When the Bat’s away… yada…yada…yada…


Nightwing down?  Pizza Boy only hope for rescue?  Gordon and Bullock weepy over Batman?  Who is that girl in the tattered rags?  What the hell?  None of this makes sense from the previous issue…  Time to tune in for the latest installment of a world without Batman. (Cue organ music.)

batman684cover.jpgWith Batman out of the picture (for now), it’s up to Dick Grayson to bring down the criminal masquerading as Two-Face.  Narrating the tale is the Millicent Mayne, who had her face horrible disfigured by Gracchus – the guy pretending to be Two-Face to cover up a much bigger crime.

What?  None of this is familiar to you?  That’s probably because this story is the second installment of an arc that began in Detective Comics.  More than likely, readers of Batman are reading everything Batman, so the decision to split this story across two titles makes sense – unless of course you only read one over the other, which is understandable since Paul Dini was writing much better stories in Detective… ahem….

So if you didn’t read the issue, at least take a moment and read the review Major Spoilers did over Detective Comics #851 (http://www.majorspoilers.com/archives/8952.htm).

Back?  Okay…

Nightwing is clearly not playing his A-game as he let Gracchus’s gang get the drop on him, and he needs the help of a pizza delivery boy to get out of the burning warehouse, and make it back home. I like what O’Neil did with the character of the pizza boy, and even though this is probably the only time we’ll ever see him, there is plenty of back story revealed to make this is a fully realized character.

The realization that he isn’t Batman has Nightwing shaken, that is until Alfred reminds once-upon-a-time-sidekick, that Batman didn’t become a fully actualized character overnight; it took years and years of practice and learning from mistakes to become the hero he is (or was if you believe the DC hype machine).  This is enough to get Nightwing back in the right frame of mind to actually play the detective and track down the clues needed to solve “The Case of the Two-Faced Two-Face”.

The big clue comes when Nightwing questions why Two-Face would attack Millicent Mane.  Commissioner Gordon reveals Millicent hangs out in an area of Gotham that has still not been rebuilt since the Gotham earthquake of ’98.  When the fake Two-Face calls GCPD and tells them he is going to attack the Mayor’s party, Gordon and Bullock send every cop in the city to guard the Mayor and his revelers.  It’s all a ruse to get cops away from the real scene of the crime, the theater that opened this story where stolen diamonds are waiting to be recovered.

Of course with Nightwing on the scene, the bad guys are taken down, the diamonds are recovered and Millicent Mane is allowed to continue her impersonation of Ghost, with nary a hint of Dark Horse lawyers issuing a C&D.

The story overall is a nice buffer/wrap-up of Batman’s death, and is good enough of a story that readers won’t get bored waiting for the Battle of the Cowl, even though I’m pretty sure 99.9% of us already know the outcome.

It’s never really stated when this story takes place, it could be days, weeks, or months after the “death of Batman”, but considering how quickly this issue was released after the final chapter of RIP (and well ahead of the final chapters of Final Crisis, I might add), Gordon and Bullock seem to overreact to Batman’s absence.  What a couple of weepy bitches, considering a body has never been recovered.  They’ve both dealt with Nightwing before, so to not believe he is capable of bringing in the villain is way out of character for both.

Unless it is specifically stated on the cover, casual readers of the Batman title are going to be completely lost (more than usual) when reading this issue.  Those of us that purchase everything that might even remotely feature Batman in it, are in the know, but I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t going to be some kind of disconnect even among those rabid fans.

There are certainly some things that I don’t like (Gordon and Bullock’s characterizations), and some things I really do like (Nightwing looking at the city as his) that sell the issue for me, but overall, this is a slightly above average story, earning Batman #684 3 out of 5 Stars.




About Author

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment. You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...


  1. I liked the two-parter. I liked seeing Nightwing still shaken by the “death” of batman. Pretty good issues. BUT I AM STILL CONFUSED ABOUT THE TIMELINE!!!

  2. NO! The pizza boy is the new Black Panther!!! This is just one of the DC/Marvel Crossover events that Bendis is writing on the sly.

  3. I can buy into the Batworld and the fact that it’s not reality but how could anyone mistake Macchus in the cheap mask for Two-Face? Not even close. Maybe they didn’t get a good look at him.

  4. Why do people seem to forget that Dick Grayson has had nearly as much experience at this as Bruce Wayne? He’s been through the wringer countless times with Batman, on his own, with the Titans, etc. The whole “I’m not Batman” lack of confidence doesn’t wring true. What happened to the guy who gave Batman a dressing down on leading a team during the first Titans/Outsiders teamup.

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