Ex-Batman Jim Gordon is in Afghanistan following up on a tip that some ex-soldier buddies have gone missing. This has dredged up some memories from his days in the Marine Corps, but also a mysterious sect in black robes. Writer Peter J. Tomasi wraps up this two part story so we ask ourselves, is it good?
Detective Comics #52 (DC Comics)
What does DC Comics want you to know about the story going in? Their summary:
When devastating secrets are revealed at a Marine Corps base, Batman must decide who to trust from his past if he’s going to solve the mystery.
Why does this book matter?
Tomasi has managed to make the detective part of Detective Comics live up to his name. Seeing Batman unravel clues is interesting and makes the reader think along with him. Last issue delivered in that regard and really you can’t get storytelling like that everywhere.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
While the last issue was slow this one picks up. Way up. We get a flashback to when Jim encountered the bad guys in their tomb, to Jim suiting up in the mech Batman suit with his Marine buddies taking on the enemy first hand. There may not be much detective work in this issue, but it brings a heavy Indiana Jones vibe as Jim and his soldier buddies take on a mysterious sect.
Love that suit.
One of the more successful elements of this issue is how it takes you by surprise. I did not see the big bad guy being the monster that he is. I use that word monster literally, but I’ll leave you to discover what I mean and save you the spoiler.
Artist Fernando Pasarin kills it on pencils this month and without his deft hand I doubt this comic would have been on the good side. That’s partially because this is mostly an action issue, but damn does he bring on the incredible detail in every panel. Starting with Jim in his Batman mech costume, Fernando goes to great lengths to make it look real and functional. It looks great. Later, as Batman and the Marines enter a tomb, every brick is drawn and every bad guy’s drawn with care, which leads to a double page spread of the bad guy lair that’s simply gorgeous. The depth and perspective is perfect, making you want to sit and stare for minutes on end. When Batman ends up fighting he’s going at it against many enemies and each is drawn in detail quite well. The action is also very easy to follow.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Since this is mostly action the detective element is missing which is unfortunate. There is one moment where Jim uses his noggin to get out of trouble, but it’s a rather obvious move that isn’t much of a surprise.
The villain seems to be a one-off type of character with no time spent alluding to their eventual return. In fact the final page of said villain is pretty grotesque, drawn in gory detail. For that matter there’s a lot of killing in this issue which came as a surprise. I know the Marine Corps use guns and all, but damn did they fill a lot of bad guys with bullets!
The story wraps up well enough, but I don’t think the emotional factor is earned enough to have it mean anything. We’ve seen stories close like this before, but I don’t think it works as effectively as Tomasi intended it to.
These are very bad odds.
Is It Good?
Action fans should take a look at this issue as it has plenty of action drawn in incredible detail. This two parter story concludes nicely, though it lacks the emotional oomph it was going for.