Batman Wiki
Batman Wiki

Detective #661 features the debut of Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan's modern reinvention of Firefly


"City on Fire"[]

While the Joker and Scarecrow terrorize Mayor Armand Krol into making various irresponsible phone calls, Batman and Robin are on the trail of the pyromaniac costumed villain Firefly, the Ventriloquist is on the trail of Scarface, and the Riddler plans his next caper. The Joker and the Scarecrow have Mayor Krol manacled to a wall in their hideout, forcing him to call the governor of the state and refuse assistance by the National Guard as Gotham City descends into chaos due to the rampaging Arkham Asylum inmates. They then also force Krol to contact the Gotham newspapers and blame Police Commissioner Gordon for the slow response to the Arkham breakout. Since much of Gotham City is going up in flames due to Firefly's arsons, the Joker decides to order the mayor to contact the Firefighters Union about cutting the rolls. Krol refuses, since he understands this will result in a Firefighters' strike. However, when the Scarecrow threatens to gas him with his fear toxin, and mayor reluctantly complies with Joker's insane demand.

Meanwhile, at the Elmo's Pier amusement park, Firefly stands atop the tracks of the roller coaster and sets fire to everything around him. Soon the Midway, Ferris Wheel, and Funhouse are consumed by flames. Caught up in his pyromania, the maddened Firefly praises his blaze and bids the fires to dance as the entire pier begins to burn down. Batman and Robin arrived in the Batmobile, and Batman explains about Firefly, Garfield Lynns. Since Lynns had been locked up for so many years to rot in Arkham Asylum, Batman had almost forgotten about their last encounter. Robin is skeptical that Firefly would still be in the blaze, but Batman is convinced that pyromaniac Lynns gets a thrill of watching it burn and will not be able to tear himself away from the flames. Batman leaves the Batmobile to take on Firefly alone, knowing that the overwhelmed Fire Department will be unable to arrived in time, if at all. Robin wishes to join him, but Batman refuses firmly, since the Boy Wonder had barely escaped harm at the hands of Bane and Killer Croc a short while earlier.

Leaping onto the roller coaster tracks, Batman confronts Firefly. The villain welcomes him to his inferno, and Batman urges him to surrender, since the Dark Knight is blocking the only possible rote to the ground. Firefly recalls their first encounter and promises Batman will not apprehend him as easily as before. He then fires his flamethrower at Batman, which the hero blocks with his flame-retardant cape. Firefly escapes his own fire on a set of gliding wings built into his costume, and Batman is almost trapped by the blaze. Fortunately, Robin throws Batman a line, and he escapes in time to save himself. Robin observes that his mentor is pushing himself to the limits, but Batman insists he does not need assistance. Tim wants Batman to allow the police to apprehend some of the inmates, but he still knows there are many villains only Batman understands. Robin finally convinces his partner that they will accomplish more working as a team, so Batman leaves him behind at Elmo's pier to try and follow Firefly's trail.

Across Gotham City, the Ventriloquist interrogates a lawyer on the whereabouts of his dummy, Scarface. He converses with the man through a hand-sock known as 'Socko' and a duck puppet known as 'Duckman'. Duckman represents Scarface's violent personality, although somewhat more restrained. Socko, on the other hand, represents the meeker personality of the Ventriloquist. After binding the lawyer hand and foot and tying him to a chair in his bedroom, the Ventriloquist uses his two puppets to continue trying to pry information out of the frightened man. The lawyer explains his reluctance is due to the fact that he will be considered an accomplice for helping the Ventriloquist. In response, Socko converses with him in a calm manner, while Duckman brandishes an automatic pistol. Duckman voices he wants to murder the lawyer, while Socko acts more reasonable, ordering the captive to tell them where Scarface is so they can leave and not bother him any more. Finally, the lawyer gives in, and voices his opinion that Scarface is probably in storage at the evidence room of the precinct where the Ventriloquist was last arrested. He then also reveals that a policeman and legitimate paperwork with signed documents are required to gain entry to the evidence room. The Ventriloquist uses Socko to convince the lawyer to get them the paperwork needed, but the prisoner observes that the villain still needs a police officer to go with the documents. In response, the Ventriloquist produces a puppet resembling Gotham's police chief Clancy O'Hara, claiming that "Chief O'Hara" will allow them to gain access to the evidence room.

