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Detective Comics Issue 654

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"God of War"
DC654
General Information
Series: Detective Comics
Issue Number: 654
First Published: December 1992
Previous Issue: Detective Comics #653
Next Issue: Detective Comics #655


SynopsisEdit

"God of War"Edit

While Batman continues his relentless war against gang violence in the streets of Gotham City, psychotic military cadet Ulysses H. Armstrong observes him from afar to begin his own war so that he can gain control of Gotham City. Armstrong at first is convinced that Batman was merely an urban legend, but soon realized his existence was very much real. Sometimes, he has allies, but much of the time, Batman fights alone. He is always outnumbered, unarmed, and victorious. Armstrong, of an expert tactical mind, views Batman as the ultimate opponent. Cemented in the belief that a man may be judged by the strength of his enemies, Ulysses becomes convinced that Batman is a fearsome enemy by any measure, but is also convinced he can destroy him. Armstrong's final goal is to rule crime in Gotham City, organize and unite the local gangs into a disciplined military force to combat any opposition, and let chaos rule in the streets.

Armstrong reflects on his forgotten past as a young cadet at Valley Pines Military Academy, far away from Gotham City. He was often bullied due to his small size, but many underestimated or overlooked his keen mind. His father and mother cared little for him, sending him to boarding school away from them because he is often viewed as an inconvenience. Studious and reserved, Armstrong finds his only asylum in the academy's massive library, filled with books on military history. Here, he studies the exploits of ancient, medieval, and modern battles and warfare, including the tactics of Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Finally consumed by boredom, frustration, and lack of acceptance at the academy, Armstrong fakes his death and covers his escape by packing his only belongings into a burlap sack and pouring a can of gasoline into the library at night before setting it on fire. Numerous cadets and staff, including the bullies who had tormented him so much, perish in the blaze. Having already decided to run away to Gotham City, Armstrong sneaks on board an open freight car on a train and gets out in Gotham City's shipyards after dark. Here, he enters a warehouse occupied by the Bengal Street Raiders, a group of drunken crooks who invest most of their time in pilfering liquor from ships in the Gotham Bay. They terrorize any who enter a two-block turf they claim for their own simply because it is too low for even the other gangs or the homeless to inhabit it. The Bengal Raiders originally intend to kill Armstrong with their knives, but he stops them with how much information he knows of them. The former cadet observes that they are the weakest of all Gotham street gangs, paying tribute to the Eight Avenue Oh Gees and the Bad Boy Runners, two other Gotham City street gangs.

Ulysses makes the Bengal Raiders an offer: They kill him, they lose the opportunity of their lives. They spare him, and he will arrange a raid on the National Guard Armory #23, located in Gotham City. Later that night, Armstrong and the Bengal Street Raiders go into their first 'battle'. Armstrong uses a classical strategy, a variation of the Trojan Horse tactic used by the ancient Greeks thousands of years earlier: The gang crash a car directly into the street in front of the armory, prompting two guards to come and investigate. One guard suggests calling an ambulance, but the other plays into the General's hands and goes to get the injured out of the car. After opening the door, however, the two guards are confronted by the barrels of several Colt. revolvers and automatic pistols before they can reach for their own sidearms. Armstrong waves a gun into the guards' faces, and forces them to lead the Bengal Raiders into the armory. The guards are disarmed, and the gang forces one of them to unlock the weapons hanger for Armstrong.

Prying open the crates of automatic weapons, Armstrong tries to order the gang leader, Chango, to carry out his orders, but the man stubbornly refuses. Drawing a machine pistol from a nearby locker, Armstrong asks if the Bengal Raiders have prospered under his leadership. He then says it is time that Chango resigned for the good of his men. Armstrong fires six shots through Chango, killing him instantly, before assuming complete leadership of the Raiders. While one gang member watches the street, the others load the crates of National Guard weapons into an armored truck. As the police arrive on the scene to investigate, Armstrong shoots the remaining National Guardsmen in the armory before escaping in the armored truck out a back entrance. He tells himself he has enjoyed his first taste at combat.

Some time later, Police Commissioner Gordon summons Batman to GCPD Headquarters downtown with the Bat-Signal. Batman has already been alerted to the hold-up of the National Guard Armory, because he had been monitoring police radio scanners in the Batmobile. Gordon observes that no one has claimed responsibility, but he suspects it is probably a terrorist organization or part of the unending power struggle between Gotham's street gangs. He also notes Black Mask as a possible suspect, since the villain remains at large, and reports that the police are working to identify the corpse of Chango, left behind in the armory. Batman absorbs this information, and then says that one thing is for certain: With all the weaponry seized, whoever is responsible will be heard from again, soon.

Even as Batman and Commissioner Gordon converse on the roof of the police headquarters, Ulysses Armstrong, now dubbed 'The General', puts on a coat pilfered from a National Guardsman over his cadet uniform and relocates the gang to the abandoned Gotham City Food Distribution Center, now a sprawling, but abandoned, crumbling, structure on a condemned property in the Industrial section. The Bengal Street Raiders are uncomfortable in the new conditions, but the newly dubbed 'General' reminds them that the GCPD are probably already investigating their old hideout, since Chango was wearing his Raider uniform. Armstrong outlines his master plan for the Bengal Street Raiders: Stop being a gang, and become a uniformed fighting force. Gotham is the battlefield. The plan is to take over the larger gangs, unite them, and use them to fill the ranks. The General renames his gang "The War Dogs" and tells them that their next major battle will be the following night. He then sleeps with his machine pistol atop an empty ammunitions crate, confident of victory. He is assured of the Raiders' loyalty, at least until they have tasted first blood.

