Detective Comics Vol. 8: Blood of Heroes review

Detective 8

This is the first trade of Detective Comics that features Jim Gordon as Bunnyman Batman. If you followed the site during that time, then you know that I had major issue with Gordon as “Batman.” For me, it just didn’t add up for him as a character. That being said, I was curious to see what Buccellato and Manapul were going to do with the character. They had delivered two solid arcs previously – both of which, sadly, ended terribly – and had teased a focus on the GCPD and the return of Renee Montoya! The latter two details alone made me extremely excited for this story, so how in the hell could it possibly turn out bad, right? Yeah, well you’ll find that one out below…

 

SYNOPSIS

THERE’S A NEW BAT IN TOWN

Jim Gordon has spent years patrolling the streets of Gotham City as one of its top cops. Now he’s doing it from inside a Batsuit.

With Bruce Wayne sidelined-perhaps permanently-the former Commissioner has taken on the mantle of the Bat, with a state-of-the-art suit of robotic armor and the full support of the Gotham City Police Department to back him up. But when you become the Batman, there’s a deadly learning curve-and an army of crazed criminals waiting to take you down.

Can Gordon keep up? Or will his enemies and allies alike clip the new Batman’s wings before he even gets off the ground?

Find out in BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 8-thrillingly written by Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato, and Peter J. Tomasi, and stunningly illustrated by Fernando Blanco and Marcio Takara, it’s a bold new chapter in the saga of Gotham’s guardian!

 

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Collects DETECTIVE COMICS SNEAK PEEK and #41-47!

You’re basically getting four three two-ish stories with this collection. If you have some form of competence, this alone should start sounding of warning alarms. There’s nothing I hate worse than incomplete stories, and if you check out the issues that are involved, you’ll quickly notice that some of the issues collected tell incomplete stories. You can click on each of the links below to read the full review for each issue.

 

RECOMMENDED READING

Batman Vol. 7: End Game – Batman’s greatest foe has returned for one last gag-but this time, not even the Joker is laughing. In their last encounter, the Dark Knight failed to live up to the Joker’s grand plans, so now the Joker is deadly serious.

The games are over and, for their final showdown, the Clown Prince of Crime won’t be staging a comedy. No more macabre mind games. No more perverse pranks. The crazed killer who has elevated evil to an art is about to paint his masterpiece: the utter destruction of Batman and everything he holds dear. He’ll turn the Justice League against Batman. He’ll turn the people of Gotham into giggling psychopaths. But that’s just the setup-the punchline is even more terrifying.

The #1 New York Times best-selling team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo create the ultimate face-off between the greatest hero and villain in all of comics in BATMAN VOLUME 7: ENDGAME-and it’s no laughing matter. Collects stories from BATMAN #35-40.

 

Batman Vol. 8: Superheavy – The #1 New York Times best-selling creative team of Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Danny Miki introduce an all-new Dark Knight in BATMAN VOL. 8: SUPERHEAVY.

Following the disappearance and presumed death of Batman, former police commissioner Jim Gordon has been called to carry on the Dark Knight’s legacy and become his successor.

But while the name and what it stands for remain the same, this new Batman is far from just a copy of the original. Patrolling the city in a gargantuan high-tech Batsuit, Gordon is no shadowy vigilante. He has the full cooperation of the GCPD and the mayor, plus a multimillion-dollar budget from Powers International.

But will an expensive suit be enough to stop the mysterious, weed-like Mr. Bloom before his deadly plans for the city take root?

Collects BATMAN #41-45 and DC SNEAK PEAK: BATMAN #1. Guest contributors include Brian Azzarello (WONDER WOMAN) and Jock (BATMAN: THE BLACK MIRROR).

 

Detective Comics Vol. 7: AnarkyFrancis Manapul and Brian Buccellato-the critically acclaimed creative team behind THE FLASH-are back, with Batman!

A plane has crash-landed at Gotham International Airport, but the passengers and crew appear to have been dead for years. Whatever caused their demise is now loose in the terminal-and if Batman can’t figure out who’s behind this biological attack, the body count will climb even higher.

Gotham City then braces itself for another biological attack, this time by the Joker himself. Lonnie Machin-the digital savant once known as Monkeyspider-braves the murderous lunacy that has befallen the city to save his mom.

Then, travel five years into the future, when Batman must team up with the villainous Riddler in order to prevent the Calendar Man from creating another Zero Year.

Collects issues DETECTIVE COMICS #35-40, DETECTIVE COMICS: ENDGAME #1 and DETECTIVE COMICS: FUTURES END #1.

 

The three trades listed above aren’t required, but they could help curb some questions you might have if you just jump into this trade without any backstory. The most important, are the two Batman trades. They set-up the backstory concerning Gordon becoming Batman, and how it’s even possible. As for the Detective trade, I simply recommended it to allow the opportunity to understand the featured characters a little better. You can click each of the trade titles above for our review of each book.

