Someone is killing the people Batman saved. The Dark Knight is on the trail, but can he get track down the murderous mastermind before anyone else dies? Answers await in Batman: The Detective #2.
What is a detective story?
I caught flak—albeit gentle flak—in the comments of my review for #1, presumably because I contended that Taylor “never [lost] sight of what the book’s title clearly mandates.” I thought the first issue satisfactorily lived up to its title, but some of you disagreed. We’re all welcome to our opinions, of course, but I think the disconnect springs from expectations about what a “detective story” ought to be.
Presumably, when many folks show up for a “detective story,” they’re looking for a gathering and processing of evidence. That’s fair, and I love those sorts of stories, too. But I think it’s equally fair to apply the label to what we often consider “mystery stories”—particularly when we, the readers, are being seeded the evidence, whether directly or subtly. I think The Detective is that sort of mystery story—that sort of detective story. Batman is the legs, and we’re the brain—not because he is incapable of being the brain, but rather because Taylor is being selective with what he shows, so that we can attempt to invest more fully in the gathering and processing ourselves.
Enter issue #2, and we see Batman trying to track down the group of killers targeting his previous saves. While there were some early moments where I think Taylor faltered on the dialogue, I enjoyed almost all of it again. I like Batman on the trail, going to different locations as he narrows in on his quarry. Once again, Kubert has plenty of space to shine, but it’s more than just bombast. Bruce reconnects with an significant figure from his past, and it is in subtle moments with this character where Kubert does his best work: a shadowy figure framed by a wrinkled, mustached face, puffing on a cigar; whiskey sipped through a wry grin; a look of disbelief when dealt a gambit fails to pay off. And don’t even get me started on the environments—this book is a much more interesting place to be than most other books on the stand, and that’s to Kubert, Hope, and Anderson’s credit.
Making sense of things
At this point, I’m not sure who’s behind all of this. Taylor seeds what might be a pretty big clue, but whether or not it’s a clue that we can (yet) understand remains to be scene. I don’t have any suspects, but I’m looking forward to coming up with a few—if Taylor continues to do his job well. Here’s hoping for the best.
- You like this sort of detective story
- You like subtle moments made big by capable artists
- You dig seeing Batman out of Gotham
I expected this book to be divisive, most especially with how it launched Bruce on his current mission. But if you can move past the setup, and set aside your expectations about what an ideal detective story should be, Batman: The Detective is an action-packed chase, with an intriguing mystery at its core. Issue #2 does a good job of moving things forward, and I’m looking forward to following the trail some more next month.