Previously on Detective Comics: Covering Issues #1 - #12
Main Story: Batman investigates a string of killings that are connected to the Joker, but he arrives too late at a motel to stop the crazed clown from offing yet another guy. The Joker makes for a getaway, but the sound of a small girl hiding stays Batman’s pursuit until the police arrive. Someone on the force opens fire and Batman runs away to the Batcave. A little bit later Gordon activates the batsignal atop GCPD headquarters, and the two talk about the murders and the Joker. Olivia, the girl who was found earlier, informed the police that she overheard the Joker talk about where he was staying, and Batman rushes off to investigate, but it’s a trap. A bomb goes off, killing several police officers, and Batman spots the Joker slowly walking away. The two get in a tumble on a train before Batman takes him down and brings him to Arkham Asylum, which is exactly where he wanted to be, for the Dollmaker removes his face and the Joker escapes.
Gordon and Harvey Bullock are at Arkham investigating the Joker’s escape when Gordon goes outside to smoke as a pretense for speaking to Batman. Neither has a clue where the Joker is, but Gordon gives the caped crusader some information about Olivia; she was picked up by a man claiming to be her uncle, but he’s really Ray Quimby, a known murderer. Just then a police car radios Quimby’s location and Batman hightails it over, but once again finds it is a trap set for him. The Dollmaker and his “family,” all wearing skin-masks, pound on Batman and bring out a man that looks like the commissioner, but in fact is just a fake. He gets injected with something, and starts to feel paralyzed, but eventually breaks out of the place with one of the living dolls as company.
Meanwhile Gordon is in a cell at an abandoned hospital with his side cut up, as though someone removed a kidney from him. Olivia is there, and says she wants to help Gordon, so he gives her a note to take to Batman; she later sneaks into the police building so she can light up the batsignal. After he talks to her, Batman leaves her in the care of a police officer, but the man is really a killer and tries to take the girl out; however, she ends up slicing him to itty, little bits. Back at the hospital, Batman walks into the trap knowingly but is still taken easily. He’s presented as a demonstration to willing buyers who want to stuff and mount The Bat after the Dollermaker is done with him. During the demonstration, a messenger arrives to relay a plea to have Batman sold for an excessive amount of money. When the Dollmaker’s goons get ready to “prepare” Batman for transport, the Dark Knight breaks loose and takes out the thugs and the messenger with ease. Meanwhile, Olivia kills the man who was sent to kill Gordon, and makes as though she’s going to kill Gordon, but finally falls apart from the traumatic events that have occurred around her. Batman tries to catch the Dollmaker, but he gets away by faking a car explosion.
A few days later, GCPD headquarters is being picketed by dozens of people who want to see the Joker’s face. Not far away, a Russian “made man” is taken out by someone wearing a clown mask and makes their escape through the crowd of Joker fanatics. Batman pursues but all he finds is a poker chip from the new Iceberg Casino, the Penguin’s gambling establishment. Charlotte Rivers, Bruce’s current flavor of woman, dresses as a maid on the Iceberg to investigate for her reporting job, but runs into her identical sister, Chase (real name Jill). Meanwhile, Batman interrogates one of Penguin’s guys to find out more information and comes up with the name Jill, leading him to the Iceberg in a quick fashion. Back at the casino, the Penguin is hosting a meeting of the lesser-known criminal element, telling them he’ll protect their funds for a small fee. Charlotte is about to bust open the operation when Snakeskin, Jill’s partner, stabs her because she was getting too close. Batman enters the scene, sees Charlotte bleeding out, and starts to pound on Snakeskin with a vengeance, but the face-changing criminal gets away.
Jill voices her displeasure concerning her sister but seems to cast it aside for the sake of her plan. Snakeskin tries to shoot the Penguin (as part of Jill’s plan), but the gun doesn’t work, leaving him high and dry (also part of Jill’s plan). Meanwhile, Jill starts to rob the Penguin’s vault, but is stopped by both the Penguin and Batman. Jill goes to jail and wants her father (the mayor) to get her out, but Snakeskin appears in the interrogation room with a rather large knife to ensure she stays in jail.
