Monday, 1 February 2016

Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 6: Icarus Review (Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato)


Batman breaks up a child smuggling ring in the Gotham docks leading to Bruce Wayne deciding to renovate the Gotham waterfront in an effort to gentrify it and eliminate the criminals who’ve marked out the area for their own. Which of course doesn’t go down well with the gangsters - especially the ones who’re making a mint selling a potent new drug called Icarus. 

I didn’t love this volume of Detective Comics but I was surprised that Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s first arc wasn’t that bad. Detective is traditionally the series where Batman gets to be the character he was right at the beginning: a sleuth who solves crimes by looking for clues and thinking. And, for the most part, that’s exactly what Manapul/Buccellato do. In fact, they go even further here and make this a story about two detectives: Batman and Harvey Bullock. (Where’s Gordon you ask? He’s in the slammer because Batman: Eternal - it’s not worth it, I promise.)

Bullock is the aspect of the book I liked the most. He’s a character who’s too often written off as some middle-aged fat cop who takes payoffs… well, at least he doesn’t take payoffs anymore! I like the guy anyway - he’s not incompetent or stupid and he more than proves himself as a detective worthy of his badge in this book. He even gets into an ill-advised fist-fight with the Dark Knight and then redeems himself by saving his life later! 

While Harvey shines, I didn’t think much of Elena Aguila, aka Bruce Wayne’s Meaningful Friend For Plot Reasons #275 or her bratty daughter Annie whose story was a flatline the whole way through. And bikers got the better of Batman? Come on - bikers? Oh yeah, and Icarus, this new street drug - it sets you on fire? How the hell would that be popular with anyone?! “I wanna get high but what if I don’t self-immolate? Finally a drug for me!” 

It’s good to see Batman being just the detective though unfortunately Manapul/Buccellato can’t help but go down the superhero route at the end. We see some nothing character get stupid superpowers so Batman can put on the Bat-Iron-Man suit and close out the book in some dumb overblown action scene. Come on guys, Sherlock Holmes never needed to pull that crap!

There’s a tacked on annual to round out the collection which contains the stupid origin of Julian Day aka Calendar Man (though the character himself is stupid so I guess it’s approps!) and Batman fighting more Icarus dealers. Meh. I suppose the Matches Malone cameo was cool. 

I haven’t a whole lot to say about the art which isn’t bad but it’s your usual bombastic superhero fare. It’s refreshing to see a creative team who draw and colour the book also sharing co-writing duties too. Buccellato’s use of colour is interesting and Manapul’s Batman looks fine. 

Icarus isn’t an amazing Batman book but it’s a perfectly decent Dark Knight detective story, especially if you like Bullock. And any comic with Batman fighting a giant squid is ok with me!

Batman: Detective Comics, Volume 6: Icarus

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