A (shorter) comic book review: Detective Comics #861

So…this review is going to be a little different, and stray from the “story/writing/artwork/etc format, mostly because I’m torn as to how to review this book. That’s the main reason this review is so late in coming…I just don’t quite know what to say about this.

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: J.H. Williams is no longer providing the art for Detective Comics. (Greg Rucka is, thankfully, still writing the story though, which is a good thing of course.) As you know if you’ve been reading my other reviews of the book, I’ve been in love with this book, and this artistic team, since I started reading it–in many ways, I give it credit for hooking me on comics in the first place. So it was with more than a little trepidation that I picked up this book, knowing that “my” team had been disassembled.

On opening the book and just flipping through the pages to get an idea of what I was in for, my heart sank a bit. I like Jock’s artwork, don’t get me wrong; but as expected, he’s no J.H. Williams. His drawings are much less detailed and rich than Williams, although I must say it actually fits with the much grittier nature of the story. The real distraction here (and perhaps I’m reading too much into this…) is that Jock seems to be…almost trying to imitate Williams’ style. His page layouts look similar, as does the way he draws the characters. I actually found this the most distracting aspect of all; it kept reminding me of what I was missing, and kept me constantly wondering, “I wonder how Williams would have drawn this.” I’d have much preferred a clean break in styles, personally; it would have made things a lot easier to follow.

Now, that said, the artwork is still very good, and tells the story quite effectively. My favorite image of the book (which I was actually able to find online, amazingly enough!) is easily this one:

I wasn’t a huge fan of the whole parallel story thing, I’ll be honest. I understand what Rucka was trying to do, but with so few pages dedicated to the main story, I’d much rather have the focus be on Batwoman alone. Not that I don’t love me some Batman, don’t get me wrong, but I can get a Batman fix in any one of the zillion books in which he stars. This is the ONLY place I can get Batwoman, so I’d really rather see the focus stay on her, and not the guest star. (Its worth noting that if they just cut the second feature and dedicated the pages to the ACTUAL reason I think most of us are reading this book, it wouldn’t be nearly as big an issue for me.)(Although putting Batman on the actual cover–with no sign of Batwoman to be found–still kind of annoys me.)

Anyway, that said, the page above was an absolute masterpiece–I love the way it draws a perfect bead that simultaneously highlights the similarities and differences in Batman and Batwoman’s M.O.s. Its just very, very cool, and beautifully drawn. I could easily see hanging that in my room if it was ever produced as a poster.

As for the story…as I mentioned before, it was quite good. I have to admit, I quite miss the fantastical nature of the ‘Alice’ storyline, but I need to keep reminding myself this is only the first installment of this story, and I need to give myself time to warm up to it. …Maybe its just the fact that the particular style of violence this villain has is a personal turn-off to me (serial killer..er…maimer…ugh. Especially one who preys on young college students…double ugh. I loathe and despise the Hostel series for a reason.) Oh well. I’ll just have to grit my teeth and bear it, and look forward to Batwoman kicking the everloving shit out of the bastard in the story’s conclusion. (And that had better happen, Rucka, if you’re reading this. If Cutter gets away, or pulls some kind of Se7en-style twist, I quit. I swear I will.)

So…that’s the latest issue of Detective Comics. The word on the street as far as I understand it is that after the next two issues, Batwoman’s tenure in the book will be over (to make room, one assumes, for the return of Bruce Wayne?) However, there has been much scuttlebutt over the idea of Batwoman getting her own book, written and drawn by Rucka and Williams. All I can say is, GOD I HOPE SO! So lets all cross our fingers, spit in our hats (or cowls), and pray that this dream team on a dream book becomes a reality.

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