A few days later, the Scarecrow requires Batman’s assistance or else a child will be hurt. Batman tracks Catwoman to a robbery, but she’s failing due to inhaling Scarecrow’s fear toxin by mistake. A bit groggily, she tells Batman that a man name Digger Jones hired her; Batman tracks him back to a dog-fighting ring. While interrogating Jones, Batman spots Scarecrow and forces the location of the hostage out of him; Batman moves in to find the son of Hugo Strange in a warehouse full of illicit drugs and takes him down, “saving him.” Later own, during the Night of Owls event, the Talons break into Arkham to kill Dr. Arkham. As a way of saving himself, Arkham releases all of the inmates and watch as they battle the Talons, but he is still almost killed until Batman arrives to save him (as well as stopping the Talons and the inmates).
Later on an armored car is robbed by men dressed up as Batman, each carrying heavy weapons. Bruce visits Charlotte in the hospital, but she doesn’t want to be around anyone and tells him she’s moving to Paris. Despite his reaction to her feelings, Bruce sneaks away to deal with the faux Batmen and ends up nearly getting blown up. Evidence points Batman to Hugh Marder’s company, and Batman finds him being tortured by Mr. Toxic. After battling Mr. Toxic, batman discovers that it is really a second Hugh Marder inside the suit. Equipment explodes, both Marders die, and in comes Lucius Fox, but Batman makes his escape out the window. Bruce investigates Marder’s actions in his Wayne Tower lab but is called away by a telephone call about Marder; Bruce visits Dunhill Labs to find out more and talks to a former employee pretending to be a homeless man. Meanwhile at the morgue, Marder is revived by another Mr. Toxic, and Batman takes a blood sample of the aftermath, but the blood starts to mutate and attack him, though he is able to fend it off. Meanwhile, Dunhill is attacked by Mr. Toxic, who turns out to actually be a copy of the original Hugh Marder, but Batman arrives to stop the Marder “twins” just in time.
First Side Story: Eli Strange plays a mean hand at poker with a bunch of Russian mob guys but is nearly killed when they want their money back at the end of the night. A moment later, Catwoman enters the room and takes out all of the Russians, showing them who the real talent in Gotham is, and tells Eli to run along home.
Second Side Story: Two-Face meets with a representative of the state prosecutor, who wants to drop all charges and reinstate Harvey as district attorney. Two-Face is suspiciously of the situation and decides to meet with the man himself, finding out that the prosecutor is being blackmailed; he wants Two-Face to make the blackmail go away without any fuse or press. Two-Face decides to investigate it a bit more but is then “selected” by a group of unknowns while trying to interrogate one of his contacts. The “Leader” of the group interrogates Dent in turn but decides to spare his life because there’s still some good in him. He leaves and heads out to settle scores and is almost taken out but survives a gun battle and takes out his own targets before taking out the “Leader” to show he knows he was set up.
Third Side Story: Bullock ribs a rookie cop taking watch in the Evidence Room about the Joker’s face sitting in the room’s vault, giving her some scary stories about the Joker’s escapades. After he leaves, the rookie starts hearing voices coming from the rotting piece of flesh but sees an audio-tape on the back and confronts Bullock about it. Elsewhere, the actual Joker makes an appearance, giving some clues as to his return in Batman #13.
Side Stories: The main thing that always drew me to the original Detective Comics title were the side stories that were told in addition to the main one, and I’m pleased that it has continued (although not right away). It allows for another story to be told in addition to the main one, showing different and sometimes very minor characters and how they relate to the world of Gotham City, with various encounters of its more notable personages such as Batman. They also provide vital, if somewhat condensed, clues about later events that might crop up in the Batman titles.
The Joker’s Face: While the Joker’s always been pretty psychotic and unpredictable, I’m not a fan of his having his face cut off. It does allow him to escape from Arkham, without being noticed due to his telltale white skin and green lips, but it’s still a bit deranged for me. It also seems to be a bit of a major departure for what he’d do to himself.
New Storyline: The end of Issue #12 wrapped things up nicely, so there are no open-ended questions to bring about. So, what will Batman do next, and who will it be with?