Detective Comics #605 (September, 1989)
"The Mud Pack, Part Two: Heart of Steel; Feet of Clay?"
Writer - Alan Grant
Penciller - Norm Breyfogle
Inker - Steve Mitchell
Letterer - Todd Klein
Colorist - Adrienne Roy
Associate Editor - Dan Raspler
Editor - Denny O'Neil
Cover Price: $1.00
Today's post is a special one... not only for it being about the second chapter of a great late-80's Batman story... but also for it being my 150th consecutive day of blogging. I never thought I'd go 7 days straight, much less this!
For all y'all who keep checking in, you have my sincere thanks and appreciation. Now, let's get muddy!
Of course, if you need to catch up, check out my coverage of Part One from issue #604.
We open in the middle of a nightmare of former Outsider member, (and object of clay-personation) Looker. She dreams of being swallowed by a puddle of mud. She is awakened by her ringing phone... on the other end? Batman... who, I gotta admit looks pretty silly holding a phone up to his ear. He accuses her of being at Arkham visiting Preston Payne the day prior. She denies it, and suggests that it might just have been the fourth Clayface that was behind it.
Batman is quick to believe her, after hearing of a run-in the Outsiders had with Kobra which resulted in Looker being impersonated by Lady Clayface in the recent past. They disconnect, and Batman goes about his normal crime-fighting routine.
At the La Scala Theater, Lady Clayface discusses the events of her last few years with Basil Karlo. She speaks of impersonating the rich and famous... being treated like royalty... and it still not being enough to make her feel accepted and normal.
She continues, recounting her initial meeting with Karlo... but the stroll down memory lane is interrupted by a stirring Payne. As Lady Clayface transforms back into Looker, Payne lunges at her... blaming her for what he had done to his mannequin life-partner in the previous chapter. She is able to reapply the trance before he does too much damage.
Later, in the Batcave... Batman is reading up on Clayface IV. We get a bit of a history lesson on the rest of the Mud Pack... including the news that Matt Hagin (Clayface II) apparently perished in the Crisis. I can't explain it, but I just love it when characters refer to the Crisis by name! He learns that Basil Karlo's release from prison is imminent, and decides to follow up with the Gotham Penitentiary's Warden.
The next day, at the First Gotham Bank... Payne attacks an armored car. The guards are unsuccessful at rallying a defense, and all appears to be lost... until, Batman arrives. Much to the surprise of everybody, Batman attacks the guards and officers in the vicinity! Now, that doesn't sound right...
Meanwhile, at the Gotham City Police Department, Batman (hmmm...) is meeting with Commissioner Gordon. He offers up his intel on Clayface IV... but Jim's a bit reluctant to buy it. An officer barges in, and is surprised to see Batman standing before him... as, to his knowledge, Batman is currently holding up a bank across town. After hearing this, Gordon has a bit of a change of heart... and believes Batman's Clay-story. Batman asks that the dupe issue isn't released to the public just yet.
Back at the La Scala, the Mud Pack reconnoiter. We face another near-miss with Payne's hypnotic suggestion momentarily slipping. Lady Clayface-as-Looker is able to put him back under not a moment too soon.
We learn that tonight is Casino Night at the Gotham Plaza. Batman bets that this will be the next Mud Pack hit site...
... and wouldn'tcha know it, he's right! Payne and Lady Clayface-as-Batman launch a physical assault on the officers present... and barge their way inside, as the real-deal-Batman watches from a distance.
Inside real-Bats knocks Clay-Bats out of commission... and turns his attention toward Payne... and makes quick work of the beast. He, however, has no time to celebrate his victory... as he hears a familiar (and unexpected voice) call out to him. I wonder who that can be... (don't look at the cover of the next issue!)
Another great chapter of the Mud Pack. Had a lot of fun revisiting this one. I usually dislike stories where mistaken identity is the crutch... however, in this story... you almost get the feeling as though Lady Clayface really isn't sure what her true identity is. She comes across as disturbingly broken... and in dire need of guidance and acceptance.
I wondered why in the first chapter, Lady Clayface chose to impersonate Looker of all people, surely there are others with mind-control powers she could have chosen... after the open to this chapter, we get the feeling that there may just be more to this than previously thought.
Payne continues to be the most sympathetic of the Mud Pack. He's just being used as a tool... the fact that they fight to keep him under mind-control really puts him in his place as it pertains to clay-team/family. It will be interesting to see whether or not they are able to keep him "under" as we move forward.
The cliffhanger... would have been amazing if I was reading this as it hit the stands. Knowing what I know now (about this story... and since), it kinda stinks that I know who/what the reveal is going to be. That having been said, I'm still very excited to revisit Chapter Three... it's gonna get dark... and serve as a reminder of what a lousy time the late 1980's were for Bat-family-members/sidekicks.
The Mud Pack storyline still comes highly recommended... so, definitely give it a look. It's truly a breath of fresh air from what feels like an endless loop of Batman v Joker stories.