Detective Comics #833 Review

The Revolution has really been impressed with Dini’s run on Detective Comics. Dini has even done the impossible and made me appreciate and enjoy the beauty of the continual one-shot format of storytelling. Detective Comics #833 sports the guest appearance of Zatanna. I’ve always been a big fan of Zatanna so I’m sure that I will enjoy this issue. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Paul Dini
Penciler: Don Kramer
Inker: Wayne Faucher

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Batman rushing into a burning theater where one of Ivar Loxias’ assistants is stuck inside a magic box. Batman breaks open the box, but the girl is already dead from smoke inhalation. Batman grabs the other two assistants and gets them out of the theater.

We see Commissioner Gordon questioning Ivar Loxias outside of the theater. We see some people from the audience outside the theater talking about how Loxias rules and how cool that one of his assistants was burned alive. They comment about how they can’t wait to see what Loxias does next.

Loxias tells Gordon that since Loxias’ accident he has been giving his girls more time in the spotlight. Loxias says that his dead assistant, Katy, must have taken too long to get free and panicked. Loxias says that he tapes his performances so maybe the playback will reveal more.

Gordon calls Loxias by his real name Art Wiener which prompts Loxias to reply that Wiener was a simple magician and that Loxias has buried that which was Wiener. Batman then arrives and tells Loxias that his acts have caused an alarming amount of injuries to his assistants as of late. Gordon agrees and says that he is shutting Loxias down.

Loxias angrily gets up to leave and then collapses to the ground. Gordon helps Loxias up. Loxias says that since his accident, he isn’t as agile as he would like and that Gordon can’t imagine how maddening that is for an active person like himself. Gordon replies he understands since his daughter is in a wheelchair. Loxias sarcastically replies how fabulous it is that Gordon feels his pain. Loxias then leaves in his limo.

Batman then hops into the Batmobile and races back to the Batcave. Batman thinks how he hates to make this call, but that he has to. Batman then calls Zatanna to tell her that Katy died. Zatanna is stunned. Batman tells her to meet him at the Batcave immediately.

Batman thinks back how his father and Zatanna’s father, Zatara, worked together on many children’s charities. Batman thinks back to his 9th birthday. Alfred put on a huge birthday party for Bruce and had Zatara come and perform magic tricks. Bruce sat by the river by himself during the party. Alfred tells Zatara that he thought this might cheer Bruce up, but it appears he has moved beyond childhood diversions.

We see a young Zatanna approach Bruce and she makes a quarter disappear. Bruce rudely dismissed her and he trick as being simple. Zatanna then makes all these bubbles appear out of nowhere. Bruce is amazed. Batman thinks how there are times that he thinks he and Zatanna should be closer than they are, but that he can’t forgive a betrayal of trust. Batman thinks back to when Zatanna wiped his mind back when Sue Dibny was raped by Dr. Light as seen in Identity Crisis.

We cut to Batman meeting with Zatanna at the Batcave. Zatanna was good friends with Katy, the dead assistant, and says that Loxias has been taking his acts way too far lately. Zatanna says she wants to be with Batman when he goes to question Loxias.

Zatanna and Batman then review the tape of Katy’s death. Zatanna tells Batman that Katy wasn’t faking it while she was tied up and gagged. Batman runs a computer analysis on his glove to see if there was any type of substance on the gag. Batman says that there are traces of Walnut oil. Zatanna comments that Katy was deathly allergic to all kinds of oil like nut and sesame seed.

Batman comments that Katy was dead before the fire even broke out. Batman asks Zatanna is she is ready to go with him to question Loxias. Zatanna magically changes into her costume and then tells Batman that she will transport them to Loxias. Batman tells Zatanna that this is Gotham, not the League and the less magic around Batman the better.

Zatanna then asks Batman if he called her here to help him solve her friend’s murder to reopen old wounds. Zatanna would like to know before Batman forces her to apologize again for her biggest mistake of her life. Batman and Zatanna stare at each other. Batman opens the passenger door on the Batmobile and tells Zatanna to get in the car.