 

THE STORY:

Detective Comics Vol. 8: Blood of Heroes essentially contains two stories. The sneak peek is part of Manapul and Buccellato’s end song (which I’ll refer to as “Partnerships”), a second story introduces Peter J. Tomasi’s run on the title (which I’ll refer to as “Of Giants and Men”), and finally, the third story is part three of Robin War. Yes, you read that correctly… Part three.  As in the third issue. Not parts one or two, or even parts four through six, just part three.

Why is one issue of a multiple-part story included? I don’t know. This was kind of DC’s thing during the New 52. They released trades completely based off issue count rather than worrying about the story itself. Two, back-to-back Detective Comics trades started a story, then held the very last issue of that story for the next trade. I thought that was asinine at first, then I saw this, and just wanted to flip Dan Didio off. Granted, this is also the point in time that DCYou (as in DC You-niverse) was starting, and their whole thing during this period was to focus less on continuity, and more on telling good stories. If you’re wondering how that went… Well “Rebirth” happened less than a year later for a reason folks…

 

Partnerships

“Partnerships” is the first, and strongest, story of the entire collection. Unfortunately, the story itself isn’t that strong. Serving as Manapul and Buccellato’s swan song on Detective Comics, I was immediately disappointed because Manapul only provided art for the Sneak Peek issue, while Fernando Blanco stepped in on art duties for the final arc. That’s not to say that Blanco is a bad artist. I’d love to have him illustrate something I’d written, he just doesn’t have the same magic or flare that Manapul has.

Moving on to the story itself, the narrative focuses on the GCPD, and is told from Bullock and Gordon’s perspective. Gordon is Batman… I’m letting that sit for a second in case this is, somehow, the first time you’re learning this actually happened… Anyway, Gordon is Batman, and Batman is now a giant bunny-looking police robot that is owned and operated by Powers. While Scott Snyder focused on the logistics of how this came to be in Batman, this creative team decides to focus on the support around Gordon that help make robo-Bats a possible thing for the GCPD.

There are a number of layers and plot threads to this story, but the most interesting of those are two that are introduced in the Sneak Peek issue: Gordon’s transition to Batman, and Bullock’s request to kill his partner, Yip… Who he also happens to be with romantically. What happened that would result in Bullock wanting to kill Yip?

Here in lies the first problem of the narrative. We discover that Bullock wants to kill his partner for doing something, but it isn’t until another issue or two later that Bullock actually discovers Yip has been up to some questionable things. The Sneak Peak for each title leading into the DCYou was meant to tease upcoming stories, themes, and tones. They weren’t supposed to tell part of a story. When you throw this specific sneak peek in front of “Partnerships,” it’s out of place. Bullock is requesting something before he even knows he wants or needs to request it… So that whole, “less continuity, better stories” bit… Yeah, case and point that continuity and good stories go hand in hand.

Anyway, there’s another layer to this story, and that is la Muertes. This is a small gang of thieves/ assassins that have a Dia de los Muertos look to them – hence the name. Initially, these guys deliver a cool, understated presence to the book. They appear to pose a believable threat, and after targeting “Batman” specifically – for reasons other than “he’s good, and they’re bad” – their presence creates another mystery.

The problem with la Muertes, is that as quickly as they are made out to be a threat, they’re quickly unmade, and their focus dwindles severely. The lack of their importance ultimately serves as a pro and a con. On the negative side, the level of their threat is highly inconsistent, so when they do pop up again at the end of the story, I don’t feel any sense of actual danger or urgency. On the positive side, their lack of focus is to introduce the real masterminds behind this story (I’m using the word “masterminds” loosely). One of those individuals makes total sense for the plot, plays into the story concerning Yip, Bullock, and the GCPD, and ultimately should have been the only “big bad” for this arc. Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel as though DC editorial wanted to push another character, so said character was shoehorned into the story. Who is this character exactly?

SHOW SPOILER ▼

 

After what felt like a two-issue (plus) introduction to “Partnership,” we’re essentially left with two issues to wrap up not only this arc, but Manapul and Buccellato’s run. If you’re having trouble seeing the problem here, stories should have a beginning, a middle, and an end – and out of those, the “middle” (aka: your actual plot) should comprise most of your narrative. If more than fifty percent of your story is introduction/ set-up, you’re not going to receive a quality pay-off. And that’s exactly what happens in “Partnerships.”

This story moves from taking it’s time, to blasting through the plot at break-neck speed, just for the sake of wrapping everything up. To make matters worse, even when these two writers weren’t struggling with structure, they still failed to delivery satisfying conclusions in their previous arcs (Icarus and Anarky). So in this instance, you can’t even nag about a poor ending, because the story never feels fully realized. “Partnerships” trips on it’s first hurdle, and never manages to catch it’s rhythm before faceplanting at the finish line… Which is a shame because there are some really nice character moments in this story.

 

 

Of Giants & Men

The second story in this collection is also the debut of Peter J. Tomasi’s run on Detective Comics. Unfortunately, it’s also the worst out of all of the stories he pens for Detective Comics. This story saddly feels like a shtick issue, because it’s essentially a “Gordo-Bats joins the Justice League!” fanboy scenario. The only problem is that nobody wanted Gordon joining the Justice League as Robo-Bats to begin with, so that’s not a promising notion.

