Overview: In Detective Comics #1050, DC Comics presents the fourth part of the Shadows of the Bat weekly event with three stories.
Editor’s Note: Due to the anthology nature of this collection, we will feature a synopsis and analysis for each story, rather than breaking up the synopsis and analysis. Spoilers are sure to be revealed.
Story #1: “The Tower” Part 4 by writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Ivan Reis
Synopsis: Our first story in Detective Comics #1050 begins during the time of “No Man’s Land.” Huntress is surrounded by the Joker, Harley Quinn, and other goons. She puts up a good fight before she finds herself with a gun held to her head by the Joker. Before he can take the kill shot, Batman and Nightwing arrive for the save. After they dispatch of the clowns, Nightwing picks up the exhausted Huntress and follows Batman to safety.
It’s now the present, and we find ourselves in the underground headquarters of the Bat-Family at the same time of events in the last issue. Nightwing is concerned about Kate’s report on Helena’s well-being. The fact that Huntress wasn’t upset that Batwoman was there to rescue her doesn’t sound like the Helena he knows at all. Moments later, at Arkham Tower, something is terribly wrong in Dr. Ocean’s office. As this happens, we get back to the scene from last issue where Ana Vulsion attacks Marc, the party crasher.
As Helena gets the tragic vision, the story cuts to just a month ago as Huntress arrives to save a woman being attacked by someone apparently infected with a parasite. Nightwing arrives right as Huntress attacks the would-be attacker. She’s tired of these visions and doesn’t want to see them anymore. The man falls limp, and the two heroes realize that he is dead. Frantic and terrified, Huntress wonders why the parasites haven’t died with the death of the man who created them. She takes her leave of the building, leaving Nightwing alone in bewilderment and concern. Helena is awaken at the sight of Dr. Wear at her bedside. She had a terrible nightmare, and he has some medicine to help her sleep better. As her closes the door to her room, he looks at the mess on the floor – blood.
It’s early morning of day 15, and Tobias Wear is in the office of Dr. Ocean decrying his inability to control the Tower patients. His mistake could cost them everything, especially the money they are trying to get from Gotham City. Wear already has to worry about the dead Party Crasher whose body he had to dispose of. He doesn’t need anything else to go wrong. Ocean tells his partner he has everything under control.
Later that day, a new employee arrives at the Tower. Dan Smith is a facility worker. He’s also Nightwing. As he begins his shift, he overhears two Party Crashers talking about the whereabouts of Marc, who hasn’t checked in. One of the two is his brother, and none of this feels like something his brother would do. They will continue to call for him, but they need to pick up the product their boss sent them for.
As Dick watches the two men leave, he thinks back to a few weeks ago. Helena is leaving, and she asks Dick to keep an eye on things, particularly feeding Doug the cat. Dick attempts to talk some sense into his friend, but it doesn’t work. Helena tells him goodbye and leaves in a cab. Dick finds himself standing in front of Helena’s room. Mr. Freeze startles him, telling him that Helena and Ana Vulsion are both sleeping.
We’re all fine…
Later that day, Tobias Wear is on the phone with the mayor’s office. Nakano reiterates that no funding would be released until his office received the report from Dr. Meridian. Wear ends the call as he finds a gun to his head. It’s Pierre, Marc’s brother. Marc is supposed to be at the Tower but isn’t. Pierre wants to know where he is – now. He hears a voice.
“Stop. You feel happy. You’re going to leave happy and calm.”
Pierre turns and leaves. Wear thanks Roger.
Roger Hayden…Psycho Pirate.
Analysis: What a reveal. So, Roger from Detective Comics #1048, and the elusive Dr. Ocean, is in fact Psycho Pirate, and with this revelation we now get the full plot of the con that is the Arkham Tower project. There are no medical miracles as thought. Just a man with the incredible ability to control the minds of those around him. It’s a great reveal. My only concern is that it happened so soon in the first third of the event. It would have been nice for the suspense of the Tower to play out a few issues more. That being said, Tamaki’s use of Psycho Pirate fits perfectly in how everything has played out and in what could be in store for the remaining eight parts of the story. We now see the “I feel… good” line that was common amongst the patients in the Tower was just psychic manipulation. All that Wear (and Psycho Pirate) are looking to do is make one big score, leaving Gotham with the powder keg that is the Arkham Tower looming over them. As the wise man John McClane once said, it’s always about the money.
However, what has been great these last few issues, and especially here in Detective Comics #1050, is Tamaki’s use of Helena and the character role in the event. It’s amazing to see that Tamaki has been building the Huntress character to get to this point. And Tamaki brings things full circle with the great callback to No Man’s Land, another important point in the character’s history in which she reached a low point. This low point, however, has brought her to a point of no return. The visions she sees as a result of the attack by Hue Vile caused Helena to be a character we as Batman fans are not used to. As we see things, a person died at her hands. While it is a near certainty that the parasite within him caused his death, there’s no doubt that the viciousness in Helena’s character is as unfamiliar to us as it would be for her. Kudos to Tamaki for giving her the strength to want to get help.