At Wayne Manor, Batman returns home, and is informed by Alfred Pennyworth that there were several missed calls from Dr. Sondra Kinsolving while he was out. Alfred notes Bruce's exhausted and battered condition, after he removes his costume, but Wayne claims that a hot breakfast and a shower is all he needs before going out as Batman again. Next door, Tim Drake is looking up old facts on Garfield Lynns, but finds that the man has been locked up in Arkham Asylum for so long there is hardly anything available about him, except his police file. Working feverishly on the computer, Tim traces Lynns' arrest record back to his youth in a juvenile detention center for multiple counts of arson, reckless endangerment, and even attempted homicide. His only listed place of residence is St. Evangelina's Home For Boys, an orphanage. Tim thus decides to visit the orphanage to see if anyone there remembers Garfield Lynns. After sneaking out of the house past his father, Jack Drake, Tim sets off as Robin.

Finally, he comes to St. Eveangelina's, now seemingly closed down, as judged by the somewhat grimy and dilapidated state, having fallen into disrepair. However, there are still some lights, so Robin slips in through a broken window to investigate. He finds himself in a peaceful, moss covered courtyard, where he is greeted by a blind nun, seated on a nearby park bench. The Boy Wonder apologizes for bothering her, but she brushes it off, simply stating that she is not used to sharing the courtyard with anyone. She notes the youth in Robin's voice, and tells him that there haven't been any young people in the orphanage for twenty years, but she and a few of the other old nuns continue to maintain parts of it. Robin questions the nun about Garfield Lynns, and she does recall faint memories of the troubled boy, but even more about his younger sister, Amanda Lynns. The nun considers the possibility that Amanda may still be in Gotham City, and Robin leaves to locate her through voter registration.

In a seedy bar some distance away, the Riddler is plotting his next move while his henchmen amuse themselves by watching a talk show hosted by famous host Link Rambeau. Rambeau is interviewing Dr. Simpson Flanders, former Arkham psychiatrist and a firm believer in understanding the inner child of the criminally insane. Dr. Flanders advertises his new book 'I'm Sane and So Are You" and gives a lecture about how the fact that liberated mental patients are tearing Gotham apart is purely the fault of the citizens, since American culture is aberrant. Link is amused at the doctor's beliefs, which maintain that everyone must share the blame for Gotham City's current situation.

Since the Riddler's henchmen view the Link Rambeau Show as boring, they urge their boss to hurry and plan a criminal caper to provide them with some excitement. The Riddler tells them to remain patient, as such capers take planning. He also tells his henchmen that crime requires a certain amount of flair and wit, since to him it is the highest form of art. As he seals a letter of clues addressed to the Gotham City Police Department, the Riddler adds that if breaking the law cannot be fun, then what good is it worth?

After receiving the Riddler's mailed letter, the police leave it in a stack of others resembling it to be sorted by Officer Hendricks, who had worked with the Gotham City Major Crimes Unit for a long time, almost always in an administrative capacity. As Hendricks calmly prepares to slit open the Riddler's letter over a cup of coffee, Detective Stan Kitch and two other police officers are wrestling with a violent Arkham Asylum inmate with a resemblance to Johnny LaMonica. The hulking inmate constantly demands to know what time it is, knocking one of the policemen to the floor. The officers try to control him with nightsticks while Kitch reads him his rights. The inmate is downed by Detective Harvey Bullock, who strikes him with the handle of his revolver. Kitch is angry, as pistol-whipping is not standard procedure, but Bullock points out that no one was helping the inmate by reading him his rights, and they do not have time for standard procedure with hordes of similarly violent and potentially dangerous madmen running around Gotham.

Bullock remains disappointed that Officer Hendricks did not even bother to help with the dangerous lunatic in the situation behind his desk, but is interrupted by Sarah Essen, wielding a riot shotgun. She orders every available officer to be emptied out of the station and report to Castleland Park, where three armed mental patients are rampaging with rocket launchers, since the Tactical Squad is overwhelmed already, as it is. Essen refuses to allow Hendricks to read letters while his fellow officers go, so reluctantly, he picks up a rifle and goes with the other policemen to Castleland Park, leaving the Riddler's letter forgotten on his desk.

