Batman Goes Back to Solving Crimes in Detective 988

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Detective 988

Nobody is dealing all that well with the way the Batman / Catwoman wedding went -- or, rather, didn't -- particularly Batman himself. In typical Batman fashion, whenever something traumatic happens to him, he buries himself in his work.

Now, normally, this would mean a trail of busted jaws and broken ribs stretching across the length and breadth of Gotham City, lasting until someone finally beats some sense into him. This time is different, however. As he relates to Commissioner Gordon at the scene of what seems a mundane murder, "Lately I may have gotten over my head. I need to reset. Bottom line, this is a mystery and I'm a detective."

Well it's about freaking time. Don't get me wrong, I love some of the craziness Batman gets involved in, with his bizarre gallery of villains and their obsessions. But to find out there are sets of mirror universes that all revolve around you is enough to rattle any man, and the events of METAL, while full of high points, were muddled to the point that I didn't try to keep up, even though the fans certainly loved it. But Batman works best as a detective. That's why he has this title, DETECTIVE COMICS -- to let that skill play out and solve some actual crimes.

So let's solve the murder of Harold Frank, and take our mind off of Selina for a while.

What Batman discovers is that this is far from being the simple murder it appeared to be on its face. Evidence in Frank's apartment shows that the man was into something much deeper than the kitchenware sales business. But before Batman can investigate that scene any further, the building is attacked by Firefly -- and Firefly. It appears the current Firefly, Ted Carson, has taken on an apprentice -- Bridgit Pike, bringing the character out of GOTHAM and into the Batman comics mythos.

The battle with Pike and Carson takes Batman away from the evidence, which is ultimately lost to the flames. But it's enough to convince the Dark Knight Detective that there's much more here than a simple murder.

James Robinson's writing career has been one of hit and miss for me, with the high poing being his run on JSA and his lowest being on JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA. Using that as the scale, DETECTIVE 988 falls somewhere in a comfortable middle. Robinson dealt nicely with a mixed Batman who was both being open with his feelings to others and still mission-oriented, speaking in one-word sentences when needed. Alfred was still the nagging nanny, but I'm not sure that he would inject innuendo into his discussion with Batman (or anyone else, for that matter, being a well-mannered gentleman), so when he tells Batman, "The late Mr. Frank was in kitchenware sales. Nothing too wild about that unless you're kinky for spatulas," it felt weirdly off for the proper Mister Pennyworth.

As for Stephen Segovia's artwork, there were great shots and just serviceable ones -- mostly leaning toward the great, fortunately. Basically, any of the scenes involving darkness came across quite well, but once the ancillary characters begin to appear, things start to look rushed. This mostly happens during the fire scene, beginning with the old lady who can't find her dog and continuing through the fight scenes with both Fireflies.

By the closing panels, the reader knows more than Batman does, because we get to see the villains involved in the machinations. I won't reveal who they are, but they've been around a while in a lot of other DC Comics. However, doing a little detective work of my own with Robinson's titles, I think there's yet some further fiend nudging their arm. The story arc is titled "A Solitary Man" but the chapter heading for this one is "Deface The Face." Given that the teaser for next issue's part is "Two Sides," this reviewing sleuth would bet another $3.99 that Harvey Dent is just around the corner.

3.5 / 5.0