Written by: Tom Taylor, Jordie Bellaire, Tom King, Cheryl Lynn Eaton and Ram V
Art by: Elena Casagrande, Mikel Janin, Jorge Fornes, Jill Thompson and Brad Walker
Published by: DC Comics
Reviewed by: Simon :BlaxKleric” Moore
Promoted as a one-shot opportunity to “delve into Batman’s case histories and discover brand-new stories by some of comics’ most exciting talents”, this thirty-five page anthology arguably both delights and disappoints its readers due to the perhaps understandably disjointed nature of the publication’s content. Indeed, many within this somewhat choppy collection’s audience may well believe that the book would probably have benefited from stories such as Jordie Bellaire’s “Enough” being entirely dropped so as to provide the likes of Tom Taylor more room with which to expand his excellently penned team-up of “the Dark Knight Detective with Detective Chimp.”
Nonetheless, as it stands there is still plenty for fans of the Caped Crusader to enjoy with Tom King’s thought-provoking opening ‘short’ “True Strength” setting a suitably high standard for the title. Incapacitated by some broken knuckles and haunted by his inability to thwart the Joker from murdering a hapless woman right in front of his eyes, it is interesting to see the turmoil taking place behind Bruce Wayne’s eyes when Superman suddenly offers him the opportunity to be as powerful as the Kryptonian, simply by touching “a small, impossible rock.”
Similarly as successful is Ram V’s disconcerting mental assessment of Officer Fielding following the policeman’s recent exposure to Scarecrow’s infamous fear gas. This terrifying trip alongside Batman in “the warehouse district” is theatrically pencilled by Jorge Fornes, and provides a genuine ‘sting in its tail’ at the all-too brief adventure’s end when Gotham City’s leading billionaire philanthropist visits a local medical institution to establish just how essential his foundation grants are to the hospital and Henry’s wholly unstable condition is properly revealed; “He hasn’t made much progress. The gas still has him, I’m afraid.”
However, the quality of this comic’s “hand-picked teams of creators” debatably deteriorates at this point regrettably, with both Cheryl Lynn Eaton and Bellaire’s “look at Bat-mysteries past and present” proving bizarrely lack-lustre affairs in their depiction of Lucius Fox helping his caped employer stop a Wayne Enterprise’s drone from murdering a witness to a recent drug-influenced gang killing, and a perturbingly petrified Bruce shooting a harmless deer in the frozen wilderness because it spooked the lonely industrialist enough into believing the animal was the Man-Bat..?
Fortunately, “DC Comics” would seem to have left the highlight of this “bevy of Batman villains” to the end with Brad Walker’s dynamically drawn “The World’s Greatest Detective, and Batman” featuring the unlikely investigative pair of the Dark Knight and Bobo T. Chimpanzee tackling the Riddler in an effort to ‘rescue’ one of the insane criminal mastermind’’s latest recruited lackeys. Mistakenly shot by the adolescent he was trying to save, Taylor’s writing not only provides Detective Chimp with a heart-warming scene of forgiveness, but also shows a softer side to this book’s titular character as he rebukes his deerstalker hat-wearing wounded friend for believing he either underestimates the ape or is ashamed to be seen with the “Magnificent Finder of Tasty Grubs”.
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