Hey Everyone! Thank you for joining me for my second installment of my DC breakdowns. I explained in my last post what I am doing here and why I chose to begin with New 52 comics, if you want to read that then I will leave the link here. (http://bit.ly/32mGEdT) This collection is a set of short stories from different characters in Gotham during the power outage caused by The Riddler. In truth it is a mass dump of origin stories. They have even added characters not typically found in Gotham, (I am looking at you Barry Allen) but for the most part it is a peek at our beloved heroes and villains in the early years.
The first story we have already seen in Batman Volume 4 that I reviewed last week. (If you want to read about that, click on the link up there ^) This gives us context for those that didn’t read Batman Volume 4. Then we jump over to Smallville with a very young Clark Kent still learning his powers in Superman’s Storm breaker. At this point he can’t even fly! His story really takes us through him learning some limitation of his powers, or limits at the time, while trying to save some ships in Gotham Harbor from colliding. He initially tries to fight the storm itself, but when that is a failure he steps in for a more practical approach. Yes, he pushed a ship. He is unaware that one of the passengers on the ship is his young flame Lana, but he does save her and the ship that she is on.
Next we are with Barbara Gordon in Homestead before she ever wears the Batgirl Cowl. If you’re new to comics or just didn’t know, Barbara is the oldest child and daughter of Gotham’s famed detective, Jim Gordon. Jim, of course, will find himself with his own story later but for now we know that he leaves to help the city of Gotham in this crisis with the orders for Barbara to protect her brother and the Homestead. From that point on it is really Barbara trying to define Homestead. Is it the house she has grown up in? When she is evacuated because of flooding, she decides that it is just a building. That her family is her homestead. As she ventures further in her story though, it becomes Gotham. She ends up in a shelter that is also flooded after heavy rain. After meeting Henry, who later rips her off, she then goes on to lead the people from the shelter through the storm and to safety.
Then we are with Luke Fox, son of Wayne Enterprise’s Luscious Fox. Yes, Batman’s tech guy. Luke later goes on to become Batwing, but in this story, he is a friend that is unable to stop another friend from turning into a monster, later known as Menace. Luke and Russ are best friends, but after a subway confrontation with bullies and some other bullying incidences to Russ he begins to shut himself off from Luke. Later, Luke is attacked in retaliation for hurting the bullies on the subway and then comes to the school to find that Russ has taken some type of snake venom drug that has made him superhuman. Luke escapes him after he is helped by the police, but Menace vows to see Luke again.
With Kate Kane, she is called in for Uncle Phillip’s funeral. Kate is the cousin of Bruce Wayne on his mother’s side. Her story is called Or High Water and has her using skills she learned at West Point and the motorcycle she stole from Bruce, to stop a robbery during the black out and rescue a child from the situation. This happens after she feels this call to help the people of Gotham in their time of need. She does get shot when jumping in the pool to escape but it was just a flesh wound and will make for a nice scar. They also introduced Maggie Sawyer in this story. We’ll talk more about her in later comics, but you guys may know Maggie as the love interest to Alex on CW’s Supergirl.
Dinah Drake also gets her own story. It starts off after the death of her savior and mentor, Sensei Desmond. She is left his Dojo to run, but with the decreasing clientele and gang activity she wonders what future she has here and if she can keep the Dojo open. During the black out she comes across a dying man named Ye, who gives her an item and asks her to get it to Lynch. This is easier said then done with a group of ninjas following her trying to get their hands on the device. Eventually there is a showdown with the ninjas, and it is Lynch and his men that save her. Unfortunately, though in the time she was away her Dojo was set on fire in the looting destroying it. Lynch was so impressed with her fighting though that he offers for her to come with them and she decides that this is going to be her new path and one that leads her to becoming the Black Canary.
Then to Selina Kyle, who is hands down my favorite comic character. (It’s a childhood thing) At the start Selina is just a young girl committing small petty theft to get by. After the electric goes out, she swipes a bag from a man, and it ends up being climbing gear. At first, she attempts to pawn the gear but when it won’t go for anything, she decides to keep it. Later, she is in a small grocery store that gets taken over by Arnett Crocker. Instead of the people getting the groceries they need, Arnett takes it all for himself and an end of the world party he is throwing. Selina does attempt to fight back but only manages to leave a scratch on one of the bodyguards. This has her using that climbing equipment to get into the party with the plans to rip it off. She manages to do so after getting recognized by the bodyguard she had a run in with. She is about to be killed but uses the whip she found in one of the party rooms as a weapon, cementing this as her weapon of choice. The big score here is the batteries she steals that were supplying power to the party. She takes them and the one Crocker was selling to get neighborhood and powers her block.
