REVIEW: Detective Comics #871

Detective Comics #871

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Jock & Francesco Francavilla
Colors: David Baron & Francesco Francavilla
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher

$3.99 / 40 pages / DC Comics

I've been waiting for this one since July, and normally, I'd be worried that the final product couldn't live up to the expectations I've set for it. But in this case, I just wasn't.  We've all heard from Scott Snyder on how excited he was for this title, and his work on American Vampire has given me no reason to doubt he wasn't up for it.  On the art side of things, I couldn't be happier with Jock as the regular artist, and Francesco Francavilla on co-feature art duty.  Previously, I'd been lapping up Greg Rucka's Detective Comics work with a spoon, and dropped off as soon as he left the title. But this is how you get me back.

So, what did I think?

Detective Comics #871 delivered on every single promise made, and then some. The best thing about the current Batman era, in my view, is the ascendancy of Dick Grayson as Gotham's Batman.  Snyder continues that here. It's Grayson's book.  But unlike the stories over in Batman and Robin, the only other Batman book I'd been reading, this is a good old fashioned detective story, which is obviously appropriate to the title.  Right off, it's clear that Snyder knows Grayson very well.  From his nickname for Alfred, to a great moment on the roof with Jim Gordon, we're getting a Dick Grayson story.  He's entirely competent, but he's not Bruce Wayne, and I'm completely OK with that.  There's none of that grim stoicism of Wayne, and even though Dick is clearly playing the part while in the cowl, he's his own man; his own bat, as it were. 

The story concerns a rash of outdated supervillain tech, potions, and gadgets hitting the street and causing crimes all around Gotham when it falls into the hands of the wrong people.  Dick tracks down the source, in his own way, and finds that the case goes deeper and deeper with each new lead.  We don't know who's behind it yet, but like his mentor, Grayson isn't going to let them get away with it. There's also something going on with birds.

Jock has been my favorite sequential artist for a while, and while I'm not one of those readers who needs to see an artist do a big superhero book to prove their worth, there's no doubt he fits right in here. I've learned, much to my chagrin, that Jock's style is not for everyone, but looking at these pages, it's hard to think how readers could not be impressed with the mood he's set for this Gotham City.  He does a fantastic spooky Batman, and uses every bit of black in that cape to his advantage.  The cowl looks like actual cloth wrapped around someone's head. At the same time, the action sequences are dynamic and exciting.  If everything Jock drew took place in a rainstorm at night, we'd never get sick of it.  Jock even gets a chance at a comedy moment with the introduction of the fingertip "Bat-Taser".  He was hitting on every single level, and the work was elevated by the colors of David Baron who kept the palates sparse and eery.  Some pages are green, others are red.  When they rip all that away, and leave you with an empty white background, the visual punches you in the face like an exclamation point to the eyes.  I could look at these pages all night.

If all that weren't enough, Francesco Francavilla came along batting clean-up with an equally stunning set of pages for Snyder's Commissioner Gordon co-feature.  The story brings back a character I haven't thought about since I read Batman: Year One, and I made the same face Jim Gordon did when I realized what I was looking at.  With Francavilla, we're seeing a guy bring the total package.  He's drawing, inking, and coloring himself, and he killed on this.  I've seen and admired Francavilla's pinups for a while, but the inky shadows and acting in this story have me chomping at the bit for the next installment.  When was the last time you said that about a backup story?

There are a lot of things that can be done with a Batman comic book. As we've seen throughout the years, almost everything has been done.  What Snyder, Jock, Francavilla, and company are delivering here is some street level, grounded detective stories, focusing on the characters, and who they really are.  I was 100% satisfied, and can't get the next issue of Detective Comics in my hands soon enough.

Story – 5 / Art – 5 / Overall – 5

(Out of 5)


  1. Wow.  Straight 5’s.  I may move this to the top of my read stack. 

  2. Can’t wait! 

  3. Awesome to hear!  I’m holding out for the eventual Hardcover.

  4. ok well i guess i’m sold. I totally forgot that francavilla was doing the backup. I have Action Comics, and I need to get Detective comics back on my regular pull list to make things right in the universe. 

  5. I am crushed that Thanksgiving means my weekly DCBS shipment won’t reach me until Monday.  This will definitely be the first thing I read when I get my box.

  6. Wow.  Can’t wait to get to the comics store

  7. I had no doubt.

  8. must…not…read…this…review!!

    Okay I read as far as you loved this Josh, now i will wait until this afternoon, and i will read it first. been very excited for this book!

  9. So, what you’re saying is that this will scratch my Jock itch?

    … I’m sorry for that.

    Seriously though, you’ve made it so I can’t wait to read this, Josh. Thanks! I’m with MrLogical that I will be awaiting my DCBS box with even more enthusiasm than usual.

