Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Up On The Roof

Here's a random issue I pulled from the sorting, when this great cover by Matt Wagner caught my eye. I'm a bit of an architectural fan, so I enjoyed the rooftop setting, but there's also something about the depictions of Batman and Robin I enjoy here. Batman, as always, is pretty serious, scanning the city skyline, while Robin's gaze (he looks a little bored here) lingers over the street below.

This is Detective Comics #649, from Late September, 1992. The story within, by Chuck Dixon (art by Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna), actually includes The Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) as well. She has overheard her criminal father, the Cluemaster (bad name, I think...always thought the guy needed a clue...) planning a major heist of a charity event at one of Gotham's malls, and Stephanie is working with the Dynamic Duo to stop him.

Stephanie, for those who don't know, was a friend of Robin's who learned his identity and created her own costumed identity. For a while (long after this story, during a time when I was not reading comics at all...), she even picked up the mantle of Robin, after Tim Drake's father made him retire, and unfortunately died in that role. I haven't read the War Games trades yet where all this happened, so I can't say exactly how she died (tho I hear power tools were possibly involved). But I do know that there's some internet fervor over the fact that a memorial to Stephanie was never created in the Batcave, as one had been for the (now returned from the dead)second Robin, Jason Todd.

It could be that all that means Spoiler/Stephanie's in the process of crossing back across the River Styx and due to appear somewhere in the DC multiverse sometime soon. After all, characters seem to die at the drop of a hat lately, and return with almost the same frequency. Or it could just mean that some of DC's creators/editors don't feel that she was worth remembering...she is a girl character, after all.

Anyway, it's an okay story and the art is decent. Mostly, after we learn of the plot (and see it unfolding), it's a big fight scene between the Cluemaster and his Merry Men (his gang are dressed like Robin Hoods...) and Batman, Robin and Spoiler. Why it's notable (besides the great Wagner cover) is in the final stand-off, when Cluemaster takes Spoiler hostage, and threatens her to get Batman to leave off...and the Dark Knight outs her as the Cluemaster's daughter and the issue ends before Steph can tell Batman how she feels about that, though she takes good advantage of her father's shock to bring him down.

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