Detective comics #1016
The Year of the Villain is in full effect. With Lex Luthor giving offers of power to every big league player in the DC Universe and Victor having used his gift to finally resurrect his darling Nora, what will come of his new alliance with Batman now that she’s struck out on her own and spurned her former love?
The Victor Fries saga has been one that’s been going on for the better part of a few decades without any significant changes. Mr. Freeze has been searching for a cure for his wife over the course of many Batman series, movies and shows with none of them ever fully committing to an ending for his character, but this issue managed to pull it off. In doing so, it not only subverted expectations of its pay off, but also introduced a deadly new villain in the process, someone potentially far more ruthless than Freeze ever was.
The book begins with Batman and Victor coming upon a mausoleum made of ice. The structure has Victor’s name etched into it, a sign from Nora that he was dead to her. The last issue saw Mrs. Fries betray Victor for continually trying to make life decisions for her, despite the fact that she now has freedom and a life of her own aside from Freeze. Though, Freeze has another explanation for her behavior. Apparently, the serum that he used to cure Nora was the same one used to create the Bizarro clones WAY back in Forever Evil. It’s deteriorating her mind and making her sinister, probably like how Luthor intended.
Batman and Freeze make their way to where Victor believes Nora to be going, but they have a conversation which leads Batman to tell Victor that he will have to turn himself in when everything is said and done. Despite his intentions, Freeze did kidnap and kill many people for his experiments to bring Nora back to life and that has turned him into an absolute monster. Though,we see that the monstrosity doesn’t fall far as we cut to Nora freezing a security guard, breaking him apart and rearranging his body parts into an art piece after he nearly destroys a wax sculpture of a dancer that she was viewing.
Tyler Kirkham takes over the art for a few of these pages for whatever reason and does an amazing job of carrying on the feel and chill of Nora’s villainous emergence. Her anger and violent nature is reflected in her facial expressions and how she casually pieces together the guards body parts to make a grotesque statue of his frozen remains. A clever workaround to the extreme violence it would have been otherwise. Even better, his action scenes were dynamic and fun as the issue progressed until Doug Mahnke returned for the latter part of the book.
Just as Nora goes to push over another guard just out of malice, Batman and Freeze show up to stop her. They have a great fight, but eventually Batman and Freeze overpower her, but Freeze, ever the lovebird, betrays Batman to try and persuade Nora back to his side. Initially it seems like she may be on the verge of coming back to him, but it was a trick and she injects him with one of his syringes. This causes his internal body temperature to spike and gives her ample time to escape as Batman reawakens from the betrayal. In the end, the roles are reversed and Victor is the one in suspended animation because of his love.
Doug Mahnke’s art at the end here really cemented this as a storyline worth reading. The fight scene between the three was epic superhero fare with dynamic angles, David Baron’s scene stealing colors and Victor’s earnestness when he thinks that Nora is coming back to him. When he is betrayed, Mahnke makes you feel the pain that he’s in and Nora’s own lack of remorse for her actions, but even better is Victor’s last emotionless stare as he too was frozen like she once was.
I did love this issue as much as I wanted Freeze to actually have a happy ending. I feel like there was nothing more that anyone could do with his character and that’s why he hasn’t seen much use in so many years. At the same time, I also feel like Nora herself is just taking on the personality of Mr. Freeze from The Batman tv show from 2005. It’s not bad, but I suppose we don’t have enough of a motivation from her to continue committing crimes aside from some small feeling of entitlement over not being able to live her life. But the art was fantastic and we finally have an ending for one of the most tragic sagas in Batman history, even if it wasn’t what everyone was expecting.
Detective Comics #1016: Hail to the Ice Queen
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 9/109/10
- Art - 9/109/10
- Color - 9/109/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10