The story itself is two issues, and honestly, the first issue isn’t terrible… It’s just that not much happens. There are some great character moments though, and some moving encounters in the beginning between the Justice League and Bruce. One in particular features Diana using her lasso on Bruce, and another features the League coming to terms with the reality of what has occurred. As soon as those moments have passed, the story starts to slide downhill.

With Batman out of the picture, the Justice League needs a detective to help them with a problem, so they turn to Gordon – who they know is the new “Batman.” The moment the League meets with Gordon, is the moment this story spirals. For one, Gordon doesn’t own the robo-Bat suit. It belongs to Powers, and is supposed to be used as a police tool for Gotham City. It’s a minor detail, I know, but there isn’t really a need for “Robo-Bats” to actually go on this mission. Jim Gordon, as Jim Gordon, would have sufficed on his own, and the powers-that-be wouldn’t let Gordon go galivanting around the world in the robo-Bat suit.

Beyond that, the relationship between Gordon and Superman is less than stellar during this time thanks to the events of Batman/ Superman – something I was reminded of when I saw Superman with his little, blue t-shirt. I was also reminded that Superman’s powers aren’t at full power during this time, and he isn’t able to fly… but that doesn’t stop him from flying or having super strength here… Anyway, they’re minor, minor notations, but they did pull me from the story, so they’re worth mentioning.

When it comes down to it, the League needs Gordon to investigate the skeleton of a giant creature that was found in another country. What’s so important about this? Nothing. Nothing at all.

It isn’t until the second issue that the actual plot of the story is revealed, and the only way for you to actually enjoy it, is to blindly believe and not ask any questions. I mean, for the sake of providing an example, Gordon looks at the skeleton of a creature that doesn’t necessarily share the same anatomy of a human, but by looking at the skeletal remains, he’s able to concoct an accurate assessment/story of how that creature died, another creature, and a baby creature… All of it straight out of thin air. All I can think is, “Really Tomasi? Is this the best you’ve got? If so, the next couple of months are going to be bad.

A bit of action graces the final few pages, and a mystery involving human eyes is revealed, but it doesn’t hold up to the slightest logic, so… yeah. If thing’s weren’t bad enough, Tomasi attempts to create a touching/ moving moment, but his attempts are futile considering the source.

Finally, there’s the art. Oh, the art… It’s bad. Well, it isn’t terrible, but it’s definitely not what I would expect from Marcio Takara. It looks as though he tried to stylize his work in a way to add a gritty tone or texture, but the execution didn’t turn out well. He would have faired much better had he delivered his standard level of work, but at this point, that’s simply a “shoulda, coulda, woulda.”

The interesting thing about this trade, is that both stories appear to suffer in similar ways. Both narratives spend a majority of their pages providing set-up and exposition, while the meat, climax, and conclusion of the stories are rushed and undersold. Despite two attempts from two sets of creative teams, you’re never able to really sink your teeth into anything, aside from a few memorable character moments between Gordon and Bullock, Bullock and Montoya, and the Justice League with (amnesia) Bruce Wayne. If you feel a handful of nice moments that add up to roughly 20 to 30% of the overall book are worth taking the time to read this, then have at it!

 

BONUS MATERIAL:

Robin War – Part Three. Ok, so this issue isn’t actually bonus material, it just happens to be the least stupid explanation for why this issue is in this trade. The real bonus material, is a collection of variant covers. Most of them are from themed months, and none of them really scream, “Wowza! You should’ve purchased me when you had the chance” so I doubt they will have any weight in whether someone should purchase this book.

 

THE PRICE:

At $16.99, I can’t whole-heartedly tell you to purchase Detective Comics Vol. 8: Blood of Heroes. Yes, the time and effort of the creative teams alone are worth that amount, but the book itself isn’t. Your stories are weak tea, and there aren’t any other redeeming aspects of the trade. If you’re deadest on reading this title though – or if you’re just a traditionalist that prefers to work your way through books – then I’d recommend hitting up your local library to see if they have it, or try to catch it on sale somewhere.

 

OVERALL:

Detective Comics Vol. 8: Blood of Heroes delivers two very different stories, that ironically share very similar plot and structural issues. The best way to describe this collection is “disappointing.” Both stories begin with promise and highlight the potential of each narrative, but neither live up to the expectation. Poorly planned pacing, plots, and conclusions are sure to leave you feeling less than satisfied once you reach the end. Manapul, Buccellato, and Tomasi may have done some great things during their stints on Detective Comics, but neither of these stories qualify for that praise.

I’ve always viewed Jim Gordon’s stint as a low-point for Batman comics, and this trade exemplifies why. If you’re going to spend your money, I’d advise you think long and hard before doing so. Seriously, hit up a friend or check your local library. You can thank me later.

 

SCORE: 4.5/10

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