Some of my fellow reviewers and I were lamenting the fact that so many of the DC stories seem to be simply taking up space until September’s relaunch. That is sooooo not the case with “Detective Comics.” Yes, we all know that Bruce Wayne is going to resume the mantle of Batman and kick Dick Grayson back into his Nightwing identity. Yes, the DCU is going to be different in less than fifty days, but Scott Snyder sure doesn’t let that affect the story he’s telling.
Last issue set the Joker loose upon Gotham once more. After all, who better to wrap up the first volume of “Detective Comics” than Batman’s greatest nemesis?
This issue picks up on that story as Commissioner Gordon abandons his case (which just so happened to have led him to the apartment of his son, James) to try to get to his loved ones before the Joker does. After all, the Joker “always comes after us. Our family. Anyone I care about.” That, my friends, is a nice tip of the hat that is sure to send longtime (and even casual) Batfans back to their shelves for an umpteenth reading of “The Killing Joke.” Problem is, Commissioner Gordon is way too close to both cases to truly see clearly on either one.
Snyder has done a magnificent job bringing the “detective” back to “Detective Comics,” whether through Batman’s investigations or Commissioner Gordon’s own work. The human condition Snyder puts on display through the view of these two strongest of men makes “Detective” a compelling read month in and month out. Snyder’s ability to crawl up into the warped minds of the antagonists in his writing gives me cause for concern for Snyder. His writing is that creepy.
As great as Francesco Francavilla’s artwork is, there’s something different to the stories that Jock draws. Those issues are more open, the characters in the panels more vulnerable, and the stories more. . .impactful. Francavilla’s work is more abrasive, grinding you down slowly. Jock’s work is a car-crash – all detail, design, and drama slammed onto the page in a way that just becomes embedded in your mind. Jock’s work seems to be a high intensity Batman while Francavilla is the slow burn. Either way, both artists genuinely contribute to making “Detective” a strong book. It just so happens that Jock gets the issue that features the return of the Joker.
The upside is that the Joker’s back and he’s a little ticked off that the Batman coming after him isn’t “his bat”! This leads to Joker putting up one hell of a fight, but also spilling with some gasp-worthy revelations. Jared K. Fletcher steps in to help make Joker just that much more creepy by differentiating Joker’s word balloons from everyone else in the book.
The bottom line is this: so many of DC’s books may feel like placeholders, inventory issues, or mailed-in almost stories, but not “Detective Comics.” Snyder, Jock, and crew don’t care how soon September may or may not be, they’re going to give you a story that socks you in the mouth and knees you in the groin right now.