Making the Grade
Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Marcio Takara, Chris Sotomayor and Wes Abbott
Release Date: October 7, 2015
I was a big supporter of Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul's run on Detective Comics. While some may have been turned off that the two turned to book into more Gotham Central and less Dark Knight, that's what I liked about it. It set it apart from the rest of the Bat books and it didn't hurt that Harvey Bullock got some serious face time...or is it page time? While it's a shame that Buccellato and Manapul didn't get a longer run, this issue marks the beginning of Peter J. Tomasi's and I am really excited to see what he brings to the table. Will he continue the GCPD centric story? Will he focus on the Jim Gordon Bat Bot? Will he do something else entirely? If I could tell the future, I'd work in the circus...no, what I can do is tell you if I liked this issue of Detective Comics and then eat some dinner, maybe watch a television show, take a shower and then go to bed. And so it begins...
The issue opens up in India during a cricket match. Luckily a working knowledge of cricket is not reacquired because I once spent a summer in England and left knowing less about the sport than when I arrived. That may have more to do with me being a dummy, however. Back to the issue, while the match seems to be going swimmingly, there is a slight problem. The people in the crowd are being overtaken by a flood of some liquid that is stealing their eyes.
Boy, what an odd opening. However, the eye stealing is probably not the first thing that readers will notice. That honor will probably go to Marcio Takara's art. I'll admit that I had a negative reaction from the start, but as I settled in, the art starting growing on me.
The issue then takes us across the globe to Gotham and Bruce Wayne. It's not a complete shock seeing Bruce in Detective Comics, but it did surprise me a little and in a good way. While my hopes of having Bruce back front and center were kind of dashed here, I really enjoyed seeing him take a walk down (forgotten) memory lane and also deal with the Justice League. Maybe that came off as a bit too nonchalant because the Justice League visiting Wayne Manor was huge!
It seems that the Justice League needs Batman more than Batman needs them and they have shown up to see if there is any bit of the old Bruce inside the new version. Wonder Woman uses her lasso and if anyone still thinks that Bruce is playing (myself included), this should be the definitive answer...he doesn't remember shit! I liked the scene a bunch, but some of the dialogue felt a bit off, especially when Bruce offers his condolences over Batman's death.
We then get into more familiar Batman territory (for this book at least) when we visit Jim Gordon catching a baseball game for a little R&R. It's a nice look at why Gordon even chooses to do what he does, but it's interrupted by a distress call from the Bat Blimp. It's under attack and Gordon springs into action and we get a kick ass visualization of Gordon entering the Robot Batsuit on the fly.
This is all well and good and leads to a pretty exciting dogfight over Kane Bay, but I have to cry bullshit here. Gordon has never used the suit to fly (he says so himself) and without any training whatsoever is performing expert maneuvers while under attack. Some of these maneuvers lead him to discover that the fighter pilots attacking him are being remotely controlled...a bit of information he gives Wonder Woman when the Justice League shows up.
While the League takes care of the jets, Gordon heads off to the Puppet Master (not that one, Eric!) It's the Mad Hatter and while I am not a huge fan, I was so happy to see Gordon actually deal with one of Batman's bigger villains. Please don't argue with me that the Mad Hatter is not big, he's bigger than La Morte!
The issue ends with the Justice League recruiting Jim Gordon for the team. While on the surface, it looks like they just need a Batman (maybe because of all the merchandising), it's Jim's detective skills they are after. I don't know about you, but after talking to Bruce and then Jim, it really comes off that they are a bunch of dummies who need someone to figure things out for them. While Gordon may be a bit too "jokey" for my tastes, the cliffhanger was pretty cool and I love the idea of new blood in the Justice League.
I am torn with this issue. While I loved where it ended, so much of it just felt off. Bruce's dealing with the Justice League was odd and while I liked seeing Mad Hatter, his whole part was just there to give the Justice League a reason to deal with Gordon. While I give Tomasi credit for taking what he was given and shooting out of the gate, he did so in more of a forced way than I'm used to him doing.
I already said that Marcio Takara's art is an acquired taste and by the end of the issue, I got it. I may not be a huge fan yet, but I liked what I saw and am looking forward to seeing what he does as he settles into the story. It doesn't hurt that I loved his art in the Smallville digital book and know how good he can be.
Bits and Pieces:
Just having Jim Gordon join the Justice League is enough to get me excited, but too many things feel off before that happens for me to recommend this issue. We get a long awaited meeting of Bruce Wayne and his old League buddies, but it doesn't feel completely right and Jim Gordon suddenly is an aerial acrobat. While Marcio Takara's art got better as the issue progressed, the story felt too forced for my liking. With all that being said, it ended on a pretty cool cliffhanger and I'm still looking forward to reading this story going forward.