Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Detective Comics Annual #3 Review and *SPOILERS*

Written By: Brian Buccellato
Art By: Werther Dell'edera, Jorge Fornes, Scott Hepburn
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: July 30, 2014

Pulp Fictiony

For this Annual we'll continue to take a look at the Icarus story arc, but for this one we'll be dealing with a prequel story that sets up the events of Annie Aguila's death and sets our Dark Knight Detective on his investigation into the Kings of The Sun and The Squid.  So if you needed more info on what's up with the gang land activity in Gotham and a drug that sets you on fire and gives you super speed when you OD on it, then this is the Annual for you.  Let's dive deep into this Pulp Fictiony narrative that sets the stage for Buccellato and Manapul's run on Detective Comics.

Explain It!:

As I keep saying this Annual is presented to us in a Pulp Fictiony kind of way, but instead of doing an Explain It! that jumps around all over the place, I'm going to take all the fun out of the issue and do a boring linear explanation.

On Friday October 9th at 6:54 AM our story begins with Annie Aguila, who still has a living mother and who is still clean from drugs.  Oh and she also has a boyfriend named Dante who her mother dislikes since he's the one who got her addicted to drugs in the first place and I don't care if he's a bang up guy now, I have to agree with Elena Aguila with her judge the book by the "got my daughter addicted to drugs" cover.  So it's early in the morning and instead of sleeping like I like to do in the mornings, these two are out races their dirt bikes and after Annie beats his *insert derogatory dirt biker term here* ass, the two kiss and talk about running away together since her mother is so judgmental.  There is one page in this segment that I don't understand the reasoning behind the panel layout at all.  The first time I read it, I couldn't follow the conversation and only after I realized the panels decided to be drunk the day of printing did I realize what I was reading.  left to right a little down in the middle off to the right again and then back to the left.  Maybe it's just me, but I didn't like it.

At 4:40 PM Batman gets a lead on a cache of guns that were stolen out of police lock up that once belonged to The Wrath and makes his way to the Narrows to confront a new gang in Gotham "The Bastards of Blackgate".  But while this is going down Dante takes on one more job before Annie and him run off to New Orleans.  This job entails him to watch the shipment of Icarus for the Kings of The Sun while they talk to The Squid's people about a deal.  It's a good thing that Dante's not a recovering drug addict..... Oh wait.

At 5:06 PM Batman's in the Narrows and beating the hell out of some Bastards of Blackgate hoods to find out where the rest of the guns are and we learn two things.  For the most part the Bastards of Blackgate seem to be young guys who most likely have never been to Blackgate and that they like to talk a lot about their operation in public.  We find this second part out because a young boy named Aden was listening to them from a fire escape and gets Batman's attention to give him the lowdown on the rest of the guns.  Also while Batman's listening to the boy we find out that his father occasionally hits him and even forgot that today was his birthday.  While I'm not keen on child abuse, sicking Batman on your no good father seems kind of fucked up and if it was me I'd be terrified that my father would come back and take the beating he got out on me.

At 6:10 PM we see The Squid, his brother Johnny and a new recruit that The Squid wants to put in charge of the Icarus deal, instead of his brother riding around in a limo.  The new recruit happens to be a pre-Calendar Man Julian Day and Johnny doesn't seem to be happy about being over looked for this drug deal.  Julian is supposed to show Johnny how it's done and Julian decides to end the animosity between them by going to a bar to have a beer with Johnny and punching him in the gut just to let him know who's boss.  Julian excuses himself and walks into a bathroom..... Like a boss.

At 6:45 PM Julian walks into the bathroom, where a minute ago Bruce Wayne was utilizing that nifty hologram disguise technology that I don't remember seeing since Batman #1 and changes his face to look like Matches Malone.  Matches introduces himself and let's Julian know that they're about to duke it out.  Julian believes that this is because he must of slept with this stranger's mother, sister or wife, but after he begins to get a proper beating Matches lets him know that this is because he hits his kid and forgot his birthday and after Matches slams Julian's head into the wall, he tells him to get a calendar.  Yet again Batman creates his own villains and not only that but beat the persona he will take into his head.  Goodbye Julian Day, hello Calendar Man.

