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Detective Comics #742

Rucka (w), Martinbrough (p), Mitchell (i)
Reviewed by JYD

When it's all said and done, "Detective Comics" #742 is one hell of a deceivingly simple story. It all starts out with the artwork--characters and backgrounds largely constructed from cubes and squares. Moving onto the color scheme, we find a focus on two colors, blue and orange (there's some blue-gray too). The basic plot? There's been a hit on an Italian diner owned by a infamous Gotham mob family, one cop is killed, the other in critical condition. Enter James Gordon, the newly promoted Det. Montoya, Lt. Bullock, and Capt. Bock w/ new cop Crispus Allen 4 guys holed up in a warehouse with AK-47s, and, of course, our favorite Dark Knight who's not about to take crap from anyone.

A marvelous prelude issue to the mafia action that's coming up, #742 turns all this "simplicity" into the best Bat story of the year. Martinbrough is absolutely amazing--his characters show more life in a single close-up glance than anything done by any of the artists previously mentioned in this thread. Want proof? Check out Gordon's face on pg. 2 or even Batman's expression on the bottom of pg. 26 (my favorite panel of the entire comic). All of the new characters and the old characters are instantly memerable. The new guy with the strange name, Crispus Allen, has a dynamic T'Challa look to him. He reminds me of Bock when he first showed up (the end of "Prodigal").

I can't begin to emphasize how incredible the new color scheme looks. It's like wading through the seemy underbelly of a city lighted by blue and orange neon signs--but it works dammit. It just works. Batman looks amazing. There's no question here how well his suit looks--the only thing that stands out is the bat-symbol (and the yellow circle is even gone!). He is a mixture of dark blue, blacks, and grays--throughout the story he doesn't speak, merely exploring the background, trailing Gordon while Jim jogs in the morning, cornering him before he walks into certain death. Batman realizes the extent of the dark path Jim walks--it took him years to master his own fatal tendencies. Gordon doesn't have that option. He has to protect a city. Any resolution must come now--and we see that in the book's final pages (pgs. 27-30). Batman comments how he expected it to all end so differently. Perhaps his faith in Jim's moralistic tendencies has been returned. Perhaps not. It's all very mysterious, something straight out of "Vertigo." But one thing is clear--Rucka's aptly named "Detective Comics" isn't just going to focus on the dark layers of Batman anymore--there are other characters who are places far deeper and darker than Batman has been in a decade. This should be one wild ride.

The JYD's grade: A