This month’s issue of Detective Comics was very enjoyable.
Writer John Layman uses this issue effectively to tell a single issue story that was entertaining from start to finish.
The story is about a former girlfriend of Batman named Mio, she is from from Bruce Wayne’s past, back while he trained in Southeast Asia.
Despite her genuine affection for Bruce, she is an assassin on a mission to kill his master, Matsudo. Even though she develops a relationship with Bruce, she goes ahead with her orders and kills Matsudo, while faking her own death in the process to avoid being detained when Bruce spots her. She heads back to her master’s headquarters where she is reprimanded for her sloppy technique.
After this introduction, the story moves forward in time to present day Gotham City. The main plot of this issue is that a foreign Prime Minister is visiting Gotham City. Bruce makes sure his company is providing the accommodations for him. Batman wants to keep an eye on the Prime Minister because he suspects that there will be assassination attempts.
Harper Rowe, a young woman who has tried to help Batman in previous issues, but is regularly scolded by him because she is not properly trained, is working the lights for the event. She is on the lookout for an assassin as well. Despite having her equipment confiscated by Batman, she is not the type to get discouraged, and is alert for anyone looking suspicious at the event.
Mio arrives at the event, and Harper notices that something is not right about her. The story culminates in a confrontation between Batman, Harper, and Mio.
Overall the issue was strong, the story’s simplicity works in its favor. It was nice to have an issue that was a stand alone story that had ties to Batman’s past. The writing was good, it was stripped down in a nice way, and did not suffer from excessive dialogue or narration. Despite the fact that Scot Eaton is only the fill in artist for this issue, the art looked great, and hopefully he will get the opportunity to do more work on Batman in the future.
The element of this issue that stood out was Harper Rowe. It is great to have a character with her type of personality and temperament. From the dyed hair and multiple piercings, to the fact that she is out of school and at least old enough to be an engineer, she is a refreshing new character to add to the Bat family. She is a nice change from the more clean cut sidekicks Batman normally rolls with. She is edgy in other ways besides having behavioral problems, in that she does not really know how to fight, and can get in the way of Batman as easily as she can help him. However, despite her flaws, and her lack of skill, she has the heart and the guts to make an effective crime fighter.
The backup story was very good as well. Focusing on Kirk Langstrom, otherwise known as the Man-Bat, the story follows his narration as he describes the desire he has to become the Man-Bat, and that he views his transformations as more a blessing than a curse. The tone of the story is erie and dark, and follows Langstrom through a typical day of his life.
Overall, I thought the issue was very enjoyable. It is not part of a greater epic story arc, but that is okay, there is room in comics for both long story arcs and stand alone issues.
Harper Rowe is turning out to be a very cool character, and Batman gets the opportunity to kick some butt. The back-up story provides the reader with a more in depth perspective on a villain that spends long periods of time out of the spotlight. This issue was a lot of fun to read.