It’s hard for me to read a comic illustrated by Jock without getting a bitter taste in the back of my mouth. I know I can’t blame him for how things worked out between Greg Rucka and DC Comics, but Jock’s troubled run with Batwoman in Detective Comics does have the misfortune of being one of the last things Rucka wrote before splitting with the company. So it’s more than a little eerie for Jock’s return to Detective Comics to coincide with the release of Batwoman #0. Thankfully this issue marks an upswing in quality from the last story arc in Detective Comics, and it should leave fans eager for more.
The story starts cheerfully enough with bullies being ripped apart by their former victim, who has mysteriously and suddenly transformed into Killer Croc Jr. This sends Dick Grayson on the trail of someone who is making a fortune on the black market selling super villain hardware, and killing anyone who gets too close to his business. Scott Snyder does an excellent job showing Dick’s unique personality and take on being Batman. He gives a real sense of someone other than Bruce Wayne being under the cowl, which has been a hard trick for some writers to pull off. He also creates some great character moments between Dick and Commissioner Gordon, both when Dick’s in and out of costume.
Jock’s contributions to the issue as artist are for the most part very good. I found that his sparse style made some scenes hard to follow during his Batwoman run, but so far that has yet to be a pop up again. Probably my favorite touch to his art is how he depicts Commissioner Gordon. Every time you see him on the pages there’s a sense of this weight on his shoulders. It’s not as though he seems defeated, but it gives you a sense of the burden he carries as he fights the good fight.
Speaking of the Commissioner, this issue also includes the beginning of Snyder’s new second feature starring Commissioner Gordon, and honestly it’s worthy of being a headlining story. An incident at the Gotham Aviary seems to have reopened an old case for Gordon, one that has the veteran cop on edge. While the story is very short, it offers up a lot of suspense and tantalizing questions for the series to explore. Snyder has also done the best job that I’ve seen of making the first and second feature of a series seem interconnected and relevant. Once you read the second feature, the vultures outside Dick’s window at the beginning of the issue become more than just atmosphere, it shows that both features are happening simultaneously. Whether or not the two stories will intersect in a more meaningful way is still up in the air, but no matter what they’re both worth following.
In the end, I would highly recommend this issue to anyone. Whether you are a regular Detective Comics reader or not, I think this is going to be the start to a great run on the series.
Detective Comics #871:
Reviewed by Erik