Current Reviews


Detective Comics #829

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2007
By: Thom Young

Writer: Stuart Moore
Artist: Andy Clarke

Publisher: DC Comics

The first thing I noticed about this issue of Detective Comics was the brilliant illustrations by Andy Clarke. I must confess that I’ve never heard of Clarke before, but his work here is excellent.

Too often lately I have been seeing work in DC books in which the illustrators seem to have no sense of proportion, have essentially one male face and one female face that they can draw (and slightly alter those two faces among all the characters), and have no sense of visual storytelling as they move from one panel to the next (instead, their panels seems to be isolated from each other in an apparently randomized sequence of images presented from a variety of perspectives).

Happily, none of this is the case with Clarke’s work. He is definitely an illustrator to seek out. Additionally, he seems to know that his work and the writing need to work in complement to each other. In this issue at least, he never chooses to draw a “cool picture” that works against the story being told the way many post-Image comic book illustrators seem intent on doing.

As far as the story goes, it’s a tightly plotted tale of a terrorist infiltrating Wayne Tower to blow up the building and kill all of the delegates from various countries attending an anti-terrorist colloquium being hosted by Bruce Wayne—undoubtedly as part of his philanthropic Wayne Foundation through which he attempts to address society’s ills.

I don’t know if this version of Wayne Tower has been shown before in the comics. Until this past year, I had only read a handful of in-continuity Batman stories over the past 20 years. It looks nothing like the Wayne skyscraper that I remember from my childhood—a mostly glass structure with a huge artificial tree constructed in its center.

It’s clear, though, that Stuart Moore and/or Andy Clarke have chosen to go with the Wayne Tower building that appeared in the recent Batman Begins film—which was actually the Board of Trade building in Chicago (where Batman Begins was filmed).

In any event, “continuity complaints” about Wayne Tower aside, this story was one of the best Batman stories that I have read in the past year. I realize that this is just half of a two-part story from Stuart Moore, but I’m convinced we would see far fewer complaints on fan message boards if either Morrison or Dini had been consistently turning in tightly scripted stories of the type Moore does here.

I’m also glad to see the use of Tim Drake here—both in his civilian identity and as Robin. When I was a kid, the phrase my friends and I used when discussing comics set in Gotham City was “Batman and Robin.”—even after Dick Grayson stopped appearing in the main Batman stories and was moved to back-up stories set on his college campus.

I, for one, am glad to see stories involving “Batman and Robin” rather than just a lone wolf Batman with a stick up his butt—the way he’s unfortunately been presented post-Dark Knight Returns.

I loved Frank Miller’s 1986 series, but it ruined the in-continuity Batman books for nearly 20 years by influencing how DC handled the character. Fortunately, that approach to the character seems to be changing—and Detective Comics #829 is yet another step in the right direction.

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