Thursday, July 08, 2010

JLApe part two: Batman Annual #23, "Jungle Rules"!


This chapter of JLApe has a strong pedigree: writer Chuck Dixon and artist Graham Nolan were regulars on the Bat-books. I'm not sure about the opening, though: Batman and Nightwing question the survivor of a mob hit, laid up in the hospital. The hitter was a huge, suited figure, who fired an anti-tank weapon into a mob meeting. Batman has a pretty good idea what's going on as he heads for the crime scene, but is all Johnny Tightlips with Nightwing.

After Bats and Nightwing leave, Lady Vic has her own questions for the hit survivor. I don't know much about her, but she's the honorable bad guy gunslinger, as near as I can tell. The hired gun you get with you can't afford Deathstroke but don't want a gun-psycho like Deadshot...

Bats and Nightwing check out the crime scene, which is chock-full of really big handprints, unusual fibers, and an odd odor. All of which would be interesting, if Batman didn't already know gorillas were coming to Bludhaven. This shouldn't be a surprise for him, unless maybe he just didn't want to assume: Bludhaven is pretty crime-infested, really. And there's no reason to keep Nightwing in the dark, either.

Meanwhile, a week ago, two Pulp Fiction styled gorillas are getting burgers in Bludhaven, getting ready to watch and see if Grimm's up to something he shouldn't be...

Lady Vic takes her information to Bludhaven's crime boss (and Nightwing's main villain for a good long chunk of his series) Blockbuster. Vic points out the giant shooter could well have been him, but BB isn't feeling tip-top, and is wearing a EKG monitor for a heart condition. He implies that he's working on it, as he puts Vic to work checking out a name on the hit list.

At Nightwing's...NightwingCave, a partially-converted garage; Oracle gives the boys the info on the fibers: gorilla. It's a surprise for Dick, but not for anyone else. At the same time, gorilla crime boss Grimm is leaning on George, one of Blockbuster's men, regarding a container ship coming into town. Batman and Nightwing knew George was at the mob hit but walked away, since Grimm was putting the scare on him: after a scuffle, Grimm escapes lugging George over his shoulder.

The Jules and Vern gorillas go to Grimm's place to wait for him, but are cut to pieces by Lady Vic, who initially believes them to merely be wearing masks. She calls it in, and Blockbuster is watching a recap of JLApe to date on TV. Everyone ends up out at the container ship for a showdown. Grimm makes two mistakes: trying to take Batman hand-to-hand, and letting George fire a molecular disruptor, with which he blows a good-sized hole in the boat. As Blockbuster fights Grimm, Bats and Nightwing abandon the sinking ship, with Dick winkingly suggesting that Lady Vic get out while the getting's good. (Dick has a couple asides to her, that make them seem rather chummy.)

Blockbuster and Lady Vic of course escape as well, dragging Grimm in tow. (Things aren't looking good for George...) Vic wonders why Blockbuster would save the gorilla that tried to take over his town, but Blockbuster seems to have an idea...that would come into play in Nightwing.

Not terrible, but the CSI stuff isn't necessary: we know it's gorillas, Batman knows it's gorillas, and it was on TV, so Nightwing should accept it more quickly than not. And the Pulp Fiction bit is thankfully stifled before going overlong. There is something to be said for Batman's wry smile here: he doesn't seem like he's having that bad of a time, and he is the only Justice Leaguer not covered in fur today. Still, JLApe isn't exactly winning me over yet. Scans today from "Jungle Rules" Written by Chuck Dixon, pencils by Graham Nolan, and inks by Mark Pennington. Next week: Aquaman Annual #5!

1 comment:

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