Jim Gordon’s story dives into the police corruption in Gotham City. At the start of his story we see him on a stakeout where he is about to make a bust on the black mask gang. As it turns out though Hanshaw, the Internal Affairs officer, is dirty too and turns on Jim. They end up dumping him off the side of the Trigate Bridge, and from this height he should most definitely die. However, he walks out of the river. We rewind a bit to learn more about how this situation came to be. Jim being the great detective he is strays from the orders from Commissioner Loeb to investigate Batman, and instead checks out the recent acts of a gang that popped up after the Red Hood gang, the Black Masks. At the time his partner is Officer Laney, and he gives Jim the vibe that he is turning his head on this break ins. While continuing to investigate Jim discovers that all the break ins were near a Janus Cosmetics location. When he heads to the make up manufacturers and discovers that they also specialize in making masks, Jim knows that Roman Sionis must have something to do with the Black Mask Gang. Jim convinces Loeb to allow him to investigate this and calls in Hanshaw with Internal Affairs to help Jim. For a week they work to collect evidence until they decide to take down the meeting with Sionis. This has us back at the beginning scene with Jim ending up over a bridge.
Jim returns to the GCPD after making a stop at Hanshaw’s to get the evidence they collected together. Jim had put together that Hanshaw would use this information as blackmail should he ever end up on the wrong side of Sionis. Hanshaw, who was already spinning the web of Jim’s apparent suicide, gets a nice right hook from Jim. The surprise here is Jim’s partner, Detective Laney. Since there is more than enough evidence in the file to take him down as well, he is ready to kill Jim. Jim is saved by his future partner, Harvey Bullock. The story doesn’t end there. Even though Sionis was able to get away he is still the leader of the Black Masks and went after all the dirty officers that were fired. Commissioner Loeb was then forced to step down. I think the best part of the story was the last page or two when Gordon goes back to get the flashlight from the scene of his betrayal, the inspiration for the Bat Signal, as it was what led Batman to save him from dying when falling from the Trigate bridge.
After this, we jump over to Barry Allen who teams up with Harvey Bullock. This story runs concurrent to Jim’s story and we learn how Harvey also finds himself partner-less. Barry comes to Gotham as a member of the Central City Police force there to help with the outage and storm coverage. Barry at this point does not have powers, he is just a CSI. On the job he quickly comes across a drug named Icarus that causes the user to burst into flames upon overdose. Iris West is there to help extinguish the man who died right outside a clinic she is helping with and where she is writing her story on this drug Icarus. Harvey and his Partner Spencer are on the case, but Spencer leaves after the incineration to check on his sick daughter in the storm. Barry and Harvey head to the Gotham Free Clinic to further investigate but are met with another explosion. Assuming this is the result of another overdose, Harvey is ready to write it off. Barry though, realizes that this was not the cause of an overdose but happened outside the building and an accelerate was involved. Frustrated that Harvey doesn’t seem to be listening he breaks off and works with Iris to solve the case.
After working in the lab Barry realizes that the chemical in the drug is highly volatile and to even make it onto the street it would have to be cut with something, but would need a special location for this to happen. This leads them to the docks at a warehouse that takes in fish, the low temps would keep the drug from reacting as severely. There they find Detective Spencer is the one moving the drugs through Gotham. Luckily, Harvey has been following Barry and is able save him after Spencer forces him to ingest the Icarus. Iris works to save Barry from blowing up and Harvey is forced to shoot and kill his partner. For Spencer’s family, Harvey keeps the details of the shooting and Spencer’s involvement a secret and Barry heads back to Central City.
Oliver Queen ends up in Gotham as well. I thought it was funny that Oliver returns to Starling City after being presumed dead right as Bruce is coming back to Gotham after also being presumed dead. Oliver’s first stop is Seattle to Queen Industries to see his father’s old friend and partner, Walter Emerson. Oliver tells Emerson briefly about how he came back to Seattle after being stranded on an island. If you have seen CW’s Arrow, you know the story. The story being told here isn’t just about his return, it is about his mother, Moira, in Gotham. Oliver heads there to get her out of the city that is caving in on itself. She is working to help the needy but does have John Diggle there to protect her. Good thing too, when she is attacked by Moth Man who thinks that Moira can get him a pretty penny after the crisis is over. Batman shows and is fighting the Moth Man, but he gets the better of Bruce and it is Oliver that saves him. Batman finished off Moth Man and takes off. Moira though, recognizes Oliver under the hood.
