Author: Bill Ramey
Friday, July 6, 2007

From DC COMICS: "The stunning conclusion, building on last issue's shocking revelations! As Batman is brutally tortured in an inescapable deathtrap, the mortally wounded Zatanna is unable to speak the magic words to save them both! Meanwhile, the mad magician known as Loxias embarks on his farewell performance, intending to kill hundreds of spectators in the grand finale!"

The last issue of DETECTVE -- #833 -- was one of the best stories I’ve read in a long while. It featured one HELL of a cliffhanger that I didn’t see coming. If you haven’t read that one, then you may not want to read the rest of this review as what I’m going to write will give a way that twist.

Still with me? Good.

#833 ended with the revelation that The Joker was actually the magician Loxias. Well, Loxias in disguise that is. Seems that ‘ol Mr. J was taken in by the magician after his Christmas run-in with Robin (This story was depicted in DETECTIVE #826) and nursed back to health. Of course, The Joker is not loyal to anyone, so he proceeded to whack Loxias and assume his identity.

We also learn that The Joker’s performances as “Loxias” was all part of a grand scheme to try to get The Batman. So you’re thinking, “How the hell is The Joker performing as a damn magician going to allow him to ‘get’ Batman?” Well, that’s why Zatanna was part of this 2-parter written by Paul Dini with pencils by Don Kramer and inks by Wayne Faucher (Nice way to work in the creative team credits, huh?).

I was anxiously looking forward to this issue because I had enjoyed the last one so much. I’ll say it again, #833 had one HELL of an ending. But sadly, #834 didn’t live up to its predecessor. I wouldn’t say it flat-out sucked, but it was rather average and frankly, a letdown.

Probably the major reason that I didn’t care for this issue that much was that it had too much of the “fantastical” in it. What Zatanna does to The Joker-Loxias’s audience during the story’s climax to help capture The Joker got a BIG eye-roll out of this reader. To be honest, I found it stupid. Hey, maybe it’s just me, but when aliens, cyborgs, outerspace -- and in this case, “real” magic -- is involved in a Batman story, the less I like it. And it wasn’t just that, the story just isn’t all that good. As I said, average at best.

DETECTIVE #834’s art team of Kramer and Faucher do a nice job on this issue, in particular the latter. While I enjoy Kramer’s depiction of Batman and how he lays out his panels, he too seems to be falling victim to “Same Face Syndrome” -- you know, when everyone he draws looks as if they could be related. Simone Bianchi provides us with another top-notch cover -- although it looks as if Mick Jagger is wearing the cowl in this one.

Overall, I’d give this 2-parter a B as a whole due to Part 2 bringing the overall story arch down.

Dini takes on The Scarcrow next month in #835 and I’m looking forward to seeing how he handles Dr. Crane. Dini’s run has been very good so far, I’m certainly not going to let a small bump in the road shake me

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