Detective Comics #30 (Comics Review)

Last month, John Laymans run on Detective Comics came to an end with the final installment of his Gothtopia arc. It was a great issue to end his spectacular run on, and this month we see Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato take up the reins from him and Aaron Lopresti. The duo are coming fresh off of The Flash, which they co-wrote and co-drew since the start of the New 52 and made into one of DC’s top titles. They certainly did for me! Now, as they begin their run on Detective Comics, I can only hope that they bring the same excellence over the long term.

Detective Comics #30 is their first issue on the series and it is a pretty weird issue at that. The art style is different, very different to what we’ve seen before, and even Batman’s “voice” is quite different. But there’s still that dynamism to this issue that Brian and Francis brought to The Flash and they put up the Dark Knight against crime lords instead of souped-up supervillains and assassins. This could just be the fresh breath that Batman comics have needed for a while, following the death of Damian Wayne last year and the general grimness that has surrounded the franchise in New 52.

Detective Comics 30First of all, that has to be the trippiest Batman cover ever, across any of the titles of the franchise. At a distance, it looks really odd, but once you start looking at it from a closer angle, you start to see the details emerge. We have Batman of course. All that pink is new character Annette Aguila who is a motocross champion. That screaming skeleton is a reference to what happens to a character at the end of the issue. The coiling purple ends of the skeleton’s “cloak” are octopus arms, a reference to the “pets” kept by a ganglord. And the magma is the group of bikers who ruin one of Batman’s cases by springing a drug-dealing perp he was apprehending while out on patrol. So you can see that Francis Manapul has jam-packed that cover with all sorts of things. The yellow background for Batman fits oddly, but the main image itself offers some great contrasts I must say.

With the story itself, we see as Elena and Annette Aguila arrive in Gotham, with the former bringing a business proposition for Bruce Wayne, to rebuild Gotham’s East End Waterfront, a run-down lawless warren that exemplifies the worst of the city. Bruce is concerned that the humanitarian work will cost him and Elena both billions (well, he does have to keep up certain appearances), but he agrees in the end and this sets off a rather unfortunate turn of events that quickly plunge the Dark Knight into a murder investigation and also hit him in one of his weaknesses: helping the people of Gotham better their lives, so that what happened to him with his parents all those years ago doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Its a lot of nice subtext in the issue, something that the storytelling duo excelled at in their run over on The Flash, although they never really went this deep I think. Still, it is nice to see a story that deals with more than just the super-powered freak of the month or something. With all the new characters that the duo are bringing in, they are setting the stage for a new Batman mythology within their sphere of influence on Detective Comics and time will tell whether it really works out, but for now, I’m liking this story. It could be better, but I won’t hold that against it, not really.

As with their work on The Flash, the duo pull double duty as artists as well, with Jared K. Fletcher providing the letters. The art has all the flourishes that made their work on The Flash so good, but understandably enough, they don’t experiment with the layouts to the same degree. I suppose that they are going to take their time with it, which is fine with me, but I sure would have loved to see the same kind of layout creativity on this title as with their last. Their characterwork is solid as always, and I must say that under their hands Gotham looks quite a bit different than what it has under Jason Fabok or Aaron Lopresti’s pencils. Interesting differences.

Overall, this was a good solid issue that promises a lot of things and provides a nice enough twist at the end to bring the reader back for the next issue.

Rating: 8.5/10

More Detective Comics: More Detective Comics: #19-24, #23.4, #27, #28, #29.

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Posted on April 6, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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