REVIEW: Detective Comics #867

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How many times have you visited the YouTube to watch videos of flash mobs doing their thing, having fun, annoying the heck out of those around them, and generally causes confusion? Now replace the giant Jedi fight at The Mall, with a bunch of people dressed up as the Joker, and you’ve got the makings of a murder mystery that might just bring Gotham crashing to the ground.

DETECTIVE COMICS #867
Writer: David Hine
Artists: Scott McDaniel
Inker: Andy Owens
Colors: David Baron and Allen Passalaqua
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Michael Siglan and Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics

Previously in Detective Comics: The Joker is presumed missing, unless of course this issue takes after Batman and Robin #12. Dick Grayson has replaced Bruce as the Dark Knight, and he’s done a decent job in keeping the crime in Gotham in check. And by crime in check, I really mean, not causing the city to burn to the ground – yet.

LET’S BURN THIS MUTHA DOWN!

I think we all know what flash mobs are, but for whatever reason, David Hine thought it would be better to call the random gathering of people doing crazy stuff a Mad Mob in this issue. Perhaps it has something to do with Mad Magazine, or perhaps someone isn’t quite in touch with the hip happening things all the kids are doing these days. Anyhoo… A group of Jokerz decide to go to the local mall to have some fun, but as one might expect it gets a little out of hand, prompting mall security to call in the real police. I like the use of the name Jokerz as it does tie to the Batman Beyond universe and creates a greater sense of continuity between the DCU timeline; plus any word that ends in zed means it is wicked cool and totally street, yo.

Detective Bullock warns the officers not to use real bullets, but when a Joker, who isn’t THE Joker, and not quite the Mad Mob Joker pulls a gun and shots a cop in the leg, chaos erupts, and many innocents are killed. Turns out the mystery Joker in question is a former victim of the Clown Prince of Crime, who is using a variant of Joker Venom to cause the mad mobs to go a little extra insane. The reveal that the mob was hopped up on goofballs is sure to vindicate the police officer who fired into the crowd, but it certainly doesn’t sit well with the community. It’s like a pressure cooker ready to blow as mob of Jokerz storms Gotham Central ready to tear the building to the ground. And they succeed more or less, by killing several officers, with the fake Joker leaving a cryptic message behind.

While a fake Joker causing trouble seems like a bad thing, the police killings prompt a fake Batman to get some airtime on television telling viewers they need to go out and clean up crime vigilante style. After a second reading, I’m more convinced Fake Batman is simply Fake Joker double dipping into his cosplay closet.

A GREAT COMIC FOR PSYCHOLOGY AND SOCIOLOGY CLASS

While the story itself seems rather tame when compared to other Batman stories, I really find this particular issue as a perfect launching point to discuss social, moral, and judicial laws. Should the police use necessary force to control a group of people going crazy on public property? Is vigilantism a good thing? What if it is only one person doing it, versus a mob? Are the police really prepared to deal with mass hysteria and large crowd control, when they can’t control the crowd? The questions go on and on, and I think a group of college students could have a field day discussing these issues in class or even a panel at a major comic con. This is the first time in a long time that a superhero comic book has prompted me to think about political and social issues, and that can only be a good thing in the long run.

JOKERZ, JOKERZ EVERYWHERE

Scott McDaniel has always impressed me ever since I saw his work in Nightwing way back in 1996. His style is instantly recognizable – especially in the way he draws noses, and it is a style that is appealing to me as a reader and comic art collector. I like the cartoony feel to his characters, while still keeping the proportions and body structures realistic. The only problem I saw in this particular issue is the opening double-page splash when the mad mob erupts, and a group of women on one side of the page look very similar to one another except for the skin and hair color. It does have a kind of copy/paste kind of feel to it, and it is something that I haven’t noticed in McDaniel’s art before. Hopefully this is a one time thing as he usually is able to make each person look different in his work.

BOTTOM LINE: WORTH IT

Lately, I haven’t reviewed many superhero comics because there really hasn’t been anything that has grabbed my attention. Sure impostors of Joker and Batman aren’t a new story point, but the real world connections did give me a reason to think and reflect. Any time any story can do that it deserves a bit of attention. There are 30 actual pages of story, which gives this kick-off chapter more heft and impact. Detective Comics #867 is worth picking up and is definitely worth 4 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★★☆