Friday, January 27, 2006

"Franchise Part 2: The Away Team"
Batman #647 When: January 2006
Writer: Judd Winick Artist: Doug Mahnke

The story so far...
It began when a man called Hush set into motion events that would throw the Dark Knight's life into chaos, as his foes were arranged like game pieces in formation against him.

Hush would later be revealed to be Bruce Wayne's childhood friend, Thomas Elliot, but betrayal would have two faces.

Orchestrated to disorientate the Batman further; Clayface masquaraded as the deceased Robin, Jason Todd.
When a new face in Gotham going by the Red Hood moniker, Joker's one-time alias, began stalking the streets, Batman's fears would be realised.

Alive once more by means unknown, Jason Todd began fighting a fatal one-man war against the criminals of Gotham, organizing his own sense of order.
When the villains united with Gotham's new boss, Black Mask, Jason Todd had for him one mighty enemy in the shape of The Society.

Tale of the tape...
"The Society" is a fairly broad label for what is, in this case; Captain Nazi, The Hyena and Count Vertigo.

Strength: 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: 2 (Normal human)

Captain Nazi is perhaps the most influential character in this particular scenario.
In combat he is designed to go head-to-head with the likes of Captain Marvel, which is a considerable advantage over the other human-level characters involved in this fight. He also has the ability to go uneffected by Count Vertigo's powers, which means he is potentially able to sweep the pot once Vertigo gets into action.

On the flipside, Captain Nazi could also single handedly lose the fight.
Though impressive in his own right, the animalistic Hyena is only minimally effective against disciplined and able fighters, as is Count Vertigo.

Ultimately, Captain Nazi is the lynchpin in this particular attack, and his intelligence arguably leaves him prone to attack from the tactically superior Batman. Particularly considering the history Red Hood and Batman share, offering them superior sycronisity in their fighting.

Of course, Red Hood's hostility toward the Batman could prove an issue.
You would however have to assume the administered powers of the Society would be the bigger threat, and the two would maintain alliance brief enough to thwart them.

Maybe next time, the Society should send Deathstroke, instead of having him give orders to the lackeys.

What went down...
Lured out by threat to his order of drug dealers; Red Hood is ambushed by Black Mask's Society goons. Captain Nazi and Hyena drop from the rooftops, but Red Hood is defiant in the face of adversity.

He scoffs the hired heavys, as he nimbly backflips over them and opens up with his twin pistols.

Hyena and Nazi dance in and out, taking shots at the young vigilante, between gun fire. Todd avoids the attack, but his hail of bullets barely even scratch Captain Nazi -- so he steps it up with high explosives.

The blasts topples the mighty Captain Nazi, but leaves Red Hood open to the agile and ferocious Hyena. The feral mind of the creature fixes in on the Red Hood, "Slow. Too slow. Weak and slow." "Yeah, or, y'know, stalling."

Four darts bury themselves into the Hyena's back, and the Dark Knight detective makes his presence known, dropping down from the rooftops above.
Red Hood kicks the Hyena off of him, and for the first time since his apparent death, Jason Todd sides with the Batman against evil.

Captain Nazi rips a post from the street, and swings it like a giant club at the dyanmic duo. They each dodge, and Red Hood dives at Batman, not to attack, but instead to execute a maneuver they've each practised dozens of times. A maneuver they honed as Batman and Robin.

Red Hood tosses razor tipped projectiles, and Captain Nazi blocks them easily with his forearm, as he was supposed to, leaving him vulernerable for the Batman to toss attaching explosives to his chest. He drops the powerline post, as he is again toppled by explosion.

Captain Nazi still stirs, but before either Batman or Red Hood can finish him, the world begins to swirl.
"Damn it to hell. There's three of them."

The floor rushes upward to meet their faces, as the effects of Count Vertigo's powers of disorientation take effect. Powers designed to affect the eyes and ears, attacking the physical rather than mental. Thus, Batman drops shields over his eyes and ears. Contingencies designed for the likes of the Scarecrow, but just as effective here.

Switching to sonar, Batman directs Red Hood toward the equally affected Hyena, while he tackles Count Vertigo, clutching only fabric. Not a miss timed step, but rather an ingenious piece of planning.

As Captain Nazi - unaffected by Vertigo's powers because of cybernetic implants - attacks the Red Hood, he's able to toss darts charged with hard stimulants at the feral Hyena.
The Batman swoops down, and using Vertigo's fabric to mask his own scent to the creature, he beats Hyena into a frenzy. Until he follows the scent back to Vertigo, and is pulled back before he goes beyond incapacitating the Count.

Nazi still has Red Hood wrapped up, forcing Batman into a stand-off with his grappling gun. Nazi calls his bluff, but Red Hood mercilessly recognizes the potential to end it, and drives a tazer into Nazi's cybernetics.

Red Hood mocks the Batman for his apparent surprise at the lethal resolution to the fight.

"Did you actually think this would go any other way?! Just be happy I only killed the Nazi!"

Red Hood chastizes his former mentor for his predictability, as he scales a fire escape, making his escape. The alliance of convenience, ended.

The hammer...
I have to acknowledge, this issue was a little while coming, because it's been one of the fights I've been most impressed with out of all the comics I've read recently. That's pretty high praise, considering all the mayhem going on in the respective Marvel and DC universes, which are largely the focus of Secret Earths.

Needless to say, Batman and Red Hood won this one.
As always, if anyone has any dispute to that, they should feel welcome to drop a comment.

I've really been surprised just how much I've been enjoying Winick and Mahnke on the flagship title. Winick's initial offering, with the Scarecrow, really didn't do a whole lot for me, but with the new on-going structure the title really has me tickled pink.

One of the most attractive elements I've found, is just the allusion of structure in Gotham right now. I often drift into rants about what I call a chess board continuity, where even if every piece isn't in play, it's still on the board. This, to an extent, is exactly that, and I'm enjoying it a great deal.

Perhaps the only thing more exciting than all the action, will be the conclusion to the on-going tussles between Batman, Red Hood, and Hush.

Red Hood - Kill; with tazer to electronics. (Captain Nazi)

The Fight - 6
The Issue - 5.5

NEXT WEEK: Street fighting! Don't miss the punch-up!

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