With how the story ends, the question now becomes what’s next for everyone? It’s clear that Psycho Pirate has caused both Ana Vulsion and Helena to forget the events of the night. Does he know her alter ego? He’s clearly been able to manipulate the visions of the patients into what seems like movies. He obviously had an eye on Kate in her Dr. Frow persona as she toured the facility. Perhaps more importantly is what is in store for the patients in the Tower. Since Helen can see Ana Vulsion’s attacks, is it safe to assume that Ana has a parasite in her? Hayden has shown that he’s struggling to maintain control of them all. What will happen the next time he loses it?
Detective Comics #1050 marks the end of Ivan Reis’ stint on Shadows of the Bat. It has been a great run with some exquisite line work. He now turns the reins over to Max Raynor who will have colors done by Luis Guerrero. It will be interesting to see how the pages will compare as the story now moves in a clear direction with the Psycho Pirate reveal.
Story #2: “House of Gotham” Part 4 by writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Fernando Blanco
Synopsis: The second story in Detective Comics #1050 begins inside of Wayne Manor, as Scarecrow and his troop of mind-controlled kids are ransacking the home, looking for the whereabouts of its owners. Bruce Wayne isn’t home, but Alfred implores for the intruders to leave. They attack instead. Alfred isn’t alone. Robin joins in the fight and assists Alfred in taking down the combatant kids. The Boy sees what Robin is doing and attacks him. Robin easily gets the upper hand, but Scarecrow attacks, demanding Robin leaves the Boy alone. Crane sprays the Boy Wonder with fear toxin.
As Robin succumbs to the toxin, Scarecrow and the Boy makes their escape. They don’t make it far before Crane realizes that Batman is close. He doesn’t want to get captured and doesn’t want the Boy labeled a criminal. Crane sprays him with fear toxin with instructions on how things should be once he gets to Arkham. He leaves the Boy for Batman to find – severely poisoned by the fear toxin.
Analysis: As I type this review, I still believe that the Boy is Roger Dowd – Nero XIX. There has been little from Rosenberg to have me consider anyone else. However, this chapter in Detective Comics #1050 from Rosenberg is beginning to be more intense. It was nice seeing Jason in play in battle with Scarecrow and his troop of murderous boys, being the obnoxious kid that caused me to vote several times for him to die in Death in the Family. The intensity, however, really occurs as Crane sacrifices the Boy by poisoning him with fear toxin. What affect will this have on the young one who has gone through so much? How does it effect the budding relationship he had with Jonathan Crane? I am beginning to be more interested in the story.
Story #3: “World’s Finest” by writer Mark Waid and artist Dan Mora
Synopsis: The final story in Detective Comics #1050 takes place as the Daily Planet is under attack by a giant vine. Poison Ivy has arrived in Metropolis with plans to return the city to the Green. Batman and Robin are in Metropolis as well. They’ve been tracking her since she left Gotham. Superman arrives, but little do the heroes know that Poison Ivy is not alone. Metallo is with her and his kryptonite-powered heart shines brightly, quickly affecting the Man of Steel.
Batman and Robin deal with Poison Ivy and the foliage surrounding the Daily Planet as Metallo make his way towards the weakened Superman. He has something special for him – a syringe containing a radioactive cocktail mixed with red kryptonite. He drives the needle into Superman’s heart right as Robin arrives. Robin drives his staff into Metallo, destroying the rock powering the assailant, but it is too late. Superman lets out a yell as a blast of red comes from him. Batman and Robin don’t know what’s happening. They’re also oblivious to the fact that they’re being watched from afar by two others.
The real fun is about to begin.
Analysis: We’re presented with an introduction to the story of the upcoming series from Mark Waid and Dan Mora, which releases in comic shops in March. While I hate the idea of DC including this in this issue as it has zero connection to what’s going on in the main story of Detective Comics (just another way to justify selling a comic at a price higher than its normal rate), I appreciated the story. Everything seems retro. Lois doesn’t seem to know Clark’s identity. Batman is in his true blue. And it appears that Tim Drake is Robin. But what’s most interesting are the two characters are the end of the story. While one is difficult to identify, the second character appears to be either Magog (from Kingdom Come fame) or Steppenwolf. I lean towards the latter. It will be interesting to see how this story plays out, especially with an incapacitated Superman in tow.
One last thing that I was not too crazy about is the amount of action in the story, particularly the end as we see Superman shot with the red kryptonite cocktail. Unless there are plans to repeat part of the story in the first issue of the new series, there are going to be some readers who will have no clue as to what happened to Superman. It’s just a bad move in this one reader’s opinion.
It’s great seeing Dan Mora in the pages of Detective Comics again even if it isn’t in the main story. He is such a great talent. I am equally impressed with the colors from Tamra Bonvillain. As good as the art is from Mora, the color from Bonvillain gives the story its classic, retro look. I may reconsider picking this title up when it releases in March.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with a copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.
Detective Comics #1050
A great callback to Batman history, as well as an unexpected reveal, highlights why Detective Comics continues to be the best Bat-book on the stands. Mariko Tamaki's writing is a gift.