Bat Signal

Issue 752 – “A Walk In the Park, Part Two”

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Oh look, the most modern issue of the comic that I’ve come across so far. We’ve also got the first time I’ve come into a story without any context, since this is “Part Two,” and I’ve decided that I’m just going to read this one, and wait until whenever I get 751 to see how the story started. By the time this comic came out, Detective Comics had long since embraced continuity and strayed away from the format of single-issue stories that made the previous issues I’ve discussed work. Although that’s not to say that this issue doesn’t work, but it was actually a pretty fun read, even though I wasn’t 100% sure what was going on.

Things start off with the GCPD getting ready to dump a bunch of herbicide into Robinson Park, the big Central Park analogue in Gotham. Now, this story clearly takes place after the big No Man’s Land event, but I’m not quite sure how far after. In case you don’t know it, that was a year when an earthquake hit Gotham, and basically destroyed it while severing all ties with the rest of the country. For various reasons the rest of the world just let Gotham become some crazy post-Apocalyptic town where the various supervillains, cops, and superheros divided the city up into sectors and had gang-wars. It was really goofy and fun. And one of those sectors was Robinson Park, which Poison Ivy took over, making it this weird farm/hostel for children orphaned in the quake. From what I understand, nobody thought Ivy was really hurting anyone, and let her keep controlling the park long after the quake and No Man’s Land was settled, which is where this story comes in, I think.

But apparently that detente has ended, because we open up with Harvey Bullock talking about how there’s about to be an airstrike of herbicide that will kill everything in Robinson Park on the way. I assume in the previous story they gave Ivy some sort of warning about this, but who knows. At the very least, Batman is sneaking into the park with the intention of talking to Ivy and the orphans she has. He ends up fighting with some weird feral woman who appears to be more rose than human, but that was just a distraction so Ivy and the orphans can sneak up on him. And when Ivy shows up Batman warns her about the herbicide, and how she should probably get the hell out of the park, and is pretty shocked when this is her response.

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Probably not the response Batman had in mind. We briefly pop over to a woman who is apparently Bruce Wayne’s bodyguard, who is trying to figure out where the hell he is when he’s out Batmanning. But that’s clearly something that’s building in the larger narrative, and doesn’t really pay off at all in this story, so we go back to the park where Batman and Ivy are still chatting. Ivy explains that she’s doing nothing wrong, and that she loves this park more than anything. She turned it from a disgusting place where muggers and rapists lurked into an Eden, and isn’t going to give it up without a fight. And when Batman points out that she’s not going to fight the herbicide, she’ll just die, she explains that she’s fine being a martyr, and that the park and what it represents are worth dying for.

But Ivy does have a heart, and while she plans on staying behind and dying with the Park, she tells all the orphans who live with her that they need to leave and save themselves. They all freak out, because they love her like a mother now, but she insists, even yelling at one of the girls who tries to touch her and comfort her, since she’s poisonous to the touch. And with that the kids head out of the park, into the open arms of the police who are ready to take them into child services. But right as they’re about to take the kids away, one of them grabs a tear gas canister off one of the SWAT guys, and threatens to use it on the other kids and the cops unless they will let them go back into the Park. Commissioner Gordon capitulates and lets the kids go back into the park, and they head straight back to Ivy, who is furious. But no matter what Ivy tells them, they’re all completely willing to die with her.

Batman shows back up and talks with Ivy, trying to show her that no matter what the kids are going to stay with her, so it’s up to her what happens. She could stay there, and kill herself with the kids, or leave and keep them alive despite the destruction of her paradise. And of course, since she’s pretty upset, Ivy doesn’t think things through, and blames Batman for everything, getting ready to touch him and kill him. But that girl from earlier comes to Batman’s defense, and grabs Ivy’s arm, poisoning herself. Ivy then freaks out and comes racing out with the rest of the kids, willing to let her dream die if it means keeping her kids safe.

 

Well that was a good little story. I find No Man’s Land pretty fascinating, and I’m looking forward to exploring it more randomly throughout the years. The whole idea of the town being divided up with supervillain gangs is pretty genius, and this issue was a great example of the fallout that that event could do. This was a pretty simple story, Batman just needed to connect with Ivy’s humanity, and get her to realize that killing herself and the kids just isn’t worth it. It had great character moments, and really worked for me. Although, I will say that I kind of missed the fact that there wasn’t any real detection in this issue. I feel like this point in the series this book was more “detective” in name only, and was just a Batman book, telling regular Batman stories where he’s more superhero than detective. But that’s just a personal gripe, this issue is still a blast.

 

“A Walk in the Park, Part Two” was written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Shawn Martinbrough, 2001.

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