“Detective Comics” #49 contains the second part of “The Bronze Age” by Peter J. Tomasi, Fernando Pasarin and Matt Ryan, and so far it’s shaping up to be the creative team’s best work on the title to date. With a mixture of detective work and thrills, there’s just the right balance in this comic to keep readers interested.
The basic concept of “The Bronze Age” is simultaneously attention-grabbing and a little boggling: a serial killer is not only murdering people based on statues of famous people across Gotham, but also removing a bone from each of them. That’s in no small part why Tomasi’s plot works; there’s enough going on here for readers (and Jim Gordon) to comprehend, but just enough of a question mark left hovering above it that it keeps us from getting bored. Tomasi doesn’t reveal all of the killer’s plans or make it too easy to figure out, and we’re in for the ride alongside Gordon.
At the same time, Gordon, Bullock and company are doing some real detective work against the thrills of violent confrontations with the killer, and that’s been fun to read. Batman-as-detective is an element that is always welcome in “Detective Comics” (for obvious reasons!) and Tomasi does a good job showing the process, from needing to eliminate potential leads to the problem where you literally have to monitor hundreds of places across a city simultaneously. Add in a little character work involving Jim’s fear over the killer targeting Barbara, and you end up with a solid, enjoyable script.
Pasarin and Ryan’s art is similarly solid. Certain moments — like the victim in the spacesuit tangled up on the spire — are eye-catching, not just because of the iconography but in how they execute it. I love the way that the body hangs with its dead weight from the cords, or how there are extraneous lines tangled up in the entire process. Similarly, you can see the people in the nearby apartment building watching it all unfold, which is a nice touch for something that few will take the time to notice. The action sequence involving the burning of Jeanne d’Arc is especially gripping, with the way the fire roars up around her, which provides so much texture and fine detail that it reminds me a lot of artists like Ethan Van Sciver. Chris Sotomayor’s colors are spot on here, too, with reds that look almost painful to see as she’s surrounded.
There’s a lot to like here, and I feel like Tomasi, Pasarin and Ryan have settled into “Detective Comics” well. If this creative team continues to tell stories about Jim Gordon after Bruce Wayne picks the mantle back up, that’s something I could definitely get behind.