Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 12.29.2010 – Detective Comics #872

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904
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Avg Rating: 4.7
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 24.3%
 
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Written by SCOTT SNYDER
Art and cover by JOCK
Co-feature art by FRANCESCO FRANCAVILLA

Size: 40 pages
Price: 3.99

If I really think about it, this issue probably got its foothold on Pick of the Week status back in September when Jock released the cover image.  There's something about that cover that just smacked me around, and screamed in my face.  With subtlety, no less.  From the moment I saw it, I knew this was going to be a great issue it was wrapped around.  Now that I've read the issue, the thing that's even more impressive is how narrative that haunting gas mask and crowbar actually are.  The issue is all right there.  Genius.

I didn't think this was going to be the pick until I got to the crowbar.  The crowbar actually holds a pretty special place in the whole Batman mythos, as well as for me personally.  A Death in the Family was the first Batman comic book I ever read.  For those of you familiar with that story, you know the significance of that crowbar.  It was the moment when, as an 11 year old, I thought, "I don't think I'm supposed to be reading this, and that is just great."  But in this story, the moment the crowbar is revealed, I was once again reassured that Scott Snyder is a writer who knows what Batman is all about, Dick Grayson or otherwise. Because Batman isn't just about the guy in the mask, it's about the whole group of characters, and the world of Gotham City, and the cops, and the whole damn thing.  Snyder's grasp of the whole damn thing isn't surprising obviously. I knew from talking to him before his first Detective issue hit that he got it.  Then I read Detective Comics #871, and that confidence was amplified many times over.  So I was reading this issue and enjoying it just fine, actually a little relieved that it wasn't something I had to write about again, and they revealed that crowbar.  The assembled characters in the scene gasped, "Ooooh!" and "It's Beautiful!" and then Batman's trap was set.  Now we've got a Batman story on our hands.

There were other great things about the issue as well, all doing what I like best in a Bat family book, exploring the relationships Dick has with Barbara and Tim, and even Harvey Bullock, all wrapped up in some action scenes and detective work, as promised. The whole thing culminates in a great cliffhanger that managed to make me think of an act break from the Adam West Batman series.  I mean, how will he get out of that? It certainly makes you want to tune in next week.  Doesn't it, Bat Fans?  I know that Batman is a character who is able to be molded into all these different types and tones of stories, but we all have our favorites, and our touchstones, and the best thing about Snyder's work on this title so far is that it fits right in with my favorite versions of Batman, like Batman: Year One, and Greg Rucka's phenomenal first run on Detective Comics.

Speaking of Batman: Year One, the back-up story with art by Francesco Francavilla is just as good as the A-story.  It highlighted a facet of Gordon's relationship with his daughter I never knew about.  I'd completely forgotten about his son James since they Frank Miller story.  I thought they'd ret-conned him out of continuity or something, but I'm really enjoying having it all rolled out in front of me. I have no idea what's going to happen, but I have such affection for these characters that I am totally riveted for the next moment, and they're coming in such small chunks that I'm absolutely salivating for the next part, which is what good serialized stories should do. I'm sure when people read the whole thing in one piece one day they'll enjoy it just fine, but there is real entertainment value to getting just a taste, and wanting more, only to have to wait, like everyone else.

If he'd only done that cover, Jock would have done enough, but joy of joys, he's still killing on these interiors.  The thing I've noticed in this issue is that in addition to being able to pummel my eyes with outstanding splash pages, Jock is an excellent storyteller.  The quiet scenes read really well, and set you up for the dramatic moments by lulling you into a sort of calmness.  Then you're hit with one of those images that leaps off the page (or out of the tower).  As the issue got nearer to the ending, the auction scene just got more dramatic and you could feel the "wrong" that Dick was feeling as he was trapped in that room.  There was a lot of focus on eyes. Mean eyes.  There was a palpable fear on those pages as the anonymous crowd turned in their rage, and the issue built to an almost musical crescendo of visual tension.  I think it's fair to say that Jock's level of craft, working in concert with Snyder's script, is getting better, and that this is the perfect vehicle for him. 

This is going to be one of those Batman stories I remember for a very long time, as a perfect marriage of story and art.  In a time when I'm finding myself backing away more and more from the same stories I've read over and over again featuring the same characters over and over again, it's so satisfying to read Detective Comics and find something that feels so right.  All it took was a crowbar.

Josh Flanagan
Show of hands: Who thought I was gonna go with Scalped?
josh@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Will be picking this up in the morning, can’t wait. The first issue of the arc was amazing, and the artwork is superb.

  2. I thought you were gonna go with this.

  3. I wasn’t going to pick this up
    … I’m a bigger Grant Morrison fan than I am a Batman fan, but you sold me.

  4. @Josh Metaphorically raising my hand here.  Scalped was awesome (as usual), but Detective is really coming into its own.  I think it’s tossup for me.

