Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"The End" Week: Batman Adventures #17!

OK, let's see if I've got this: DC's adaptation of the cartoon Batman: the Animated Series began with the Batman Adventures, for 36 issues. Then the Batman and Robin Adventures for 25. Then the Lost Years five issue miniseries as Robin transitions into Nightwing. Then sixty issues of Batman: Gotham Adventures, before ending with seventeen issues of Batman Adventures in 2003-2004, finishing with the Batman Adventures #17, "Fear Itself" Written by Ty Templeton, pencils by Rick Burchett, inks by Terry Beatty.

The story opens with the familiar nightmare of the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, but the twist is it's not Bruce's nightmare, it's Joe Chill's. Even after all those years, Chill still worries that Bruce could identify him and send him to the chair; a fear that manifests as Chill seeing Bruce's face everywhere.

Meanwhile, Detective Giella is on the talk-show circuit, after apprehending Killer Croc. Giella, an older man, admits it was by accident more than anything: a wild shot dropped an engine block on Croc's head. But Giella's first case still gnaws at him: the Waynes' murder. Giella explains that to that day, he still carries a button he found at the crime scene, that may or may not be related, but serves him as a reminder. At home, Chill freaks out over the notion that he may have left a button from a piece of clothing he probably got rid of decades ago; and he buys a gun in the street.

Batman visits Giella with another complication: Killer Croc broke out of the hospital, and is probably on his way there. Giella refuses to leave for a safe house, not wanting to make the GCPD look weak. But Chill shows up instead, to kill Giella, but is stopped by Batman, who had planted a bug there. Chill doesn't go easy, though: he can tell Batman was favoring his left, having recently broken some ribs, and manages to shoot him as well. Batman tells Giella to "call for an ambulance! This man is about to need one!" Chill manages to unmask Batman, but is terrified to see the face of Bruce Wayne! Convinced he's cracked, Chill backs away and falls over a railing, then refuses to take Batman's hand as he falls. "You're not real!!! Go away! Make it go away!"

Two days later, Batman and Giella review the incident with Commissioner Gordon: the shooter was id'd as Joseph Chiblonski, a.k.a. Joe Chill. A name that means nothing to either Batman or Giella. As Killer Croc resurfaces, Batman tells Gordon to give him ten minutes, and the series closes with Gordon turning off the Bat-Signal.

This was the last issue in the last series done in the style of Bruce Timm and Batman: the Animated Series, which also carried over into Superman and JLA adaptations. I don't think this series was cancelled for sales or anything, but it may have been wrapped up to avoid competing with the newer Batman cartoon adaptation, the Batman Strikes. That was based on the 2004-2008 the Batman and ran concurrently, for a respectable 50 issues.

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