Review: Detective Comics #50

DTC_Cv50_dsI’ve been reading Detective Comics since around issue #817, which amounts to around eleven years or so of constant readership. That makes Detective Comics one of the longest running series I have read along with Batman, and up until his death, the various Wolverine comics I had in my pull list (although the constant renumbering may have been irritating). For a little while, buying Detective Comics was as much about the collecting of the series as it was the reading of the individual comics (I say collecting because I didn’t want a break in the run, but I was never concerned about appreciating value of the comics). I tell you this so that you get an idea of where I’m coming from when I say that I had actually stopped buying this series around issue #46.

The mechanized Bat-suit really drove me away from the series, but the final straw was issue #47; a crossover issue with a story I wasn’t reading even though Robin War was getting some decent reviews, I never had any interest in picking it up.

So I dropped Detective Comics for the first time in ten years.

DTC_Cv49_56467d8969abf8.00387354Then, a couple months later I saw the cover for #49 and I was intrigued. Despite finally dropping the series, I was drawn back by the image of a mech-suit-free Batman pointing a gun at me as I looked at the racks. I had to find out more, and so I picked up issue #48, which is where the three part story concluding in this issue began. It was a story in which Jim Gordon eschewed the mech suit, focusing instead on the detective side of Batman’s nature.

And for two issues I was finally on board with the Bruce-less Detective Comics. For the first time in months I was ardently waiting on an issue of Detective Comics. Was #50 worth the wait?

Well… yeah. It kinda was.

While this series has generally fallen below Batman‘s consistent quality, issue #50 caps off a really interesting street level story that’s had Jim Gordon doing what he does best: being a bloody good detective. Detective Comics #50 also highlights the more subtle differences between Gordon and Bruce Wayne, and their methods while wearing the cowl. There’s a great sequence featuring a character whom I wish had been a greater focus over the past ten issues: Harvey Bullock. How he interacts with Gordon now that there’s  a mask involved has provided some of the more interesting exchanges over the last ten issues, and that we get a whole lot more of that here is nothing but a good thing.

What will happen when Bruce Wayne once again dons the cape and cowl will, I think, be interesting as well, but while that’s something to look forward to (or not depending on whether that angle is explored), Detective Comics #50 is still a solid anniversary issue that’s worth reading.

That this comic capped off my favourite story featuring Jim Gordon as Batman without a single Wayne in sight is entirely true, but that doesn’t mean this is an insta-buy, but it is a good comic book. It’s an issue that actually can be read as a one shot (although that wouldn’t be the best way to read it) that features some great moments where Gordon really seems to embrace the role that he’s been given, almost going beyond the police jurisdiction he’s been granted.

Where Bruce won’t take a life, Gordon is willing – indeed he has before – to do that if he has to, and so the fight between a “reincarnated” St. George and the new Dark Knight takes on a new level as you’re never quite sure how far Gordon is willing to go.

I hope that we get to see more of this type of story featuring Jim Gordon as Batman without the mech-suit before Bruce returns because the past three issues were so much more interesting than the mech-suit issues that preceded them. If you were on the fence about Bat-Gordon before, then Detective Comics #50 may just leave you a fan of the latest man to wear the cowl.

Story: Peter J. Tomasi Art: Fernando Pasarin and Scot Eaton
Story: 7.75 Art: 8 Score: 8 Recommendation: Read