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Author: John Bierly
March 4, 2010
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OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: Two mystery cases collide, as Batman gets closer to finding a missing socialite while Batwoman uncovers a gruesome new villain who has grafted knives onto his skin. There will be blood and souvenirs of victims' flesh in "Cutter" part 2!

And in The Question's co-feature, the unknown mastermind behind the gun-running scheme hires a professional killer to take care of some unwanted female companionship. When Zeiss sets his sights on Huntress and The Question, bullets will fly and blood will run

If you miss Bruce Wayne's Batman as much as I do, pick up issues 861 and 862 of DETECTIVE COMICS and you'll be greatly rewarded. Issue #862 hit comic shops yesterday, and it's another excellent issue of my favorite comic on the market.

We're going back in time to a defining case at the beginning Batwoman's career that just happens to involve The Batman himself. In the first few pages of #861, writer Greg Rucka gave us some of the coolest, boldest Batman action I've ever seen. He begins #862 with a focus on Bruce Wayne, and it's absolutely brilliant.

Every time I watch BATMAN BEGINS, my heart breaks when Bruce pretends to be drunk and rude at his birthday party to keep his guests from being badly murdered by Ra's Al Ghul and his goons. It's quick thinking. And it's maximum heroism. And many of those people will spend the rest of their days thinking badly of Bruce without ever knowing that he saved every one of their lives.

There's a similar scene in the opening pages here, where the real Bruce Wayne makes a fool of the public Bruce Wayne (in front of an ally who's important to him, no less) to create a situation that will help Batman save lives. What's particularly awesome about Bruce's plan is that it requires him to trust Jim Gordon to be a good cop and to make a tough but correct decision in a very awkward and difficult situation. Gordon plays his part perfectly without even knowing, and Bruce gets what he needs. It's an amazing piece of writing that's more exciting and satisfying to me than a million car chases.

Just as impressive (and surprisingly moving) is a subsequent scene where Batman uses this lead to get results without being cruel to -- or judgmental of -- its unwitting source. This is storytelling at its finest. Storytelling with brains and heart.

Her very welcome special guest star aside, this is still Batwoman's book, and Rucka continues to honor not only the character of Kate Kane but also the entire DETECTIVE COMICS legacy. This investigation is pretty physically brutal on Kate, but I love the fact that she just keeps coming. (I'm so in love with this woman.) And even with all the action and investigating this issue, Rukca still finds time to explore the emotions and events that drive her character, all while efficiently dropping a whopper of a twist involving Kate's cousin, Bette, who has a secret life of her own. Everything builds to an exhilarating, violent cliffhanger that could turn out to be quite tragic indeed. We're less than a month away from part three (which arrives on March 31st), and I can't stand the wait.

This issue has it all -- excellent art by this arc's guest artist Jock, brilliant detective work, terrifying action, and a final page that already has me hating the next 28 days. I love this book so much that I don't even remember how upset I was that DC was taking Batman out of the book that made him famous. These stories are simply unbeatable, and Kate has earned her name under the DETECTIVE banner.

This issue's installment of the Question backup is a lot of fun, perhaps to offset how heavy and disturbing the main story is. Fans of Barbara Gordon shouldn't miss this. I'll leave it at that, and let you be as surprised as Montoya. As always, Cully Hamner's unique art makes these pages pop.

If you love Batman, Rucka and Jock have left you no reason not to pick up this issue. And make sure you grab #861, too, and ask your comic shop to hold a copy of #863 for you. You'll be glad you did.

I'm giving the main story an A+ and THE QUESTION backup an A. - 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...
You can read his blog at JOHNBIERLY.COM. on Facebook

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