Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Comic Book Review: Detective Comics #864

David Hine and Jeremy Haun are taking over Detective Comics for a couple of months, finishing up their work on the Arkham Asylum plot now that the Black Mask has revealed to be Jeremiah Arkham. The first part of this two issue arc, gives us great insight into the mind of Jeremiah Arkham, revealing how dangerous he can really be. Spoilers now:

The issue is told from the viewpoint of Jeremiah Arkham, as he attempts to explain his deranged actions as The Black Mask. He takes us back to the time when Hugo Strange was impersonating Batman, and the conversation that followed after he was taken to Arkham Asylum. Jeremiah talks about the confidence he had as a doctor, how he was in control of the asylum, as well as his destiny. But now, he's in an orange jumpsuit as well, wandering around the cafeteria of the asylum, seemingly with no control over anything anymore.

As he looks for a seat in his own cafeteria, he runs across a former patient named The Mortician, whose name stems from the fact that he would try to preserve him victims, making zombie like corpses. The Mortician himself looks like a zombie come to life, and he begins to tell Jeremiah about how the food always includes a certain bodily fluid provided by the inmates. Jeremiah does not take this info well, and we begin to see his insanity as he asks for The Mortician to swap trays. In very vivid detail, he describes how he will torture The Morticians grandson, his only remaining family, if the trays are not swapped. The Mortician nervously complies, as Jeremiah, who is fully aware of his actions, acknowledges his schizophrenia.

In front of the Gotham City Precinct, a man with a gun is holding a hostage, demanding Batman. Batman soon swings in, releasing the hostage, and roughing up the man with the gun. The man's name is Conrad LeBlanc, a corporate financier, and we find out his motives for the hostage situation. Before the Black Mask was arrested, LeBlanc has a bomb surgically implanted in his chest. The bomb has no timer, and can only be disarmed by a code known by The Black Mask. Of course like any good villain, The Black Mask is willing to give up the code, but only if LeBlanc uses his unique position to move money around into some accounts owned by him. LeBlanc realized he was running out of time, as the transactions he set in motion will go into effect in two days. Batman is of course willing to help, but not before LeBlanc reverses the transactions.

Back in the Arkham cafeteria, Batman, a security guard, and a freshly released Alyce Synner, are watching Jeremiah from above, as Jeremiah has quickly gained control of the asylum, with all the inmates surrounding him. Batman believes that Arkham is too dangerous to mingle with the other patients, saying that he should be put into solitary, with the other high-risk inmates. The security expresses disbelief that Jeremiah and Black Mask are one in the same, but Alyce notes that Jeremiah is a true schizophrenic, not carrying on any memories from one personality, to the other. Of course, we all know that Alyce is not so innocent herself, having been a pawn of The Black Mask during the takeover of Arkham.

After apologizing to Alyce, for the misleading intel that caused her incarceration, Batman then asks her for help in retrieving info from The Black Mask, to which Alyce agrees. So Batman gets a one on one with Jeremiah, where he begins to ask for the code to disarm the bomb. Jeremiah tells Batman he can't help, but in narration, he reveals that he's aware of his actions as both personalities. Batman tries to bait Arkham into getting angry, but Arkham of course is a psychologist, so he uses his carefully chosen answers and questions to get Batman to take him to the chamber of the Three Beauties.

Batman, Aaron Cash the security guard, and Jeremiah, are headed to the chamber of The Three Beauties, where Cash asks if this is a good idea. But Batman send Jeremiah is first, saying that Jeremiah has ten minutes to prepare the Beauties to answer questions. As Jeremiah walks in the chamber, he replies that Batman will regret this idea.

Inside the chamber, Jeremiah sees the Beauties and the mysterious Jester. The Beauties won't look or respond to Arkham, and the Jester reveals that The Beauties are disappointed in Arkham, but he soon gets the Beauties to quickly forgive the repentant Jeremiah. Jeremiah walks towards them, and he is quickly terrified and filled with rage, as he sees that his Beauties all have the face of him. Jeremiah grabs a knife, and stabs all his Beauties in the face, while The Jester watches, smiling in the corner. Jeremiah repeatedly yells that he will not the mocked, as Batman walks into the room. With the bloody mess at his feet, Jeremiah turns his anger at the Caped Crusader, asking why Batman did not stop the murders.

In great cliffhanger fashion, this is where the story ends, to be continued next month. This was such an intriguing penultimate chapter, to the very interesting Arkham Asylum saga, by the very talented Hine and Haun. Now in a recent interview, Hine say that in this two-part finale, we will found out who's beens pulling Arkham strings since the get-go. At this point, I'm leaning towards Alyce, since she's been involved with Black Mask for a while. But of course, we have no idea who this Jester character may be, but it almost alludes to the Joker being involved somehow. Whoever the puppet master is, it will be a great reveal in the final chapter next month.

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