Paul Dini has done a great job making Detective Comics a consistent read every month. Dini has even gotten me to warm up to his eternal one-shot format. However, it appears that Detective Comics #829 sports a guest writer and a guest artist. That doesn’t bode well. Usually, the guest creative teams lead to very boring and uninspired filler stories. Can Detective Comics #829 buck that trend? I hope so. Let’s do this review.
Writer: Stuart Moore
Artist: Andy Clarke
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Bruce hosting the first Gotham International Anti-Terror Conference at Wayne Tower. Present are a bunch of bickering bureaucrats and ambassadors from various tiny countries that no one would care about if we weren’t so addicted to fossil fuels. (Ooops, did I say that out loud?)
Bruce tells Tim to go on to the banquet room and start on the appetizers while Bruce tries to deal with the bickering ambassadors from Markovia and the Republic of Jalib. Tim strolls to the banquet room and meets Lucius Fox in the banquet room. Suddenly, there is a huge explosion that rocks Wayne Tower. Then three more explosions go off in various parts of Wayne Tower.
Tim radios Bruce and asks where one of the “special storerooms” is the closest to him. Tim races to the one on the tenth floor. Tim slips into one of his Robin costumes.
We cut outside where Commissioner Gordon and the Gotham police have Wayne Tower surrounded. Bruce radios Gordon and tells him that he is on the situation. Gordon tells the S.W.A.T. team to hold off until Batman has a chance to defuse the situation.
Suddenly, the bomber makes a public announcement via a short range TV transmission. The bomber’s name is Vox. He says that the foreign occupation of Jalib is a crime against all civilized men and women. That Vox is going to destroy one of the capitalist world’s leading symbols of economic oppression: Wayne Tower.
We cut to the ambassador from Jalib telling Bruce that his country would never sanction such actions like what Vox is doing. (Yeah, riiiiiight.) Bruce then leads the politicians out of the main meeting room and into the stairway. Bruce calls Robin and tells him that he has located Vox’s broadcast as coming from the 49th floor. Bruce says that Vox has a gun that shoots a synthesized liquid form of explosive C4. It hardens on contact and then can be detonated remotely. Bruce tells Tim to be careful and try to take Vox out from a distance.
Bruce then uses his cell phone to take control of the Wayne Tower public address system. Bruce then says in his Batman voice that he is in the building and that Vox should immediately give himself up. If Vox doesn’t surrender then Batman is going to take him out no matter where he tries to hide.
A couple of more explosions then go off rocking Wayne Tower once more. Bruce contacts Robin and tells him that the first set of explosions was random and designed to create panic. Now, Vox is working his way down planting charges along the core of the building at very deliberate intervals. That Vox doesn’t plan on getting out alive. This is a suicide mission. (Of course.)
Tim then suddenly comes face to face with Vox. Robin immediately nails Vox with a couple of batarangs. Vox retaliates by spraying Robin with the liquid C4. Vox then runs away. The liquid C4 hardens on Robin. Robin calls Bruce and tells him that Vox sprayed him with the C4 and has run away and is going to detonate the C4 once he is far enough away from Robin. End of issue.
The Good: Unfortunately, Detective Comics #829 was exactly what I feared. A boring and unexciting filler story arc. That isn’t to say that there aren’t some positives about this issue. I liked that Moore has placed Bruce in a tough situation where he has to address it as Bruce Wayne and not Batman. This is a excellent way to show off that Batman’s greatest weapon is not his physical prowess or his incredible gadgets. It is his mind. After all, Bruce has Robin in the building to serve as his muscle.
Moore writes a dependable Bruce Wayne. Bruce has the proper external voice. It isn’t anything great, but it is certainly more than serviceable. Moore does a much better job handling Robin’s character.
I liked how Moore contrasted Bruce’s ability to navigate the world of politics and big business with all the necessary class and suaveness with Tim’s anxiousness to get out of his tuxedo and his lack of patience for these types of events. Moore also captured Tim’s youthful exuberance and willingness to jump into danger rather than run from the building to escape the explosions
I enjoyed Moore’s Robin so much that I actually wouldn’t mind Moore getting a chance to fill-in for Beechen on Robin’s solo title just to see what Moore could do with Tim’s character.
Moore delivered plenty of action. This was a nicely paced issue. It wasn’t too rushed, but it moved along at an enjoyably quick pace. Moore delivered a technically sound plot that was well constructed. We also got a hook ending that does a serviceable job getting the reader interested in the next issue.
Andy Clarke’s artwork is solid. I didn’t find it to be anything incredible or out of the ordinary, but it more than got the job done. Clarke has enough skill to deliver a better than average looking comic book. It was certainly better than some of the sub-standard guest artists that you usually get in these situations.
The Bad: Don’t get me wrong, Detective Comics #829 was a terrible read. It just wasn’t anything great or interesting. This issue was a decidedly average and read like your standard filler storyline. I found this entire story to have a “paint by numbers” feel to it.
Vox is a rather generic villain who completely fails to get my interest. The story reads much like a 1980’s action TV show. The dialogue was rather generic. At no point does Moore manage to hook me into caring about this story.
Even the hook ending was rather predictable and lacked much impact. Moore telegraphed through Bruce’s conversation for Tim what was going to happen to Robin once he tangled with Vox. And sure enough, Robin got covered with the liquid C4. A big part of a great hook ending is not just leaving the reader with a cliff hanger ending, but delivering a cliff hanger ending that the reader didn’t see coming from a mile away.
Overall: Detective Comics #829 was nothing more than your standard issue filler issue turned in by a guest creative team. However, one positive did come from this issue. I now completely appreciate everything that Dini has done on this title including his continual one-shot format. The Revolution is always ready to keep an open mind and admit when our opinion has been changed. I would most certainly rather have Dini’s excellently done one-shot issues than the type of average multi-issue story arc that Moore is currently giving us.