Bat Signal

Issue 701 – “Legacy, Part Six: Gotham’s Scourge”

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Hello everyone, and welcome back to yet another installment of Bat Signal, my endless quest to read every issue of Detective Comics, in random order, and with basically no context. And, boy oh boy is that last element going to come into play with this issue. Because it just so happens that my random number generator has given me an issue that is part six in an ongoing story. Which, maybe would usually be an intimidating thing, having to struggle blindly to figure out what in the world is happening with an ongoing narrative. But, thankfully, we’ve happened to pull a part six in a story that actually does a decent job of explaining what in the world is happening, and in a way that doesn’t just feel like a information dump. Which, is a goddamn miracle. So, let’s see how they pulled it off.

The issue begins with with Batman looming over a soon to be opening casino, checking in with his Bat Family, who are spread out around Gotham City looking for places where large groups of Gothamites may be congregating, because they could be targets for terrorist attacks. Batman’s holding down the casino while Nightwing keeps an eye on a stadium ready to hold a playoff game, Robin watches a boat show, and the Huntress looks over opening night of the Gotham City opera. They’re here to find the pawns of Ra’s al Ghul, who they’ve apparently been chasing all over the world, stopping him from unleashing a viral plague that could devastate the entire world. They’ve been largely successful so far, but it’s all come down to Gotham, his final attack. And, it turns out that Batman is the winner, mainly because he assumes that it’s highly suspicious that this casino has hired two heavily armed men speaking Farsi to be their security. Which, seems a little presumptuous, but whatever, I’m not the World’s Greatest Detective.

 

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So, Batman begins taking down Ra’s al Ghul’s men, but not before letting the Bat Family know that he’s found the right target. And, to confirm that, the rest of the soldiers begin attacking Batman, firing machine guns pretty haphazardly through the casino, trying to kill Batman. But, he thankfully is able to crashed into the casino through a skylight, and lands inside the casino floor, where even more goons are trying to murder him. But, thinking fast, Batman is able to take the men down, while also recognizing that there’s a strange scuff mark on the carpet, showing that something very heavy has been dragged through here recently. So, he fights off the soldiers while also following the trail of the dragged thing, eventually leading himself to the kitchen.

Once inside the kitchen Batman is able to find a grill that has been modified to carry the virus, and gets hard to work destroying it. He knocks out all of the soldiers who are busy protecting it, and then decides upon the most logical way to destroy the virus. He starts ripping out the gas rigs in the kitchen, hoping to blow the place up. But, he’s momentarily stopped when the doors to the kitchen are kicked open, and a new problem is introduced. A giant South American problem who goes by the name of Bane! He’s here working with Ra’s al Ghul, and is going to do whatever is necessary to keep that virus safe so that it can intact genocide on Gotham.

 

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Batman then begins doing battle with Bane, hoping that he doesn’t notice the gas leak, while the rest of the Bat Family have bigger fish to fry. They temporarily consider going to the casino to help Batman, but realize that it’s probably a bigger benefit to instead track down Ra’s al Ghul. He’s generally been travelling around by ship, so they start looking into the bay of Gotham, with a lot of help from Oracle. And, eventually they’re able to find a ship that certainly seems to match up with Ra’s ship, so they hop in a speedboat and begin racing towards Ra’s, all while Batman continues to beat up Bane.

Things are going pretty well for a while, with Batman just kind of coming to terms with the fact that he’s going to explode, but then something bad happens. Bane notices the gas. So, Batman uses that moment of panic from Bane to jump into a metal dumpster just in time to shield himself from the explosion. He’s launched clear out of the casino, and right into the waters outside. Batman then escapes, and finds that Bane has miraculously escaped. He’s standing on a burning dock, screaming about how he’s a god and destined to take Ra’s al Ghul’s place as the leader of the League of Assassins. Batman’s pretty confused by all of this, while Bane starts to explain that he’s only helping Ra’s so that he can marry Talia, then kill Ra’s and take his place. And, while Batman doesn’t really have any stake in this power play, Bane’s casual disregard for human life throws him over the edge, causing Batman to absolutely lose it on the villain, beating him into unconsciousness. But, it takes everything Batman has, and he’s forced to just watch as Bane falls off the dock, onto a chunk of wood, and floats out into the sea. Which, is exactly where Ra’s al Ghul is waiting on his boat, ready to kill the Bat Family as they approach in their boat.

 

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Like I said earlier, I’m kind of impressed with this issue. It somehow fills you in on what’s been happening in five previous issues in a way that still made this a fully enjoyable story, and not just an info dump. If I happened to pick this issue up as my first issue of Batman ever, I’d get a decent enough story. Maybe not fully complete what with Ra’s al Ghul still waiting to fight the Bat Family at the end, and us missing what has happened in the previous stories, but a good enough somewhat self-contained story. We get to see Batman infiltrate a casino, plot its destruction, and get into an insane battle with Bane that leaves them both physically destroyed in front of the burning wreckage of a casino while Bane floats out to sea. It’s nuts. And, honestly, it really has me intrigued by the rest of this story, because having a story where Batman, Nightwing, Robin, and Huntress jet around the world trying to stop Ra’s al Ghul from unleashing a killer virus is a pretty awesome idea, and something straight out of 70’s Batman. It’s a fun issue, and I’m always here for stories where Batman and Bane beat the crap out of each other while debating their own personal philosophies.

 

“Legacy Part Six: Gotham’s Scourge” was written by Chuck Dixon, penciled by Graham Nolan, inked by Scott Hanna, colored by Gloria Vasquez and Android Images, lettered by John Costanza, and edited by Scott Peterson and Darren Vincenzo, 1996.

 

 

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