Phoning-it-in is a term in the acting business that describes a performance in which the actors don’t give it their all but still complete their required part.
Personally, I feel like Manapul and Buccellato were blindsided by this whole robobat thing. With that in mind, I don’t truly blame them for the condition of this final arc. They came on board to write stories about Batman, and probably had a satisfying conclusion to their run, but were forced to write about this nonsense instead. I have no concrete proof to back this up, but when you look at the care and attention to details that their first arcs had compared to this one, it seems obvious to me that their hearts weren’t in it anymore. To be honest, I’m not sure why they couldn’t have wrapped stuff up using Bruce. They let Justice League do it. Besides, the whole driving point about DCYou was that they were going to stress story over continuity anyway. It’s also not like the pre-Convergence Detective stories were syncing up with the Batman title, so it wouldn’t have really mattered.
This story has two different narratives. One can be summed up by looking at the collage of images below accompanied by Yakety Sax.
The other is a serious action/drama full of political intrigue and suspense. Mashing the complete absurdity of the first into the realism of the second was too much for me to bare. The real shame is that the Bullock side of this story was probably strong enough to stand on its own without all this added “Batman” vs JD fluff. How strong you ask? There is a moment so shocking, that on my first read through, I actually felt my jaw drop. Can you imagine how intriguing this book could have been if it had just been a gritty crime drama sans the Saturday morning cartoon kiddy stuff.
Given the content of this book, you’d think my biggest gripe would be two robots going at it all rock’em sock’em. But no, it’s this:
You see that? That is the assassin’s sniper rifle duct taped to the underside of the trapeze rigging. THE UNDERSIDE?!?!?!? That is a house-full of cops. Are you trying to tell me that not one of them looked up and saw that thing hanging up there in plain sight? COME ON!
So, what did this book do right? Aside from the Bullock narrative, there were two other elements that I appreciated. The books ability to tie up loose ends was a plus, even if a couple of those were somewhat abrupt and convenient, and the fact that Gordon completely belittles JD. That page alone may have been worth admission. I’d share it with you, but then I would be robbing DC of one of the few reasons for you to actually buy this issue.
As I already stated, I feel like Manapul and Buccellato gave up on this book awhile ago, but they literally gave up on art duties four issues ago. Since then, Fernando Blanco has been filling in, and I haven’t been quiet about the fact that his work doesn’t compare to theirs, nor do I think it should be appearing in a flagship DC title. Instead of taking this time to further berate him, I’d like to look toward the future. Starting next issue, Marcio Takara will be handling art duties for Detective Comics, and boy is his work pretty. When I heard that Manapul and Buccellato were leaving and that Peter J Tomasi was taking over, I was happy but concerned. Was it going to be Tomasi’s words with Blanco’s art. I rushed to the Internet right away, and a quick google search revealed that Takara was taking over art duties and he did wonderful work. Perhaps a little stylized for some peoples tastes, but no matter how you look at it, a welcomed upgrade from the current art.
- Golden Age purple-gloved gun-totting Batman alongside the Alan Scott Green Lantern. How awesome is this? It just oozes with pulpy goodness. I wish i was reading the story behind THIS cover instead of the actual content.
- You like Joker’s Daughter???!?!?!?!?
- You’re a completionist and don’t want a hole in your collection of Detective Comics.
- You want to see Gordon completely belittle JD.
- You like a book with a little intrigue.
This issue marks the end of the Brian Buccellato/Francis Manapul run on Detective Comics. Of the 16 issues that they contributed to, there was always far more good than bad. It’s just unfortunate that they had to depart on such a low note that this final 4 parter turned out to be without ever having really stuck a landing. I shall look back on their run with some fond memories, but this last arc definitely won’t be one of them. It’s just not the kind of story that people will be talking about years from now, maybe not even by next week. Instead of going out with a bang, it just putters to a close.
SCORE: 5.5 / 10