Saturday, November 22, 2008

Batman: War Games: TPB #3, The Final Act.

Overall- So this was it, this was the end of the epic Batman:War Games crossover. This TPB contained the final 8 issues involved with the climax and end of the crossover. Before I start to editorialize on this TPB, as well as the entire 25 issues involved in this story, I'll give a quick rundown of what happened in this TPB, Act 3.

We open with Batman, and his allies commanding the Gotham Police Department to surround an outdoor amphitheater where Batman has had "Orpheus", who is actually the Black Mask, bring all the criminals in Gotham City. The criminals arrive by the hundreds, and "Orpheus" follows the words Batman scripted for him to the letter. The plan is for the criminals to unite under "Orpheus", after which, Batman and the G.P.D. would rush in and capture practically every criminal in Gotham.

Unfortunately for Batman, "Orpheus" stops following Batman's plans, and begins ranting and raving at the criminals. As Batman surveys the area from above, he notices Dr. Death hiding off to the side of the theater. While Batman tries to figure out what the hell is going on, Dr. Death begins to pump deadly gas into the crowd of criminals. Batman rushes Dr. Death, and stops the gas, but by this point, the criminals and a mix of scared, angry and confused. Some criminals rush for the exits, while others run over to attack Batman en mass. The entire time, "Orpheus" stands on the stage screaming to the criminals to kill Batman.

The cops, who were waiting for a signal from Batman to storm the theater are taken by surprise by the fleeing crooks, and take heavy casualties trying to unsuccessfully stop the criminals. Oracle calls all hands into the theater to assist Batman who is still trying to fight off dozens of criminals. Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl, and Onyx abandon the overwhelmed cops and rush to Batman's side, helping to clear out the bad guys who were attacking him. Batman jumps up to the stage and punches "Orpheus", destroying his face, and revealing to Batman that "Orpheus" was actually the Black Mask. Momentarily shocked to see a foe he thought had perished long ago, Batman is taken by surprise by the Scarecrow, who decides to help Black Mask make an escape.

Batman and his crew manage to subdue the criminals in the theater, but several hundred bad guys wind up getting passed the police and start to run amok throughout the city. Police Commissioner Akins, fed up with Batman and his actions, orders his men to shoot to kill any masked criminals on sight, including Batman and his allies. While Batman and his crew try to regain the streets, Black Mask returns to his base to change his clothes, and check on his captive, Spoiler.

Discovering Spoiler escaped, Black Mask follows the trail of her blood to the basement, where Spoiler winds up jumping him, beating him and eventually holding him at gunpoint. Black Mask implores Spoiler to shoot him, taunting her by stating that she didn't have the guts to shoot him. Spoiler can't bring herself to shoot Black Mask, and Black Mask winds up turning the tables on Spoiler, knocking her down, and holding her at gunpoint. Black Mask doesn't hesitate, and shoots Spoiler in the shoulder/chest area. He then kicks her down a flight of stairs for good measure.

Back out on the streets, chaos ensues, with criminals running wild, and the police just indiscriminately shooting at both bad guys and Batman and his allies. While battling Firefly, Nightwing winds up getting shot through the leg by the cops, and loses a ton of blood before he manages to get away and eventually is rescued by Alfred. Batman finds Spoiler bleeding profusely staggering around a rooftop, and brings her to Dr. Thompkins to attempt to help save her.

The criminals receive a summons to meet at the Gotham Clock Tower, which is Oracle's base of operations. We discover that Black Mask was told by Hush that the Clock Tower was Batman's base of operations, the Batcave. After commandeering a camera crew, Black Mask leads the villains into the Clock Tower, brazenly filming the whole thing. Oracle repeatedly asks Batman for help, but Batman, busy with his own troubles, disregards Oracle's pleas, not realizing her headquarters was being stormed.

