Bat Signal

Issue 559 – “It Takes Two Wings to Fly”

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Hello everyone, and welcome back to yet another installment of Bat Signal, my ongoing quest to read every issue of Detective Comics in random order and with very little context. And boy do I have a fun issue to share with you folks today. As you can probably tell from that cover, we’re getting guest-stars galore today. I was recently thinking about how insane it is that I haven’t had a story featuring Catwoman in quite some time, primarily due to the ways the character is being used in the current run, and apparently the random number generator gods have heard that thought and granted me a story involving the world’s greatest thief. And, as a bonus, we get two extra superheroes with Green Arrow and Black Canary guest starring. Plus, we get to talk about cancer! Fun!

The story opens up with Batman chasing a fugitive through the streets of Gotham, only for an arrow to suddenly smash into the wall next to his head, giving him enough pause to let the thief escape onto the top of a train. Batman’s furious that his suspect got away, and even more furious that that arrow implies he’s going to have to deal with another crimefighter that really gets on his nerves, the Green Arrow. And, right on time, Green Arrow comes storming over to Batman, and the two immediately start yelling at each other. Batman says that the man he was just following, Curtis Sample, has stolen the payroll from a chemical company known as Kemson Corp. But, Green Arrow explains that he already knew that, and he was fine with it because Sample is using that money to right a wrong done to him by Kemson. This creates a massive argument between Batman and Green Arrow where they start screaming about politics to each other, and it has the discourse of a Twitter argument. Luckily, things are calmed a bit down when Black Canary shows up, in a gloriously 80’s new costume, and she manages to talk some sense into the storm of testosterone. She convinces them that they need to go somewhere quiet and talk things through, so they do the obvious thing and go to a coffee shop in full costume.

 

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Batman remains very antagonistic about this whole thing, so Black Canary offers to start from the beginning and make everything crystal clear. It turns out that back in their hometown of Star City, Curtis Sample’s father worked for Kemson Corp, until he died from pretty aggressive cancer. Sample’s father told his son that the reason he got the cancer was from the chemicals that Kemson created, and even told him that the company was making illegal chemicals and selling them abroad. So, Sample tried to get the truth out, even with the help of Green Arrow’s true identity Oliver Queen. Unfortunately, no one seemed to care about these chemicals, so Kemson came up with a more extreme plan. He’s going to start robbing Kemson organizations around the country, and with their own money he’s going to pose as a prospective buyer of their illegal chemicals, which he’ll then use as proof of their shady dealings, gaining some peace for his father.

Batman and Green Lantern then get into a huge fight about their personal politics, neither one wanting to admit that their methods are both kind of weird. Batman’s not really okay with letting Sample rob a corrupt company just to get back at them, and Green Lantern doesn’t approve of Batman’s hypocritical stance on the law. However, Batman does agree that they need to do something to stop Kemson, and the trio decide to leave the coffee shop and plan a more agreeable assault. Unfortunately, as they’re leaving the coffee shop, another of the patrons follows them out, and draws a gun on them. Which, wasn’t that great of an idea, since these are three superheroes. They quickly beat the hell out of the guy, and he admits that he’s been hired by Kemson to follow Sample, and when he found the heroes seemingly working with Kemson he started to follow them.

 

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There’s just one problem though. He wasn’t the only one hired to follow Kemson. He had partners, and while the heroes have been wasting time arguing in the coffee shop, some other goons have found Sample, and beaten him half to death. Batman sees the Bat Signal lit up, and goes to talk to Gordon who tells him all about Sample. Batman’s pretty upset that Sample got beaten because they were goofing off, so he decides to do something help. And, in doing so, he gets help from Catwoman, who is apparently trying to rehabilitate and work with Batman in this point of the series. They then go meet back up with Green Arrow and Black Canary, and talk about their options. Batman says that they should let the goon they captured go and then finish Sample’s plan and pose as buyers of chemicals from Kemson. Green Arrow however thinks that this is a horrible plan, because the goon will be released on bail and screw them over, and finishing the Kemson scam will take away Sample’s contribution. But, because Batman’s stubborn, he decides to ignore the visiting heroes plan and drags the goon away with him to start his own plan.

Batman then gets to work on his own plan. They turn the goon over to the police, and get ready to complete Sample’s plan. Bruce works with Lucius Fox to get the money and set up the proper financial obfuscation that will keep Kemson from knowing where the money came from. He’ll then have Selina pretend to be the buyer for a shady government. So, they send Selina out to the Kemson to try and get the deal going, while Bruce suits up as Batman and follows her. Things go pretty well for a while, with Selina charming the Kemson creeps who are selling the chemical weapons. They take her on a tour of their secret facility, showing off their chemical weapons, before accepting her money. Unfortunately, at this point they inform her that they know she isn’t affiliated with a foreign government, and that she’s in league with superheroes. Turns out Green Arrow was right, and that goon from the coffee shop told them what’s going on, and now things look pretty bleak. But, before they can kill Selina, Batman jumps in, and pretty quickly realizes he’s outnumber. Luckily, Green Arrow and Black Canary never left, and they leap into action too, saving the day. The four heroes then begin kicking ass, and eventually are able to defeat all of the criminals. They have proof that Kemson is up to illegal business, they’ve helped bring closure for Curtis Sample, and they managed to not kill each other while ranting about politics. A success!

 

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This issue is a whole lot of fun. Not only do we get a really fun story, but we also get to see some really great character work from some characters that I don’t normally get to talk about. Like I said earlier, I think it’s a shame that we haven’t had that many Catwoman stories during this project, but I am glad that we got to talk about a story where she’s not a villain, and more of a partner. I’ve always enjoyed Catwoman when she’s put more in that context rather than a straight-up supervillain pulling cat-themed heists. And, as an added bonus, we get to hang out with the Green Arrow and Black Canary, two characters that I know very little about. Most of my exposure to these characters come from the incredibly mixed and mostly pretty terrible CW show Arrow, although I’ve always heard that their characters are very different in the show than the comics. I’d always heard that one of the gimmicks of the Green Lantern was that he was a bleeding heart liberal, which always seemed like an interesting thing to explore with a superhero. I just didn’t realize how crazy how confrontation he was going to be. Although, that did put me in an unfortunate position where I had to think about the fact that Bruce Wayne has some conservative leanings, which was a serious bummer. But, aside from all of that, we got a really fun issue of Detective Comics that didn’t end up having a lot of detection, but was still full of some really enjoyable heroics.

 

“It Takes Two Wings to Fly” was written by Doug Moench, penciled by Gene Colan, inked by Bob Smith, colored by Adrienne Roy, and lettered by John Workman, 1986.

 

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