Most of last week's Batman and Superman stories gave readers a break from the crossover events spinning through both character's titles.

So, although fans are on the figurative edge of their seats in anticipation of the "Death of the Family" and "H'El on Earth" finales, Batwing #17, Detective Comics #17 and Young Romance #1 gave insights on other activities in the lives of the Bat- and Super-family.

Batwing #17


We pick up David's story as he's experiencing the fall-out of arresting Marksbury's son. He's over the Tinasha skies in his Batwing costume, and he's being attacked by a mercenary named Sky-Pirate, who has some nasty wings and armor of his own. Batwing goes down, dumping his wings in the process, but Matu helps him find an escape.

Sky-Pirate scoops up David's wings and brings them back to Marksbury, and his lackeys search for something identifiable in the tech. No luck. But Sky Pirate promises he'll get Batwing by using the "Flying Dutchman." And it's going to be expensive.

Marksbury's not taking chances, so he also enlists the help of Dawn, who is actually David's old friend Rachel. He hires her to break his son out of jail, where he's awaiting trial. She's going to get him out of the Congo to a place where he can't be extradited.

Back at the "Haven," David's getting patched up and discussing with Matu how the bad mo-fo that just shot him down will probably keep coming for him. The next day, David's at work, stuck on desk duty because he broke with the police department's paid loyalty to Marksbury.

But when there's a break-in at the jail, the boss calls him to the scene of the crime. Why? So a couple cops can take him out, apparently. Batwing is, of course, too good for that crap, so he avoids the cops and also starts chasing down the person who has broken in to free the Marksbury son.

Meanwhile, Sky-Pirate's lackeys find a way to track who bought some of the tech in the wings. It's Matu. And he sends the Flying Dutchman to his house. Just as Matu races to the roof to get better reception on his headset, he sees this "Dutchman" thing and wow, it's a huge ship.

Back at the jail, David catches up with Dawn, and she rips off her mask and shows him that she's actually Rachel. Then she fires two shots. Kapow! Kapow!

Detective Comics #17


A former Arkham psychiatrist named Dr. Byron Meredith, who had some brutal ways of treating mental disorders, has ended up dead and burned to the point that only dental records identified him. Batman finds out that the villains responsible for his death are the Joker-imitating "League of Smiles," and their leader, The Merrymaker.

Batman goes to Meredith's office, where the doctor treated people who obsessed over the Joker. Unfortunately, Batman runs into one of his angry patients — a big guy in a pink dress — who is hopped up on some type of enhanced steroids. It turns out that the patient is going through withdrawal now that the doc is dead, and he starts taking it out on Batman.

Of course, some drug-crazed, dress-wearing brute is no match for Batman, and he takes him out. He searches through Meredith's hard drive and discovers details about the three lowly members of the League of Smiles: a sado-masochist dentist, an aichmomaniac, and a psychopathic clown.

Batman hears on the police scanner that there's been another attack from Joker-imitators, but when he checks out the bodies at the morgue, he ends up telling Gordon that these are not the work of the League of Smiles. Instead, they're from a mob hit made to look like it's related to the Joker.

But as he's in the morgue, Batman notices the teeth on Dr. Meredith's corpse. It was the clue he needed, and he breaks up the next attack by the "League." It turns out the Merryman is actually Dr. Meredith, and he had fooled three of his mental patients into helping him kill his ex-wife and her lawyer. The dental records were replaced by the League-member dentist.

Meanwhile, at the Iceberg Casino, Ogilvy doesn't care that Batman and Gordon have figured out that the mob hit wasn't Joker related. All that matters, he says, is that people on the street think it is, and now his enemies are eliminated. He says it's time for the "Empire of Emperor Penguin."

In the back-up story, Meredith is telling a psychiatrist about his whole scheme, making it clear that he's not insane, but just evil. He wants to avoid being send to Arkham. But it turns out the psychiatrist is a Joker obsessor too, and he commits Meredith to the asylum as orderlies come and drag him away.

Young Romance #1


This special Valentine's Day issue is an anthology of stories set in New 52 continuity, including a few Batman- and Superman-related stories.

First off, in "Think It Through," Catwoman notices it's Valentine's Day and begins reminiscing about the first time she met Batman, on Valentine's Day "long ago." Catwoman was in the middle of a heist, stealing from the people who run a housing project for the underprivileged. Batman stops the theft, but he's impressed with the way she fights. And he apparently hopes she'll turn to the side of good. Stopping short of asking her to be hero, he merely tells her, "When you steal, think it through. I want you to think about who you steal from and why," implying that when she shouldn't takes thing from good, poor people. He admits he's hoping she'll come to "his side," and to "him."

On this Valentine's Day, she's regretting the fact that she doesn't think things through enough. "No wonder I never see him around anymore," she says.

Then in "Dreamer," we get to read about Batgirl's street-level snitch Ricky, who has been harboring a crush on the heroine ever since she had to kiss him to keep from blowing his cover (in Batgirl Annual #1). It was, he says, "the best kiss of his life." And he wants another one. "Oh, what the hell," she says, then kisses him. After all, it's Valentine's Day. He of course wants more, but Batgirl doesn't have time. He asks her to try to find him sometime out of her costume. "Dream on, Ricky!" she says.

In "Another Saturday Night," we find out that Nightwing has been dating a girl named Jen (with whom he's on the phone as he patrols Gotham). Well, dating is probably the wrong term, since he's canceling yet another date with her. She ends up dumping him right when he's fighting some bad dudes.

A girl who is also fighting those bad dudes overhears Nightwing's conversation as he's getting dumped. After the thugs are dispensed with, they meet and it turns out she's a hired bodyguard who goes by the name "Ursa." The two end up hanging out and tumbling across the rooftops, and Nightwing is clearly smitten. He asks for another date the next night, and Ursa says OK. But when Nightwing comes to the rooftop again the next night — with a pizza ready to share — Ursa is a no show. Dumped twice in two days. Poor Dick.

Then last but not least, in "Truth or Dare," Clark and Diana are out on a date. They're at a secluded restaurant in Tuscany, thanks to the recommendation of her brother Eros. After the two bond over the joy of being honest with one another — and not have to hide their secret identities — Diana is attacked by her brother Eros, who is under the spell of the daughters of Achelous... better known as The Sirens. It turns out the Sirens were the two girls who provided the restaurant's music, and they use their powers on Clark.

Diana spins into her Wonder Woman costume and breaks Eros out of the spell with her lasso. But she's got bigger problems: Clark has put on his Superman suit and is blasting her with his heat vision. She ties him up in the lasso and he's able to resist hurting her. Eros takes down the Sirens and Clark apologizes. But Eros didn't like seeing Superman hurt his sister, so he shoots him with the pistols of Hephaestus and says that, in order to keep Superman from hurting his sister again, he is not cursed to never love anyone else but Wonder Woman. Yikes! No future with Lois? Clark goes down, Diana is distraught, but of course, bullets don't hurt Superman.

Silly Eros. Clark caught the bullet in his hand. Love endures.

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