Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Get your Brita filters now, Gothamites.

It would take longer to read that sidebar than the fall...
Since Batman faces roughly 48,000 criminals a year in Gotham City; you may wonder if there isn't an underlying cause to the violence that hasn't been found yet. Is it a 'bounce-back' effect; the criminal element reacting against Batman? Is there a supernatural reason, like demonic possession? Maybe there's something in the water...

This issue takes that theory and runs with it: Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #206, "The Madmen of Gotham, part 3 of 3" Written by Justin Gray, art by Stephen Cummings. (And a nice Gary Erskine cover.) I don't think I've read the prior two chapters, but eh, that's never stopped us before.

We open with Batman falling to his death, along with no less than seven madmen. The sidebar recaps the ongoing story: Erik Gavlin, "son of former CIA spook Theodore," has developed scary psychic powers by being repeatedly dosed with a drug called Neurotal. Said drug is supposed to repair brain damage and suppress violent tendencies; suffice to say results may vary. By this point, Erik apparently can control minds, create bizarre illusions, and cause insanity.

In the split-seconds before hitting the ground, Batman uses a remote to summon the Batmobile and spray safety foam. Gliding or leaping out of the foam, Bats then nets up the madmen, while Erik has a little chat with his father, and stirs up more madmen.
Not Joker-fish, but in the same vein.
Batman contacts Alfred while on route to the Batcave; shooting pepper-spray grenades at rioters as he goes. Alfred's on chemistry detail this month, and explains his work may reduce Erik's Neurotal levels, it won't completely remove his powers. Alfred also asks if Bruce believes Theodore Galvin had Thomas and Martha Wayne killed, as part of a plot to release Neurotal in Gotham's water supply.

As Erik explains his psychotic tendencies and murdering his mom; Theodore cops to dumping Neurotal in the water "hoping there wouldn't be any more children like you." Since it did wonders for Erik, he points out that probably just created more psychotics. Smirkingly, Erik wonders if Batman, with his violent nature, was raised on bottle water; when Bats makes an entrance on a Batcycle.

Using a wrist-mounted dart-launcher, Batman manages to get one shot in Erik; who starts to lose some power. He forces his dad to attack Batman, who ties him up and uses the opportunity to ask about the Waynes' deaths. Theodore denies involvement, and Erik actually backs him up by pointing out "my father had already dumped buckets of Neurotrol into Gotham reservoir before you were born."

Erik is trying to control a mob to kill Batman, but is losing juice. Instead, he mentally attacks a helicopter news crew, forcing the copter down. Although Batman's captions narrate "Everything is happening faster than I can react," Bats is able to grapple up to the falling copter, catch three people, and swing them through a window to safety! Well, OK, he only catches two people; the third has to grab Batman's foot in midair and hang on for dear life. The caption as Batman does this? "I'm not Clark; I have limitations." Limitations? Are you sure, Bruce, that was pretty damn impressive...
Good to see the last guy put some effort into getting saved.
Before the helicopter hits, the still-bound Theodore shoves Erik under it, killing them both. Batman watches the explosion stoically for three silent panels...signifying something, I'm sure.

Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce reflects on the case while repainting and closing off one of his father's rooms. (Presumably, where he found a clue to his father's possible involvement.) Alfred lets him know that Waynetech bought up the pharmaceutical company behind Neurotal, which should lock that down; although Bruce still doesn't have a clear cause/correlation to Neurotal's effects on the people of Gotham or the reams of psychotics he deals with nightly. An interesting question...that'll never come up again, since this was just a throwaway little three-parter; not a capital-E event with capital-C creators or anything.

I don't know how anyone else, readers or creators, would feel about trying to retcon an explanation for at least some of Gotham's lunacy. And Batman seems to have super-bat-speed this issue: both his saves involve multiple people falling and are just about impossible. The art is nice, and some of the visuals of Erik's psychic fish are creepy; but Cummings doesn't quite cut loose enough with the crazy, nor is there a sense of motion to go with all that falling.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Cool story Goo! This definitely leaves room for future retcons/story ideas if its every referenced again, which it probably won't, but still a good story overall.