The past several comics have had us running at an olympic pace. Each issue has been crammed with informationandactionandlocationsandpeopleand…..This issue finally slows down a bit. Instead of having lots of things to process, it focuses on Batman and his old escape artist master, Thaddeus Brown.

But first off let us start with the covers. The A cover is beautifully drawn representation of what is to come with this issue. Many different elements foreshadow the story ahead. The B cover may be a solid graphic cover, but has nothing to do with this issue. Unless there is something that lies ahead that ties it into the story arc, it really makes no sense.

Back to the Bat and friend. Batman and Thaddeus find themselves waking up, only to discover they are expertly bound (minus one utility belt). I really love the back and forth between Batman and Thaddeus. It is not something you get a lot of with Batman. It is the type of back and forth you get only when you have two masters facing certain death together.

The two masters find themselves perfectly bound with straps near impossible to escape from, surrounded by sharks ready to engorge themselves. I love how this issue stays primarily in the mind of Batman as he rattles off every step his mentor ever taught him. He sums up his bonds, their location as well as material, and the sharks that encircle them. Meanwhile the oxygen clock is ticking.

Holy Bat-tricks Batman!! The old 60’s television series is often laughed at because of all the different “bat-contraptions” Batman and Robin always managed to have concealed in their belts. It was always the single most useless item in the world that just happened to be the one key they needed for the situation they were in for the show.

A shooting earpiece? Seriously? I knew we were coming up on a new decade, but I wasn’t aware it was 2060. Never have I seen Batman use a cowl with shooting earpieces before. Thankfully at no point in this issue does Batman ever have to “jump” the shark. Then again it does bring new meaning to this pic:

Anyway, the “shooting ear” hits a charging shark right in the eye, buying them more time from being devoured. Thanks to some fancy strap maneuvers, Batman and Thaddeus stall the sharks. Almost there right? Yeah well, we forgot to mention the piranhas. Thanks to Batman expertly dropping a piece of shark meat in the foot straps, the piranhas free his legs. Thaddeus manages to chew the arm strap and VIOLA! Batman is free! While no sharks were jumped in the reading of this comic, let’s just sat it’s pretty damn close. Shark Repellent Bat-spray anyone?

Sharks & Piranhas & Demons – Oh MY!

Batman grabs an unconscious Thaddeus and swims hard for the surface. They both hit land and gasp for air. They made it right? Of course not, for their standing over them is a demon creature in a Bat-suit with the missing utility belt.

A fight ensues of course. The demon tries to use Bruce’s dead parents against him. When that doesn’t work he uses the man who shot them and then Batman’s family. Of course doing this to Batman will only ever accomplish one thing – pissing him off. I love the line “For a lab created freak…you talk too much!” Batman smashes the ‘freak’ into the piranha pool to be devoured. One wonders though how much foreshadowing is in the creature’s final line “Remember the cowl eats its own.” Not too promising.

The Bat-clusion

Batman and Thaddeus share some compliments and then their goodbyes. Mr Miracle offers to help, but Batman says this is a solo job. The final page is an awesome picture of The Batman crashing into Dr Strange’s laboratory
(Hugo not Steven), oddly with Strange wearing a Bat-suit. Someone’s gonna get bloodied!

I did like the slow down of this issue. It really let us into the mind of Batman when his detective instincts have to kick in and he has to solve his way out of a trap. The gimmicks got a bit – well – gimmicky, but not too overboard. Only two more bat-issues before we hit the bat-tastic issue #1000!