Batman Annual 10 – the final attack of Hugo Strange

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Batman Annual 10, by Moench, Denys Cowan and Alfredo Alacala, is a wonderful final story of the Earth-1 Batman, irrevocably marred by the cover, which reveals that the mystery villain is Hugo Strange.

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As the story begins, Wayne Enterprises finds itself in dire financial straights, which is being reported on by Vicki Vale and Julia Pennyworth.  Lucius Fox offers to suspend his mayoral campaign (a barely developed subplot) in order to help Bruce Wayne, but Bruce refuses.

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A mystery villain makes a shocking return from the dead – so shocking that it gives Alfred a heart attack.  See how much more interesting this would be had we not known it was Hugo Strange?  At  least Batman and Robin didn’t get to see the cover, and remain puzzled.

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Because Bruce is in danger of losing all his money, the Child Welfare Bureau comes back into the picture, threatening to take away Jason Todd.

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An then we get to the “good” part – at least, the part in which Strange is revealed as the villain.  He zooms in, back in the Batman costume.  Batman takes down the motorcycle, and after the crash sees that this is not really Strange, but another of his robots.

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Strange himself is back in the Batcave, and to a large degree this plays out much like his last story from a couple of years earlier, although in the real Wayne Manor, not a fake one.  And as before, the building gets destroyed.

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There is a clever ending, as Batman informs Commissioner Gordon and Bullock that he has hypnotized Strange into believing that Batman is Bruce Wayne, so no one believes him.  And Strange himself even begins to wonder if his knowledge is real, or if he had been hypnotized.

As Wayne Manor is in ruins at the end of the tale, this must actually come after Batman 400.  But Batman 400 is such a superior last tale that it’s preferable to imagine that there are a few months between this story and that one, and that Bruce had the repairs done really quickly.

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