Writer: Devin Grayson
Artists: Roger Robinson (p), John Floyd (i) (B&W by Scott Peterson and Danijel Zezelj)
Publisher: DC comics
Batman traces a heroin shipment to a government operative raising cash for covert operations (see 'Detective Comics' #668-671). The operative, Amherst, thinks Batman is just a spook story used by secret operatives to cover-up these operations; someone sent to "clean the cleaner". Amherst doesn't believe Batman is here about the heroin, and tells him about another operation. Seems Amherst paid a "Mr. Smith" to assassinate Bruce Wayne's character. And the plan was authorized at the highest level.
OK. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. First, nice job by Grayson. The story's told from Amherst's POV. Very tense, very emotional. BUT, this is a follow-up to Greg Rucka's story arc in 'Detective'. I'd rather have this story written by Rucka in 'Detective', and the Sasha story in 'Detective' #672 told here. I find it unprofessional and a little dishonest when one writer completes another's story.
Most good mysteries have a red herring, a false trail to distract the sleuth and reader from the real murderer. In this case, the whole investigation is the red herring and the real murderer is found while pursuing a completely different mystery! You could, quite literally, read just the issues of 'Detective Comics' and ignore the other FIFTEEN CHAPTERS OF THE CROSSOVER and still get the whole story!
Part of me suspected that the writers would pull something like this. The real murderer would be someone we hadn't heard from in months or years, or even someone who was never a suspect. Then there'd be this complex last minute story justifying their actions. But I thought the revelation would have some connection to the rest of the story! The detectives investigating Bruce Wayne fleeing the country? Nightwing re-enacting the break-in and murder? Batgirl digging up Vesper's corpse? IRRELEVANT! None of that led to the murderer. But bad heroin takes us to the FREAKIN' MASTERMIND!
Gaping plot-holes aside, this is still a pretty good book. We learn the identity of the mind behind the crime, but not this 'Mr. Smith', whom we only assume killed Vesper. It's also uncertain which of these men know Bruce Wayne's double identity. (If it's the mastermind, he just became the greatest danger the JLA ever faced.) And there's still the matter of Batman's journal, which determined the Wayne persona was a hindrance. All of this has to be resolved in 'Batman' #605. And I, for one, will be glad to see this story end.
If you haven't been following the "Bruce Wayne: Fugitive" story, just pick up the last few issues of 'Detective Comics' and this one. 'Detective' is the best Bat-book on the shelves, and its cheaper than buying the inevitable trade book which will contain the irrelevant parts of the story. Unfortunately, the entire story has been rendered irrelevant.
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