Detective Comics #45 review

Detective Comics 45

This issue of Detective Comics premieres the new creative team of Peter J Tomasi and Marcio Takara.  Are these two up to the challenge of presenting a worthwhile JimBat story?  Will they succeed where others have failed, or is JimBat doomed to be one of the lowest moments in Batman history?  Let’s delve in and see….

Peter J Tomasi was the writer of Batman & Robin, so I have a lot of faith in his abilities.  He also brought us one my favorite issue of 2013, Batman & Robin #18, so I have no doubt that the man is capable of truly great things.  The remaining question would be: is attempting to tell a good JimBat story so much of a handicap that even a good writer is left out to dry?  In my opinion, yes.  This issue has a mix of both really great and not so great moments.  To be fair, most of the moments that I found less than acceptable were due to the fact that Tomasi is being hampered by the story he is allowed to tell.  Nevertheless, I’ll still have to judge those elements negatively despite the handicap DC has handed him.

The opening of the book definitely grabs your attention.  I seriously can’t recall ever seeing anything quite like it in the pages of a comic before.  While this story doesn’t take any time to delve into the bigger threat that will face our heroes during this arc, instead focusing on recruiting Jim, it leaves you with such an insane opening image that you can’t help but be captivated by where all this is going to lead.

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Tomasi does an exceptional job at depicting Gordon’s decline, as well as additional motivations as to why he is donning the cape and cowl  giant metal rabbit suit.  In previous issues, we have seen Gordon coming home after a long night and falling asleep on the couch surrounded by vitamins and power bars.  This issue depicts the fact that he is also getting the living crap beat out of him.  He is covered in scars, and needs braces and bandages just to hold himself together.  While we have seen Bruce in similar scenarios, Bruce has a much higher level of endurance and recovery.  Jim isn’t a super hero, he is just a normal guy taking on super hero levels of punishment.  To be honest, I am more worried about Jim than I ever was for Bruce.

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The original reason why Gordon chose to take on the mantle was so that another cop wouldn’t be subjected to being Batman and most certainly get killed doing it.  While that is good and all, even a normal beat cop in Gotham runs the risk of getting killed.  They know the risks when they join the force, so Jim’s original reasoning felt flimsy at best.  Here, Tomasi says that Jim is doing it for the people.  This just felt right to me, and a very Batman thing at that.  Bruce has always been about Gotham’s citizens, and seeing Jim caring about them too just captured a very Batman-esque element for me.

dc44.2      I’m not sure if Tomasi meant for this line to have such an effect, but for me, I got a little choked up after reading it.

My favorite scene from this issue was between “Bruce” and Diana.  Something serious is going down, and despite the fact that Alfred threatened Superman with Kryptonite the last time he tried to tell Bruce he was Batman, the League decided that this threat warranted another try.  Diana uses her Lasso of Truth on “Bruce” to see if any part of Bruce is hiding in there somewhere.  It’s a fairly touching scene.  While subtle, it is clear that Diana is taken aback by their interaction.  Personally, it was another piece of evidence that cemented the fact more clearly than any before that this is not Bruce.  I thought I was done mourning his loss, but this scene brought back those feelings.

dc44.4If you showed someone who isn’t reading Batman right now this image, there is no way they could guess that this was from a Batman comic.

Now, on to the not so great moments.  This comic has two scenes that are straight out of Ironman.  One in which the suit comes to his location and wraps around him, and the other where he fights F-15s.  Look, I liked Ironman, and if I wanted to read about Ironman, I’d pick up an Ironman comic.  It’s like picking up a bottle of chocolate milk, taking a swig, and finding it full of tart lemonade.  You’re not going to be too happy.  Now maybe you like lemonade, but it wasn’t what you really wanted, so you are disappointed.  That is the problem with the Batbooks right now.  I’m currently getting 9 different Batman books, and he isn’t in any of them.  Seriously!?!  I just want to sit back and read a story about a street level vigilante who hides in the shadows and scares the crap out of criminals.  Is that too much to ask?

The other thing that was confounding about this issue, is that somehow the League decides that Gordon is the most acceptable candidate to fill in for Bruce since Bruce is no longer available.  What?!?!  To be fair, both he and the League acknowledge that his abilities don’t hold a candle to Batman’s, but that only adds more confusion as to why they didn’t chose someone else.  It gets worse.  Gordon protests and points out that he can’t leave Gotham.  Flash reminds him that there are other heroes in Gotham who can take care of the city while Gordon is away.  Other Heroes!  Exactly!  They actually acknowledge the other heroes and yet don’t use them.  Why isn’t the League asking them?  I’m sorry, but this is beyond illogical.

The other thing that is off about asking Gordon to help them, is that he doesn’t have permission to help them as Batman.  Currently, Batman isn’t a person who can make his own decisions, he is a logo and trademark owned by the Powers corporation.  If all the League wanted was Gordon’s detective skills, he was well within his rights to offer them that assistance, but without the Batsuit.  Granted, the League teleports him away before any of this can actually be addressed, but it still should have come up considering how it is a major issue in other titles.

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Art for this issue is handled by Marcio Takara, and to be honest, I’m genuinely confused.  When I heard that he was taking on art duties for Detective Comics I wasn’t sure who he was, so I looked him up.  I found a bunch of his work, and while it has a stylized element to it, it’s equally beautiful.  Above, you can see samples of the art that I found, and if you do a quick google search, you will see that it is all fairly similar to these two panels.  I guess the question that I have is, “Are there two Marcio Takaras?”, because this stuff looks completely different than the art in this book.  As it stands, I’d say that the art in the comic itself is simply acceptable, while the shots above are actually awesome.  I’m genuinely at a loss here.  If anyone can shed some light on this for me, it would be greatly appreciated.

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Another art related element that threw me was the exact location of the scenes with Bruce.  In Batman Annual #4, it was established that “Bruce” got Wayne Manor back.  This opening shot is obviously establishing this place as the apartment that Bruce acquired during Arkham Manor.  Since Takara had most certainly illustrated these shots before Batman Annual #4 came out, I can forgive the lack of continuity.  What I can’t forgive is lack of continuity within the comic itself.  As you can see, we are in Gotham City.  Skyscrapers are outside the window and everything.  Then the doorbell rings, and when Alfred answers it,  we are in a forested area.  Kind of like the front lawn of Wayne Manor.  I considered that the apartment could have been across the street from a park, but the fact is I know it isn’t.  It’s in the middle of a bunch of other building.  I know that DC is all about “Story over Continuity” right now, but for me, continuity helps the story make sense.  MAKE SENSE DC!  Oh yeah…logic is a good thing too.  Use some of that as well.

Recommended if…

  • You are excited to check out the new creative team of Peter J Tomasi and Marcio Takara.
  • You like quieter character building moments in your stories.

Overall:

Peter J Tomasi does a lot to tie the human element into the story, but is then hampered by the fact that he is forced to tell a story about “Ironman” in the pages of a Batman comic book.  The story also asks you to take a couple of leaps in logic.  It’s even more infuriating when the comic itself brings up these very points but doesn’t really address them fully.  It’s basically aware, but doesn’t delve into them in the way they could have.  The juxtaposition of quiet introspection and bombastic action was another shift in gear that I wasn’t really ready for, interrupting the tone of the story.

SCORE: 6.5 / 10

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