Detective Comics #837: Honor Among Thieves

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A Countdown tie-in? Really?

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Paul Dini is an incredibly busy guy. He’s got his Madame Mirage stuff over at Top Cow, Detective Comics, and that Countdown thing you might have heard about. Countdown seems to a preoccupation with Mr. Dini; he’s even gone so far as cram as many Bat-characters into the title as he can. So why not take an entire issue of Detective Comics and make it a tie-in issue? Sounds like a great idea, but is it? Is it really?

If you are talking Detective Comics it should have a detective story at the core – and it does as The Riddler gets just the break he needs when a new client walks in his door.

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detective837_01.jpgBruce wants Nigma’s help tracking down a Wayne Enterprise employee who may have run off with an experimental regenerative drug. It seems like a no-brainer for Batman, (I’ll get to that later) it’s also a no-brainer for Nigma who follows the clues left around Lisa Ellen Newman cubicle that lead him directly to Metropolis and the Athenian Women’s Center where she is to meet her secret contact.

A guy trying to get into a women’s only club is one thing, a former criminal meeting one of his cohorts of crime there is quite another. The “reformed” Harley Quinn isn’t too thrilled to see The Riddler, but Edward convinces Harley to join him later for coffee, and it is there we learn why Harley left the Secret Six. During a job she and Dollman Ragdoll got in a hissy-fit fight and ruined everything, causing her to make a hasty retreat.

Yeah, not very dramatic, but it does work in filling in some of those gaps fans have been asking about.

The Riddler convinces Harley to be his partner on the inside, and it doesn’t take Harley long to track down the long lost Lisa Newman. When confronted, Lisa strikes out, and even though Harley is trying to play it cool, she isn’t going to take crap from a research assistant.

It only gets worse when Lisa injects herself with the drug in question, and gains some pretty impressive strength – she seems almost as strong as on of Granny Goodness’ Furies (am I giving too much away?), but Harley is able to hold her own for a moment.

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Here’s a good lesson for us all – never inject yourself with an experimental drug, while standing in a magic Amazonian pool. It just isn’t going to turn out well.

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Holly Robinson (not that Holly Robinson) joins in the fight, but the two seem no match for the mythically powered being. Good thing the Riddler was able to sneak in to lend a hand – er dumbbell.

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When all the craziness calms down, and order is restored, we see Athena slipping away and meeting a shadowy figure. Here Athena reveals she was Lisa’s contact all along, and pulls from her robes the syringe containing the experimental drug. And who is the mystery date?

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Wha-huh? Why would Athena be working with Desaad? Of course I’m being totally sarcastic here (just in case you didn’t know Salieri), as we’ve already seen Athena’s transformation into Granny Goodness in the pages of Amazon’s Attack, which makes this “surprise” ending really anti-climactic.

The one thing that makes this issue an interesting read, is wondering what Desaad and Darkseid plan to do with a regenerative drug? Could the drug be used to bring a supposedly dead New Gods back to life? Nah… couldn’t be that easy, could it?

And the reason Batman didn’t take care of this whole himself? Nigma needed a high paying job for a new home. From Batman’s point of view, keeping the Riddler fat and content keeps him from getting involved in things that are nothing but trouble. Yeah, whatever…

The Good

  • I like Nigma as a guy trying to be good
  • At least this story was done in one

The Bad

  • A tie-in that is at least a month or two old
  • There’s not much Batman
  • There’s not much detective work either
  • The whole story seems phoned in

As you can probably tell, I’m not too thrilled with this issue. It is one thing to do a tie-in issue, but it is quite another to make the issue tie-in to a storyline that has already revealed the big bad in the pages of Amazons Attack, and quite another to have the tie-in issue hit the stands after the main characters have left the Athenian Women’s Shelter. Had this issue come out two months ago, then there would have been more mystery as to what Athena was up to, more excitement about following Holly and Harley’s journey in Countdown, and would have probably caused more people to pick up Amazon’s Attack. After reading this issue I really thought it had slipped into the Forgot To Read pile by accident, but now I just see it as poor planning. As a company that has done excellent cross title events well in the past, Countdown and these so called tie-ins have been a major disappointment in my opinion. I’m going to give this issue of Detective Comics a 2.5 Star Rating, it would have been received a much higher 4 Star Rating had it shipped when it would have made more sense in the overall events of the DC Universe.

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