When we last left off the Road to Knightfall, Tim Drake’s parents, Jack and Janet Drake had been kidnapped by The Obeah Man, and their plane was reported missing.

Detective Comics #619: Rite of Passage Part 2 – Beyond Belief!

Cover of Detective Comics #619

Written by Alan Grant
Pencils by Norm Breyfogle
Inks by Steve Mitchell
Colors by Adrianne Roy
Lettering by Todd Klein
Edited by Denny O’Neil

Detective Comics #619 is available on the Kindle Store. (#618 was as well, I just forgot to link to it).

The cover of this issue is rather generic – Batman doing detective stuff. Considering the name of the book is “Detective Comics”, this feels like a fill-in cover, something that you could just drop in if for some reason a planned cover wasn’t going to make it in on time.

We open with the Obeah Man sitting cross-legged on some sort of draped throne – the art makes it look like he’s floating. He’s holding a bloody knife with Jeremy, the Drakes’ lawyer slumped over, and both of the Drakes being very upset. Mr. Dreak swears vengeance, while The Obeah Man gloats and makes it clear that they are being held for ransom – and they aren’t doing crap until the ransom is paid.

Outside, The Obeah Man’s followers are mixed in their thoughts, with some of them questioning what they’ve gotten themselves into after the pilot was killed. However there are true believers amongst their number, and it is to one of them who The Obeah Man tosses the ransom tape, to be sent to Gotham.

Speaking of Gotham, Batman is keeping a close eye on the search, and also is making sure Tim is okay – taking Tim food in his room while leaving the costume on. Batman even offers to take the day off. That’s a sentence I never expect to come out of Batman’s mouth. Tim declines, though he also notes that Bruce isn’t taking off the cowl, suspecting that he’s using it to hide his own fear and sorrow.

Batman comforts Tim Drake and offers to take the day off for him.
This second panel has a sentence I never expected Batman to say.
The Baka tears through the house.
Totally not a Demon Bear.

Back in Haiti, the kid from earlier (still unnamed), has a very vividly drawn nightmare about being attacked by The Baka, which he fears his father has locked in that cabinet. The art is very evocative of Bill Sienkiewicz, though not actually being by Sienkiewicz. He awakes with a start, and his father chews him out for it. The definite implication here is that the kid’s dad is working for the Obeah Man, if he isn’t the Obeah Man himself.

In Gotham, we get our obligatory “On Patrol” sequence, as Batman comes across some street punks leaving an arcade, presumably after robbing it, and gunning down the manager after he runs out calling for the police – something that seems like a very bad idea in Gotham. Batman takes the punks out, while brooding the whole time about the fate of those who are around him.

The hostage video in 4 comic panels.
With the rise of HDTV, we don’t see TV displays presented in comics like this anymore.

However, the Bat-signal goes up. Batman arrives to learn that the hostage tape has arrived at Drake Industries. The Obeah Man is not on camera, and he identifies his group as “The Carribean Economic Front” – with a purported socialist terrorist message – though this could just as easily be a Die Hard-esque front. If they don’t get $10 million dollars, the Drakes die – and to prove they are serious, Jeremy’s throat is slit.

Batman is incensed, but he collects himself, and notices an odor around the tape, and asks Gordon if he can take it for examination. Gordon reveals that the policy of Drake Industries, as ordered by both Jack and Janet, is to always report hostages to the police and to always pay the ransom, both things the tape explicitly instructed them not to do.

As The Bat leaves, his internal monologue brings up that he does recognize the herbs – jimsonweed and thornapple. Some googling does find that those are used to treat asthma… as is marijuana in some cases, and considering this book has the Comics Code sticker on it (albeit with some blood), I’m suspecting that herb blend was used instead of Pot to appease the Code.

We cut from that back to Haiti, to The Guy from earlier, who chases his son and the son’s friend from the chained cabinet, and the two talk about The Baka as they go through the streets.

In the Batcave, Tim Drake continues to brood and be snippy. Alfred comforts him and offers to bring him Cocoa. After Tim leaves, Batman emerges from the shadows – he really didn’t want Tim to see the hostage tape, and I don’t blame him. Analyzing the footage and the background, Batman sees a centipede in a gar, which he identified from a book in his reference library as one native to Haiti.

Batman hits the books.
Before the Batsupercomputer, the Bat Reference Library!

Back in Haiti, Jack and Janet, now speaking to each other, bemoan their hostage policy, with Jack trying to bolster their spirits with Gallows humor.

Returning to the Batcave, Tim comes in, sees the freeze-frame of the tape (as Batman had left it on the screen when he went to the reference library), and lashes out at Batman for healing the truth. Batman tells him to let it out, as Tim slams his fist on the display case with Jason Todd’s uniform.

Tim Drake is all business.
I think this is the point where Tim truly steps away from the path of the Boy Detective and commits to the path of the Caped Crusader.

With that, Tim is all business, and Batman brings him up to speed – though sensibly doesn’t show him the tape, and lets him in on his suspicions: Jack and Janet are being held by a voodoo cult in Haiti, and until they get the ransom demands, they can’t act. As Batman leaves on a call about the ransom, Tim thinks about the previous Robins being orphans and wondering if that’s what he’ll have to go through before becoming Robin.

Tim wonders if the cost of becoming Robin will be the death of his parents.
Well, I’ve read enough of later comics to know that at least one parent will survive for a while yet…

Next time – the ransom!

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