Monday, June 10, 2013

Comic Book Review: Detective Comics #21

As June begins, Detective Comics has moved into its most prominent position in some time, and yet is somehow less interesting than it was a couple of months ago.

I don't mean in terms of story. In fact, I actually was really into the issue that came out Wednesday. But with Superman getting a new book and movie, he's kind of the focus this month.

Heck, even this blog has gotten delayed so that I could be caught up on my Superman-a-thon. The link is for my most recent entry in it and you can access the others from that page.

Even in the Bat-verse, while Detective has taken the position of 'A' book in terms of current Batman plot advancement, that is because Scott Snyder's Batman title begins a year-long trek through Batman's "Zero Year" this month. So yeah, this title is almost an afterthought despite being consistently entertaining under John Layman's direction.

Layman's issue this month, though, is not one to forget, as it calls back to the Issue #0 that came out nearly a year ago in order to set up a villain.

The assassin in this story is quickly established as the love interest Bruce had in that issue. Both assumed the other dead and continued to train under their respective rival masters.

This assassin, who I'll refer to by her civilian name of Mio, is awaiting the moment to strike a world leader as he comes to Wayne Manor for a summit he's hosting. It's here that we get the real star of this issue, Harper Row.

Really would not mind her as the new Robin.
Harper isn't written as well under Layman as Snyder, but she's quickly developing that sense of sheer determination that makes such great Bat-family members. She's showing great surveillance skills, vigilance, stealth and improved hand-to-hand so far. (Granted, a lot of that isn't played of as well through her losses, but she's facing a veteran assassin and simply getting as far as she did shows development.)

Bruce and Mio kind of start to connect the dots about who each other is, but the extent to how far they get is something you'll want to read yourself. You'll also want to see the end scene between Batman and Harper, as well as Mio and her master, who I believe is making his or her first appearance in one of the main two Bat-titles.

The back-up is an alternative perspective story, showing recent events through the eyes of Man-Bat while also showing what he and his wife are up to. This is seriously the best Man-Bat ever written. I actually give a crap and that is a MASSIVE improvement.

The whole scene has a feeling of confusion and dread, as I am now very curious to see what is going on with his mutation and where his and his wife's story goes next.

Honestly, the only real weak point was that the art went down a little in quality because Jason Fabok, the main artist, was on a break and Scot Eaton had to fill in. He doesn't do a bad job; it's just a different feel that just doesn't match up as perfectly with the tone.

Overall, the issue is really good, if not overshadowed by everything else going on in the DCU. Fact is, though, this is the only place to get good Batman solo stories in the current continuity's present day, so if that's not a buying incentive, I don't know what is.

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