There’s no doubt about it, Paul Dini was born to write Batman. Keeping true to the title, Dini knocks another one out of the park in Detective Comics 822. This time Batman has competition as the best detective in town, when the Riddler hangs out his shingle. Will Batman be second best? Spoilers ahead.
Detective Comics #822: E. Nigma, Consulting Detective
Writer: Paul Dini
Artists: Don Kramer (p), Wayne Faucher (i), John Kalisz (c)
You can tell Dini is having fun writing Batman. This issue kicks off with Batman foiling the theft of S.T.A.R’s Ion Rocket by none other than Roxy Rocket. As far as I know, this is the first appearance of the character in the normal DCU, and marks another character that has made the jump from Batman/Superman animated series to the book. It’s a great nod and let’s you know right away you’re in for another fun ride.
Back at the cave, an alarm warns Bruce that there are people about and he quickly goes upstairs in normal garb to discover Edward Nigma, press in tow clearing Wayne of a recent murder. Of course Bruce Wayne was never a suspect, but the showboating by Nigma his attempt to show the world he has gone legit and using his mind to solve crimes instead of create them. The case in question is the murder of Karrie Bishop, who had been photographed with Bruce days earlier. Her uncle, a wealthy lawyer, hired Nigma, and he is hot on the case.
Not one to sit on the sidelines, Batman jumps on the case, and through cross referencing finds her most recent boyfriend Greg Lanner – a ruffian who has been know to blow up when threatened. In no time Batman has Lanner hanging from the side of a building pumping him for information. Greg too has an alibi for the night in question, the bartender at a local bar.
Heading back to his car, Batman runs into the Riddler…
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Attempting to prove his superior intellect, the Riddler leads Batman down a secret corridor in the back of the Treasure Chest bar. The tunnel leads to an S&M club that Lanner frequented, that Nigma believes Batman knew nothing about.
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Turns out Lanner has a bondage fetish, and came often to with Bishop and a brunette. Riddler hypothesizes Lanner could have slipped out of the club through another tunnel, and kept his alibi with the bartender in tact. Batman and Riddler head to Lanner’s apartment to further question him.
When they arrive, the unlikely team is fired on from Lanner’s apartment. Unfortunately by the time Batman can get into the apartment, Lanner is dead; an apparent suicide, complete with a letter of confession. Nigma seems to think this proves he was right all along, but Batman thinks otherwise. Following a trail of blood to the trash vent, the detective finds a bloody scarf.
Again, Dini does an excellent job of weaving a true who-done-it tale, and in order to find the killer, Batman must first find the man who impersonated Bruce Wayne in the photo at the beginning of the tale. The imposter in turn reveals the murderer – Sarah Morton. Morton, Sherman Bishop’s personal aide, killed Lanner and Karrie Bishop, and is on her way out of town when she receives a call on her cell phone. Batman on the other end reveals the how and why behind the murder, and the reader is lead to believe Batman is no where to be found. It’s only after the limo driver misses the airport exit is the reveal made. Batman, in disguise, has been driving the limo all along, making the phone call from the front seat. An over used moment, but one that works great in this story.
Edward Nigma, on the other hand, is about to lose all the money made from the case, and at the last moment realizes he’s been had by the best detective in Gotham.
I can gush on and on about Dini’s superb writing and ability to tell a tale that is logical and keeps the reader guessing. Had Dini lived during the height of pulp fiction, there is no doubt in my mind he would have been up there with the likes of Burroughs, Dent, and Gibson. Thankfully Dini lives in our time yet is able to channel the pulp story telling of yesteryear.
Beyond the excellent storytelling, Kramer’s pencils are well done and his art reads like a movie. Faucher’s colors are excellent as well. With his rich colors, the mood is set for each location and seals the deal in an overall great issue.
Detective Comics #822 receives 5 of 5 Stars.