New 52 – Detective Comics #4 review

Tony S. Daniel again draws the best Batman and delivers some finely paced action, but falls short in the story department.

Meet Raju

First off, this issue doesn’t even get started without Daniel backtracking as if he forgot to introduce an important character, Raju the police informant, in the previous issue. For some reason Batman is giving Raju a swirly and demanding information on the Dollmaker’s hideout which is Mercy Hospital…which doesn’t make any sense because Olivia, the little girl, already gave Batman a slip of paper from Gordon that not only said “Mercy Hospital” but also gave a clue to Batman that the whole thing is a trap. Oh well, the whole point of these two pages is to introduce Raju for later. Noted. Sloppy, but noted.

Pulling Some Strings

After that shoehorning in a character we cut back to the present where Batman is being held on cables and forced to fight guys dressed up as the Joker. This is a fight that is to be held over a roaring crowd of potential bidders for batman’s corpse. Quite theatrical and setting up the wirework in the biggest room of a hospital must’ve taken months (and Dollmaker was very lucky to find an abandoned hospital with such high ceilings!), but the audience seems to be enjoying it so who am I to criticize. The issue is titled “The Main Event” after all. There are literally hundreds of potential investors, each one surely a notorious criminal with lots of cash. And guess what? Bullock found the slip of paper with the Mercy Hospital address and he has a team en-route. This should be the bust of a century.

Batman’s fighting these guys over the crowd Broadway Spider-Man style when we get the first cringe-worthy caption from Batman who is describing his attackers: “They’re wild. And desperate. But so am I.” Are you? I’d hardly describe Batman as wild and desperate. If anything he’s been focused and in control for like 70 years now and all he has to do is fight like 2 guys clumsily trying to balance themselves on wire cables. Plus, we find out that Batman has something on his belt called a “demagnetizer” which makes getting free breeze. It’s also a handy deus ex that makes Daniel’s writing job a lot easier. Heaven forbid Batman should have to think his way out of this problem.

Remember Raju?

Big surprise: Raju is back. And he is representing a secret 3rd party in a not-so-subtle way “Let’s just say he waddles to the beat of a different drummer.” (actual line from the comic). Penguin is willing to double the offer of whoever wins the auction and he has the cash ready to go. Even though the auction hasn’t taken place mind you. Also, it isn’t cash, but a briefcase full of gold bullion which I don’t’ see a guy like Dollman being able to move, but then again he did set up an intricate wire system inside a dilapidated hospital so what the hell do I know? Before Dollmaker can even hold the auction and find out the winning bid for Penguin to double he takes the case of bullion and orders that Batman be brought to them. Penguin, it seems, wants Batman alive at first and then wants Dollmaker to stuff him. Too bad for them, Batman has a demagnetizer which undoes Dollmaker’s so-far –flawless plan. When are these rookie villains going to learn? You ALWAYS take the utility belt! Always.

Wrapped up in a Hurry

The rest of the book is a lot of cool drawings of Batman beating the crap out of these leather-face wannabes and Gordon somehow has a gun, but it isn’t loaded. Whatever. And Batman tracks down Dollmaker who is driving away, but the car blows up as Batman lands on top of it in a shot reminiscent of that scene in The Dark Knight where Batman lands on Scarecrow’s van. Fortunately, the roof protected Batman from the explosion. Unfortunately, the car was being driven by two dummies. It would be clever if it made any sense.

On the Plus Side

Once you get past the illogical everything and the jarring cut away to Bruce hanging out with Charlotte in Colorado (a scene tossed in just to give some semblance of a happy ending to the arc), we get a nice moment with Bullock who, honestly is the smartest character in Detective Comics right now. Shocking, right? Throughout these 4 issues we’ve seen that this guy knows how to work a crime scene, handle press, he’s having meetings with the mayor, he finds out something isn’t right with Mercy Hospital and (unlike Gordon or Batman) brings back-up (tons of it). He’s easily my favorite character in this series and he gets far too little attention. But on the plus side of this Detective Comics run, a run that Daniels plans to continue working on for 3 years) is an interesting subplot that’s slowly building at an excellent pace. A subplot that’s creepy and actually feels to have an effect on Gotham at large. That’s right, we get an update on the Joker’s missing face and how his followers are reacting in Joker’s absence.

As a whole, I’d say that this 4-part story started out strong, but gradually waned and became more and more illogical to the point that it wasn’t enjoyable and I just wanted to get it over with. Well, now it’s over and Batman is going after The Penguin. I only hope that the Penguin we get is half as bad ass as the one in Hurwitz’s “Penguin: Pain & Prejudice”.

SCORE: 5/10

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