Many DC Comics series are reaching their 50th issue this month and Detective Comics is one of them. Jim Gordon is aiming to solve one of the first crime mysteries since taking on the Batman mantle, but is it good?
Detective Comics #50(DC Comics)
A serial killer is making Gordon face the last year of his time as Batman using historical moments and characters in each of his murders. It’s a cold case that’s forcing Gordon and Harvey Bullock to use every bit of their wit to solve.
Why does this book matter?
Peter J. Tomasi has infused this series with a lot of guesswork and problem solving and it’s been fun to see Bullock and Gordon break it down. It reads like two cops honestly trying to solve a real crime rather than the answers falling conveniently into place for them. At the same time Fernando Pasarin and Scott Eaton have made the book rife with dark shadows and lifelike pencils. The issue also ends with a backup of pinups as Batman explains the weirdness he faces every night.
You gotta solve the case Batman!
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Tomasi does not disappoint if you’re a fan of cop dramas with strong detective work. Batman and Bullock are once again breaking down clues to figure out where the bad guy is before he strikes again. This issue has a resolution that isn’t disappointing as a key clue right out in the open is discovered that builds on the villain, but it’s believable. At the same time the villain is freaky as hell and reminiscent of Buffalo Bill and other creeptastic killers. These two elements combine to make for an entertaining psychological thriller.
Speaking of the villain, Tomasi has him do some creepy stuff in this issue. Sure the bad guy spouting crazy talk while fighting the hero isn’t anything new, but have you ever seen a serial killer chase a dog with a dog mask on? Or how about kidnapping folks whilst barking? The characterization goes a long way in making the story feel so weird it must be partially true.
The art continues to be fantastic as well. Every panel with Batman is cast in a shadowy goodness that’s pleasing to the eye. Where the art really shines though is in the facial expressions of Gordon. From a winky face as he grits his teeth and charges the villain to a “uh oh” face as a sword is brandished ready to strike, the character is incredibly animated and easy to read. That helps embellish the drama in any given scene. They don’t skimp on the backgrounds and environments either, which American artists typically do, which helps set the stage of a fight or the atmosphere of a quiet moment.
The backup story, which has Batman explaining how his rogues gallery is quite strange, is a nice addition told via full splash pages. Understandably the art changes dramatically and each page is only a box or two of narration as Batman talks. In a way these last few pages serve as a poem to the fun, less realistic tales Batman is in and it all concludes with a nice cliffhanger that connects him to a popular hero. The only downside to this 13 page story is there isn’t a listing of artists involved. A few you might be able to guess but I’d love to know each one as some of these pinups are downright gorgeous.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Save for the backup not detailing who all the artists are (did I miss it?) this is generally a nearly perfect issue. Those expecting a big reveal or a shock and a gasp at who the villain is will be left sorely wanting, but heck it was a solid detective story so why complain about pomp and climactic reveals?
The villain freaks me out.
Is It Good?
Jim Gordon proves he deserves to be called Gotham’s Dark Knight as a solid detective story comes to a close. Plus there’s a gorgeous backup story that delivers 13 pinups and a fun story highlighting the weirdness of Batman bad guys.