Well, hot dog, it finally happened! Ram V wrote an issue of Detective Comics that I enjoyed from page one! This is the type of thing I have expected from V since he got the gig. Dan Watters, on the other hand, continues his trend of disappointing stories that you will be better off skipping. What is V doing that changed my perception of this title? There is only one way to find out cool kids! Let’s break this one down.
Oh man, this is my kind of Batman story! It seems that the missing ingredient to this tale was the Queen of Gotham City herself, Catwoman. V had a short but exceptional run in Catwoman Vol 5 #25–38. Catwoman seems to be the glue that holds this tale together. She is leading a rag-tag version of the Bat-Family, Gordon, Casandra Cain, both Chesires, Grundy and a surprise member that I did not expect. The mission is to save Batman before he is hung for all of Gotham to see. Catwoman is the star of the issue, proving that post-Gotham War, there is still more to the old Bat/Cat relationship. Even more so than Batman’s sidekicks, as they are nowhere to be found. I will say it is a bit strange how DC editorial is handling the Batgirls and Bird Boys in this story. I won’t blame this on V, since Cain and Oracle are a part of the story, but I find it strange that Nightwing or the Robins are left out on this one, even after what Batman did to Red Hood recently. V still has this story go through his gang of six-eyed freaks and werewolves, but their appearance in the tale is short and sweet. The more V separates them from the rest of the story, the better. They bog the story down with pretentious dialog that is eye-roll material at best. When V focuses on Catwoman and her tactics, he excels. V has a classic Bat-tale up his sleeve; we must get through this mess to get to it. I can feel it in my bones!
Jason Shawn Alexander is back for his second issue in a row and is breaking out the Kelley Jones in this one. I honestly would love to try and see if I can trick people at the local comic shop by telling them that Jones drew this and see if they know if he did or not. Alexander’s art is creepy and rough in a good way. There is a grand splash page of Batman being walked to the noose area on public display that wonderfully captures the grime and grit of Gotham City. The panels of Catwoman leaping from rooftop to rooftop as she breaks into old Arkham to tell Batman they are coming for him is a fun, nocturnal adventure. Alexander’s Selina Kyle is a goth queen draped in black like Cassie Hack without the fishnets. Alexander’s use of shadows in already dark environments is awe-inspiring and, frankly, what you expect from Gotham City: shadows upon shadows, upon shadows. When Alexander needs to be bold and detailed, he is, and when he needs to get creative with his layouts, he does. The writer and artist are both in a fantastic groove, which is on display here.
As for the backup tale, Watters delivers “Toxic Love.” This tale features Chesire and her daughter Lilian Harper, aka the Chesire Cat, as the stars. This tale did not keep my interest, not that I am surprised since Watters has a knack for letting me down. Not even my love for good old Grundy can save this one. Caspar Wijngaard illustrates the tale, and their art reminds me of what Luca Maresca is currently doing with She-Hulk. Not only is it the artist/colorist that gives off those vibes, but the execution. The way these two artists use color is phenomenal. It might be what I like most about the book artistically. That is saying something about how great Alexander was in the primary. While the story wasn’t for me, the art is the saving grace here.
I have to say that I have not been this pleased with back-to-back issues of Detective Comics in a very long time. Some complained about how Tyinion would “force” new characters in his Detective run, but I think those characters had substance and enhanced the story, mainly Punchline and Clownhunter. I agree that Ghost-Maker was the worst new Batman character created until the Six-Eyed Woman and the Werewolf of Gotham. I am reading the story and cannot even remember their names; that is how dull they are. But when V digs down into the classic characters, Catwoman, Gordon, Batgirl, Oracle, and so on, he can craft a wonderful suspenseful tale. Will Catowman’s plan work? Can she save Batman before he is hung for all of Gotham to see? I am not sure, but I know this for the first time since Ram V was announced as the writer of this legacy title. I am excited about next month’s pool issue.
Until next time, BOFer’s! Oh, do not forget to check out the latest episode of the BOF Podcast, where Justin Kowalski and I bring Aquaman-On-Film to life! You do not want to miss that one. – Peter Verra