  10. @stupendous NO! It’s your fault Detective Comics is going to be canceled!

  11. @gobo-NO! its my fault…i didn’t have the entire spoiled for me 3 months ago when i didn’t pre-order it!!!111oneone

  12. Who’s week is it for POW? Ron’s? So this won’t be POW and neither will Scalped. There’s a gaping hoie in the universe where justice should be.

  13. I want this so bad!!  Every book on my pull list looks great this week, even Amazing Spidey Big Time!!  The comic shop opens up in an hour!!  It feels like I’ve been waiting forever.

    I’m glad to hear good reports about this.  I wish I had enough dough to pick up volume one of American Vampire as well, but I’m not working right now so I’m too broke.

    Next time I get some $$ up, I gotta do a nice little order of trades from Amazon.  I gotta get American Vampire, Sweet Tooth volume two, and CHEW volume two.  I might as well pick up the Batwoman Detective HC even though I already have all the damn issues!!

  14. Oh man, I can’t wait to read this.  I traveled home for a long holiday weekend, so I’m not going to be able to get this until next Tuesday, which is when my shop will be open again.  Le sigh….

  15. DANG IT!  I was trying really hard to not buy this but that just went out the window.

  16. Status: Excited.

  17. Can’t wait to get to the store for comics! Woohoo!

  18. Wow, a comic drawn by Jock given a perfect rating by Josh. Surprise surprise. Oh no wait, considering all the teaser art he has been posting on the news feed, it really isn’t.

  19. SOLD

  20. After I read Snyders plan for his take on Batman I was immediately sold. I think Morrison did an amazing job creating a villain for Dick with Prof Pyg, and Snyders plan for building challenges uniquely tailored to Dicks psychology shows he understands Gotham and he understands good characters. I am looking forward to seeing Dick get really fleshed out as a character and solidify his place as an A-list character, and not just a sidekick.

    I was talking to a buddy last night and I know everyones been saying it, but these are exciting times in the Bat-verse. I think we are seeing a transition as important as the first change from a darker Batman to campy Batman to asshole Batman. This may be a new version of Batman we will live with for the next 20 odd years, and my guess is that Batman is going to be more of a title similar to Mission Impossible or Fringe or shows along those lines. With the right story teller there will be some really great stories that could come out of that.

    I’m just wondering, with Dick becoming so popular is it appropriate yet for us to start naming our kids that again? Or is it still too soon? One things for sure, there is one Dick that stands up to the rest. Long Live Dick. 

  21. Wasn’t sure if I was gonna get this today, but you just sold me on it.

  22. That page does not look good….

    But I’m excited for the issue anyways. Great review Josh. 

  23. @Josh, there was this one panel that Francavilla drew in the backup that had Gordon pinching the bridge of his nose with frustration while walking through the aviary — it was gorgeous and expressive, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that particular bit of acting rendered as such before.

  24. Just read this, really really fantastic stuff!

    @TNC I think that page looks amazing.

  25. That page is gorgeous. The whole book is.

  26. I was beyond tired of having this comic marketed to me by every comic and comic website…and I’m not really a fan of Jock’s art (don’t hate it either)…but then I read the preview in the back of Batwoman #0 and I was SOLD on this based on the writing if nothing else.

    On the one hand, I have to play devil’s advocate and say that this is "JUST" another noir-ish street-level Batman book. Sorry, but I prefer comics and storytelling that’s more innovative. Give me a hundred Grant Morrison comics, half of which are too weird for their own good–because I just want something DIFFERENT. That said, there’s nothing wrong with solid conventional comics, which is what this is. Okay, a little more than "solid", but you get the point. There’s no way in hell I’d ever give this 5’s and say it’s an example of the comics medium "moving forward" or being the best it can be. But it’s still very good and I’ll eat a piece of humble pie and say I’m definitely buying the next issue. You didn’t have to hit me over the head with twenty posts of preview art to sell me on it.

  27. Who was the kid in the back-up? Been racking my brain but haven’t gotten it yet. Will definitely be checking Batman: Year One when I get home.

  28. @Conor & @thenextchampion. My last thread was pulled down so I will reiterate, although this wad a mediocre issue, I take issue with the fact that it is such a big deal because Josh is pushing Jock and Snyder hardcore. On the last video podcast, I commented how Josh did not include the latest redefining of the Joker by Azzerello even though it is easily the best since The Killing Joke. However Gotham Central made it on to the list even though Joker is in it for what? THREE ISSUES. And Death in the Family? Talk about nostalgia, is that story eve relevant apart from death of Jason Todd? An absurd disgrace to the Joker legacy. Gotham Central’s focus is the cops rather than the Joker himself and such nonsense makes me want to throw my mouse at my screen. Clearly Josh favours anything he likes (Rucka, Brubaker and Jock) and everything else be dammed, and that is what pisses me off is that great story’s that should be recommended to noons are replaced by whatever Josh likes, despite the tact they may be good for new readers to pick up. Rant over. X

  29. @MegaPhilip, I had the same question! I feel inadequate as a comic book fan not knowing

  30. Favoring things he likes? What’s the world coming to?

    (Not everyone likes The Joker OGN.)  

