Sunday, November 8, 2015

Detective Comics #45 (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

This issue is really solid, from start to finish.

After reading "Batman and Robin Eternal" #1, I realized that we never really saw the Bat-family members mourn in the period of time when they would've thought that both Bruce and Dick were dead.  I imagine that they would've been devastated by the loss of both their guiding lights.  But, we never really saw a story focus on that loss.  It might've happened in "Red Hood/Arsenal" or "Teen Titans," but it didn't in "Batgirl," "Batman," or this title.  On some level, it's a reflection of how Bruce- and Dick-centric the Bat-family is:  DC can't keep them on the sidelines in the main titles long enough to focus on the other family members.  It's a shame, because the brilliance of Snyder's "Black Mirror" arc in this series was that he fully explored Dick's keen sense of Bruce's absence.  Instead, Snyder rushed introducing the amnesiac Bruce Wayne into "Batman."  To be clear, I'm really enjoying the story, so I'm not complaining.  But, I'm left feeling that we're missing an important piece of the puzzle.

That said, all the Bat-family authors have done an excellent job in dealing with the amnesiac Bruce (now that we have him).  They've shown the fine line that everyone has to walk around him.  In this issue, the Justice League arrives to recruit Bruce (and his detective skills) to solve a particularly pressing mystery.  Alfred is the ever-vigilant gatekeeper here, but Bruce overhears the conversation and allows Diana to use her Lasso of Truth to see if any semblance of the old Bruce remains.  It doesn't, and Takara makes Diana's conflicted emotions over that revelation obvious.  We're also treated to a poignant scene of Superman clasping Bruce's hands in his own hands and thanking him for his previous assistance to the League.  Both Tomasi and Takara make it clear that the League feels Bruce's loss keenly.

Instead, as Jim himself later says, the League is forced to go to Plan B:  namely, Jim.  They find him fighting off a group of F-15s whose pilots fell under the control of the Mad Hatter.  This fight scene is awesome, like "Top Gun" meets "The Dark Knight."  Takara can stay as long as he wants.  In fact, Takara really shows his range in the scenes preceding the fight sequence, where Jim is taking in a Little League game and realizing why he does what he does.  Jim looks relaxed for the first time (possibly ever), and it really matches the emotion that Tomasi wants us to feel, of a proud if weary warrior.  He also shows Jim's anxiety when the League asks them to solve the mystery that brought them to Wayne Manor.  After all, it's not every day he gets teleported to the frozen tundra to examine a giant skeleton.  But, it's also a reminder that Jim is a detective in his own right, and Diana essentially tells him that they'll focus on the super-heroics if he focuses on the mystery.

In other words, it's an emotional journey that captures this feeling of loss that I realized had been missing.  With the loss identified, everyone is now patting each other's backs and trying to find a way forward.  We'll all see where we go.

*** (three of five stars)

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