Brian Buccellato’s work on Detective Comics is such a breath of fresh air.  Not only has he revitalized the idea of including actual detective work in the stories but he also shies away from spectacle for the sack of spectacle.  We aren’t treated to a crime wave that plagues millions of people, but instead how crime can affect specific individuals on a much more intimate scale.  Buccellato concentrates on crafting realistic characters who are forced to endure believable and, in some cases, relatable hardships.  As an audience member, seeing a hero save millions of faceless people is nowhere near as rewarding as it is to see one person, we have empathy for, being saved.  While not complicated, the narrative of this tale packs quite a bit of emotional weight, but only if you allow yourself to slip into the skins of these characters.

I’m going to break this review down by artist and the sections of the story they handled.  Werther Dell’Edera was primarily responsible for the meat of the Julian Day storyline.  Dark, rough, and gritty best describe his style and I think having him illustrate these sections was a good choice.  The grittyness of the art added a little more brutality to the beating and  I really appreciated that the fight scene was choreographed.  It wasn’t just someone getting slugged and the fight was over, but you actually got to see some blocks and counters in the fight.  The bathroom where the fight took place was quite grimy and ridden with graffiti.  It helped me put myself into the situation, as at some point, we have all been in a less than hospitable public restroom.  As if being beaten wasn’t enough, the loser’s body was strewn across that cesspool of a floor.  Talk about adding insult to injury!  The only peculiar part for me was the inclusion of Julian Day at all.  While this isn’t a true negative, as it didn’t detract from the story, I also don’t think making him Squid’s henchman added anything either.  From my perspective it would have been just as moving had it been some nobody as opposed to a name we knew.

Jorge Fornes handled the young romance/kids being stupid section.  Out of the three artist in this issue, his style is what I would most liken to “cartoony”.  It added some fun lightheartedness to the flashback with Dante and Anette but when those same pencils were used to depict loss and sadness I didn’t feel that they held up as well.  Having characters that weren’t quite realistically enough drawn made the seriousness of the subject matter they were dealing with seem out of place and less severe.

Scott Hepburn handles the Batman side of this tale and I felt there was a resemblance between his work and the work of Francis Manapul.  It had that artistic style to it that made it appear as if it was done with paints or pastels.  The only gripe I had with Hepburn was with his Batman stubble.  At times it looked like Batman had a goat patch on his chin.  Storywise, it was really nice to see Batman connecting with Aden.  It’s a nice reminder that Batman’s visage only scares the guilty, not the innocent.  It seemed to me that he took Aden’s problems more personally than he might usually have, given that he just recently lost Damien.  Aden was a nice example of how Buccellato crafts characters with traits that make them unique from one another.  His dialogue and thought process highlighted his adolescent mind very well.  Not that this character is a direct copy, but I definitely see some similarities between Aden and the character that Jack Gleeson portrayed from Batman Begins.

Spoiler

  • My favorite part was when Batman was asking where the other guns were and one of the gang members offered to cooperate.  He asked what Batman had to offer him and Batman was like….Nothing, now talk!
  • As soon as we meet Aden I knew something bad was going to happen to him.  The gang in the alley isn’t even unconscious.  They can see you, and they know where you live!
  • Another enjoyable moment for me was when Squid and Julian were talking about Johnny and he exclaims, “Hello?!  I’m right here!”
  • Anybody else think the cover looked like a Gotham Advent Calendar?
  • After seeing The Big Bastard, I was sure he was going to be the finale fight villain and it was fun to see him just give up after my assumptions.

Interesting Facts:

  • Julian Gregory Day (Calendar Man) first appeared in Detective Comics #259 (1958).  His entire name is a reference to calendars, Julian and Gregorian both being styles of calendars.  Calendar man does have a uniform but doesn’t typically wear it as he changes his costume to fit the theme of the day/crime he is undertaking.  For example, on Monday (the moon’s day) he robbed the Gotham Planetarium of its’ astronautical themed stamp collection while wearing a mask modeled as the moon.  On Tuesday (named after the God of War) he robbed the Museum of Military Antiquities of rare medals while dressed like a Roman soldier.
  • The talk about Wrath and his weapons is carrying over from a story in Detective Comics #22-24.
  • The comment I made about Batman’s visage only scaring the guilty, and not the innocent is actually a thought Bruce Wayne had, taken directly from Batman #250 (1973).  If you have ever seen Batman/Gotham Night “Have I got a Story for You”, it might interest you to know, that animated tale was inspired by this comic.

Recommended if…

  • You like seeing different styles of art in the same book.
  • You’re looking for a nice introduction to Buccellato’s Detective run.
  • You don’t need the entire fate of Gotham hanging in the balance for you to be able to enjoy a story.

Overall:

Buccellato has shown himself to be an excellent story teller, both through his narrative and ability to create realistic characters whom we can relate to.  If Detective Comics isn’t part of your weekly subscription then you’re really missing out on one of the best Detective runs the New52 has to offer.

SCORE: 8/10