Sunday, January 2, 2011


Detective Comics #872 REVIEW

There's something to be said for writers new to a comic who play a slow hand. Too often we see new writers who get into "the sandbox", so to speak, and get an itchy trigger finger, piling on characters unnecessarily. I saw a little bit of that in David Finch's Batman: The Dark Knight, but even that wasn't too overplayed. Scott Snyder is delivering a 3-issue arc that not only slow plays the drama, but manages to put together a number of "sandbox" moments in a natural, unforced way. Sufficed to say, it's a pretty brilliant book.

In part 2 of the 3 issue "Black Mirror" arc, Grayson-Batman is digging deeper into the mysterious "Mirror House", an underground auction house of criminal and superhero items. As you can guess, it's put together by a cast of less than honest characters, but it does appear that they are new characters (always a tough feat in the packed ensemble of Gotham characters existing in the DCU). Along the way we get some answers to the unanswered deaths in the first issue, as well as meet up with Barbara Gordon/Oracle and Tim Drake. Snyder hits the nail on the head with his characters' voices, and the back-and-forth between Dick and Barbara is a perfect mix of natural humor and just-under-the-skin sexual tension. The Dick/Tim conversation, although only delegated to one page, succinctly captures the brotherly feel of these two. Hell, we even get a Batman/Bullock conversation (can you remember the last time??).

The second-feature of Gordon and his son wraps up the book, and it may be too slow for what it wants to acheive. We essentailly get a dineer conversation between Barbara and Jim, and although the dialogue is fresh and gives a better impression on the mystery behind Gordon's son, it's much too confined to be as mesmerizing as the first chapter.

I'd be kicking myself if I didn't mention that Jock's pencils have never looked better. Ever. There are Jock detractors who say that his angular look is too "stylish" and not consistent enough, and they're right to a certain extent. Jock sacrifices facial consistency to deliver mood and tone to the story. His Grayson face on page 4 doesn't really look like the face on page 5. But that's alright, when he keeps putting splash pages together like Batman nose-diving out of Oracle's spire. Meanwhile, I don't think anyone will say anything about Francesco Francavilla's art in the Gordon back-up except that this guy is going to be huge in the coming year. Since Francavillaa does his own pencils and coloring, you can't really tell where the pencils end and where the paint-like tones begin. It envokes a lot of Tim Sale memories, and that isn't a bad thing by any stretch.

All in all, we all know that part 2 of a 3-issue arc is usually story set-up for the big bang in the conclusion, but this issue is still successful in that respect. With Synder stating in interviews that he's been putting all of his focus into Detective Comics, you would think he would want to mash everything he could into the story. Synder's use of story over flash pays off in spades, and I for one am more than willing to wait for the conclusion to this debut story.


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