’s teeth:

Top row: human teeth. Bottom row: Congolian goliath tigerfish:

I can only hope that the inside is as insane as the cover.

*Opens up and reads comic.*

Awe, sucks. It isn’t.

It’s actually a pretty good book. For starters, it turns out that Batman isn’t suffering a complete mental breakdown. That *is* Batman on the cover, but it isn’t Bruce Wayne. It’s Jean Paul Valley, Bruce’s stand-in while Bruce recovers. From what? Well, I know that it’s from his back-breaking defeat at the hands of Bane, but that’s because I’m up on my Bat-History. The only Batman I’ve ever read is Superman/Batman, but I’ve read enough about Batman to know all his major events. I feel sorry for the man off the street that tries to get into comics and stumbles upon something like this as his first issue.

The story itself is awfully short. Robin and Paul beat up some thugs, and Robin worries that Paul is enjoying the violence a little too much. I would be more worried about the fact that Paul punches this guy’s face so hard it turns the face and Paul’s fist into component particles of light:

Owch. Meanwhile, Bane brags about his accomplishments and decides he wants the unions under his thumb. Meanwhile meanwhile, the wheelchair bound Bruce Wayne visits his next door neighbor, who is in the middle of being kidnapped. Bruce takes out one and a half thugs before he’s knocked out of his chair and left helpless on the ground. Meanwhile meanwhile meanwhile, Robin and Paul crash a meeting of Gotham’s mobsters. Paul manages to pry one useful bit of information from “Tough Tony” Bressi. And the issue is over. That’s the problem with major event crossovers: the individual issues tend to feel pointless. And there was a bit of wasted space. Did that atomic Bat-punch really need a two page spread? You could have fit a lot of story in there.

However, there’s a lot of good here. Bruce Wayne lying helpless on the ground is a powerful sequence, and this issue has convinced me to pursue the trade paperbacks of the Knightfall storyline.

A benefit that you get from collecting singles as opposed to waiting for the trade is the letters column. Detective Comics #665 is mostly praise, but contains this gem:

And the sarcastic response.

In other words:

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