The police arrive at the scene, and surround the building, while Black Mask, Scarecrow, and a small army of goons run through the Clock Tower, looking for Batman's secrets. Black Mask winds up betraying Scarecrow by throwing him into an array of laser beams, which was Oracle's last line of defense. Black Mask winds up discovering Oracle at her position at the control center of the Clock Tower. Black Mask holds Oracle at gun point on live television, demanding Batman shows up, or he'd kill Oracle.

Batman, Robin, Catwoman, Batgirl, Onyx and Tarantula arrive at the Clock Tower, and Batman tells his five allies to stay back and avoid the police unless absolutely necessary, since the cops have already shown they were more then willing to shoot at the Batman and allies as well as the crooks. Batman storms the Clock Tower himself, and attacks Black Mask.

While this was occurring, Scarecrow mutates into some kind of monster, and storms outside, attacking the cops. Robin asks the cops to hold their fire, stating if they do, him and his allies would beat Scarecrow, and then willingly surrender to the cops. The commanding officer agrees to these terms, and the 5 Bat allies make quick work of Scarecrow.

Meanwhile, inside the Clock Tower, Oracle realizes that Batman seems resigned to fighting Black Mask to the death, and she initiates a destruct mechanism in the Tower, hoping that this will snap Batman out of his willingness to die in order to stop Black Mask. As the Tower begins to fall, Oracle begs Batman to save her, since being a paraplegic, she has no way to escape the impending collapse of the Tower. Batman reluctantly saves Oracle, leaving Black Mask behind as the Tower is destroyed utterly. The cops try to arrest Batman and his allies, but Batman manages to convince them to search the rubble for survivors instead.

As this is going on, Dr. Thompkins contacts Batman on his communicator, telling him to hurry to her clinic. Upon arriving, Dr. Thompkins informs Batman that Spoiler was going to die shortly from her injuries, and was asking to see Batman. Batman reassures Spoiler, telling her that she wasn't responsible for the gang warfare that broke out. Spoiler asks if Batman ever truly considered her a Robin, and Batman affirms that she was indeed a Robin, and no matter what happened, she always would be one. Soon there after, Spoiler dies from her injuries as Batman sits helplessly at her bedside. The comic ends with Black Mask being revealed as not only alive, but taking full control over all the remaining crime families in Gotham City, thereby becoming Gotham's undisputed King of Crime.

This TPB was nearly perfect in every way. There were a few logic gaps, such as Spoiler deciding to not escape from Black Mask's base when she had the chance, to the criminals repeatedly listening to anonymous messages telling them to meet in various places. Shouldn't they have learned NOT to keep meeting in the same place by this point? Oracle coming out of this crossover with her ties to Batman still unrevealed was also a pretty big leap of faith.

Now, I am man enough to admit that while I read Spoiler's dramatic death scene my eyes got a little teary. Her death was ####ing sad! If Spoiler didn't wind up coming back from the dead, I would take this time to rip DC apart for the absolutely horrible way Spoiler was made to look in this crossover. Not only was she shown as inept, even though she had been crime fighting with Robin and Batman for quite sometime, Black Mask was pretty misogynistic in dealing with her, beating her up, torturing her, as well as calling her such names as "Stupid Bimbo!". Hell, as a man, I thought Spoiler's treatment sucked in this crossover, and I can only imagine the outrage female fans must have felt after reading the entire story.

Besides Spoiler's mistreatment by the writer's/editor's of this crossover, I loved everything else about it. Even the parts with whiny Nightwing were tolerable... for the most part. He still really managed to get on my nerves, as did the fact that Tarantula, the rapist and murderer was permitted to have such a large role in this crossover. With these exceptions noted, I'd give this TPB a 9 out of 10, and for the whole War Games series(that would be all 25 issues) I would give it a 9 1/2 out of 10. If you can pick up the 3 War Games TPB for a cheap price somewhere, I would wholeheartedly recommend it. The story was compelling from Act 1, all the way through to Act 3. If I didn't make myself abundantly clear, READ THIS CROSSOVER. That should clear up any misconceptions I'd think :-) .

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