We cut to Zatanna and Batman arriving at Loxias’ theater. Zatanna confronts Loxias with the fact that he killed Katy. Loxias retorts that after his accident he truly missed performing magic. Loxias says that being back on stage and getting the massive reactions from the crowds was absolutely intoxicating. That Loxias continually wanted to outdo himself. And that the audience ate up the fact that the possibility of injury was a certainty in his acts. That sacrifices had to be made like Katy.

Loxias then admits to killing Katy on purpose since she had gotten to vocal about the risks he was taking in his acts. Zatanna then gets ready to attack Loxias when, suddenly, Loxias pulls out a pistol and shoots Zatanna in the neck.

Batman dives for Zatanna and Loxias takes advantage of the distraction and stabs Batman with a sword. Batman falls into a large chair and suddenly, straps pop out and trap Batman in the chair. Loxias then pushes a button and electricity flows though the chair and into Batman.

Loxias then placed Zatanna in a glass case full of water and locks the top to the case. Loxias comments how it is rumored that Zatanna actually uses true magic by speaking backwards in order to pull of many of her magic tricks. Loxias says that now that he shot her vocal cords, he would like to see her escape from this glass case full of water.

Batman then comments that he should have known after Loxias’ cruel dismissal of Gordon earlier. Loxias then shocks Batman again. Loxias comments that it was a dead giveaway. Loxias pulls off his face and reveals his true identity: The Joker! Joker tells Batman that he got Batman good this time. End of issue.

The Good: Detective Comics #833 was a fantastic read! Dini delivers an absolute gem of a story. We get an excellent combination of action and drama along with a cool twist ending. This issue was well paced. Dini doesn’t waste a lot of time getting this story arc off to a fast start. We get some nice steady build up to what was a wildly exciting ending that I definitely didn’t see coming.

Dini employs some excellent character work in this issue. I have been impressed with Dini’s handling of Batman’s character since the beginning of his run on this title. Dini’s Batman has plenty of attitude. He is cold, a bit of a prick and definitely has this hint of an underlying anger just below the surface ready to break out and whip some bad guy butt. Dini writes Batman’s dialogue perfectly. It is short, concise, blunt and direct. Dini also writes Batman as the preeminent detective on Earth.

Dini also writes a nice Zatanna. I really liked the in depth look at relationship between Batman and Zatanna. I dig that their families have a long history with each other. The fact that Zatanna and Bruce’s families were close makes the betrayal by Zatanna even more painful to Bruce. Bruce lacks a family and Zatanna could have easily filled the role as a “sister.”

I am glad to see Dini continuing to examine the fallout from the Identity Crisis storyline. I know that DC made a concerted effort after Infinite Crisis to heal the schism that fractured the Justice League of America. And I agree that Batman’s complete distrust of all the other JLA’ers had to be addressed and that the JLA needed to heal and come back together.

However, it would be totally unrealistic to expect that everything was all roses between the various JLA’ers. It is to be expected that there will still be some lingering issues. Especially between Zatanna and Batman. Batman doesn’t forgive and forget. And what Zatanna did to him was huge.

The scene between Zatanna and Batman when Batman orders a minimum of magic around him was perfect. The tension just oozed off the page. Dini uses this scene to show how Batman has a clear separation between JLA missions and his turf of Gotham. It shows that if it is not a JLA mission then Batman is going to do things his way. I also like Batman’s terse responds to Zatanna’s little speech by telling her to “Get into the car.” That was a perfect responds and classic Batman.

Of course, the best part of this issue was the huge bomb that Dini drops on the reader at the end of this issue. Loxias is none other than the Joker! Fantastic! Dini certainly crafted a wild ending with several “Oh shit!” moments. First, Zatanna getting shot in the throat, then Zatanna being locked into a glass container full of water, Batman getting strapped to an electric chair and Loxias turning out to be the Joker. That is how you deliver a bad-assed ending that hooks the reader into coming back for the next issue.

Dini’s use of Loxias’ character and tying it into the return of the Joker shows Dini’s talent for long term plotting. Even though Dini has employed a continual one-shot format during his run on this title, he still has created several re-occurring themes. Dini’s use of the Riddler keeps appearing through out his run on this title. So has Dini’s use of Loxias’ character. This technique of some re-occurring themes has kept Dini’s one-shot format from coming across as shallow and simple.

