The “One Year Later” storyline in Batman and Detective Comics is really heating up. Let’s see if Detective Comics #818 continues to deliver the goods.
Writer: James Robinson
Penciller: Leonard Kirk
Inkers: Andy Clarke & Wayne Faucher
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Total Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: This issue starts with Commissioner Gordon, Bullock, Batman and Robin investigating the scene of Magpie’ murder.
We then cut to the Batcave that next morning. Batman tells Alfred that the killer is using a double-barreled pistol. That the same gun killed both KGBeast and Magpie. The only such pistol that Batman has ever seen was the one made by Two-Face. Alfred asks Bruce what else is bothering him. Bruce says that since Batman is a creature of the night, he needs a conduit in the day. Bruce then says he is worried about Tim. He is all alone now that his father and his best friend, Conner, are both dead. Bruce says there is more he should do and he knows that is what his father would have done. Bruce wonders if Tim will agree to what he has in mind.
We then cut to Tim by himself doing homework. He breaks his pencil. Gets up and started at a picture of his dad and then just slumps over.
We then cut to Harvey Dent who is watching Batman and Robin take down criminals. Harvey mentions that Batman and the Dick Grayson were a perfect match. They were too in synch. That the second and third Robins were never as good. But, now Batman and the third robin fight perfectly meshed together. They fight as one. Harvey wonders that with Batman and Robin’s return if there is still a place for him. Then he sees Two-Face’s reflection in a puddle saying “there is room for us!” Harvey says “No.”
We then cut to Batman and Robin after they have finished beating up the criminals. Batman tells Tim he has the potential to be even better than Nightwing. Batman tells Robin he has an errand to run alone and to meet him in 1 hour at Police HQ.
We then cut to Scarface eating dinner. Someone busts down Scarface’s door and blows him away. We have our third dead criminal. End of the main story.
The issue has a backup story. We see Jason Bard in bed with a rich widow who has hired him to find out who killed her husband. Jason hears a sound in the apartment and goes to investigate. It is the Batman. Batman asks Jason to operate his investigations during the day. Batman offers Jason a huge weekly paycheck for his services. Batman emphasizes that he will be Jason’s first priority when it comes to Jason’s services. The rich widow comes to see who Jason is talking to. Jason tells Batman to please take her with him to the Police HQ. Jason says she is the one who killed her husband. Batman takes the widow with him. End of issue.
The Good: This was a very good issue. James Robinson is a talented writer who really impressed the Revolution with his previous work on the Golden Age and the JSA. Robinson is doing a great job with Batman. He is carefully pacing himself with this current story. It doesn’t seem too slow or too rushed. The pace is just right.
Robinson has an excellent handle on Batman and all of the supporting characters. Seriously, that is something you rarely see. Robinson is equally adept at writing Batman, Robin, Alfred, Gordon, Bullock, Dent, and Bard. Another testament to Robinson’s talent is that all of the characters are fleshed out extremely well. All of the characters are fully developed and have a unique voice and interact with each other well. It is sad to say, but you don’t get to enjoy this type of effort in most comics where the author makes sure all the characters are properly developed and not just the main character.
In particular, the Revolution really enjoys how Robinson writes Batman/Bruce Wayne. The scene with Bruce and Alfred in the Batcave was perfect. Robinson shows the “softer” side of Bruce that we almost never see when he mentions his father and Tim. This just makes Bruce a more interesting character than the flat and unemotional Batman that so many people write.
The plot itself if quite interesting. The Revolution is eagerly waiting to see where Robinson goes with this story. What is Harvey Dent up to? Is he truly reformed or is he the killer. Maybe Dent is being framed? Why is this mystery killer taking out these criminals? Just what does Batman have in mind for Tim? So many questions and, so far, so few answers.
I like the addition of Jason Bard as Batman’s agent during the day. It is a natural and logical decision for Batman to go this route.
The Bad: The art. The Revolution thinks the art is rather weak. The art is also very inconsistent. One panel will look nice and then the next three will look sloppy and poor. Then two panels will look nice, and then the next page will look average. That has to do with the art by committee that DC employed with this issue. Since Batman is the flagship character for the DC universe (sorry, Superman), Detective Comics deserves stronger art. It is a shame that Robinson’s great writing isn’t getting married with stronger more consistent artwork.