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TPB REVIEW

TPB Review: BATMAN: DETECTIVE

Author: Bill Ramey, Founder of BOF
Friday, April 20, 2007

SYNOPSIS FROM DC COMICS:
"Don't miss this all-new collection of mystery stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #821-826 written by Paul Dini (Batman: The Animated Series)! The Dark Knight faces the Riddler, the Penguin and Poison Ivy as well as brand-new villains while pushing himself to the limit to solve crimes."

Amongst Batman fandom, Paul Dini is a huge favorite. Best known for his work on the classic BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES of the 1990s, most of Dini’s Bat-work is held in high esteem among fans. So unsurprisingly, when Dini was announced to be the primary writer on DETECTIVE COMICS, fans were ecstatic.

In BATMAN: DETECTIVE, issue #821-826 are brought together in TPB form. I went back and looked at my reviews of each issue and decided to post a quick excerpt from each in lieu of reviewing this book as a whole.

DETECTIVE #821
“The story…is titled “The Beautiful People.” It begins with The Batman foiling a simple mugging, which turns out to be anything but simple. There’s much more behind it. In fact, to get to the bottom of things, The Batman calls on Bruce Wayne to enter the world of Gotham’s elite to do some detective work. Why? Because there seems to be someone or a group targeting members of Gotham’s well-to-do.

'Detective' is the definitive word here, as this comic book features a tight and well written detective story. In addition, The Batman seen here is clearly ‘The World’s Greatest Detective’ that we all once knew and loved. To me…it seems that The Dark Knight Detective is back.”

DETECTIVE #822
“This month’s story is titled ‘E. Nigma: Consulting Detective.’ So as you can obviously surmise, The Riddler is featured in this story -- as The Batman’s crime-solving, detective partner.

Sort of.

In the inro, The Batman is seen subduing Roxy Rocket (who was created by Dini and seen in the animated series in 1998). As he returns to the Batcave, he sees a warning that visitors are waiting for Bruce Wayne up above. The Riddler has appeared at Wayne Manor to ‘clear’ Wayne of a cold-blooded crime murder of a young social butterfly named Karrie Bishop. Seems Nigma now fancies himself a private eye and has actually been hired to solve a murder. And so, the mystery begins.”

DETECTIVE #823
“This Bat-saga opens in Arkham with the world of vegetation seemingly rebelling against and attacking Dr. Pamela Isley, AKA the Bat-villain Poison Ivy. While this living plant is able to pull Ivy out of Arkham, it’s clear that this is certainly not of her doing. Hey, it’s kicking her ass!

Ivy is able to escape the clutches of said veggie-villain and make her way to Gotham PD headquarters. There, bloodied and beaten, she asks Gotham’s Finest for help.

Who do you think the bigwigs at GPD calls in for help?

I’ve got to say that once again, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of another Bat-book. Dini has crafted yet another nice and tight detective story that includes the readers in the deduction process. I also was keen on Joe Benitez’s pencils combined with Victor Llamas’s inks.”

DETECTIVE #824
“The Penguin is back, allegedly reformed, and opening a new nightclub called ‘The Iceberg Lounge.’ And from the looks of things, he’s doing quite well. He’s having the grand opening in Gotham, and guess which playboy billionaire is invited and attending this soirée? Alfred has taken the liberty and hooked Bruce up with a date who is a not so subtle parody of Paris Hilton.

The story revolves around a poker game taking place at The Penguin’s nice establishment and it seems that one player is taking it to the house. Is his winning legit, or is there some sort of underhanded operation going on? Of course, this is DETECTIVE COMICS, so guess who does the detecting and saves The Penguin’s hide? Wrong, it’s Bruce Wayne actually, as The Batman only makes a cameo appearance at the beginning and end of the story.”

DETECTIVE #825
“Alex Sartorius, AKA Doctor Phosphorous, returns to Gotham in DETECTIVE #825. Series writer Paul Dini takes a break on this one as Royal McGraw fills in nicely.

As the story begins, it seems that Sartorius has been being held captive at Cadmus Research Laboratories for a period of time. Of course, that doesn’t last long as he manages to break free from his ‘bubble’ and is loose in Gotham with vengeance on his mind. And the target of his vendetta: Rupert Thorne and two others responsible for his ‘transformation.’

DETECTIVE #826
“You longtime readers likely know that DETECTIVE is my favorite Batman comic book. Furthermore, I’ve enjoyed writer Paul Dini’s run on the book tremendously and his latest effort in DETECTIVE #826 was not exception.

In fact, #826 -- titled ‘Slayride’ -- may be his best work on ‘tec to date. And get this: The Batman is barely in it. Frankly, this story could have been in an installment of sister book ROBIN as The Boy/Teen/Dude Wonder is the star of this particular show.

Robin is out on his own in Gotham tracking down some lowlife Gotham gun dealers. Things go wrong, and Robin quickly goes from being the chaser to being the chasee. But ‘luckily,’ just when he seems down with no where to go, a good Samaritan comes by and offers Robin a ride. Unfortunately, it’s not a good Samaritan behind the wheel, it’s a bad one -- The Joker.”

BATMAN: DETECTIVE is probably for two groups of people. One, the Bat-fan who collects any and all Batman TPBs released by DC. Secondly -- and to whom I shall recommend this TPB the most to -- are those who missed these issues when they were first released. It does have some historical significance since the issues featured represent Dini’s first run as writer of a Batman monthly.

Overall, the stories vary from OK to excellent, with “Slayride” and "The Beautiful People" (Why am I hearing Marilyn Manson all of a sudden?) being the best of the lot. None of the stories flat-out sucked -- that’s what you really wanted to know, right?

Accordingly, BATMAN: DETECTIVE comes recommended -- particularly to the two groups mentioned beforehand from BOF. It's also a great starting point for those wayward Bat-fans wanting to jump back into the comics post-INFINITE CRISIS.

Bill Ramey, AKA "Jett," is the founder and editor in chief of
BATMAN ON FILM, BATMAN IN COMICS, and ON-FILM.NET.

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