Monday, July 13, 2015

Detective Comics #41 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

We have a lot of ground to cover here.

This issue follows from "Divergence FCBD Special Edition" #1 and "Batman" #41, with Jim Gordon fully ensconced as the new government-approved Batman.  At first, I wondered how Manallato responded to getting a change in the identity of Batman forced on them.  After all, they've only been at the helm of "Detective Comics" for a short while, and they seemed to be telling a long story, given how characters flowed from minor to major to minor from issue to issue.  But, Manallato make it clear that they're not only fully on board with the change, but that it gives them a chance to explore Bullock (clearly the main character of the series at this point) in a way that they haven't before.

Manallato do a great job of using flashbacks to show Bullock coming to grips with this new Batman.  First, he's the only person in Gotham that thinks that the original Batman is still alive (showing how clever he is, given the last page of "Batman" #41).  However, Commissioner Sawyer refuses his request to continue investigating that possibility.  The Powers That Be want him to head up the Batman Task Force, but he declines.  Later, he sets off a brawl at a cop bar when a few bikers enter, ostensibly because he's offended that they're there.  But, Manallato remind us how clever Bullock is, because it's clear that he did so so that Yip, now his girlfriend, can save one of the members of the review board.  (She's still suspended after shooting Lonnie a few weeks earlier.)  Eventually, Montoya appears, saving Bullock from getting clobbered over the head with a beer bottle.  (Their conversation later, where she calls him "Glass jaw" and he calls her "Man hands" is a highlight of the issue.)  We learn that she's returned to Gotham to work on the Task Force, and she lets slip to Harvey that Jim may be the Batman.  This revelation brings Bullock on board, but he extracts a promise from Montoya to help him keep investigating the original Batman.

Again, Manallato give us quintessential Harvey here.  They remind us that he's an excellent detective (given his hunch about Bruce) and that he's principled (since his initial reluctance to join the Task Force came from his disapproval of masked vigilantes).  But, they continue to show his vulnerable side.  First, they remind us that, for his gruff, macho exterior, Bullock's closest relationships are with women that he respects:  Montoya, Sawyer, and Yip.  But, his emotions cloud his judgment with Yip, since we learn here that she might be colluding with someone to blow up a circus performance for cops and firefighters.  (Jim is earlier seen talking with Sawyer about protecting it.)  I instantly felt bad for Harvey since he's not going to recover from the revelation, if it happens, that he missed the fact that Yip had turned to the dark side.

Moreover, Manallato make this book an integral part of the larger story that DC is telling about Batman.  While "Batman" so far is focused on Jim and his team, "Detective Comics" looks like it's going to be the place where we get to the bottom of what happened in that cave under Gotham.  Come for Batman, stay for Harvey.  I can dig it.

**** (four of five stars)

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