Bat Signal

Issue 595 – “Our Man in Havana”

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Hello everyone and welcome back to Bat Signal, my ongoing quest to read every issue of Detective Comics, randomly, and with no context. And we’re in for something odd today folks. Because today’s issue the random number generator gods have decided to give us something we really haven’t tackled yet. An event tie-in issue. Yeah, we’ve had an issue from No Man’s Land, but that whole thing was all about Batman, so it still felt like a Batman story. But this time? Well, we’re getting into Invasion today, folks. And in case you aren’t familiar, Invasion was a big event that ran through DC comics in late 1988 to early 1989 that focused on Earth being invaded by a coalition of hostile aliens. It’s a pretty fun little event, not too long and full of crazy alien fighting, largely courtesy of the legendary Bill Mantlo. But, of course, when you have a big cross-company event, that means that even characters that seem a little out of place are going to get dragged in. Which is what we have to talk about today. Because if there’s one character that you don’t expect to see fighting in an alien war, it’s probably Batman. But, as we’re aware, Batman is the most competent human being on Earth, so he’s probably not in for a rough time.

The issue begins exactly where you’d think it would. With Batman flying a helicopter above Havana, Cuba, getting ready to infiltrate the island and fight the aliens who have captured it. Duh. Batman is pretty quickly shot down, and lands into the ocean. But he’s relatively unscathed, and swims ashore, ready to start kicking some alien ass. The shore is being patrolled by some brutish aliens known as Khunds, and Batman is able to get the drop on a pair of them, knocking them unconscious and tying them up. And once that’s taken care of he starts making his way into Havana, talking to himself so that we know what’s going on, and why Batman’s in Cuba.

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Apparently Batman was planning on staying out of this whole alien war thing, figuring that he didn’t have enough power to really get anything accomplished. Max Lord, the man who ran the JLI was trying to get Batman to help out, but he refused, saying that if things got really crazy he would lend a hand. Besides, Batman figured that he was going to be too busy keeping the streets of Gotham safe to care about alien nonsense. He then heads out into the streets of Gotham, ready to do his nightly patrol, when he comes across a semi-truck getting robbed at gunpoint. Batman prepares to jump down and attack the gunmen when something surprising happens.

The man driving the truck whips out some sort of energy-weapon and begins firing it at the gunmen, and vaporizing them. Batman then switches targets and begins fighting the driver who is quickly revealed to be some sort of shape-shifting alien. Batman struggles with the alien, eventually overpowering it and trying it up with its own tentacles. And, with the alien taken care of, Batman decides to take a look in the truck that the alien was driving. And it looks like it’s full of cigars from Havana called Muchacho Cigars. But when he cracks one of the crates open he finds that they’re full of weapons. Looks like there’s some sort of alien arms-deal going on, and Batman is not cool with that. Batman and Commissioner Gordon discuss this development and decide that the aliens are building some sort of fortification in Gotham. So, since they’re messing with his city, Batman decides it’s time to track down the cigars and bring the fight to the aliens in Cuba.

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We then get back to the beginning of the story, with Batman storming the beaches of Havana. He runs along the rooftops of the city, trying to avoid the aliens, when he comes across the Muchacho Cigar factory. Unfortunately the factory is very fortified by the Khunds, and even some Thanagarians who are flying around the rooftop. Batman figures that his best bet to get into the factory is the roof, so he watches the Thanagarians until he figures out their flight pattern. Batman then springs into action, and attempts to get into a skylight before he’s caught. But he runs into some difficulty when the skylight is covered in a mesh, and he’s unable to get in. The Thanagarians then attack Batman, and he has to fight off two hawk-people.

Batman ends up falling off the factory rooftop, and lands into the bay beneath the factory where several Khunds are loading up a boat with more weapons. Batman manages to play dead, letting his cape float in the water so the aliens think they’ve won, while he swims under the dock. He gets behind the aliens, and then begins fighting them with everything he’s got. He knocks several of them out, and ends up having to take refuge in the speedboat that they’re loading up with weapons. Which is a lucky break, because he ends up finding some sort of alien grenades, and comes up with a very ridiculous plan. He pulls the pin on one, and then steers the boat toward the factory, bailing out at the last second. The boat then becomes a high-speed bomb at this point, and launched into the factory, causing a massive explosion that probably kills a lot of aliens, and ruins a lot of their weaponry. Which is a score for Batman. He then presumably swims back to Gotham.

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There really wasn’t a whole lot of depth to this issue, but it was a whole lot of fun. It was basically Batman getting thrown into a big, dumb 80’s action movie with aliens, complete with a slew of ridiculous one-liners and explosions, which was something I very much enjoyed. I’m also a fan of the fact that Batman apparently didn’t give a rat’s ass about an alien invasion, until he realizes that it will affect Gotham City, which causes him to go full Rambo and blow up an alien weapon’s cache. That’s so ridiculous, and I love it. This was clearly a rather throw-away entry to the Invasion story, but for a character like Batman I think it’s kind of perfect. I don’t really want to see Batman go to war with aliens and be swept up into a big space war, but I totally want to see Batman involved in guerrilla warfare with aliens. That just seems right.

“Our Man in Havana” was written by Alan Grant and John Wagner, penciled by Irv Novick, inked by Steve Mitchell, colored by Adrienne Roy, and lettered by Todd Klein, 1988.

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