I know it is just fiction, but the final page of this book, which should come as neither a shock nor a surprise, is downright disturbing. I do not want to spoil anything about anything in this issue - especially not the last page, which really locks in the direction of one of Scott Snyder's major storylines that have threaded through his "Detective" work - but this last page made my sleep for the foreseeable future a little more uneasy.
Snyder has grounded Dick Grayson's adventures under the cowl in the inky, murky, shadowy depths of Gotham's soul, introducing new villains and putting doubt and hesitancy in Batman's thoughts and actions. This story is clearly not about Bruce Wayne under the cowl, as Snyder allows Grayson to open up to the reader, drawing metaphoric comparisons between Grayson's former life under the big top and his current life filling big shoes.
Similarly, the foes Grayson faces are not entirely as they appear. The new villains that Snyder has introduced, while none appear to be the ultimate nemesis for Grayson in a Joker-like manner, have legs and potential to bring more excitement and action to both Batman's and Grayson's lives in the future. This issue introduces Tiger Shark, who had been referenced in previous issues of this storyline. We don't learn much of Tiger Shark in this issue, save for his fetish to wear clothing made from endangered species and his affinity for a pirate's life. Still, he offers a challenge to Batman and puts Grayson in a spot to do some reflecting and deducing.
The wrap up of the Tiger Shark story - and continuation of the parallel James Gordon, Jr. story - illustrates Grayson's growth within the legend of the Batman, and offers the reader a chance to accumulate significant amounts of anxiety as Snyder teases along some gasp-worthy moments.
Before I go any further, I'd like to commend Jock for his stunning representation of the orcas throughout this story. I grew up wanting to be a zookeeper, then wanted to be an artist (naturally, I'm neither), but I still find cause for celebration when comic book artists care enough to make the animals in the stories look like the animals the story calls for. Bravo, sir!
Jock keeps the backgrounds minimal, like backdrops or sets on a stage play, which allows the page composition to sing and also encourages the characters to be the primary focus of the action throughout the story.
David Baron steps into the breach and pours emotion into the framework established by Jock via a moody and rangy set of colors. Baron is not afraid to bust out the blues and purples, oranges and browns, mix them all together and push them to maximize their brilliance. He does all that which amplifies the stark reality of Jock's shadow-encrusted figures and makes this book feel like a Batman book that is visually unlike any other Batman book you'll find on the new comics racks today.
Snyder has converted me to a regular reader of this title and given his future assignment with the Caped Crusader, I'm ready to sign up for more. "Detective" is simply the perfect primer that just so happens to contain a disturbingly magnificent story brought to us with splendid artwork.