  31. This was a great issue!  Thanks for covering it.

  32. @Jordan0061 – Maybe you should start a website or a podcast, and then you can make your list, and people can tell you that you’re wrong for liking what you like.

  33. @Jordan0061: "Clearly Josh favors anything he likes?" Well… no shit. That’s what we do here.

    And as the "Batman Guy", and for the record, I would not have but that Joker hardcover in a Top 5 Joker stories list. I liked it but, not that much.

  34. @Pauontgomery. I HATE Punisher (MAX) but I recom
    mend it to my mates because it is the truest representation of the man REGARDLESS of who draws it..,,Josh. As I said before, my post was pulled down, it is without the most sadistic and heartless Joker I have seen since the Killing Joke. Now I am from London, if I were to rate who would rinse it every time I would say Garth Ennis and Leonardo Manvo on Hellblazer, just because I am London born and bred, however if you are giving people advice, you should look beyond the obvious ( your preference) and find out what portrays the charachter best, not just my favourites, because at the end of the day, we can all do that blind folded

  35. I…..

    We can’t presuppose what other people might like. Only recommend that which we like, and trust that our value system as readers, practitioners, or reviewers might be shared with our given audience. Or that with context and commentary, our readers and listeners can gauge their own level of interest. Ask us our opinion of a given book, and we’ll certainly give it, but it’s a waste of time to bring your least favorite things to show and tell. We’re not in the business of recommending things we don’t like.   

  36. So… wait. It’s bad to recommend things that you enjoyed? It’s also bad for a critic to recommend things s/he enjoyed? The more you know, I guess.

  37. Again @PaulMongtomery. What did Gotham Central offer us that we hadn’t seen before RE: Joker? NOTHING. What did Azzerello’s Jiker offer us despite the physical rip off? EVERYTHING. What is to be gained by reading Gotham Central or A Death in the family that you haven’t learnt? NOTHING. My whole argument is that Josh pushes creator over legitimate substance and that enrages me. I would never recommend Hush Returns Tpb over anything else, but Josh will do that because he likes he the artist/ writer. Shocking

  38. @Jordan0061: I think you have a differing philosophy than we do and we should probably leave it at that.

  39. There is no such thing as a "truest representation" of ANY character in comics.  Everyone varies from writer to writer and artist to artist. The most important thing is the quality of the art, how much you enjoy it and why.

  40. @Jordan0061. Just gonna say something that’s already been said. Not everyone liked Joker. I’m not really sure what you’re saying it brought to the table. He was sadistic and crazy… just like every appearance. 

    A Death in the Family is considered a classic story featuring the Joker. What’s so bad about recommending it? It’s a turning point for a few of the characters in the story. Is it hurting anyone because someone recommended that and not Joker?

     "pushes creators over legitimate substance." Good creators create good substance. Period. Josh (and everyone else on this site) has made it known when they didn’t enjoy something by one of their favorites. Hell, just this last week Josh had some major criticisms of Bendis, someone who he has named as one of his favorite writers. What do you want? I just feel like you’re going out of your way to stir shit up. 

  41. @conor. Sorry I didn’t see you had posted that already. Feel free to take my post down. Just in case it would further the debate and make this more of a debacle than it already was. Cheers.

  42. @Jordan0061 While I don’t grant your premise, feel free to write a user review of the culturally relevant stories you feel are being critically neglected. Accentuate the positive, yeah. 

    Moving on.  

  43. @Conor. Apart from a Death in the family (aside from the nostalgic, imam the ambassador to Ayatollah Khomeni hold any resonance with you now or ever? Apart from some cheesy web feeds as well as dialogue ( which the killing joke does better) can you only say that that was the best choice that was made RE:the ACTUAL CHARACTER as opposed to who wrote or drew him? As for Conor, you are fifteen years older than me and I am in awe of your knowledge

  44. @Paul Montgomery. One should not be the industry of promoting things that one does nit like, however, one should be in the industry of promoting things that will help noobs get to know the character as best they can. And that does not mean shamelessly, promoting their favourites left, right and centre. All I am saying is that Josh happens to do this more than the other two, solid, IFanboys

  45. @Jordan0061: I can say that it was the best choice for Josh, who was making the recommendation. If I’m making the recommendation, the list is different. Everyone’s list is going to be personal to themselves. You are the one who is establishing the criteria of what you think is the best representation of the character. But that’s your criteria and you’re not on the show.

