Writers: Brian Buccellato, Ray Fawkes, Francis Manapul, Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: Fernando Blanco, Francis Manapul, Steve Pugh, Marcio Takara
Collects Detective Comics Sneak Peek, Detective Comics #41-47
In case you were wondering, this newly released hardcover happens to be the penultimate volume collecting The New 52/ DC You era of Detective Comics. Containing three separate story arcs by various writers and artists, each journey taken by Jim Gordon/Batman is as different from the next. Even if Superheavy wasn’t your cup of tea, I implore you to take a closer look at this one because it has something for many a Batfan, regardless of whomever may be under the cowl.
The first story arc included spanned four issues and really felt like a spiritual successor to Gotham Central. If you enjoy seeing the likes of Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, and Renee Montoya as the central focus of a hard boiled tale, well, there’s a lot to satisfy you here. Fernando Blanco’s artwork utilizes Gotham City’s unforgiving shadows to their fullest, creating my favorite images contained within this volume.
As Gordon begins to hit the learning curve as the new Batman, GCPD finds itself betrayed from within. The La Morte gang gives him nothing but headaches, as opposed to Bullock, who suffers a bit of heartache. I would have to say the opening arc felt like it was just as much Bullock’s story as it was Gordon’s and, once you read it, you will discover there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
In the midst of this noir-ish story, we get an out of place battle between Batman and a giant Joker-bot piloted by Joker’s Daughter that adds nothing to the story and only brings it down – albeit slightly. Regardless of the fact that you could have removed that particular villain and it wouldn’t have affected the narrative at all didn’t make the read any less riveting.
Next up is a two-issue arc that joins the Justice League who, after seeing that Bruce Wayne is indeed amnesiac with their own eyes, enlist Gordon’s help. If you want a proper representation of the Justice League as how it would have existed during the DC You era, this is where you will find it, as the actual Justice League series continued the precedent set by The New 52.
While not perfect, it plays to Gordon’s strengths as a detective. A decent “epic” threat is provided before blindsiding you with more of an emotional ending than you were expecting.
Finally, a chapter from Robin War is included and feels highly out of place. Yes, it feels odd to include a single chapter from a massive crossover by its lonesome, yet not incorporating it would mean that not every issue of Detective Comics would be successively collected in trade format. It is indeed a slippery slope, but at least there’s a brief recap so you aren’t totally lost and there are some fine character moments to be witnessed.
If anything, this volume strengthens my argument that the best stories featuring Jim Gordon as Batman resided in the pages of Detective Comics. Anyone who loves Gotham’s top cops should give it a try and will hopefully return for Volume 9 when it sees release.