Pick of the Week

04.05.2006 – Detective Comics #818

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Writer – James Robinson
Penciler – Leonard Kirk
Inkers – Andy Clarke & Wayne Faucher
Colorist – John Kalisz
Letterer – Travis Lanham

DC Comics – $2.50

Would it be wrong to select one’s Pick of the Week mostly because of the warm and fuzzy feeling it gives the reviewer? Do said warm and fuzzy feelings make the reviewer less of a man? Can a Pick of the Week consist entirely of rhetorical questions?

This week saw a solid batch of comics that yielded a four book horse race. Jonah Hex #6 was, once again, excellent in all facets. It not only featured another great stand alone story that hinted at details of Jonah’s dark past (how his face got all fucked up), but it had a kick ass cover by Brian Bolland. Ex Machina #19 had one it its stronger issues in the series and featured sharp political banter reminiscent of early West Wing. You know, the kind of debate that is completely missing from modern American politics. Teen Titans #34 was so good and so much better than I expected and you all came very close to seeing its cover up above these words, and not the looming stare of Bruce Wayne (or is it Harvey Dent?).

And then there is Detective Comics #818, which is part three of the One Year Later storyline running through the two Batman books. The strangest thing about this storyline so far is that even though all thre books have been written by James Robinson, the two Detective Comics issues have been much stronger than the Batman issue. I’m not sure why, exactly, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that the art team in Detective Comics is so much stronger than the one in Batman.

It’s interesting that the Batman books and the Superman books are following each other so closely in format to kick off One Year Later, each with one storyline unfolding over two books. I question the wisdom of this, because if you believe internet message boards, there’s not much that comic book fans hate more than being forced to buy books to follow one storyline. On the plus side, the story is unfolding much faster this way.

In the year since Infinite Crisis ended, Gotham City has been without its protectors. Batman, Robin and Nightwing took a year long trip around the world to build trust and, apparently, seek further skills training. A place like Gotham City can’t be left to its own devices; chaos would rule. So who has filled the crime fighting vacuum? The clues would seem to point to Harvey Dent and his completely restored face. Oh, and his double-barreled pistol. Did I mention that C-list villains KGBeast and Magpie have shown up dead with two identically spaced bullet holes in their craniums? Someone’s on a lame villain hunt. And that someone should really close up shop in Gotham and take their act to Metropolis, where the lame villain quotient is really way too high. Superman’s rogue’s gallery could use some major pruning.

I’m really enjoying this storyline. It’s good to see Batman and Robin working together without any underlying resentment or antagonism. That hasn’t happened in a long while. This would be a good time to mention that I actually really like Robin’s new costume. Way back in 1991 when they first changed Robin’s costume, I nearly had a heart attack at age 13. But this time I’m more mature (barely) and able to think about these things rationally. The new suit is a nice hybrid between Batman and Robin. The changes are logical. I like it. I just wish they’d send a memo out so that all the artists can agree on how the mask looks and the colorists can agree on whether the boots, gloves and cape are black or green.

Conor Kilpatrick
Taking sidekick applications
conor@ifanboy.com

Did you read Detective Comics #818?
Add a comment and tell everyone what you think about this week’s comics!
Would it be wrong to select one’s Pick of the Week mostly because of the warm and fuzzy feeling it gives the reviewer? Do said warm and fuzzy feelings make the reviewer less of a man? Can a Pick of the Week consist entirely of rhetorical questions?

Comments

  1. Tec 818 was great. You’re right about the art team being better than on Batman. It seems like Robinson is really trying to reverse the last 2 years of bad Batman books/behavior slowly but surely through this story arc. The give and take with Alfred down in the cave was a good scene. When was the last time we’ve seen Batman not act like a complete @$$ to his surrounding family/team? Recognizing that he needs a “daytime” assistant was a nice lead-in to the back-up story as well. The give and take between Batman and Bard was another nice touch. Things like “honest men don’t flinch from me” stuff and talking about Gordon being a good man give me hopes for the Batman line. The capper for me was Batman praising Tim and telling him that he could surpass Nightwing someday. Wow. This isn’t the same Batman as the one that appeared in that abomination known as WarGames. It was a small week for me on the buying front but this was one that I did get and I’m glad I did. I was on the verge of dropping Batman after a 20+ year run. Between War Games, Winnick and City of Crime, I had quit enjoying reading a Batman monthly in the last few years…

  2. i dont know why, but i just can never seem to really enjoy anything batman. this week my fav book was moonknight.

  3. You liked Moon Knight (which was good), but you can never seem to like anything Batman?

    Does not compute…

  4. I concur with Logan…

  5. Moon Knight was good, the art was excellent. But c’mon, you can’t even like anything Batman but you can go Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs over Moon Knight? That’s all got to be based in some Marvel/D.C. bias or bias against Batman because of the success of the character. In spite of his popularity there are some excellent Batman stories.

    In regards to Conor’s review. I do think the DC is making a very concerted effort to force people to buy both Batman and Detective and the same for Superman and Action. Usually this does turn people off, but i see their strategy for both as saying ‘we cancelled Adventures of Superman and Batman:Gotham Knights, we’re back to the original two for both of these characters and if you are going to follow them, you have to buy two books each’. I personally think that pretty fair. I am sure though that they eventually will each have 3 or 4 books again some day, but sticking to these 4 titles (all waaaaay up there in the numbers) goes back to the roots for them.

