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Author: John Bierly
January 28, 2010
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DETECTIVE
COMICS
#861

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: It's double the detectives with Batman and Batwoman in for part one of "Cutter"! Batwoman investigates a string of grisly attacks that have left the victims mutilated, or, worse, dead. But what does this case have to do with the kidnapping of a socialite from ten years ago, and what evidence can The Dark Knight himself bring to light on this macabre mystery?

And in the co-feature, the Huntress and The Question find themselves in over their heads as a gunrunning case leads them to the business end of a double-barrel shotgun!


He's on J.H. Williams III's gorgeous cover, so it's not a spoiler to tell you that THE Batman, Bruce Wayne, shares the lead with Batwoman in issue #861 of DETECTIVE COMICS. (Though it's weird to see Batman on a DETECTIVE cover under a banner that says "Batwoman." But I'm okay with that, because her adventures in this title have more than earned her the honor.)

Williams hands interior art duties over to the singularly named Jock, who gained my interest and attention a few years ago when he started drawing Batman's glove fins as Bruce's BATMAN BEGINS-style ninja sword catchers. Jock has drawn some of my favorite Batman covers of the last few years, and anybody concerned that his interiors can't live up to the wondrous work Williams has been doing in this title have nothing to worry about.

So why the break for Williams? In the past few issues of DETECTIVE, we've gotten glimpses of Batwoman's origin and how Batman affected and inspired her decisions. In this three-part new storyline, called "Cutter," series writer Greg Rucka will show us the first time Kate Kane crossed paths with Batman as Batwoman.

Right off the bat, the story is rocking. When a perp brags to his buddies that the "cops wouldn't stand a chance against me, they'd never even know who I was," a shadow belonging to THE Batman addresses him ... by name. And that's nothing compared to the action scene on a yacht that unfolds over the next few pages, with Batman sneakily rising from the harbor before taking control of the situation like a compact kraken.

The crimes here are beyond cruel, and the killer needs to be caught. Fast. Batwoman learns her strengths and limitations by going up against the Zsasz-esque suspect -- the bad guy gets away, but Batwoman saves the girl. And we also get one of the best and spookiest scenes this book has ever seen, with Maggie Sawyer following her instincts into a dark park where Batwoman waits in the shadows. It's brooding and sexy like the greatest and most classic vampire literature, and Jock draws it with both danger and sensuality. (David Baron's colors are a big help, too.) Maggie Sawyer as Kate Kane's Jim Gordon? I love it.

Two slight drawbacks here for me. First of all, as good as it is to see Bruce Wayne as Batman in the pages of DETECTIVE, he's kind of the "Jerk Batman" that used to be so prevalent in the comics. It's early enough in his career that his exchanges with Gordon are still very terse and abrupt.

Secondly, as much as I love the scene where Kate goes to visit her cousin Bette, the killer's next choice of a target becomes a little too convenient for the story. But it also makes it personal, in the same way that The Joker made things personal for Bruce in THE DARK KNIGHT, and I'm sure Rucka will deliver big thrills in part two next month.

The Question backup continues to rock the awesome art by Cully Hamner; I love the look of his women -- strong and beautiful. The story features a villain I've never been that crazy about, and I'm not entirely certain that the villain would behave the way he does when given a certain choice, but it's still an entertaining read, and I love how Rucka writes the Huntress.

I give the main story an A (which was damn near an A+), and the Question backup a B.

And for my money, DETECTIVE COMICS remains THE best comic book on the market.

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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