Review: Detective Comics #871

Published on November 30th, 2010

Looking for a really good Batman book but you’re sick of that little snot,Damien?  Maybe, you’re more of a fan of the dark, mystery books.  Well, then boy howdy, do we have a pick for you! Detective Comics #871, written by Scott Snyder of American Vampire fame with art by Jock, is a Dick Grayson Batman-book that takes the character on a solo story that is much darker and grittier than some of the other Batman titles.

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The story revolves around Dick investigating the leaking of certain super villain related police evidence after a bullied schoolboy literally tears apart his tormentor thanks to Killer Croc’s mutagen.  Commissioner Gordon goes to Dick to use the new crime lab that he had built and donated for GCPD use with a sample of both the mutagen in the boy’s blood and Killer Croc’s actual mutagen.  It turns out that not only is it the same type of mutagen, it’s from the same batch, which can only mean that it came out of the GCPD evidence vault.  When Batman goes to investigate the boy’s family the mother fires a shotgun at him, accidentally killing her butler and then jumps out the window to her death.  When Batman checks her body he finds one of the Mad Hatter’s mind control cards sewn into her neck.  After consulting with Commissioner Gordon Batman discovers that the same officer, Cullen Buck, was in charge of evidence when both the mutagen and the Hatter card were brought in.  They figure that Buck and his girlfriend, Becca Mulcahey, are stealing super villain evidence from GCPD to sell on the black market.

Batman goes to Buck’s apartment to get information out of him.  After Batman hog ties Buck upside down and tases Becca who tried sneaking up on Batman with a machine gun, Buck starts to give up information.  He says that he works for someone called “The Dealer” who collects super villain tools and sells it to the highest bidder.  In the middle of his confession, Buck is suffocated by Poison Ivy’s plant spores that cause roots to start growing out of his mouth.

This new arc is looking to be really interesting.  It’s much darker in tone than some of the other Batman books available right now.  Snyder is making his story very much a mystery but adds a lot of character depth to his writing.  The relationship between Dick-Batman and Commissioner Gordon is very different than Bruce Wayne-Batman and Gordon. Gordon points this out when he looks away while talking to Batman, then looks back to find Batman still standing there listening, to which Gordon says, “I’m still not used to…you being there when I look up.”

Jock’s artwork is very good for this gritty, harsh toned story.  His style itself is very gritty and hard edged.  Personally, I’m not a big fan of the scratchy kind of style that he brings to the table but I can still recognize his immense talent and how well suited he is for the tone of this book.

Overall, Detective Comics is getting really interesting.  If you’re looking for a good jumping on point to a darker toned Batman book, then Detective Comics #871 may be just what you need.

Ian Candish
Ian@ComicImact.com