I don't know what's wrong but it seems like I can't escape the works of David Hine or Scott McDaniel. McDaniel was on Batman and Robin which wasn't exactly the greatest thing around and Hine has written this Detective annual! So going into this annual I had some pretty negative preconceived notions. As I was reading I wanted to hate this issue so bad but I had a really hard time, unlike Hine's previous Detective run Hine had me intrigued from the first page because overall it is a Detective kind of story. He takes Bruce and Dick and uses that whole Batman Inc. premise and turns it into a great (like I said before) detective story but what really thrills me is the chase. Or the stuff in-between the Batman franchise stuff. Like Scott Snyder's and Jock's Detective run Hine holds on to his lead and delivers his mystique and mystery all while progressing his story. But the story is intriguing and that's the thing because up to the point where the big reveal comes, I thought that the story was just going to be a typical Batman story and unlike Hine's Detective run the big reveal that the guy they captured in the beginning isn't the assassin and it pulled the carpet from underneath my feet and actually gave me a reason to look forward to the Batman annual. But what is really done well is how Hine wrote Bruce he gives Bruce freedom to move around and have actual thoughts that I care about and it was great to see more of Bruce and Dick working together both as Batman and it was a wonderfully weird comparison to Bruce as Batman and Dick as Robin or Nightwing. But anyways, overall it seems like he took the best of what makes Batman, Batman and beautifully structured it and made it his but most importantly ours.
But that’s not to say that this issue doesn’t have its flaws, it certainly does. One of the stories flaws is the fact that it uses a confusing timeline to which you have to constantly skip back and forth between pages to remind yourself where in time you actually are. I thought that this point was absolutely off putting and could either have been used more efficiently or could have been completely removed because it would not have made a difference and would have added to the mystery of the book, not to mention constantly skipping back and forth between pages can get a bit tedious and frustrating. Another flaw is the book's dead pan conversations like the conversations that Bruce has with the chief of police. Sure there’s action there, but just trying to get through the thick of it is the real problem I often found myself skipping it and getting to the action scenes only to find out that I needed to read through the conversation to see what happened. But if you take all of that and put into the context of the story then it kind of makes sense in a certain way and you realize that those parts are essential to the story.
Although, I look at it as David Hine had a great concept and a great idea….in theory, and unfortunately he doesn’t deliver on those concepts ideas fully. Like his Detective run I feel like it was just put together really fast and the attention to detail was forgotten. You can certainly tell where he wanted to take it and in some cases he hit that mark, but in most cases he didn’t and it’s kind of sad because this would have been a great story. And I don’t know why, but it feels like Hine hasn’t learned anything from his previous run and he hasn’t taken into consideration the fact that fans did not like his run!
But that’s enough of the negative let’s focus on the positive. I really like how he took on the burden of having Bruce and Dick team up both as Batman and how it’s different from the Bruce as Batman and Dick as Robin/Nightwing there is a different feeling there as Bruce now treats Dick as an equal because he has proven that he can be Batman. It reassures us that yes two Batmen can exist in the world and Hine plays that dynamic really well to say the least. I also liked that this story was just an ordinary detective story with a twist and it doesn’t play as a conventional story even though it is. The twists and turns and how Hine sucks you into the story plays really well here and even though (like I said before) it doesn’t hit some of it’s goals there is still a decent story there and compared to Hine’s impostor Jokers this one far exceeds it.
As for Agustin Padilla’s art, let’s just say it looks a little generic in the sense that the characters kind of look alike and there aren’t any striking features. His art feels like it’s just there to be there and does not suck you in like the story does and in the end isn’t anything to be amazed by.
Overall this issue is so-so. If you picked this issue up, good for you. If you didn’t, you’re not really missing anything. If you want a good story and can ignore certain flaws then you certainly need to pick this one up but if you’re like me and you notice the little things do yourself a favor and wait for January’s Detective but that’s not to say it isn’t a decent read, it is. It has a lot going for it and it somewhat delivers and it’s the complete opposite of Hine’s previous Detective run because it feels like he actually cares about this one. If you want a good detective story or you want to see the dynamic between Bruce and Dick as equals then definitely pick this one up.
Detective Comics Annual #12:
Reviewed by Dane