I really get the distinct impression that Paul Dini has a collection of favorite Batman characters; Zatanna, Batman, and the Riddler, as this issue features another appearance by the criminal turned good guy trying to out smart one of the most brilliant minds in the DCU.
This time the crime is a series of murders with a similar motif. Before the killer can escalate his crimes, the Riddler shows up and announces to the media he will solve the case before the Batman.
This issue also features surprise appearances by Poison Ivy, Oracle, Detective Chimp, the Blue Devil, and Catwoman. In the case of Selina Kyle, her appearance serves to tie Diniâ€™s work with other things going on in the DCU and Batman titles proper. Batman earns a Bat-Dickness Level of 5 in this issue when he says, â€œIâ€™m glad youâ€™re back safely from the Prison Planet. No one could have foreseen how badly that would end.â€ Gee Bruce, how come you didnâ€™t help out? And how come Dini knows what happened in Salvation Run when the final issue hasnâ€™t arrived yet? Yeah, Iâ€™m still a bit miffed on that DC miss-step.
Itâ€™s difficult to know if Selina has returned to her life of crime, but it is clear she isnâ€™t happy that Bats has hooked up with Zatanna and Jezebel Jet (your R.I.P. tie-in). All the characters that appear in this issue come and go quite naturally, and even though this is a guest star extravaganza, no one guest star tries to outshine the true star of our tale.
As with any good detective tale, Batman solves the case by not looking at a emerging pattern in the crime, but if the crimes are covering up something else. Riddler figures it out too, but only because he receives some assistance.
When I read the reveal, it reminded me a great deal of The Fisher King, had Robin Williams decided to kill Jeff Bridges instead of going wacky in the wikki woo. You really need to read the closing pages to see how Edward justifies his past deeds to Batman, how Batman deals with Edward, and what happens to the bad guy.
One thing Dini does extremely well is write great Batman tales. Each issue of Detective Comics is one that I look forward to each month. As good as the tale is, the biggest fault I have with this issue is it just seems too wordy. Whether it is the modus operandi explanation, or the lengthy chat exchange in the online forum, this has to be the wordiest issue Dini has written to date. While all the dialogue and narration do help enhance the story, I wonder if reducing 20 percent of the content would have helped make the story read easier. On the other hand, cramming all everything into one issue, prevents this becoming a decompressed two issue ho-hum story.
Itâ€™s been a long time since Mike Mignola did art for a Batman title, and it will probably be a long time before we see his work in a Batman title again. Thankfully, artist Dustin Nguyen’s work is very reminiscent of Mignolaâ€™s style, and I like it very much. From his wiry interpretation of Commissioner Gordon, to the famous members of the Heirs of Dupin, to the totally different art used in the flashbacks, everything works in this Batman title.
- Heirs of Dupin – let’s see more of that Dini!
- Still keeping tabs on The Riddler
- Appearances by Catwoman, Detective Chimp, Blue Devil, and Oracle
- Art by Nguyen
- Seemed a tad wordy to me
If my biggest complaint in reading this issue was that I was forced to read more of Diniâ€™s brilliant writing, then by all means DC, give me more wordy done-in-one tales by the man who understands Batman. If Brian Michael Bendis can control an entire universe for Marvel, then DC could do gangbusters by hiring Paul Dini to write Batman, Detective Comics, Zatanna, Catwoman, Birds of Prey, Robin, and any other Batman related title (except for Simon Dark, that comic has nothing to do with Batman, other than being set in Gotham). If I could have a whole year of Dini-Done-in-One-with-Art-by-Nguyen, I would be a very happy camper indeed. Iâ€™m giving this issue a solid 4.5 out of 5 Stars. If you like your detective tales told in a single issue, then Detective Comics is a series you should enjoy month after month.