Detective Comics #793 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: The Surrogate: Part 3 – Deliverance

Written by: Andersen Gabrych
Penciled by: Pete Woods
Inked by: Cam Smith
Colored by: Jason Wright
Lettered by: Clem Robins
Assistant Editor: Michael Wright
Editor: Bob Schreck

Story Title: The Tailor: Part 5

Written by: A.J. Lieberman
Art by: Jean-Jacques Dzialowski
Colored by: Giulia Brusco
Lettered by: Clem Robins
Assistant Editor: Nachie Castro
Editor: Matt Idelson

Publisher: DC Comics

My esteemed colleague “Skitch” Maillaro summed up my feelings in his review last month, “It’s so hard to write a good review for an average comic…I never really know how to review it without boring myself into a coma.”

Detective Comics hasn’t been doing it for me the last four months since Andersen Gabrych took over as regular writer. Gabrych’s work has been very readable, but I’m still hung over by Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker’s recent runs on the title. Of course it’s unfair to expect a new writer to come in and compare story-for-story with two of the best scribes Batman has seen in recent times. It’s certainly unfair, but, of course, an unfortunate by product of following these guys.

Artistically speaking I’m really enjoying the book right now. Pete Woods work on Robin was outstanding, and I’m thrilled to see him plying his trade on ‘Tec. He’s got a great technique for rendering Batman that’s reminiscent of Michael Keaton’s look in the 1989 Batman film. Wood’s take on the storyline is very moody and I especially liked his creepy rendition of Mr. Freeze.

This issue closes out “The Surrogate” arc, answering all of my questions about what’s going on, and even throwing in a couple of nice plot twists. The arc, though, seemed a little forced, and the involvement of Mr. Freeze, just didn’t work for me. I enjoy the Batman rogues, but they seem to show up too much. A book like Detective Comics, more times than not, works best when it stays away from the superhero/supervillain conflicts. While the crux of the storyline isn’t about Mr. Freeze, pulling him into the fray takes away from the more human and dramatic elements.

The best parts of this arc have been Gabrych’s developments in the relationship of Bruce Wayne and Leslie Thompkins. He’s really nailed the characters, especially Bruce’s need to be a martyr and his drive to stop injustice. Leslie offers a counterpoint that no other character really can pull off. She’s one of the few characters that elicit humanity from Batman, and that’s a good thing.

“The Tailor” back-up story is nearing a conclusion this month. The story has followed a former supervillain turned weapons master, and his struggle to protect his family from harm by a former crony. While well staged, they have been a little dry. The conclusion is on hand next month, and I assume it will lead into situations in Gotham Knights as writer A.J. Lieberman has recently begun, what’s so far, been an outstanding run on that title. Who knows what this has to do with the bigger picture, but I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.

Andersen Gabrych is facing a real double whammy on Detective Comics. He’s following in the footsteps of Rucka and Brubaker on a character that oversaturated.
The hardest part about writing a Batman story is that it’s compared against everything else featuring the character on a monthly basis. Batman is one of my favorite comic book characters, but how many stories can one read with the Dark Knight each month? A decent story tends to stand out and look much worse than it actually is when so much other material is available. It is the greatest hurdle a writer must overcome working on Superman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Batman. Gabrych’s going to have to turn things up a notch or ‘Tec will simply be lost in the forest of Bat-products.

Paying more for the same thing!

As I close out, may I ask why this book has inexplicably risen in price by 20 cents this month? I’m not going to rant and rave about the ever-rising cost of comics, because there’s no point in it. Yet, I must vocally wonder why a 20 cent cost increase was needed for this book. That’s all, nothing more to say here.