Who would cause Bruce Wayne to use a gun? And is Bruce’s greatest foe really Jim Gordon, as the book’s cover asks?
DETECTIVE COMICS #19
Writers: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Pencils: Greg Capullo and Alex Maleev
Inks: Danny Miki and Alex Maleev
Colors: Fed Plascencia and Brad Anderson
Group Editor: Mike Marts
Associate Editor: Katie Kubert
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in BATMAN: The Dark Knight is still recovering from the recent death of his son, Damien Wayne, who was also Robin. Since the New 52 began, we’ve seen a year-long storyline, two one-issue tales and a several month-long battle with the Joker. Before Zero Year begins, how will a pair of two-part stories do?
UPDATING BATMAN’S ROGUE’S GALLERY/TECH CONTINUES
Originally, books solicited by DC Comics were part of what was called the “WTF” month, which was later dropped. Each issue that hits the stands in April is supposed to have a big shock somewhere in the issue. Both stories in this issue have plenty of surprises!
The book starts off with “Nowhere Man” from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, the book’s usual creative team, then moves to “Ghost Lights” with Superman teaming up with Batman, from Tynion and Maleev.
I’m a lifelong Batman fan. In fact, the first thing I remember reading was a Batman 80-page annual in which the Caped Crusader had built a wooden frame/glider that allowed him to soar in the air above a castle in Great Britain. As Frank Miller once said about opening up his first Batman comic, I fell in! With the new “dynamic duo” of Snyder and Capullo, I still get that experience with each issue. It does this old Bat-fan’s heart good to see the Dark Knight flying so high!
The biggest surprise happens in the first few pages of the first story, in which Bruce Wayne has apparently shot down at least three bank guards and taken a woman named Martha (just like his mother) hostage. He confronts the police and Jim Gordon outside the bank. Once a smoke bomb is detonated, Bruce jumps on a motorcycle that has a shotgun with it. When Gordon tells Bruce to step away from the bike, Bruce shoots Gordon in the chest. While asking for an explanation as to why Bruce is doing all this, Jim notices that Mr. Wayne is wearing a Batman uniform underneath. Then Bruce actually drives the motorcycle over Gordon’s chest as he escapes. Talk about cold-hearted!
The New 52 has given the Batman creators a chance to upgrade Batman’s tech as well as his villains. A long-time baddie gets a serious update in this issue.
While using his new tech to analyze a blood sample, Batman discovers that it bears the original imprint of Basil Karlo, otherwise known as Clayface. But the Dark Knight also discovers that the shape-shifting villain has mutated. No longer does he merely mimic people. Once he’s touched any DNA from a person, he can absorb it and fully become that individual. Creepy!
In the last sequence, Clayface captures the real Bruce Wayne and says he will use the millionaire to end Batman once and for all! Is the Bruce Wayne we saw at the beginning of this tale Clayface, or has Bruce somehow been changed? We need to come back next month to find out for sure!
There are tons of wonderful tidbits for us to enjoy, including Jim Gordon telling Bruce they’ve been friends since before even the Zero Year (the story coming in two months); an appearance by The Reaper, a villain created by Mike W. Barr and Alan Davis; a sighting of Detective Harvey Bullock; Batman riding the cycle from the film The Dark Knight after Bruce drives away on the motorcycle previously mentioned; and a flashback in which Batman works with the now-deceased Damien/Robin.
The cover for issue #20 has Batman fighting Bruce Wayne, so we’ll see how that all works out before Zero Year kicks off!
In “Ghost Lights,” the Man of Steel appears, asking Batman if he wants to talk about the recent tragedy he’s endured. Instead, the Dark Knight prefers to keep focused on finding out what happened to six people who went missing in a building. The two team up, but Superman finds that he’s out of his league when they encounter a supernatural foe, the Will o’ the Wisp.
This latter story provides a good thematic balance when compared with the initial tale, and I’m anxious to see how both resolve next month.
THE ARTISTS PULL US INTO THE STORIES VISUALLY
Although Andy Kubert was advertised as being the artist for “Nowhere Man,” Mr. Capullo does his usual powerful job, and his art sparkles, shining when dark or light (and every shade in between) is needed. I particularly liked it when Clayface appears in the last panel, and he has two sets of teeth in his mouth. Yuck!
For a supernatural story, Maleev’s art is the perfect fit. Dark and moody, we get a sense of just how dangerous and unnatural the situation is. Good job!
BOTTOM LINE: BATMAN CONTINUES TO BE A POWERFUL TITLE, NO MATTER HOW LONG THE STORIES ARE!
The “Court of Owls” story has already become a classic, in my opinion, and “Death of the Family” has set the standard extremely high for any future confrontations with the Joker. I’m glad that the book also gives us engrossing shorter tales as well! Be sure you pick up this issue, and be back next month for the conclusions!
Batman #19 gets 5 out of 5 stars.
DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!