  5. Just got back from my shop…and it was sold out.  Looks like I will be going on a hunt tomorrow.

  6. New comics aren’t out until tomorrow here.  Can’t wait to pick this one up.  Loved the last issue.

  7. with my luck it will be sold out by tomorrow when i get there…

  8. Great pick, Conor! (*imagine a double take*) WAIT A MINUTE!  WHAT? JOSH?  😉

  9. Can’t disagree with the pick. I liked it just okay and don’t think it’s really breaking any new ground, but I see the quality here. The cover’s great. The interior isn’t to my style, but Jock obviously does what he does very well. Snyder has a great grasp on the characters. The only faux pas I saw was how cheesy he made the cabal in some ways (shouting “Boo” and “Yes”?).

    I like the Grant Morrison stuff more. I think there’s a ton more depth to it that readers only seeking out “fun” aren’t even going to register. To me, this “Detective” stuff is “just” your standard solid Batman comic. It goes through the motions. But it does so in a very capable way, every aspect of which is high-quality.

  10. @froggulper glad we won you over at least a little from last issue. (No more “Boo’s” and “Yeses” from now on – promise 🙂 S

  11. I loved this issue and agree with everything Josh says here.  Great job by Snyder and Jock!

  12. I really want the page of Dick diving out of Oracle’s tower as a poster.

  13. @dryan  Best page of the year, maybe.

  14. Read part one on Christmas Eve after I’d saved it and saved it and was absolutely bowled over, couldn’t believe it was as good as I’d hoped.  It’s fascinating that Snyder’s found this integral part of modern Batman/Gordon lore in Jim’s son, that no one has ever touched on before.  And it doesn’t feel like cheap retconning either, which is nice.

  15. I’m really looking forward to reading this, but, my LCS still hasn’t received this week’s shipment.  A conspiracy of weather and holidays I tell you!

  16. Oh man! That was really an awesome issue! I think one of the things that makes this current detective comics run good is that the creators themselves love and know the characters they are writing and drawing. The book showcases the very essence of what the Batman mythos is all about. Snyder has not yet done a comic book that I didn’t like and I hope that continues for both Detective Comics and American Vampire through 2011 and beyond.

    Anyway, I’ve been thinking of trying Scalped for months now, due in big part to Josh’s evangelism of the book, but when I read what the book tells about, I just lose interest. No disrepect to Native Americans but it just doesn’t spark my interest. That being said, though, I’m still willing to give it a chance. So what’s good about it anyway?

  17. This was a great issue and it was my pick as well. Great write up Josh, and this issue I can totally see why Jock can be a great artist. This issue was almost a complete improvement to what I saw from the previous issue. Some of those pages look really good, like the establishing shot of the ballroom or Batman jumping off Barbara’s tower.

    But you have to admit josh, some of the faces in here look really bad. Dick almost look like a middle age man in some shots (and no I don’t mean the pages where he’s incognito) and Tim looks like an asian man in the pages he’s in. Gotta admit that doesn’t look good. 

  18. With my LCS getting shorted on one of my pulls and picking up the wrong book on another pull, I can’t officially call my own POTW, but DAMN is this a good book. Exactly what I want out of a Bat title.

  19. this book was amazing, and i love it when they can tie the back up into the main story with subtlety

  20. I was preparing to enjoy this and liked it even better than I though I would. The feature was perfect (I love the heck out of Morrison’s Batman and would gladly read it for the rest of my life, but it’s a beautiful thing when there’s a new take on the old formula, and Snyder is seriously killing it!) and the back-up did a LOT in the few pages it had. Every aspect of the book has me excited. I would also very much like a blown up copy of the diving out of the window splash to hang up somewhere. Only downer is that I’m really gonna miss Jock when he’s offf the book :/

  21. @TheNextChampion  I don’t have to because I don’t agree with you. Art isn’t necessarily literal. It’s just the style that it’s drawn in. Doesn’t bother me in the least.

  22. This book just keeps on getting better and better

  23. Francesco Francavilla needs to be on a batman book fulltime

  24. Didn’t get a copy of Action Comics, but this was pretty damned good. This is exactly what i want Detective Comics to be…now lets hope it stays this good for a while…

  25. Great write up Josh.  This was my PoTW as well.  What an amazing issue. 

  26. This was my POTW as well. I was going to wait for Vertigo to put out the American Vampire trade, but I guess I am going to have to bite the bullet and just get the hardcover, b/c if Snyder is always this good, I should be reading more of his work. 

    I’m going to have to agree with TheNextChampion about some of the art, though. I LOVE Jock and I think the tone he created here is incredible, but I felt like some of his faces were not consistent. I felt like Dick looked like three completely different people, especially last issue when he was talking to Alfred.

    But blahblahblah, let’s not look for imperfections in what is turning into a stellar Batbook. Awesome stuff. 

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