I have never considered Harvey Bullock a favorite character but I do admit that he's been a delightful ray of sunshine in Batman: The Animated Series growing up in spite of his grumpy personality and lackadaisical bedside manner. John Layman and co-writer Joshua Williamson have turned him into a central figure for this title's Annual #2 last time, and I admit that it had considerably rekindled my interest in him as a character one should take seriously. Apparently, Manapul and Buccaletto agree with me, and this issue of Icarus is a twofold event where we see both Batman and Bullock gather more clues as they solve the case separately with their own respective approach and pacing.
It was a lovely thing to read especially since this arc is also operating on the same timeline as the events in Batman Eternal are (where everything is fucked up, by the way) and which I have finished twenty-one issues of (almost six weeks ago, and I'm coming back to it right after I finished Detective Comics' recent two issues tomorrow). Still following leads for the Icarus drug, Batman and Bullock are pursuing different directions and sources at the beginning, but by the end of this issue they certainly arrived in one place, almost as if it's kismet. Bullock's hostility against Batman doesn't surprise me in a way that it's actually believable at this point, given everything that has happened and are still happening in Gotham. Chaos rules the streets. Gangs, both small-time and major, are not making things any easier for the law enforcement (which, by the way, is no longer under the command of Gordon because our mustachioed commish is currently on trial for manslaughter). Bullock is working in the fringes, trying to do the upstanding thing in spite of being short-changed from several places. And it's making me feel things for him.
I love Bullock in this issue because he was so multi-faceted. I have never seen him this dimensional before and it's making me very happy and sad all at once. Happy because we have a nuanced secondary character who does play a crucial role in the Icarus arc; sad because I can feel the exhaustion clinging onto Bullock's bones and he's not always the admirable cop you want solving the cases, but he's all that's left now that Gordon's away and corruption is starting to bleed back into GCPD. The city doesn't only need a vigilante to keep the peace; it also need officers of the law to go out there and stop the mob wars from reaching their homes. Jesus fuck, Batman Eternal is such a crazy timeline! He's also not one to tolerate Batman let alone cooperate with him. They have this brief scuffle at the end which was timely interrupted by another Icarus victim running in the streets.
Visually, there are some of Manapul's panel layout choices that are breathtaking for this issue. The details he put in are always superb and Buccaletto knows how to bring them to life with his water-color style. As I've stated since I began reviewing this arc, Manapul and Buccaletto show their scenes more by omitting narrative boxes that explain Batman's thought process and it works so well for the story they are telling. Here are two notable pages that really impressed me (one is a fight scene and the other is a standard investigation scene). I've been posting a lot of images for this arc already and if that and my lengthy yet non-spoiler reviews don't convince you to pick up the issues themselves then I don't know what will anymore.