Somehow We Go From The Top To The Bottom

At 9:10 PM Dante calls Annie to tell her that he's doing one more job and then they'll leave, but he wasn't strong enough to do it by himself.  Yeah you guessed it folks, leaving the drug addict in a storage unit with a shipment of drugs was a bad idea.  So not only is this a bad day because of the whole relapse thing, but Johnny trying to get back at his brother "The Squid" has gathered some guys together and plans on stealing the shipment.  When they open the unit, they see Dante on fire, shouting about killing them, so they do what you'd do when a screaming man on fire is running at you and you happen to have a gun.  Well not exactly, they shoot him dead, but me I'd shoot until I ran out of bullets, reload and continue shooting.  That shit's scary.  So Dante's dead and Annie can't catch a break in Gotham and I can kind of understand why she goes back to drugs after her mother gets killed.  The lesson here is never move to Gotham.

At 9:35 PM Batman, now that he's beaten the hell out of an abusive and forgetful father suits back up and heads over to the Rock Salt Depot that Aden told him about, to take out the Bastards of Blackgate with the rest of the stolen guns.  After the beating is done he contacts Alfred to send a drone to collect and inventory the guns.  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

At 10:11 PM The Kings of The Sun confront The Squid about the stolen Icarus and their dead Dante.  Johnny being the slime ball that he is tells Squid that Julian took off from the bar they were at and that he was the only other person to know where The Kings of The Sun were keeping the Ick.  See this story is almost believable because Julian took off from the bar after his massive beating and no one has seen him for hours.  To get a handle on his operation The Squid calls up the Bastards of Blackgate's leader "The Big Bastard" to hire his crew to find Julian Day and to get his drugs back.

At 10:40 PM Alfred lets Batman know that there is one more gun missing from the stolen cache and that it's a doozy of a weapon since it's a magnetic rail gun.  Before Batman continues being the night and all, he checks in on young Aden to see if he's alright and to you know make sure his father didn't beat the ever loving shit out of him for sending someone to kick his ass.  But instead Batman finds a note indicating that someone has kidnapped Aden and then uses his detective skills to realize Julian doesn't really give a shit about his kid because he's packed up and left.  Now it's off to find Aden.

At 11:18 PM Batman finds the kidnappers who if you haven't realized already are the rest of the Bastards of Blackgate and their leader The Big Bastard.  But he hasn't shown unprepared for the fight because we see he's dusted off an armored looking Mecha-Batsuit and comes rushing in taking out bad guy after bad guy.  It all comes down to Batman and Big Bastard with his magnetic rail gun and holding Aden as a hostage.  So it's a twofer tonight because Batman gets to save Aden and collect the last gun as well and all it takes is for him to set off a magnetic pulse disabling the gun for Big Bastard to give up completely.

In the end it's Saturday October 10, at 10:21 AM and we see that Aden is welcomed into his new home, the Aguila Family Shelter for Women and Children by Elena Aguila herself and as Bruce Wayne watches we get the idea that this is when he had the idea to work with Elena in the first place.  Goddamn was that a long Explain It! and I hope you understand the events which led up to the Icarus story arc completely now and I'll never have to do this kind of review again.  See you next week when we jump ahead and see what Manapul and Buccellato with give us as we unravel the mystery of Elena Aguila's death.

Bits and Pieces:

There is a whole lot of shit going on in Gotham!  This Annual being the prequel to the Icarus story arc gives us the lowdown on the events leading to Elena Aguila's death in a Pulp Fiction manner, jumping us around a single day in the lives of Batman and the scum of Gotham.  This story is a lot of fun as long as you make sure you take your cues from the time stamp on the page, because if you miss one you might get lost in the long run.  As far as prequels go this isn't bad and even though I usually hate anything that reminds me of Episodes 1-3 of Star Wars, I wouldn't mind seeing more stories that go this route of using Annuals as a precursor to a story.  Check it out so you too can have the whole story on Icarus.


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