A month after the incident in Gotham, masked vigilantes are popping up here and there and Diggle wonders where his place is in all of it when Oliver shows up at his apartment broken and bloody looking for help. This begins the partnership that goes on to become team Arrow. We even get a glimpse of the Arrow Cave. For a year they fight crime together just the two of them, until Oliver brings Roy Harper into the fold.
Speaking of Heroes without superpowers, John Stewart get his own story as well. He is a Sergeant in the Marine Corp who come to Gotham to save people that were headed to be evacuated. Instead they end up in Seaside Coliseum that has been taken over by the one calling himself the Anarchist and his gang. After being ambushed and imprisoned by the gang, the team escapes. They have another brief run in with the gang before finding a maintenance room. They use the tools there as weapons to get over some of the gang. Eventually they come head to head with the Anarchist that has two of their men. As they standoff, John takes out the Anarchist. He later has it out with his commanding officer about how he was willing to sacrifice the lives of the innocent to stop the Anarchist.
Dick Grayson’s story starts with him at the movie theater when the electric goes out. Before the movie Dick was performing at the circus and made some of the other Flying Grayson’s a little upset with his over the top theatrics. This leaves him not allowed to go to the movies when the others are upset with him and don’t want to go. His father warns him that if he would tone it down then the others wouldn’t be nicer to him. In the meantime, at Gotham General, a monster is born during a surgery. When Dick is leaving the movie theater, he wasn’t supposed to be at he was saved from being trampled by a group of other kids. They are wondering the streets when they run into this escaped monster from the hospital.
They hideout in a house and when on of the kids get injured CJ, one of the other kids, leaves them. Dick pulls the other two together with red mask disguises and a plan to take them back to the circus. They escape out of the back and are carrying the injured Josh. That is when they realize that the banging from the monster stopped. When Dick checks it out the creature comes barreling out of the window, but with their disguises the monster thinks they are different kids. They run off with the monster following them when they run into CJ who is hiding in the alley. He then joins back with them, but trips and falls behind with the monster. Dick runs back and help CJ, who is about to be beaten by the monster, and lures it away. After Dick loses him, he takes the others back to the circus. When CJ’s father comes to pick him up, they realize he is the son of the legendary mob leader Sal Maroni. Dick then makes up with other members of the team and even goes on to suggest wearing masks at their performances to stop him from getting all the spotlight.
Our other future Robin, Jason Todd, also has some adventure in Gotham. His story starts a week after the power outage. His mother is sick, and Jason tells her in the bed how he hurt someone today to get them food. He worries that he is going to turn out like his father when he is interrupted by Chris. Chris shows him a scene he found of two dead Red hood Gang members. The hoods happen to belong to Red Hood three and four. Chris wants to wear the hoods, but Jason doesn’t want to be a criminal like the gang. Eventually Chris talks him into wearing the hood and this conversation is overheard by Red Hood One himself after he survived the fall at ACE Chemicals. Meanwhile, someone in Gotham is looking for information on the Red Hood Gang. The woman ends up in a street fight in the same alley as Jason sits brooding. He ends up saving her only to then fight her. She tricks him into thinking that she is wanting to join the Red Hood Gang. While they wait for the meeting to start Jason learns more about this mystery woman. She mentions Ducra and learning to be extraordinary.
Unfortunately, that isn’t happening now because it is time for the meeting. They ride there together but before going in she knocks Jason out. Inside she finds the new leader of the red hood gang who says he has come from the other side of the world. This is who she is looking to find. While she finds him inside, outside Jason is discovered by the original Red Hood One. Afraid Jason attacks and then runs off and into the meeting. He shows just as the woman is about to make her move. Unfortunately for her, this man who she later calls The Untitled is more powerful than her and her attack does nothing. However, Jason remember her earlier instruction, and can deliver this extraordinary punch by pushing out the darkness. This knocks the man back making him mortal allowing for the woman to behead him as Red Hood One hits the gas main in the basement. After killing their leader, the Red Hood Gang attacks and they narrowly escape. Moments later, Red Hood One ignites the building killing the entire game and transforming into someone else.
Chris is upset that Jason interfered with the gang, but the woman defends him and then takes off knowing that her and Jason Todd will meet again. I love the foreshadowing when he says that he “Not going to be a Red Hood”.
We also learn who this mystery woman is after we see her meet with her father Ra’s Al Ghul. She is Talia and she knows that she is going to have to keep an eye on Jason Todd.
And that about wraps this up! There is an excerpt from Dark City, but we are going to talk about that in the next weeks post for Batman Volume 5! I hoped you enjoyed these short little graphic novellas as much as I did. I always like to read more about where a hero (or Villain) come from and can’t wait to keep diving into the DC Comic Universe with you guys! Look for my Batman Volume 5 post to go up on July 25th!