Detective Comics #618: Comics Recap

I’m starting a new project now, which I’m calling “Batman: Knightfall Saga” – this will be taking the place of Legends of the Force for a bit, so I can take a break and cover something else – so I don’t burn out. I’m starting this off with the path to the Knightfall saga, focusing on three different characters and concepts. First off, we’re getting into the origins of the third Robin, Tim Drake.

I’m operating off of a couple suggested reading orders – one from Comic Book Herald, and one from this post at RPGnet. Now, without further ado.

I’m also coming in on this somewhat cold – I’ve read adaptations of these series before, but I haven’t read that much of the Batman comics leading into this event, so there are some bits of backstory that I’m going to do some internet research on going into this event.

Detective Comics #618: Shadow on the Sun

Cover of Detective Comics #618, showing the Obeah Man looming over the Drake's wrecked plane,  and Batman and Alfred comforting Tim Drake.

Written by Alan Grant
Pencils by Norm Breyfogle
Inks by Dick Giordano
Letters by Todd Klein.
Colors by Adrienne Roy
Edited by Denny O’Neil

The cover for this issue basically lays out the entirety of the issue’s plot – the Drakes’ plane wrecked among some trees, with mysterious figures on the hill behind it with torches, with Batman and Alfred comforting Tim Drake, having seen the news below that, and above it all is a mysterious figure in a top hat, holding a cane with a skull on top, with a variety of Voodoo related symbols behind it.

Some quick background on Tim Drake. Rather than being an orphan who was adopted by Bruce Wayne, Tim Drake has parents and a family that moves in the same social circles as Bruce does. Also, Drake is, stylistically, set up at the get-go to be a very different future Robin than Dick Grayson and Jason Todd. Grayson was an acrobat and was defined by a flamboyant personality and fighting style. Jason Todd was a street kid, and by all accounts, his run had him as more of a rough-and-tumble bruiser.

Tim Drake, from the very beginning, is neither of those things – he’s the Boy Detective. He fell in with Batman because he figured out the identities of both Batman and Robin I. Had he not become Robin, he easily could have ended up following in the footsteps of the Hardy Boys, or Edogawa Rampo’s Boy Detectives Club.

Page 1 of Detective Comics 618, featuring Jason todd's costume on display.

We open on the display case with Jason Todd’s costume, to reminds us at the kick-off of the last Robin’s fate, killed by phone poll The Joker. Our narration comes from Tim Drake, who in the future will be the third to take up the mantle of Robin, and whose involvement with Batman is equally different. Drake hopes to someday be just as good as Jason Todd.

Tim Drake fantasizing about being Robin.
Well, you’ll last longer than Jason Todd at least.

However, Drake’s fantasies about becoming Robin have to wait, as he’s been providing computer back for Batman as they investigate some computer bank fraud.

We then cut to what we learn a later is Haiti, where we follow a black person who practices voodoo (I don’t think he’s meant to be a priest though), praying in front of a cabinet that is chained and padlocked shut. His son is filming this, and the man (he and his son are still unnamed) snaps, takes the camera away and has an asthma fit which he treats by smoking something. He then leaves for work, revealing that we are in the tropics (the Haiti reveal doesn’t come until later).

Back in Gotham, Tim has mail, including a postcard from his parents saying that they are going to be traveling through the Carribean next – uh-oh.

Speaking of Jack and Janet Drake, we cut to them on the plane, and they’re not really on speaking terms. As in, they’re speaking to each other through their personal secretary, Jeremy, who isn’t actually passing that information along. Does anyone actually… do this? Meanwhile, the pilot’s response can be summarized as follows:

Hikaru from Ouran High School Host Club saying "These damn rich people."

However, the pilot’s exasperation is interrupted by a radio call from a person informing him that he is The Obeah Man. He knows the pilot believes in Voodoo, and he will cause him a great deal of harm with a voodoo doll if he does not land at the indicated location. The pilot complies and, considering that this is the DCU, it’s entirely possible that The Obeah Man can cause real harm at a distance.

Our first look at the Obeah Man.

At the landing strip, there is a reception party carrying torches waiting for them, as the pilot stammers to his charges that the Obeah Man told him to do this.

Back in Gotham, a security guard at the First Gotham Back gets shook down by Willy the Hat, a drug dealer. The guard had apparently been pinching stuff from the safe-deposit boxes and made the mistake of pinching some bling that belonged to Willy and sold it to a fence who Willy deals with. This leads to our requisite action sequence of this issue, as this has no clues for either case.

Willy the Hat confronting the guard.
At first glance, I thought Willy The Hat was a pimp.

Back in Haiti, the Obeah Man’s men shove the Drakes’ plane down a wooded slope to fake a crash – something I’m pretty sure won’t fool the Black Box. As for the pilot, one of the Obeah Man’s guards kills him, before leading their prisoners to a shack in the woods.

At the Batcave, Batman returns from patrol while Tim has been data mining. However, this is interrupted by a nightly news report saying that Jack and Janet’s plane has gone missing. Tim fears the worst, and Batman can’t find the words to comfort him, and Alfred suggests Batman leave him alone for a moment.

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