I’m just being blindsided this week with surprises, first in Eternal and now, here as well.  We are faced with new information that makes us re-evaluate a lot of what has transpired up till now.

This issue stays fairly strong on the detective front, once again, offering up multiple roads to the same destination as both Bullock and Batman work the case.  Both character bounce ideas off their partners so we can be clued in on what their thought process is.  It is wonderful to see a collection of clues and then an analysis of what one can deduct from them.  There is one bit of sleuthing on Alfred’s part that I didn’t quite agree with but I’ll drop that in the spoiler.

Bullocks is turning into quite the character!  He has many different sides that he only shows to certain people but we get to see them all.  His soft side, caring, rough, sheepish, and pigheadedness are all explored.  One minute you think he is a tough guy with a chip on his shoulder and the next he has to take his little kitty cat to the vet.  Another character in this story took me by surprise when their past was revealed (check the spoilers).  It made me consider how everyone has more than one face that they wear in life and everyone has a personal battle that you know nothing about.  What seems wrong to us may be perfectly valid motivation for someone else.

I like how subtle things are included in the story, crafting it into a deeper whole.  There is mention of the gang war taking place in Eternal , which opened up the drug trade to new players.  You don’t need to have read Eternal to understand the implications of this, but it is nice to give you a bigger picture of the world and an understanding of all the stuff that is going on.  It is also not presented as an obvious ad for Eternal.  Batman has an in-world reason for discussing the gang war since it is connected to the case he is working on.  The dialogue, in general, flows very well and seems quite natural.  There is a section where Bullock’s boxing past is brought up while he is interrogating a suspect.  The inclusion of this information is not only relevant to the scene in which it occurs, but later it lets you know that Bullock can take a hit, when otherwise you might be wonder why he isn’t reduced to pulp.

This issue had no ads mixed in with the story.  How wonderful is that?  We were also given six pages of behind the scene material about the art.  I, for one, was quite happy to see this because I have been wondering about their style since they first showed up in Detective Comics.  I had no idea how they were creating the effects: I had seen fingerprints on pages and splatters of color that looked like spills,  it could have been painting or even water color for all I knew, but finally I got a hint as to how they are creating these works of art and quite frankly I wouldn’t mind seeing a little more behind the scenes from them.

Visually, my favorite part is the opening in the aquarium.  The lights have gone out and everything gets bathed in blue light.  It is dark and filled with shadows and smoke but has wonderful highlights brought on by the faded blue lights.  There is a shot of Batman crouching down in the water here that is my favorite from this issue.  Another thing I like about the art is the fact that the bat knee pads are de-emphasized.  It is a small thing but if you have read my other reviews you know I am not a big fan of those things.  I only noticed one small error:  Maggie Yip’s hair is red when we first see her and then black in every other panel.

Spoiler

  • That quick fix on Alfred’s part to find the Gang’s hideout using cameras and satellites seemed a little too easy.  I know this technology exists and it can be done but surely there are thousands of people (in a city with millions of inhabitants)  with motorcycles other than those who are in a gang.  Wouldn’t the data have shown places of interest with high traffic being motorcycle bars?  I guess if he analyzed the data and determined that there was no reason for that many motorcycles to be going into the woods it would have made more sense to me, but that isn’t what he said.
  • Batman hangs upside down on a steel girder while inside the biker gangs cave hideout.  Nice.
  • Holter is Annette’s Father!  The only thing I had thought up to now about him was that he was a bad guy and that Batman needed to beat him up.  Now I’m conflicted because he lost the love of his life and he wants to protect his daughter.  Yes, he is a drug dealer, which is bad, but he still has feelings and cares about his family.  Just made me rethink him being the stereotypical thug.

Interesting Facts:

  • In this issue there is a hotel named Chateau Doigt, it reminded me of an interesting fact that I never got to share with you from a previous issue of this arc that came out before I started reviewing.  So, I’m going to share it now.  On page 9 of issue 31 we see Bruce and Lamar standing on the Corner of Jane and Finch.  Jane and Finch is a neighborhood located in the northwest end of Toronto Ontario Canada.  Seeing as Francis Manapul is Canadian it’s a good bet that this is a nod to his homeland.

Recommended if…

  • You like character altering surprises.
  • You’ve become smitten with the rough yet lovable Harvey Bullock.
  • You can’t get enough of this “water color” art.
  • You like seeing behind the scenes material.

Overall

Manapul and Buccellato have delivered some very multi-layered characters for our enjoyment and some real solid detective work.  Everything so far has been firmly grounded in reality, but it looks like things are about to get weird.  I don’t know what’s going to happen but I hope they pull out a win for the finale.

SCORE: 8/10