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Melvin’s Muses: Dectective Comics #871 & Batman and Robin #17

Here we have our inaugural post by Melvin. He’s going to be a guest writer for us – an introductory post will come later – in the meantime, do enjoy this post! – ed.


It’s a fine time to be part of the Bat family. With almost every Bat member getting his or her own series or making guest appearances all over the DC universe, it can be kinda overwhelming for a new reader wanting to pick up a new Bat title.

The latest shipment saw the start of two new story arcs featuring Dick Grayson as the Dark Knight in both Detective Comics #871 and Batman and Robin #17. We all know ol’ Bruce is back in town or rather in Tokyo to be exact (check out last week’s Batman Inc. #1) but Grayson is the star this week and he does managed to shine in both issues, one more than the other though.


Unlike Morrison’s Batman where we see Bruce gallivanting across the globe, the action in Detective Comics and Batman and Robin will be heating up in familiar Gotham City. But expect some new crazies and potential Arkham inmates to be the breakout stars here.

Once again, both issues do spend more than a couple pages laying out the status quo, as in Grayson’s Batman too and he’s the main man now, the Gotham Guardian, the guy who answers the Bat signal, well, you get the idea. But in debut writer Paul Cornell’s Batman and Robin #17 he’s also the Batman who can crack a smile, throw a wisecrack, he ain’t exactly Spidey yet but he keeps this up, he’ll have his own Broadway show soon.

Bruce’s son Damien is in there too as if you can’t already tell by the title of the book. A little less edgy and confrontational than when Morrison had his hands on the boy. Cornell’s first arc “The Sum of Her Parts” starts with a bang and goes through the story at a pretty fast pace. What you have is the apparent murder of one of Bruce’s ex-girlfriends and an army of crazed druggies holed up in a church. An interesting set-up but not all that engaging to me, the hook to make me wanna stand in line for the next chapter just wasn’t there. We got the heroes following a trail of bizarre crimes, but they just seem to lack a certain connection with the reader. When I look at what the villain has done so far, do I really care what he or she is up to next? Not really. At the end of the issue I still have no idea what’s going on. Now I know I’m not expecting the entire plot in the first issue but there were simply too many question marks here. Even after the big villain reveal on the last page, what we got is still only a slightly above average Bat tale.

Scott McDaniel’s art may be a little too cartoony for me but it does work here, the humor level is up a couple of notches and McDaniel gets it nicely.


While Cornell’s Batman and Robin just fell short of a perfect score, Detective Comics’ writer Scott Snyder nailed the spirit of the Dark Knight perfectly. I don’t pick up his American Vampire series but I’m really itching to now. And having The Losers’ art maestro Jock handle the pencils certainly helped made this an all-round winner in my book.

“The Black Mirror” arc has just the right balance of the old (hints of Batman’s familiar foes) and the new (introduction of a new villain). Someone is using trademark weapons left behind by Batman’s old villains and it’s up to Grayson, flying solo here, to solve the mystery. It’s a simple enough plot that really grabbed my attention and it’ll definitely hold it for a whole month at least. The script has that gritty yet natural, smooth style and flow that kinda reminded me of how Marvel’s Brain Bendis’ work on urban titles like Daredevil and Alias.

Great storytelling, suspenseful plot and stellar artwork, Detective Comics #871 is your Bat winner for the week.

Cavalock

Melvin Yong has worked way too long in the media and advertising industry. He now spends his time with his family, writing short horror stories and playing lots of board games.

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