Across the city the next night as it begins to snow, detectives Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya visit the Eighth Avenue Oh Gees, since Chango was identified as a Bengal Raider and the Oh Gees are the Raiders' dominant (and most hated) rivals. Bullock suspects that the Raiders stole the weaponry from the National Guard Armory to settle a debt with the rival gang, so he and Montoya have decided to stake the Oh Gees' common gathering area for any action. Pulling up behind several wrecked cars, Bullock and Montoya try not to appear obvious as they watch the Oh Gees from afar. Meanwhile, Batman has also reached the same conclusion, and oblivious to the two detectives, watches the entire scene from a nearby rooftop. Their patience is rewarded as within minutes, the Bengal Raiders (now the War Dogs) drive towards the Oh Gees in their armored truck, firing into the other gang with assault rifles. The unarmed Oh Gees make easy targets in their purple gang colors, and most of them are soon shot dead and downed in the snow, with the gang leader, Donny T., barely managing to take cover in time. Batman swoops down the scene from above, beating up three of the War Dogs with his fists and feet, much to the fascination of the General. Detective Bullock, meanwhile, requests backup on his police radio. However, the General drives his armored truck directly into the unmarked squad, causing it to crash with minimal damage to the truck.

The General fires his machine pistol wildly at Batman, wounding him, but swerves away and escapes with his gang once detectives Bullock and Montoya join the fight. The two police officers fire on the fleeing War Dogs, but their bullets only bounce off the armored truck as the General makes his getaway. Detective Montoya is frustrated, as this means she must fill out a 'Vehicle Damage' report and now, a 'Shots Fired' report with it. She turns to look for Batman, but only discovers a trail of blood in the snow.

Meanwhile, Batman manages to stop his more serious wounds (on his arm) with a bandage made from the tattered remains of his cape, but he is still bleeding seriously by the time he manages to get back to the Batcave in the Batmobile. Staggering out of the car to Alfred Pennyworth's horror, Batman gasps that he was shot with teflon-coated bullets. Alfred explains that he heard about the battle on the police radios, and then hurries to get a medical kit. He offers painkillers, but Batman insists he will not take anything that will cause tiredness. He also orders Alfred not to tell Robin about the incident so that his partner will not needlessly worry. The Dark Knight observes that the current situation with the General is more than a simple escalation of gang violence, but something far more sinister.

While Batman recovers from his injuries in the Batcave, the surviving members of the Oh Gees come to negotiate with the General, since they cannot match the War Dogs' superior weaponry and cannot afford another massacre like the one earlier that night. The General's appearance is now complete, attired in military fatigues and combat boots, with the sides of his head shaved into the shape of five stars to indicate his 'rank'. He has turned the abandoned Gotham Food Distribution Center into a virtual military command headquarters, complete with a map of Gotham and armed snipers on the roof.

The Oh Gees are now led by 'Shades', a balding man nicknamed for his odd sunshades. The General requests to see Donny T., known leader of the Oh Gees, but Shades explains that he and another gang member fatally shot Donny because he refused to allow negotiations with the War Dogs. The General asks the Oh Gees to join his ranks as War Dogs, and then outlines his plan for the conquest of Gotham City to Shades. He insists that the local mafia are soft and ripe for easy destruction, because they have weakened each other by spending too much time warring over pointless questions of honor and turf. Armstrong is convinced that the key to victory is uniting enough gangs under the War Dogs to buy the other gangs off and recruit them with money, as Alexander the Great did with mercenaries in his day to help conquer Persia.

The General has high ambitions: Sweep aside feeble resistance by the established Gotham mob, follow a strategy for a winter campaign, and then rule Gotham City by the next Easter. However, there are four major parties he will have to deal with: the Bad Boy Runners (one of the largest gangs in Gotham), Black Mask, the GCPD, and finally, the Batman. The General wishes to bring the Bad Boy Runners into his ranks because their numbers are legion, and they have successful operations which provides them with a rich warchest. He wishes to make Black Mask, the rising star of established organized crime in Gotham, bow to pressure and submit to the War Dogs, dealing with them as respected equals or being crushed. The General also wishes to make the GCPD fear him, and to stay out of his way. He believes this can be accomplished by convincing the police that the War Dogs' ranks are closed and they are undefeatable. There is one more party to deal with yet, however: Batman. He will not be frightened, and he cannot be bought off. Therefore, the General views the hero as his greatest enemy--one which must die.

AppearancesEdit

"God of War"Edit

IndividualsEdit

VehiclesEdit

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Behind the scenesEdit

  • Shades, the gang leader of the "Oh Gees" who submits to the General, reappears in the massive "Bloodlines" crossover event in Batman: Shadow of the Bat Annual #1.
  • The General references Detective Comics #623, which was published in Gotham City as a portrayal of Batman as a headhunting demon which possessed an ordinary man to help him fight evil. Armstrong dismissed the comic book as 'children's stuff' which depicted Batman as a 'bogeyman', not a warrior.

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