  6. Hello! Moon Knight IS Batman-lite!

    Also, I am drunk.

  7. Moon Knight was the best book this week because of the DOOM cameo

  8. What’s the deal with Moon Knight? I mean, I know who he is, know his origin(s), and didn’t really like him back in the day, except for like the really early stories. No doubt Hitch’s art looks pretty, but I just don’t know.

    “I have to agree with the Detective pick, though. I do think TT was a close second, but the way that Robinson is repersonalizing Bats & Co., I’m diggin’.

  9. I am going to change the discussion a bit because I did not think Moon Knight was even in the running. Though I enjoyed Detective Comics, I think that Teen Titans dominated the competition. To see the pain that the team has went through this past year was gripping. Robin and Cassie had the most emotional exchange I’ve seen in years.

  10. Teen Titans was great. I was really, really impressed by it.

    Between that issue and the scene with Batman telling him that he could surpass Nightwing, it was a good week to be Robin.

  11. Good week to be Robin, if you discounted the who “framed for murder” thing. I think you bring up points about Detective I may not have noticed without your analysis. Batman is being nice. He got his shit together. That means that they’ll have to adjust where they get their stories from in the future, which is good, because they’re going to have to think again. Thumbs up for Detective. I also picked up Robin from last week, and enjoyed it as well.

    Jonah Hex, excellent. Apache done it. Ooh, a mystery!

    Ex Machina would have been my pick, for the reasons Conor mentioned above.

    I didn’t read Moon Knight, but I did pick up Aquaman 41. I’m not sure if I like it, but I keep placing my bet that Busiek will do something interesting soon. Now, where I loathed the shark thing in Green Lantern, I find King Shark somewhat funny. Not really sure why. I guess if you’re doing a book about the ocean, a big shark isn’t so silly. But not in GL.

    I didn’t get Moon Knightm so you can fight it out amongst yourelves. But liking Moon Knight and not liking Batman is like being a fan of Creed and thinking Pearl Jam is not so much.

    (rock analogy)

    Finally, not enjoying batman for a while? Go back and read the whole Cataclysm and No Man’s Land thing was EXCELLENT. If you don’t like that, you just don’t like Batman.

  12. I read Teen Titans and I really think that this book has gone from good to great in writing and the art by Tony Daniels,who really changed his style for the better. I bought part 3 of the Batman story but I cant find part 2. It actually sold out at mid town comics.

  13. I’m really enjoying the Batman titles one year later. The Super titles too. I enjoyed this issue . . . Still, this wasn’t my pick of the week. I’d have to say that Teen Titans was really great. I’m dying to know who is in the new Doom Patrol and thought the ending was a nice shocker reminiscent of the earlier Teen Titans from Geoff John’s run with cliffhanger endings.

    Also, I just listened to your podcast where the pick of the week was Queen and Country and have to say you guys rock. I genuinely look forward to your podcasts and recommend you to everyone I know who reads comics. Unfortunately I don

  14. Darrel, I’m with you too. I can’t find the Batman issue either, but I’ve read both Detectives. Actually in my shop the other day, they put up a bagged and boarded issue of the last Detective for 5 bucks. I think the demand is very high at the moment. I followed the story well enough though.

    Seth, thanks a ton for the good words. That’s exactly the reason we started this site, and started doing this. At the moment, a mixer would be kinda out of the field of possibility, as we’re separated by about 3000 miles, but who knows what the future may bring. I’m working on something to do with the comic-con in san diego this summer, so we’ll see if anything comes of that.

    As far as those book reader friends, you’ve just go to shove a copy of Maus in their hands. It won a Pulitzer! Then, I would say to try something like Bendis’ Torso. For the people who have a problem with comics, it’s best to start them on something that has nothing to do with superheroes I’ve found. I mean, if they read books, they’re halfway there. You’ve just got to find comics that appeal to the tastes they have in books. And there should be enough out there that does.

  15. It just occured to me – as much as I liked Moon Knight, I probably would have liked it 10x better had the art been in a different style. This is not Finch bashing. I think someone in a moodier, creepier vein – think John Paul Leon – would have served the tone of the story much better, rather than Finch’s more standard Marvel style.

  16. It’s funny, because all I’ve heard over and over again about this book is how much people like the art. Now, I’m with Conor, in that I’m not a Finch fan, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the majority.

  17. I just read this book this morning. I’m not a batman reader at all, and I LOVED it.

  18. feh – that still won’t convince me and Conor ain’t here to defend it! haha.

    Just kidding, glad to hear you dug it – maybe I’ll see if I can flip through it in the store next time I go in.

  19. Whenever I’m at Borders, I read comics that I wouldn’t generally read. This morning, I read Detective #818, and I read Amazing Spiderman where Tony Stark tells Peter all about that law that’s going into effect. I’m so excited about this Civil War stuff that I’m thinking of adding Amazing to my pull list for the time being.

    Anyway, thanks for the recommendation.

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