Monday, November 10, 2014

Detective Comics by Manapul & Buccelatto issue #32

For just one night, I was able to read and finish all five issues of Icarus, and my eyes have been seduced and pleasured sufficiently by Manapul and Buccellato because their complimentary visual style had a deftness and vibrancy to it that intimately captures the essence of what Batman has been in the pages of comic books since his conception; a lone shadowy figure lingering across skyscrapers in the dead of night, a creature in the darkness who fights crimes and punishes the cowardly lot who commit them. A lot of this team's illustrations reminded me of his earlier roots so much, and even more so now because there is a more varied color palette available these days than decades ago when Batman first appeared. It's just a great experience to look at Batman in their depictions and remember with an assaulting clarity why I fell in love with this timeless caped crusader. There is nothing like being reminded about why your first love is your first love to begin with.

It's so easy to neglect sometimes that Batman originally debuted in Detective Comics and that this title is DC's flagship after all. We've been celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Dark Knight this year and I believe that means we should remember Batman's early days which are elegant in its simplicity. We live in a very technologically advanced world that a great amount of stories I read in Batman comic books these days now reflects what superhero movie franchises are about: gadgets, special effects, entertaining action and some humor in between, and more gadgets. John Layman incorporated lots of eye-candy gadgetry in his sixteen-issued run but this was luckily balanced by his superb storytelling which do emphasize Batman's sleuth skills as oppose to predecessor Tony Daniel's kick-the-shit-out-of-thugs characterization of Batman that was one of the reasons why his issues became an utter failure. The reason I feel the need to discuss this in length here in my review for the third installment of the Icarus story arc is because (other than the fact that I don't want to spoil any of you because you really MUST READ this for yourself) Manapul and Buccaletto's groundwork for their story is reminiscent of old-school Batman in the most flattering sense where we see the Dark Knight rely on his abilities and not merely on his gadgets and that foremost includes his mental acuity. 

I don't know about you, but I've always been distrustful of Batman fanboys who always cite Batsy's delightful assortment of arsenal and equipment as their numero uno reasons for loving this superhero (also, his ass-kicking skills). I know they are out there because I'm one of them, but still, I haven't heard a single Batman fan these days (who are probably more film-versed than comic-book-knowledgeable) claim that the reason they love Batsy is because of his detective skills. The guy is basically Sherlock Holmes in a bat-costume who knows different kinds of martial arts. We shouldn't forget that he's not all brawn, you know. What Detective Comics aims for, which I think even DC comics itself forgets every now and then, is to show that Batman can solve crimes using sheer deductive reasoning and intuition and not just run prints or evidence in his cool machines back in the bat-cave, let alone just beat people up. He's been multitasking for seventy-five years now and it's about time we show new readers what makes Batman awesomely awesome and Manapul and Buccaletto are doing just that with their Icarus story.

I think I've said enough about this. As you can see, I'm not giving you any more details about the story itself, but rather a few deeper reflections of what I think about Detective Comics title as a whole so far because I believe that it should be given as much importance and credit as Snyder's own work in Batman. To end this review, I'll leave you with these illustrations below and hopefully, coupled with my thoughts above, it will encourage you to pick up this story.


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