Batman 242 – Matches Malone debuts, and the bond between Terri and Lilith

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The big Ra’s Al Ghul story arc begins in Batman 242 (June 197), with a story by O’Neil, Novick and Giordano.

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The cover promises the death of Bruce Wayne, and while the story touches on that, it’s hardly central.  In fact, it happened before the issue opens, as we see Commissioner Gordon discuss it with Batman.  Batman has faked Bruce’s death to give him time to recruit some people and pursue Ra’s Al Ghul, to bring him down for good.

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The first person Batman goes after is a small-time hood, Matches Malone.  Matches is not keen on working with Batman, and they wind up in a shoot out in a restaurant kitchen.  Someone dies.

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And that’s kind of odd, because the very next scene has Batman and Matches Malone working together, as they try to recruit a scientist, Dr. Blaine.  One of Ra’s Al Ghul’s assassins, Li Ying, comes to kill Blaine, but instead throws hi knife right into Batman’s heart.

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And then there’s Batman again, hale and hearty and catching Li Ying, and exacting from him, in exchange for saving him, his vow to work with Batman against Ra’s.

As the story ends, we learn that Matches Malone died in the kitchen.  When they talked with Blaine, Batman was disguised as Matches, and there was a dummy with a microphone as Batman, which is why the knife to the heart did nothing.

The story continues in the net issue.

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Friedrich, Buckler and Giordano conclude the Terri Bergstrom story in this issue, as the cultists attack Robin and the women.

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A demon gets invoked, and takes control of Terri,  It is far too powerful for Robin to do anything about.

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But he does talk Lilith into using her telekinetic powers against Terri, which she is reluctant to do.  The two cousins have complementary abilities, but when they are near each other, it calls forth a demon.

That’s the most startling development in the plotline of Lilith’s hunt to find out who she is.  Frustratingly, it was never referenced again, nor does Terri Bergstrom ever return.

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