BookHound
Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

DETECTIVE COMICS #854 by Greg Rucka, J. H. Williams III, Dave Stewart, Cully Hamner, and Laura Martin

Detective Comics Batwoman

Detective Comics #854 shifts its focus from Batman to two different crime-busting ladies that favor masks and martial arts. This world without Bruce Wayne as Batman promises more and more interesting things as it spins along. Greg Rucka, who has written a lot of great comic books as well as several bestselling novels, handles the writing chores on both strips.

First up is the new Batwoman. I fell in love with her red and black costume the first time I saw it. Artist J. H. Williams III really knows how to work the colors as well as the action. Batwoman explodes off the pages when she’s fighting, and the red hair marks her instantly on every page. The two-page spreads with her careening through battles were fantastic and really catch the eye. This is one of those books that I immediately sat down and read again when I’d finished – just because I wanted to look at the artwork without being caught up in the unfolding events. Dave Stewart’s colors absolutely shine and scream for attention.

I really like the look of the new Batwoman, and I like her edginess, but I feel like I’m missing too much of her backstory in this issue. I want to know why her skin is so pasty white compared to everyone else (although it does look striking against the black and red) and I want to know why her father is driving her to be a superhero. The relationship between them looks interesting, and I should want to know more, especially since this is just getting started.

The confrontation between Batman and Batwoman is totally cool. I like the fact that she sort of one-ups him on the information about the covens. It’s good that she can pull her own, and maybe it’s there to remind us Bruce Wayne is no longer wearing the cowl and Dick Grayson isn’t as infallible.

I also really like Alice, the villainess Batwoman is up against in this arc. Since she’s dressed all in white and is so darkly evil (obviously as twisted as the Joker and some of the other weird Gotham villains), she stands out dramatically against the Batwoman and the overall tone of the book. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

The backup feature centers on the Question. Renee Montoya is the new no-faced crime-buster, and I like her a lot. Hated to lose the previous Question (Vic Sage), but this one has some new chops while maintaining the old schtick.

Cully Hamner’s art, like Williams’s Batwoman strip, is dark and colorist Laura Martin weaves a lot of reds into the scenes while working the blue of the Question’s costume and the dark night. The breakdowns of the scenes were different and give this strip a different feel, but Greg Rucka is still running his groove with action and investigation.

I’m glad that Tot (Aristotle) is back in this strip. I liked quite a bit of the old run of the Question under Denny O’Neill, and I’m happy to see that not all of Denny’s world has faded away.

The set up with Montoya and Hector Souz at the burrito stand is fantastic. Feels very much like a detective story, and the yellow tone on all the panels against the palm trees and city are good. The dialogue is spot-on and a lot of fun.

The page showing the Question breaking into the suspect house under the light of a full moon is pure cinema. I loved watching the smoky chemical go into action and Montoya go into full Question disguise. The confrontation with the guard dog in pure action without narrative or dialogue was also well done. I enjoyed the perspective shifts delineating the action. The Question strip has always been action oriented and I’m glad to see that hasn’t changed. And, of course, there’s a cliffhanger that guarantees readers will be back for the next issue. Always lots of questions with this hero.

All in all, even though Detective Comics #854 doesn’t arrive on the stands with a new #1, it does herald a new era in the Batbooks. The women are on the scene, and they’re not taking any prisoners either.

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