Over sized and supercharged, DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL #3, written by Brian Buccellato, art by Werther Dell’ Edera, Jorge Fornes, and Scott Hepburn, and coloring by John Kalisz, Lee Loughridge and Jon Proctor, is obviously a large group effort and packs plenty of punches.
Rotating art and narrative in a classic choppy Sin City or Pulp Fiction manner, we continue the Icarus narrative, paying rather close attention to our current mob-daughter focus, Annette Aguila, and her ill fated boyfriend, Dante. Meanwhile Bruce fights in the bathroom as Matches Malone tied to a secondary narrative of Bruce trying to figure out how certain arms got in the hands of certain people when he gets entwined into an abuse case with a boy named Aden. Classic Batman; this book is not reinventing the wheel, and it’s pretty darn good.
You’re going to have to tell me about the rest of the book (I kid, but barely), because as soon as page 10 hit with one of the many art shifts and a bright gorgeous color palette, I didn’t have to look at anything else, I was already satisfied. Comic book perfection. I am not particularly familiar with the people here on art duties (I suspect these segments are Scott Hepburn with John Kalisz on color, correct me if I am wrong) but man, this kind of art makes me excited about comics. It’s not as if the other art is bad; it’s just not that art.
What makes these pages in particular my favorite besides the art? Aden. Batman interacting with kids. Kids that need help. I smirked at Aden’s introduction (“Run Aden! Before he makes you a Robin”) but the narrative here quickly deflates any sort of opportunity to make such comments; Aden knows information, but he’s also being abused at home. Batman goes postal, and we get the Matches Malone showdown in the bathroom. Things take a turn when Aden is kidnapped by the big bad. The entire issue culminates with Bruce donning a giant iron, I guess, ballistics proof suit, this giant hulking knight out to save this kid while being riddled with bullets. He calls Aden his son. Obvious Damian parallels and lingering fatherhood related trauma going on, but Bruce is at his chaotic good best here.
This is what makes Batman great. The fact this narrative (and art) becomes the main point, means the world to me. It was what made this issue great to me. Batman is best not alone or beating up the Joker; it is when he’s dealing with and rescuing children. That has always been a strange creed; adults fear Batman, but children and adolescents, they aren’t afraid. Batman is the ultimate white paladin when it comes to children, and his rage and dedication is inspiring. The fact said white knight presents himself in black gothic bat-demon trappings is forever the most ironic element.
Not that I didn’t like the other parts of the story, but the parts dealing with Aden and his father just blow them out of the water that they just could not hold my attention. Annette Aguila is interesting but she’s nothing we’ve already seen before much when it comes to the numerous mafia princesses that have populated Detective & Batman for the past 75 years. She’s certainly more modern, and is increasingly sympathetic. The fact she’s been so heavily prevalent however is intriguing and I’m interested to see if she sticks around somehow after the Icarus storyline plays through.
I’m going to be short and blunt; buy it, read it, (nibble that gorgeous art), whatever you do, you need it.