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Author: John Bierly
July 31, 2009
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DETECTIVE COMICS #855
OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: "'Elegy' part 2 of 4 by Greg Rucka and JH Williams III! Batwoman captures her enemy, a madwoman known only as Alice who sees her life as a fairy tale and everyone around her as expendable extras including Kate! But when the tables are turned, Batwoman finds herself in a hallucination slamming the present into a collision with the past, and the hints of a threat that will claim the lives of every man, woman and child in Gotham City."


First things first, I'd like to sincerely thank fellow BOF contributor Chris Clow and faithful BOF reader Nathan Valle for helping me figure out that the Batman we saw last month in Batwoman's debut issue of DETECTIVE COMICS was Bruce Wayne. And not just because he had three fins per glove as opposed to Dick's two, either. Chris told me this: "I'm pretty sure it IS Bruce Wayne because this story was written (and the art probably completed) well before Rucka and even DC knew that this would be in DETECTIVE. A Batwoman book has been planned since at least late 2006, and at a con I went to back in May of '08 Rucka told me personally that there was a Batwoman book and that they'd announce it in San Diego that year. That announcement never came, and the politics didn't align. It seems like what became DETECTIVE #854 was sitting unpublished for awhile before we finally got to see it."

Nathan told me about this link ...

NEWSARAMA.COM

... in which writer Greg Rucka talks about why it's intentionally vague. Nathan also told me, "I've lost the link, but Rucka stated that the current arc in DC isn't set in current continuity. Since the original Batwoman miniseries was put off for so long, so you can assume it takes place sometime between 52 (where she first appeared and where the whole "kidnapped and stabbed in the heart" stuff happened) and Final Crisis: Revelations (where Batwoman and Question beat up bad guys and hid in a church). The second arc will be her origin, and then the third arc matched up with current continuity."

I remember reading that, too, but I also can't find the link, though it does match up with the timeline Rucka lays out HERE.

Thanks again, guys, for the assistance. You've have my sincerest appreciation.

There's no Batman in DETECTIVE COMICS #855.

And that's just fine.

Because this is yet another stunning issue from Mr. Rucka and the dynamic duo of J.H. Williams III (art) and Dave Stewart (colors).

As I read this and looked at this, I was instantly transported back to when I first discovered some of the earliest Batman stories from the late '30s and early '40s. Lots of moments of macabre. Lots of grit. And this comic continues to unfold like a grim fairy tale, with the villainous Alice continuing to establish herself as Batwoman's Joker and Ra's Al Ghul rolled into one. And, by the time it's over, her Scarecrow, too.

We begin immediately where the previous issue left off, with Batwoman shooting Alice. But what did she shoot her with? We find out fast, as Batwoman gives the distracted Alice's goons a brutal shakedown before using momentum and her grapple gun to show her nemesis who's boss the hard way.

Whereas Batman uses strength, skill, and intimidation, Batwoman's style is more sensual and seductive. The panel at the bottom of page six, where Batwoman disarms Alice prior to interrogating her, is the sexiest thing you're likely to see in a comic this year ... until you get to the top of page seven and it gets even sexier. But Alice is no helpless flower, using means both physchological and physical to turn the tables on our gorgeous hero. The rest of the book is an engrossing descent into a stylish, nightmarish hell rendered with infinite thought and care. The level of detail in the art here is staggering -- pay close attention to the windshield of the car on page 14 for an example. And the leaves. Terrifying stuff.

Watch how the word bubbles flow across the bottom of page 19, and how Rucka's dynamite words are perfectly integrated into the spectacularly distburbing yet utterly beautiful artwork.

The 22 pages of the main story have it all -- action, wit, scares, mystery, suspense, sensuality, and a killer cliffhanger that only raises more questions.

Speaking of questions, the backup story -- also written by Rucka with art by Cully Hammer and Laura Martin (colors) -- pulled me in immediately with its own fast-paced mix of action and razor-sharp dialogue. I always imagined Renee Montoya as Jennifer Lopez from OUT OF SIGHT, and she really delivers that kind of playful but legitimate toughness to some unlucky goons here. The Question uses all of her talents and gifts as the mystery of the missing girl deepens, and yet another shocking cliffhanger awaits. There are eight pages here, adding up to 30 pages of story for the issue's $3.99 price tag.

Even though I'm buying the individual issues, I'm still going to buy this Batwoman story again when it's released as a hardcover collection. The art is just that beautiful, and Rucka's writing gives thrilling depth to the mesmerizing imagery. I can't get enough of it. - John Bierly

Indiana native John Bierly started writing for publications when he was 17 and never stopped.
His favorite things in life are family and friends, concerts, burgers, Mountain Dew, and of course...
...THE BATMAN!
You can read his blog at JOHNBIERLY.COM.

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