DETECTIVE COMICS #42
Written by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
Art by Fernando Blanco and Brian Buccellato
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: July 1, 2015
The All-New Batman is watching over Gotham, but he’s hardly alone. With an all-new task force out of the Major Crimes unit watching his back, Jim Gordon has resources the previous Dark Knight didn’t have. And he needs them, desperately it seems. But is every member of the GCPD team on the up and up?
It’s a funny thing being the second Batman book.
Not too long ago, there were five ongoings devoted solely to Batman, with a lot of overlap artistically and some aimlessness creatively. Winnowing that line down to two, and filling those spots with lots of other characters has done a lot to make the Batman Universe one of the most compelling in the super-hero market today. But it’s also putting more pressure on the two books that remain. Batman is hitting it out of the park, as usual. But Detective…
Well, it is excellent, make no mistake. But not for its focus on Batman. Quite the opposite. By the end of issue #42, I had to ask myself, “Why did the writers spend so much time on Batman? He has his own book.” It’s a credit to how compelling Manapul and Buccellato have made Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya that I wish we could do away with Jim Gordon’s presence altogether. And not because I don’t care for him as Batman. I’m intrigued.
But because I REALLY love what they’re doing with Bullock and Montoya.
It’s been nearly a decade since we got a monthly dose of Gotham Central, and this taste of that kind of police work living inside the DC Universe just isn’t enough. The relationship Renee and Harvey have, a balance of suspicion and trust, is interesting enough. Contrast that to Harvey’s new sexual relationship with Detective Yip — who he may trust even less — and you have the makings of a great crime drama without even having to work up too much crime.
Montoya’s return, in its matter-of-fact sort of way, is free of a lot of the character’s weight, which is both a benefit and a sadness to this long-term fan. Would I want Buccellato and Manapul to have to pick up years of character growth and torment developed carefully by one writer? For as much as I miss a more nuanced Renee, the freedom given to the writers by moving her past all of that past (if it ever happened at all) is a relief as much as a curse. I get to see Renee smile and not always feel like there’s a crushing history behind it. Plus, we seem to be getting more than enough of that with Harvey.
Blanco’s depiction of both characters is strong and crisper than what we see in a lot of crime dramas. To some degree, the colors by Buccellato are doing a lot of the heavy lifting in making Detective feel like that classic police procedural, but Blanco’s linework has benefits that would be hard to come across with a rougher set of pencils. I’m a little ashamed (not really) to admit that Blanco’s Harvey Bullock is alluring — for probably the very first time ever — as he manages to amp up the portly detective’s sexual attractiveness without buffing him up a la All-New Jim Gordon.
Renee is pretty, without losing a bit of her edge. The Batman looks damn awesome as he climbs out of his armor. And more than anything, the vision of the Bat-blimp, cascading over the dark city and chasing men with skeleton faces, is just awesome. Blanco has really captured what it’s like to have a city that never really sees daylight.
A fantastic Gotham PD title that could honestly use less time on the Batman, Detective Comics is a great return for a much-loved character in Renee Montoya, but perhaps an even better development of Harvey Bullock as well. Here’s to seeing more of their place in the world as time goes on and less of the Batman’s. We know where to find him if (really when) we want to. For now, I want to revel in these other characters for awhile.
The Verdict: 8.0/10