Writer: Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka
Artists: Michael Lark (p), Stefano Gaudiano (i)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
As the GCPD scramble to identify the locations that are up on the Joker's sniper cameras we see they are able to locate all by one of the sites, and they are able to do little more that wait for the clock to count down. However, the situation takes an unexpected turn when the Joker's countdown is revealed to be a joke, but he then reveals he has a hostage and a new countdown begins. The issue than ends with the Joker taking an even more unexpected step.
I'm not sure if I'm all that pleased with the final pages of this issue, as while it's certainly an unexpected development, the simple fact this is once again a moment where the detectives of this series are essentially handed a huge break in the case that requires next to no effort on their part. I mean it's almost like this book is hesitant to show us the detectives actually follow a string of clues to arrive at the answer, or maybe they simply don't trust the reading audience ability to follow to clues alongside the detectives. Now I will concede that this issue does have the detectives able to locate seven out of the eight locations where the Joker had set up his sniper cameras, and the scene where the group is pooling their information to figure out where each of these respective locations is was a pretty decent display of their effectiveness. The book also does a pretty good job of selling the idea that the media does play a role in how the police pursue a high profile case, as there's a scene where the detectives are forced to pursue a dead end in order to present the image to the public that the police are doing more than sitting on their hands waiting for the Joker to strike again. However, after presenting a fairly interesting looking trail with the visit to the gun shop, this issue once again displays this book's lack of interest in following a trail of evidence to crack open its cases, as the gun shop visit is largely used to remind readers Batman is also on the case.
As for the art, Michael Lark continues to deliver a very solid visual style that lends itself extremely well to the down to earth quality of the material. I mean it's not often that I compliment an artist's ability to make things look ordinary, but this is exactly the look that this book needs. I mean the cast of this book are supposed to look cold when they are poking about on a snow covered rooftop, and one has to love the impressive beer belly that we find on the Joker's underling who is complaining about the lack of beer in the fridge. Also while it's hardly an important detail being a Canadian I actually enjoy the way that Michael lark has capture to look of a winter bound city with the snow plows clearing the streets, and even the way that the snow falls it the direction of the wind instead of straight down. Also while it has relatively little with the story inside, I have to say that I loved the cover image to this comic, as one has to love the idea of a police chase with one of the suspects on a tricycle.
This issue does a great job capturing the sense of fear that the Joker's sniper attacks have managed to cause, as well as the sense of helplessness that is felt by the detective as the various trails that they follow are revealed to provide no new insight. However, the last page offers up a twist that I'm not sure I'm willing to embrace, as while there's still a hostage out there that is likely to provide the core of next issue's questioning, and if nothing else it should be fun to see our detectives pitted against the Joker in the interrogation room, I can't help but be a bit disappointed that this break in the case came about entirely because the Joker wanted it to, rather than anything the detectives did. On one hand it's nice to see this book isn't making the job of the detectives easy as they are given trails to follow that don't provide the answers they need, and I rather enjoyed that they were able to do little more than wait for the countdown to reach zero when they failed to locate the final location. However, this book has offered up a few too many moments where the cases are broken by happy circumstance, or in this case direct intervention of the villain.
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