Batman #441 (1989)

Batman #441 (November, 1989)
“A Lonely Place of Dying, Chapter Three: Parallel Lines!”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Penciller – Jim Aparo
Inker – Mike DeCarlo
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Associate Editor – Dan Raspler
Editor – Denny O’Neil
Cover Price: $1.00

We’ve hit the midway point in A Lonely Place of Dying… even if you’re a newsstand-only kid.  We don’t really get filled-in on what happened in New Titans #60… so, if you wanna know… here’s your hook-up.

We pick up right where we left off in New Titans #60, with Batman perched… and Two-Face lounging… here, however, it doesn’t seem like Harvey’s watching Batman.  Perhaps I took what he was saying a bit too literally last time.  Anyhoo, the foes are busy brainstorming ways to lure each other out… and it’s really well done.  They seem to have very similar ways of thinking and planning… being careful not to tip their hands too much.  They each go over some (very similar) scenarios before coming up with the perfect plan (in unison!).

We shift to Wayne Manor where Dick has arrived with… that kid.  Weird that he’d take him in without ever getting his name!  The kid does finally say his name is “Tim”, though… and he’s totally psyched to be there… oohing and aahing over many of Mr. Wayne’s valuables.  Alfred doesn’t appear to have all that in the way of patience… and demands to know what’s going on.  It’s about time somebody pressed the issue!  Tim runs down what he knows about the Bat-Family, which only makes Dick and Alfred even more uncomfortable.  Finally, they sit the boy down… and tell him to spill everything.  Turns out this Tim has a last name… Drake!  He’s the lad who sat on Dick’s knee in that photo taken the day the Flying Graysons were murdered… but, we already knew that, right?

While Tim tells his story, we pop over to check in on Two-Face.  He’s busy trying to get the radio to speak to him… and all it wants to talk about is the news!  What he learns, however, is that Club Gemini is holding the World Series of Poker, with a $22-Million prize!  Why that’s almost two good two be true!  Two bad he already set up his Bat-trap elsewhere!

A brief aside with Batman confirms that the Gemini Club was his plan… however, a call from Commissioner Gordon informs him that the Wright Twins have been kidnapped!  Seems like both men have their own traps set… ones which they just may have to abandon!

Back at the Manor, the fellas discuss the murder of John and Mary Grayson.  Tim says that when he saw Batman swoop in, he thought for sure he was there to hurt Dick… but then realized he was there to help.

We pop back to another “parallel” page, where Batman waits at Club Gemini… and Two-Face waits at Hawk Bridge where he has the Wright Twins tied up.  They both sit tight for a moment before abandoning their posts.  Batman couldn’t sit by and allow for children to be hurt, while the thought of $22M makes Two-Face’s mouth water too much to focus.

Back with the boys (and Alfred), Tim recounts a recurring nightmare he’d suffered in the years that followed the event.  Years?  Wow, he might have more baggage from this than Dick himself!  Anyhoo, his dream features Dick doing his trademark quadruple somersault while his parents fell for an eternity.  Dick demands “Jeff” explain what this has to do with anything.  Jeff?  Whoops!

He continues… recalling a day where he saw footage of Batman and Robin fighting the Penguin on the TV news.  In it, this “Robin” performed… Dick Grayson’s trademark quadruple somersault!  A maneuver he knows like he knows his own name… which, I guess would be Jeff!  Some critical thinking led the lad to consider that Dick Grayson and Robin were… one in the same!  And, if Dick Grayson is Robin… the likeliest suspect to be Batman is Bruce Wayne!  Ruh-roh…

Tim kept up with the Wayne news of the day… and found a correlation between his adopting of Jason Todd… and the emergence of a brand-new Robin.  Also, after the news of Jason Todd’s death hit the news… there was no longer a Robin at Batman’s side!  It’s funny, everything he’s saying makes total sense… just how crappy are DC’s detectives and supervillains if they can’t figure this out?!

Back on the streets, Batman rescues the Wright Twins… and Two-Face busts into Club Gemini.  Batman has to perform some Riddler-esque deduction to locate the lads… which starts with some graffiti in the Wright Brothers bedroom… 2B (over) CC… he eventually translates this to mean “To be over two seas”… and thinks of the Hawk Bridge which covers the “twin rivers”… and also pays tribute to some more famous Wright Brothers… minus the “Kitty”.  Good gravy, I’ve seen Pee-Wee Herman make a less complicated breakfast than this!

Back at the Manor, Dick brings Tim to… the Bat-Cave!  Wow, we’re moving a bit fast, no?  He shows Tim around before hopping into his Nightwing duds.  Tim’s confused… he feels Batman needs a Robin… not a Nightwing.  To which, Alfred suggests that’s exactly what Dick had in mind in bringing him here.

We wrap up the issue with both Batman and Two-Face retiring to their corners… waiting for the next “round” to begin.

Well, this’s more like it.  After a bit of a dud (or at least a lull) with the New Titans chapter, our mid-point piece overachieves and gets us back on course.

This is definitely a Robin story… with some background Batman, rather than the other way around.  I was pleased that there was so much time spent with Dick and Jeff Tim, and how we actually get an explanation about how the latter knows so much about the former… and the former’s friends ‘n family.

You’d almost expect this issue to end with Tim putting on the Robin costume for the first time… buuuut, we’re not quite there yet.  Oh yeah, spoilers… Tim’s going to be the third Robin, sorry ’bout that.

His deductive methods… dang, like I said during the synopsis… how in the hell hasn’t anyone (or everyone!) else figured out that Bruce Wayne is Batman?  I mean, if a kid who is just passively watching the TV news can figure it out… you gotta figure Gotham’s forensic detectives would have gotten to the bottom of this years ago!  It doesn’t say much for the elite supervillains of the DC Universe either.  Actually, it says a lot… just none of it all that flattering.

While I appreciate moving the story forward… it does feel a bit soon to let Tim into the Batcave.  I mean, Dick only knows what Tim’s told him… nothing more.  For all we know, it could be revealed that Tim’s working for… I dunno, Deathstroke the Terminator?  I mean, that sorta thing already happened once on Dick’s watch, right?  This is like Bruce Wayne letting Vicki Vale into the Batcave during the 1989 Batman movie levels of quick.  I get that Dick wants to always see the best in others… but this behavior is almost dangerously naive.

Especially when he can’t even keep the kid’s name straight…

Over to Batman and Two-Face.  This was less a story, and more a ballet.  The two took part in a mirror-world synchronized dance, and it was wonderful!  Sure, the 2B/CC thing was a bit precious, but overall I really enjoyed it.  It shows how equally driven the pair are… at least at present.  This may be representative of how erratic Bruce is behaving since the death of Jason Todd… the realization may lead to that moment of profundity he’s so desperately needed for the past little while.  Really well done.

Overall, a very strong (and information filled!) middle chapter to A Lonely Place of Dying… and an issue important to Bat-fans and Bat-historians alike.  Well worth your time.

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