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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.

detective845cover.jpgDetective Comics #845
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs
Cover by Nguyen

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 Dini’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, “I’m glad you’re back safely from the Prison Planet. No one could have foreseen how badly that would end.” Gee Bruce, how come you didn’t help out? And how come Dini knows what happened in Salvation Run when the final issue hasn’t arrived yet? Yeah, I’m still a bit miffed on that DC miss-step.

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It’s difficult to know if Selina has returned to her life of crime, but it is clear she isn’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.

It’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 Mignola’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.

The Good

  • 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

The Bad

  • Seemed a tad wordy to me

If my biggest complaint in reading this issue was that I was forced to read more of Dini’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. I’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.

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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6 Comments

  1. June 9, 2008 at 5:20 pm — Reply

    I agree.

    I was hoping that we’d get more of Catwoman, but was more than satisfied with the story that we got as it was told brilliantly, bringing in lots of plot threads but still managing to be self-contained in a single issue.

    Dini’s Detective continues to remind why I read Batman comics, no matter how much DC might be trying to get me to stop with all of that Batman R.I.P. stuff …

  2. Cory
    June 9, 2008 at 6:20 pm — Reply

    Detective Chimp?

  3. ykw
    June 9, 2008 at 10:05 pm — Reply

    Detective Chimp!

  4. Josh P.
    June 10, 2008 at 7:25 am — Reply

    Re: Letting Dini run more of the DC unviverse. While a ggod idea in concept, I just have one word for you:

    Countdown!

  5. June 10, 2008 at 8:06 am — Reply

    Josh: while I agree Countdown was a turd of a project, my only counter to your statement would be – ONLY Batman related titles. Dini has a much better handle on Batman, than he does any of the other characters he was forced to write for in Countdown.

  6. July 2, 2008 at 8:16 pm — Reply

    A fair review, Stephen. I dont agree that it was too wordy; seamed about right considering the characters involved.

    Couple fo points;

    That wasnt Oracle in the Heirs of Dupin sequence, despite the glasses and the red hair. The girl depicted was clearly a student and didnt quite have the tech Oracle normally uses! (plus, I dont think Babs has any pieceings). Apparently marplemiss99 is a real online amature detective, given a nod by Dini (and picked on by Riddler; what an honour! haha).

    Also, as much as ive dug Dini’s Tech, Id hate to see him controlling/writing all the Bat titles. While I think he’d have a handle on Robin, I think Fabs will be fab on that title and O like my Nightwing vibe a bit seperate from Bats. (Cant coment on Birds). But as for Batman’s other solo title, even if Morrison’s stuff isnt your cup of tea (while it certainly is mine; Im enjoying his stuff- with one or two exceptions- even more than Im likeing Tec. I prefer my Batman `pushed to the limit. As fun as Dini’s stories are, there isnt ever a real sence of danger or chalenge for the Dark Knight).

    So, I think DC’s absolutely doing the right thing serving up the two titles with distinctly different voices; it gives fans the chance to choose the Batman title they like rather than just effectively turning the two titles into a single by-monthly (sure, its an outside possibilty sales would benefit from doing it the other way- I havent seen the figures on the spider-titles recently- but I prefer going with the broader artistic option. Heck they’ve even given a loose nod to addressing the continuity issue by expressing that thecurrent Tec stuff- including the upcoming Hush arc- pre-dates the events in RIP.

    Sound fair?

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