I was not that impressed with Robinson’s run on this title with his One Year Later storyline. I thought that it started strong and quickly ran out of steam and ended with a whimper. Plus, I didn’t really like Robinson’s touchy feely happy sunshine Batman. Detective Comics #821 debuts a new creative team. Will Paul Dini continue the same path that Robinson started or are we in for a different version of Batman? Let’s find out.
Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: J.H. Williams, III
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue starts with a high society rich woman at a train stop feeling intimidated by some rowdy kids. She stands close to a guy dressed like a nice business man. The business man is actually a criminal with some seriously bad teeth. He attacks the woman and suddenly Batman swoops in. Batman beats up the criminal who then falls in front of the oncoming metro train and gets killed.
We cut to Batman meeting with Commissioner Gordon. Gordon tells him that the criminal was a small time hood. Gordon continues that there have been a string of crimes targeting members of Gotham’s high society. Gordon then asks Batman if he has any connections among the country club set. Batman responds “a couple” and then leaves.
We shift to Batman returning to the Batcave. He asks Alfred to pull all his invitations to various balls and events for this week. Bruce then tells Robin that he cannot work on this case until Batman knows who he is dealing with.
We then cut to Billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne going to one snooty high society function after the other looking for clues. When Bruce goes to the Peregrinator’s Club, he uncovers no clues. Bruce heads over to a private room in an after hours club. He is approached by a woman named Vanessa Ford. Vanessa says she is a reporter for the Gotham Financial Times. Vanessa engages in name dropping and then asks Bruce back to her place. Bruce says he can’t go since he is flying to Metropolis at 7 am. So, Bruce asks for Vanessa’s number. Bruce takes a piece of scrap paper from Vanessa’s purse and writers her number on it and then leaves. He then uses his bat cable gun to make a quick exit. Bruce then sees Vanessa and two thugs walk outside the club.
We shift to Batman in his Batmobile. The phone number is a fake. The piece of paper that Bruce wrote the number on was a receipt to a greasy burger joint that only locals would go to. The area around the burger joint is nothing but abandoned warehouses and bad neighborhoods. Batman spies Vanessa and the two thugs and follows them back to an abandoned warehouse.
We cut to the inside of the warehouse. It is decorated like a stylish mansion full of well dressed mannequins. We then meet the criminal mastermind behind all these crimes: Facade. He is well dressed and is wearing a mirrored latex bondage looking mask. Facade despises the fake “beautiful people” of Gotham’s high society. Batman then makes his entrance and we have a braaaaaawwwwl! Robin then suddenly appears and lends Batman a hand. Batman and Robin take out all the thugs, but Facade gets away. Batman is mad at Robin showing up and tells him to call Gordon to pick up Facade’s gang. Batman and Robin then leave to follow Facade.
We shift to the Peregrinator’s Club. Facade breaks in and is greeted by the Batman. And we have another braaaaaawwwl! Batman and Robin take out Facade.
We cut back to the Batcave. Batman mentions how Facade was nothing more than some nobody named Erik Hanson. We see Robin placing Facade’s mask in a display case along with the masks of other vanquished villains. (Cool. Like the two characters in the Kinnikuman manga who collect the masks of their defeated foes.) End of issue.
The Good: This was a well written and very solid one-shot issue. I like that we got to see more Bruce Wayne in this issue. It seems like over the past years that the Bruce Wayne character has totally disappeared. Personally, I like it when Bruce Wayne gets face time. It makes Batman a more interesting read.
I like Facade. He is your typical gimmick Batman villain complete with thugs, elaborate hideout and strange gimmicks. Yeah, he looks a bit goofy, but so do lots of Batman villains.
I like the way Dini writes Batman. Dini delivers a Batman closer to the version that I like as compared to the wimpy, sensitive, chatty patty that Robinson wrote in the last story arc. Dini’s Batman uses a minimum of words when talking. He is direct, gruff and dark. I like. Dini’s Batman has the same feel of the 1940’s noir Batman. Robinson’s Batman was falling all over himself to apologize to people and was constantly blowing sunshine up Robin’s butt. Dini’s Batman snaps back to the version I like. He doesn’t want Robin involved in fighting a hero that he doesn’t know anything about. And when Robin shows up, Batman reacts in his typical disapproving cold manner.
As a matte of fact, I like how Dini’s entire story has that nice noir feel to it. Dini places Batman back in the shadows where he belongs. This style fits Batman very well. This story was nicely paced and very tight. Dini’s dialogue was well done. Dini has a nice feel for Batman, Robin, Alfred and Gordon and is shows in the dialogue.
Williams’ artwork is very nice. Williams draws an excellent Batman. Very dark, shadowy and old school in look. Williams’ style perfectly meshes with Dini’s 1940’s noir style of writing. I also liked the little action balloon whenever Batman punches or kicks someone. It is a neat old school touch that Williams adds to this comic. I’m sure many people will dislike it, but it works for me and fits the overall look of this comic.
The Bad: I enjoyed this issue; however, I’m not a huge fan of one-shot issues. But, I can deal with one every now and again. However, the preview for the next issue tells us that Dini is serving up yet another one-shot issue. I don’t like several one-shots in a row. One-shot issues lack the depth, complexities, suspense and development that longer story arcs can deliver. Hopefully, Dini starts with a longer story arc soon rather than giving us just a bunch of one shot issues on this title.
As much as I love Williams’ artwork when he draws Batman and all of the night scenes and Batcave scenes, I don’t like his art in other scenes. I’m not a big fan of how Williams draws Bruce Wayne or how he drew the scenes in the Peregrinator’s Club or at the after hours club. Williams is also a bit inconsistent. Some panels are fantastic while others are rather weak.
Overall: Detective Comics #821 is a good issue. It combines well done writing and solid artwork to deliver a nice comic that is enjoyable to read. This is a good starting point for new readers. If you like your Batman dark and old school in feel, and I mean 1940’s old school, then you will probably enjoy this title. I’m definitely enjoying Dini’s Batman a lot more than Robinson’s Batman.