Detective Comics #861

Story by
Art by
Jock, Cully Hamner
Colors by
Dave McCaig, David Baron
Letters by
Todd Klein, Jared K. Fletcher
Cover by
DC Comics

I won't deny it, when I first heard that Jock was coming in for three issues of "Detective Comics" I felt a tiny pang of worry. Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III had collaborated so well together on the title that someone else stepping in to draw Rucka's Batwoman stories felt like it could be disaster. Well, while I do miss Williams's art in general, it's nice to see that Rucka and Jock's collaboration is still a strong meshing of talents.

It helps that Rucka is writing scripts to carefully match his artist. After the fantastical, almost-trippy world of Alice and her minions, this is a much grimmer, grittier story for Jock to draw. Rucka splits the story between two different time periods; there's a track in the past when Bruce Wayne was still Batman and Jim Gordon was just a Captain in the GCPD, as well as the present day with Batwoman on the scene, Commissioner Gordon, and Captain Maggie Sawyer. Rucka doesn't rely on captions to explain the two parallel tracks, assuming that his readers are smart enough to notice the shifts. It's a trick that works; we get to compare and contrast two stories relatively early in each hero's career, as both Batman and Batwoman shake down the criminal underworld for their own specific target.

It's the Batwoman half that particularly grabbed my intention; not only because she's the current star of "Detective Comics," but because we're still learning about her as a character. Watching her reunite with her cousin Bette Kane in order to get more information about Cutter and Gotham College's campus is a classic play out of Batman's book, even as consequences are formed from their meeting. I've grown to quickly love our new Batwoman, and watching her plan out her moves and declare partial victories is fun.

Jock's art in "Detective Comics" is wiry and angular, a member of the less-is-more school of art. It's a great tactic for this story; Batwoman as a dark outline as she fights Cutter makes her look almost like a supernatural force rather than a person, exactly the sort of tactic to scare criminals that you'd want. There's a great sense of motion here too; when Batwoman strikes Cutter across the face, you can see the power of the impact as Cutter goes flying backwards while Batwoman's fist and arm finish their half-circle arc. Likewise, a head-butt looks strong enough to make the reader wince; Jock's art is so full of energy here that it kicks the fight into high gear. The quieter moments work too, mind you. I love how after the fight is over, we get the tight focus on Batwoman's eyes as she's in a crouched position. She looks dangerous and deadly, and it's at that moment where you almost have to remind yourself that this is Batwoman and not Batman. With a gorgeous two-page spread with each hero getting half of the art, it's a comparison that Rucka and Jock are deliberately making.

The back-up story starring the Question is as strong as always, too. Rucka and Cully Hamner have the only additional story that was mentioned as sticking around for the near future in DC's second feature update, and it's easy to see why. With slick art, a tense story, and strong personality conflicts, I'm already looking forward to the next chapter.

Right now it looks like we only get two more issues of Batwoman in "Detective Comics" before a (hopefully small) wait for the "Batwoman" ongoing series to kick off. Eight issues in, though, this continues to be DC's best ongoing series, even without Williams's art. That's no small feat. If you aren't reading Batwoman in "Detective Comics" you're missing out on a top-notch comic. Check it out.

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