Dini delivers a great Joker. Dini’s Joker is unbelievably cruel and wicked. This is exactly how the Joker should act. I am excited to see what Dini has in store for the Joker. If nothing else, we know that Dini can write a very engaging Joker.

Don Kramer’s art absolutely rocks. Kramer draws one incredible looking Batman.

The Bad: No complaints at all with this issue.

Overall: Detective Comics #833 was a wonderfully done issue. Dini crafts an entertaining story and Kramer’s art brings it to life in a pleasing fashion. Detective Comics is certainly a title that is worth checking out.

5 thoughts on “Detective Comics #833 Review

  1. There are some minor niggling complaints I have about this issue, but overall I thought it was excellent.

    The whole issue of Batman not trusting Zatanna after “Identity Crisis” is somewhat at odds with his membership in the JLA, which has two of the other members of Team Mindwipe, and Batman has never had any problem with them (different writers, different approaches; Meltzer’s Batman is straight out of “Superfriends”). Anyway, it’s probably not fair to judge Dini’s writing by the work of other writers, since Batman’s distrust is perfectly believable on its own.

    I’m also not sure I really buy the climactic fight scene, in which Batman seems rather inept.

    As I said, those things aside, I really enjoyed this story.

  2. Ok, first of, Joker in a tee-shirt is wrong.

    Just wrong.

    That be said, this is how I like my Batman being written, ultra-conservative (I don’t mean politically, although it certainly would be fun to try to figure out the party affiliations of comic book characters). Everything he does is as compact and minimal as possible, more for less if you will. When he fights it’s not all fancy flips and twirls that lead him wide open (I’m looking at you Robin.) It’s about getting the job done as quickly as possible without the show. When he talks its brief and right to the point. Even how he interacts with Zatanna shows how he’s not someone who’s big and long emotional conflicts. No sharing you feelings with this guy.

    I really like Dini highlighting Zatanna as well as highlight a part of Bruce’s past. Showing him as a child is a great character study to learn how he ended up like he did. Plus, I know in Batman TAS, she had a a whole story about Bruce being her’ father’s assistant, although I think she didn’t know his real name. Anyway, it’s nice to see TAs integrated to the main DCU.

    My one complaint is the length. I know I love the one shots, and I think it’s great the Dini is fleshing out so much of Batman’s world, but this batman the detective and twenty two pages is just not long enough to tell an engaging detective story. There’s not enough time for all the twists turns, misdirection’s and red herrings that are needed to show some intrigue. Oh well, you take the good with the bad I guess. If I could be completely happy with any story, I wouldn’t be a comic book geek.

    Coming next month: Who wears short shorts? Penguin wears short shorts.

  3. In this (wonderful, wonderful) issue, we ran right into the paradox of Zatanna’s status in the DCU. Joker-as-Loxias has heard a rumor among stage magicians that Zatanna as a stage magician might use real magic. This fits in with the Gaiman classic “hide in plain sight” doctrine from Books of Magic v. 1.

    But, of course, Zatanna was also a member of the world-famous Justice League of America during its most prominent era. What, exactly, do people think she did as a JLA member?

    And the fact of the JLA mindwipes is now public knowledge among the supervillains (it was the engine of the Society’s recruitment) — and so’s Zatanna’s key status in that. Now, Joker was kept out of the Society, so there’s a patch, but Z’s status is still weird. How do people reconcile the famous stage magician with the famous super-hero?

  4. I never understood why mindwiping Doctor Light was such a problem for Batman. I mean, in Batman’s book, it would be perfectly acceptable to deny Light his legal due process and beat him to a bloody pulp, but mindwiping him is a no-no? I found the whole Identity Crisis so-called “moral dilemma” to be a non-starter. It was basically Batman arguing “Okay, as vigilantes who take the law into our own hands, it is okay to violate a criminal’s rights in this manner, but not in that manner.” Um, yeah, talk about splitting hairs.

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