At that moment, Officer Renee Montoya visits the residence of Amanda Lynns in a squad car. Amanda greets them at the door, revealing her new name is Amanda Kelso, probably through marriage or adoption. She explains to Montoya that she hasn't seen her brother in years, and he most certainly did not come to her after he escaped Arkham. Montoya questions Amanda about Garfield's torching of Elmo's Bay, and Amanda is greatly disturbed. She replies that when she and her brother were still at an orphanage together, many couples came to adopt them, but left when they looked into Garfield's past and discovered his juvenile record. They'd promised to take them to all the old attractions in Gotham City: Elmo's Pier, the Orpheum Majestic Theater, the Lynwood Lanes Bowling Alley, the Gotham Park Zoo, and such. Garfield hated them for their promises when they abandoned the idea of adopting the Lynns orphans.

While Amanda sobs in Montoya's arms, Robin bugs the Kelso house and listens in on the conversation from a tree. He memorizes the list of places Amanda named and jots them down in his notes for Batman. Meanwhile, Batman is chasing a Musketeer-themed minor costumed felon known as the Cavalier across the rooftops of Gotham. Batman catches up to him, and the Cavalier draws his rapier on Batman, who lashes out and strikes him in the nose. Angry and bleeding, the Shakespearean Swordsman is knocked backwards and finds his nose broken. Swinging his sword around wildly, he slashes furiously at Batman, being a master of the fencing arts. Batman dodges the sword and slams the foppish rogue off the rooftop with his feet. Recovering, Batman notes grimly that he is losing his touch, as the Cavalier was little more than a lightweight thug, yet it took everything he had to defeat the villain. After stopping to make sure the Cavalier was knocked senseless in the fall, Batman contacts Robin on the radio to review his progress. Robin gives his mentor the list of possible Firefly targets, and Batman congratulates his sidekick on the progress.

After dumping the trussed-up Cavalier on a street corner for the police, Batman pins a yellow note with the Bat-Signal printed on it to the villain's colorful costume before speeding away. He notes the Lynwood Lanes Bowling Alley is the closest possible Firefly target, so he drives to its location in the Batmobile. The Dark Knight reaches a dead end at the bowling alley, now an unused parking lot. Batman then goes to the Majestic Theater, which was converted into a furniture warehouse years ago. This apparently makes little difference to Firefly, who sets it on fire and revels in the heat, thanks to his fireproof costume. Batman arrives just in time to witness the building begin to burn, with his quarry on the roof. Upon spotting Batman, Lynns sighs and calls him a 'pest' and insists that while he does not obsess over the Caped Crusader day and night like some of the other Arkham inmates, he will get along just as well without constant interruption and interference. As he makes his escape, the taunting Firefly watches as Batman's boots begin to sizzle. The building is about to come crashing down, so impaired by his exhaustion and lacking clear judgement, Batman lunges off the burning roof for Firefly as he glides away. Even Firefly realizes the danger of his own fire now, shouting truthfully at Batman that his glider wings cannot support their combined weight. This, coupled with Batman's lunge which throws the pyromaniac off balance, sends them both plummeting downward into the flames, and even Batman's mind cannot devise a plan, for once. He contemplates death as it appears that the hero's carelessness may cost both men their lives......


"City on Fire"[]





Background Information and Notes[]

  • Firefly references he and Batman's first encounter, nearly forty years earlier in Detective Comics #184. Chuck Dixon's characterization of Firefly seems to draw more inpiration from Firebug, but with a more militarized costume.
  • The unnamed Arkham inmate knocked unconscious by Harvey Bullock bears a striking resemblance to John LaMonica, the second Black Spider, due to the unique "spider-web" of scars across his face.
  • This issue is a part of the massive Batman: Knightfall crossover event in DC Comics. Knightfall consisted of three parts, Knightfall, Knightquest, and KnightsEnd. The trilogy involved Batman's back being broken by Bane, the debut and subsequent descent into madness of Bruce Wayne's successor Batman Jean-Paul Valley, and Bruce Wayne's recovery and reclamation of his former title, combatting Valley himself.
  • This issue is reprinted in Batman: Knightfall, Volume 1.
  • This issue is Chapter Six of the "Knightfall" saga.