    Okay, any further discussion on the segment Josh did on The Joker needs to continue in the proper comments section. This section is for discussion of DETECTIVE COMICS #871 and anything related to that. Further discussion of The Joker segment that Josh filmed that appears here will be deleted.

  46. @PaulMontgomery. Nothing would me happier

  47. @Jordan0061: I got news for you – both Ron and I promote things we like. Same as Josh. That’s what we do at iFanboy. It’s why we started it in the first place.

  48. This was an awesome comic and my pick of the week.

    I only bought it because of the writer and artist.

    I thought I saw somewhere in one of these Detective threads that Snyder is only on it for a few issues?? If true, I’m off it when he is off it.

  49. Seriously with this? You wanna make fun of what I’m wearing?

    You don’t have the same taste as me. I can’t help that. That’s probably a real good cue to ignore my recommendations.

    But if you’re going to make fun of me personally, I don’t have to have that on my site, which we do, all without cost to you. You don’t like it, find someone else who’s your Batman soulmate.

    Or go start your own website. And good luck with that.

  50. @Scorpion I hope that’s not the case, this guy REALLY gets Dick as Batman.  Francavilla is doing full art on the Gordon-centric February issue so maybe there was confusion and people thought that Jock was leaving?

  51. Good point, gobo. Hope that is the case.

    Jimski straight internet thuggin!

    Dissin the homey Josh is just wrong.

  52. @gobo: I’m just not a fan of Jock’s interiors. His covers are amazing but nothing has ever ‘wowed’ me when he did interiors.

    The page shown here is laid out very well. I mean any time Batman is in the shadows, it usually turns out well. But the shadow….or outline….or whatever you call it looks very crude and off model. Plus the cape looks completely out of place considering he’s just kneeling. Must be VERY windy outside… 

  53. What’s wrong with you? Batman trying to not get rained on.

  54. Also, so we can make sure nothing like that happens again.

    I’ve always said I’m not a fan of Jock. Josh has always said he is a huge fan of Jock.

    Different opinions, but I will in no way insult him for liking the man’s work or his snazzy outfits. I do hope that I can appreciate his artwork more though in this series because it’s getting nothing but great reviews. If anything, Francavilla will make up for any disappointments I might have. 

  55. Off-model Batman? The character sheet for Batman is pretty much "Pointy ears and a cape. You know…Batman."

  56. Now, I want to see this outfit . . .

    Bet it is pimpin’

  57. Weren’t you raving about the recent Batman confidential art from the dude who does The Maxx–Keith Moon or something.

    Naw, that was the drummer from The Who . . .

  58. @Paul: It just looks off model to me. I mean it also begs the question on what Dick is standing on out there….I see nothing so I assume he’s floating in mid air.

    But alas, I didn’t want to get into an argument about one page! I’ll get more into my feelings when I get the issue. 

  59. Sam Keith?

  60. I’m really looking forward to this book, like Josh I dropped Detective after Rucka left, I’m excited to be picking this along with Batwoman this week. At this point, this time, it’s awesome to be a batman fan. 

  61. Great review. I love Jock art. I only read Batman and Robin but this has swayed me.

  62. Why Josh gotta be recommending shit he likes? That’s not cool.

    For realsies though, good review Josh. I’ve been excited for this book since they first announced the creative team. I wasn’t able to get a copy today, so have to wait until Friday or Saturday. 

  63. @ScorpionMasada "Batman trying not to get rained on." Made me laugh sir.

  64. As a father of two, I regret sounding like some horny teen. Some things just can’t be helped.
    I have this Bat-boner going all month now. I don’t know what else to say. What a fantastic Bat month this is. ‘Tec is back baby!!!


  66. OK. It appears someone has finally written the story that, for ME, cements Dick Grayson in a Batman cowl and cape. I see now how there can be two Batmen and I am ok with it now. Previous to this, reading BnR and the other Grayson offerings, I looked at Grayson as a reluctant pretender to the throne, just keeping the costume warm till Bruce came back. I am not a huge fan of the artist, but you have to admit talent when you see it. I completely forgot about the Gordon backup and it was a wonderful surprise. Great book all around. As far as the “other” criticism in this thread (and others) discounting opinions, etc.. Its like Marvel in the nineties man. Too much Venom. I am off to enjoy my Turkey, I hope all of you do the same.

  67. it was good. i felt the colourist really dropped the ball. he really didn’t ad any excitement to the page 

  68. on the interior pages. the cover looks great 

  69. Wow.  That backup was amazing… and yeah, the main story was none too shabby either.  This is going to be great. 

  70. i agree: 5/5! Detective has been an awesome book for a while!