Bat Signal

Issue 514 – “Haven!”

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Hi there everyone and welcome back to Bat Signal, my ongoing project to read every issue of Detective Comics in random order, and with very little context. And folks, I have a hell of a story to tell you about today. Because the random number generator gods have smiled upon me and given me an absolutely insane little story from the early eighties where Batman basically gets put in the same position as Liam Neeson in that movie the Gray. Yep! Batman’s going to head off onto a snowy mountaintop to bring down some punks! Just look at that cover and tell me you aren’t excited? And it somehow gets even better than what’s promised on that cover. Like it says, you’l never read another story quite like this one, and that’s kind of true, because this issue is delightfully insane.

The story starts off with Batman driving his Batmobile through the snowy roads outside of Gotham. He’s hot on the heels of Maxie Zeus, an insane crime boss who thinks that he’s a reincarnation of the Greek god Zeus. Zeus has broken out of Arkham Asylum and he and his goons are trying to flee, and Batman isn’t going to allow that. So the two are racing around the icy roads, when Zeus grabs the wheel and crashes into a tree. Zeus’ car survives the incident, but it manages to bring the tree crashing down on the Batmobile, causing it ti swerve off of the road, and crash down into the canyon below. Batman’s able to bail out of the car, and use his cape as a parachute to survive the fall, but just barely. He gets knocked out and is trapped in the snow, gradually getting buried. And as Batman is laying in a snowdrift a small bird arrives, and surveys him. It flies off and then comes back shortly, but with a strange man following it. The man then picks Batman up and carries him off.

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But before we see what’s going on with Yukon Cornelius here the issue jumps around a bit to check on other characters. We see Alfred and Dick Grayson sadly looking out the window of Bruce Wayne’s penthouse, worrying that Bruce is in danger out in the frozen wastes outside Gotham. They don’t really give a good explanation of why Robin wasn’t invited on this mission, but before we get too worried about that we cut over to Zeus and his goons, who are still trying to drive to freedom. But while driving they end up crashing into a snow drift thanks to the white-out going on, and the crew is forced to abandon the car and look for some shelter.

And speaking of shelter, it’s time to see how Batman is doing. He’s slowly regaining consciousness in a strange cabin, with that very large man lurking nearby. But it’s okay, this isn’t a Unabomber or anything, it’s actually a very kind man who simply calls himself Haven. He and Batman get chatting, what with Haven having saved his life, and we learn that he’s kind of weird, but generally nice. He’s given up on humanity, and he’s now living in the woods with just himself and his woodland creature companions. Batman then proceeds to start insulting Haven, telling him that it’s a cop-out to just give up on humanity instead of trying to fix it, which is kind of rude, but whatever. Haven then tries to convince Batman to just rest and recuperate, but Batman explains that he’s got to deal with Maxie Zeus, and he heads back into the snow. He starts walking through the blizzard, without any particular goal in mind, when something ridiculous happens.

 

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That’s right! Batman’s going to have to fight a goddamn bear! Take that Liam Neeson! Batman and the bear quickly start fighting, even when the bear ends up grabbing Batma in a bear hug and starts squeezing him. Luckily Batman’s able to get out of the bear’s clutches and ends up drop-kicking it down a hill, saving himself. But he’s in pretty rough shape, and ends up collapsing in the snow again. However as he starts to give up Haven shows up again, and brings Batman back to his shack, telling him that he really needs to rest this time. But when they get back to Haven’s shack they find something surprising. Maxie Zeus and his goons.

Apparently they wandered around in the woods for a while, and finally were able to discover Haven’s shack, unattended. They’ve made themselves at home, and make it clear that they have no intention of leaving. Batman’s still too exhausted and hurt to do much about it, and Haven has taken a vow of peace, so it looks like they’re in bad shape. And, seizing on this opportunity, Zeus decides that he’s going to force Haven and Batman to fight to the death for his amusement. Both men obviously refuse, but Zeus won’t take that for an answer. For some reason he and his men focus in on Haven though, and do everything they can to badger him into violence. They throw hot soup on him, yell at him, and hit him, but Haven keeps his composure. Until Zeus kills Haven’s little bird friend with his bare hands. This causes Haven to snap and attack Zeus’ men, beating the hell out of them. Batman takes this opportunity to join into the fight, although Haven ends up getting shot several times in the back. But, eventually, Batman’s able to beat up the goons, while Zeus flees back into the cold. Batman follows him, only to find Zeus getting attacked by the bear. Batman hucks a small smoke grenade at the bear, knocking it out. With that taken care of Batman ties Zeus up, buries Haven, and brings the criminals back to Gotham.

 

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This issue is so absolutely insane, and I love it. Really everything about this issue works for me. We get to see Batman racing around in the vast wilderness outside of Gotham, which is something that I only ever see in the old issues, which was a pleasant surprise. Maxie Zeus is one of the few villains I hadn’t come across yet in this project, but I don’t really have strong feelings toward him. He’s basically the same character as King Tut from the 66 show, but somehow less interesting. Although seeing this version of him, where he’s just a cruel gangster who acts like he’s a god, is pretty fun. But the real joy of this issue comes from Haven, his cabin, and that goddamn bear. I’ve seen Batman fight a lot of weird stuff in this project, but seeing his wrestle a bear is an amazing site. The whole idea of Haven is a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed how shitty Batman is to him, for basically no reason. He’s a gentle giant who lives in a cabin in the woods with his animal companions. He’s basically a Disney princess. Seriously folks, this issue is the best.

 

“Haven!” was written by Len Wein, penciled by Don Newton, inked by Frank Chiaramonte, colored by Adrienne Roy, and lettered by John Costanza, 1982.

 

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