Thursday, July 24, 2008

Detective Distress!

With this upcoming post, I had a conundrum: Which medium of the comics world was I ignoring more and had to correct; Independent web comics that were collected in print, or DC comics? As you see, I had to get some DC going on this site again, lest Dan Didio come down to my apartment and roast my Batarang over a slow-cook fire.

Detective Comics #846 features the return of Bruce Wayne's childhood friend Thomas Elliot, also known as the murderous Hush, forever bandaged and mentally disturbed. Hush has come back to town to once again attempt to get revenge on Wayne/Batman, in ways that will only unfurl in the coming issues.

For the time being, Batman is not alone. Catwoman is also in this issue, and figures to play a prominent part on the road ahead. They come across one another when Wayne (undercover as two-bit thug Lefty Knox) tries to take down a gang led by a fairy-tale-reciting Doctor Aesop. When he's cried "wolf" a few too many times, Wayne has to be rescued by Catwoman, who happens to be in the area. The two resolve to team up and take down Aesop together, at least until the next argument hits.

Much of the book tells the origin of Hush, who actually wanted the life of Bruce Wayne, but on his terms. Whereas Bruce's parents were killed by chance, Thomas had no such luck in his future, so he tampered with the brakes on his parents' limousine. Furious when Bruce's father saved the life of his mother, and further avoiding vengeance when Bruce's parents are not killed by his hand, Thomas truly and insanely hates Bruce Wayne for the life that he has, both as a magnate and as the superhero crime fighter.

What's left is his revenge to be wrought, and he makes himself known to the Batman in the end. There are many questions to be answered in the next four issues, not the least of which is how this evenly-matched opponent of Batman plans to succeed. There's nothing worse than a villain who knows you so entirely well that he can predict your every action, and Hush is that kind of bad guy.

The pen of Paul Dini (Countdown, Madame Mirage) more than makes this title worth reading. His extensive work with the character of Batman and his history of writing for the Batman TV shows (and the creation of such characters as Harley Quinn) are readily apparent in his writing. He knows perhaps more about the Dark Knight than anyone else in the industry (or at least has been so submerged with it that he just oozes Batman know-how) and his writing is fantastic, coherently telling a story good enough to eat. The dialogue is great, the pacing is wonderful, even the back story is solid, all without giving away too much for a first issue.

Sadly, the artwork doesn't live up to the writing talent. I'm sure Dustin Nguyen (Manifest Eternity, The Authority) must have talent. I'm just not sure it's with drawing comics. Not that his style doesn't suit Batman in any way, shape or form. His dark shadows and detailed backgrounds match Bats perfectly. It's just that the artwork is so darned sloppy! I hate looking at the art, and that's three quarters of why I'm reading in the first place!

Fortunately, Dini's writing is good enough to pass this otherwise-dud. Detective Comics retains it's luster and will hopefully keep my comic needs sated until the next big storyline comes along. Until then, arrivaderci!


steve said...

my my! coming after your comments on 'Wanted,' this certainly felt lukewarm!

Then again, I've never really GOT the oomph behind 'Hush' as a villain. He hasn't known Bruce Wayne for what, years? Can't have any useful insight into this character. And the bandages, facial damage, and whole Bruce-Wayne-as-he-might-have-been is better done a million times over in Two-Face.

No, as far as I'm concerned, the bat-book to watch is Robin ...

Kevin said...

I'm with you on Hush - he is indeed a bit oomph-less.

Mind you, I gave the initial Jim Lee/Jeff Loeb book only a quick once-over (I have this theory - Jeff Loeb kinda sucks).

Haven't read much with art by Dustin Nguyen, but a google search produced some pretty nice results - is he really that bad? Hmm.

I miss Gotham Central - that was the Batman book for me. Just got back from The Dark Knight, which owes a bit of its story to Gotham Central's the Joker arc.

I also enjoyed Nightwing, but only when the art was by Rich Leonardi and Eisner-deserving inker, Jessie Delperdang. Man!

Speaking of the Dark Knight - what did ya'll think of the preceding Watchmen teaser?

brian said...

I thought the Watchmen trailer was great, although Night Owl looked a bit too much like Batman. Could confuse some people. Still, definitely looking forward to it.

Megmo Eskimo said...

OMFG!! I cannot wait till 2009 to see the movie!! The trailer did what few do (for me anyways) made me actually want to see the movie without revealing the whole plot. Also, nice touch w/ setting it to the Smashing Pumpkins (great song). Now I just need to read 'The Watchmen'...stat!

brian said...

'Watchmen' is the first comic I've read in years and while I really dug the story I can't help but think the artwork was completely lacking. Reminded me of the generic stuff I used to devour in the early 80s. Nothing special, in my opinion.

Megmo Eskimo said...

I agree, far (I'm only in chapter 3) I find the story intriguing but the artwork does not enhance the story but rather detracts from it.