Monday, 1 March 2010

Detective Comics Issue 861

A change in direction for the covers of this book could fool you into believing that it is no longer based on Batwoman at all but back to being about the Batman himself. Now this is not the case but Batman does feature in this arc heavily and has his fare share of the page count in what used to be another of his very own books.

The arc is based around a new villain inventively named ‘The Cutter”. Not only is the name not particularly original but his methods have also been seen before a fair few times. Now do not let this put you off the book as we know that most things have been seen before and it just relies on how well they are done and in all honesty in this issue the staple villain is done justice. The issue is divided between both the Batman’s investigation into a missing girl and Batwoman’s investigation into recent murders of college students. After the first six pages starring Batman and with no explanation and no exposition we jump straight into Batwoman’s story of her taking on the previously mentioned perp. The writing can seem a little obvious; as we soon make assumptions that these investigations will be linked further down the line somewhere but Rucka does not give everything away straight off the bat.

Now normally reviews full of spoilers are bad reviews but what you’re about to read should not be seen as a spoiler. The Batman scenes are a flashback and this can be seen as a clever move on by Rucka and also a fairly useful storytelling device but the weakest part of this is figuring out that they actually are flashbacks. Although this could be a move Rucka makes on purpose but if not then you have to be a Batman buff to figure it all out. The only two clues are the fact Batman is wearing his old costume and a reference to Jim Gordon as being captain and not commissioner.

Crime fiction comic books are Rucka’s bread and butter and there is a reason for this, its because he is good at them (just check out his new series Stumptown from Oni press). Detective Comics should be a crime story above all else as there are enough books on the shelf that concentrate on the action side of Batman’s adventures and not enough on the crime solving anymore. The fact that this book is now more about Batwoman than Batman does not make the story any less great.

Jocks art and panel layout is as usual flawless. Bringing with him the a-game pencils and practices shown to us with his last work for DC, the fantastic Green Arrow: Year One. An incredible centre page double page splash is really the jewel in the crown for this issue of Detective Comics and could be one of the finest things Jock has drawn. People are going to compare the art in this to J H Williams previous run on Detective and that is the wrong thing to do. Not many people in the industry are on par with Williams (hence the reason he takes so long to draw anything) and Jock brings his own dark and heavily inked style to this book, which it suits perfectly.

Overall it will be interesting to see if the flashbacks are the big twist in the or whether we were supposed to work that out from the start. Either way it will be interesting to see if Rucka can continue making this one of the best Batman books on the shelf and whether he can side step the clich├ęs and give us a surprise twist with the next part of this story. This is a perfect jumping on issue as after this arc Batwoman begins her very own ongoing series written by Greg Rucka.

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