Graphic Novel Reviews: Detective Comics 019

The Story
In its most simple form, Batman fights to stop the contagion of Man-Bat virus. With the help of Doctor Kirk Langstrom the outbreak is brought under control. In the side stories we learn that Emperor Penguin has been using the outbreak as a cover for multiple robberies. In the other side stories we get to see the aftermath from the point of view of several different characters. We even get a story of Bane’s failed attack on Gotham, with the promise of future developments in that storyline.

The Review
Good gosh this thing is massive! First of all, for those confused by the multiple stories shown in the table of contents, the first story (after the prologue that is) is a direct continuation of the main Detective Comics storyline. The other stories are all side stories that are connected to events in the main storyline, but through alternate perspectives.

It’s definitely worth picking up, though with a special caveat that to understand the main story one would have to read the back-issues first. However, a few of the side stories are readable on their own. You’ll just get the most benefit from this special issue if you are familiar with the story of Detective Comics up to this point.

As far as the individual stories go, I enjoyed the last one, with the cops celebrating the recovery of one of their injured own. It’s always fun to take a look at what the average members of the police force think of Batman, since most of our exposure is through Gordon and Bullock. And while Bullock isn’t the biggest Batman fan, in the New 52 he at least sees the value that Batman presents to Gotham. Other cops? Especially the crooked ones? Not so much.

The introduction of Langstrom, and his place in the New 52 was a fairly well placed introduction for the character. But it does confuse the issue of continuity. But by this point complaining about continuity in the New 52 is about as pointless as preaching to the choir. Let’s just say that none of the continuity makes sense and leave it at that.

I was a bit annoyed at Nightwing’s short appearance in the book. Granted this is the first book to really address the fact that Death of the Family was supposed to be this big fallout between Batman and the rest of the family. But so much has happened with the other books that there really hasn’t been time to actually allow the aftermath of Death of the Family to sink in. The entire Bat line of books has been a complete mess since Batman Inc. 008. In Nightwing Dick and Bruce seem to be getting along well enough, since both have just lost someone important to them. But now we’re back to Dick being angry at Bruce. So angry to the point that he is willing to abandon Gotham in an incredibly crucial moment. Thanks a lot, dick.

I got a chuckle out of how What is the 900? was portrayed as some kind of big question. Yes, this is the 900th issue of Detective Comics. But was it really necessary to insert the terminology so clumsily into the story? Really, the neighborhood is called the 900s? That’s just…silly. Not to mention I bet this would be a lot more momentous if the issue was actually labeled as issue 900. Oh well, reboots will be reboots, but you really can’t have your cake and eat it. Either you get to have 900 issues, or you stick to this actually being a reboot.

The extra special expensive price was an unpleasant shock, but after reading this issue I can say it was worth it. Would I have bought it were it not on my pull list and were I not already reading this series? Probably not. But, after hearing it was the 900th issue I would have considered looking into it as a collectible, but only after reading reviews to see if it was worth it. And, if you are like me, but haven’t been following this series, if nothing else I can recommend it as a collectible. As a story it contains enough side stories to be enjoyable, but you really will want to catch up on the back issues.

The Grade

4/5

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