In this time of Omega Sanctions, Time Spheres and unsavory Barbatos rituals, it’s refreshing to read a story that has Batman doing what he does best…detecting. In Batman Confidential #49 we see Gotham’s Dark Knight doing just that.
James Patrick’s engaging story begins with Batman intercepting a terrified woman’s frantic 911 call. Racing across Gotham’s rooftops, Batman arrives on the scene long before GCPD does. But not in time to thwart the brutal murder of the parents of a young girl who appears to have been kidnapped.. Batman uses his uncanny powers of deduction to assess the scene and determine his course of action. The trail of clues lead Batman to the building’s laundry room. On the way, we get a sense of just how fast Batman’s mind operates. Girlfriends, Alfred and the buildings plumbing are all mentally processed in the time it takes him to descend to the basement. We also get to see Batman’s employment of gadgets to solve crimes. Taking a picture of fingerprints with his mobile phone, Batman is able to determine the identity of the kidnapper. The story culminates with the showdown between Batman and the kidnapper. The Detective, once again uses his mobile phone to his advantage. Calling the number provided by the scanned fingerprint, Batman manages to distract the murdering criminal long enough to deliver a batarang to the perpetrator’s neck. The battle is concluded during an old-fashioned Gotham free-fall that sees Batman restraining the thug while simultaneously saving the child. Writer, Patrick efficiently delivers a 22-page thrill ride with virtually no dialogue. Instead, we are given a glimpse into Batman’s thought process through well-written text boxes.
Artistically, the book starts us off with a bang. We get treated to an image of Batman, cape outstretched, swooping down among Gotham’s skyscrapers. No doubt this unsurprisingly awesome illustration by Andy Kubert has been sitting in some DC warehouse waiting to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public. And while it’s never made clear, the reader will likely conclude that the Batman depicted on the cover and within the interior pages to be Bruce Wayne. Not that it really matters though. Steve Scott takes the artistic baton from Kubert in style. Scott has had some experience with The Bat in the past. He’s previously worked on JLA and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight. Scott’s page layouts go from rigid and calculating as Batman gathers clues, to frantic and claustrophobic as the Dark Knight engages the kidnapper in his apartment.
I would be remiss to leave out colorist, David Baron. A veteran of the Bat-books, Baron’s talents are on full display here. With nothing but Batman’s flashlight as a light source, Baron expertly sets a dark, eerie tone without leaving the pages undecipherable. As the story escalates to the climactic conflict, so does Baron’s color palette. The pages depicting the confrontation between Batman and the kidnapper are dripping with blood-red hues. And as Batman saves the young girl, Baron let’s us breathe a sigh of relief with a softer, familiar color selection.
This is the first Confidnetial book for me. I stayed away from the werewolf and undead storylines that were seen in previous issues. Hopefully, DC Comics will stick with this done-in-one, “CSI” format that highlights what has afforded the character over 70 years of staying power. I’d love to see the team of Patrick and Scott get a chance to work on Detective Comics. Either way I’ll keep an eye out for these names on future Bat-books.
Batman Confidential #49:
Reviewed by Hayestronaut