Sunday, November 9, 2014

Detective Comics by Manapul & Buccelatto issue #31

The creative tandem of Manapul and Buccelatto, pencils and colors respectively, not only illustrate their five-issued Icarus story arc together but they also write it and this second installment to that arc features another fabulous and fluid artwork and a close inspection of Harvey Bullock and his personal stake regarding the designer drug deemed as Icarus which literally burns up its victims after ingestion.

Last issue, we see it claim a first victim after so many years the drug lay dormant, and now Bullock's primary suspect is no other than Bruce Wayne. After all, said victim appeared on his doorstep in the middle of the night and Bullock is quick to assume that a rich, pampered boy like Bruce can definitely afford such an alternative drug.

We'll talk more about the story in a minute (though I'd rather you read it yourself so I don't want to give too much details away, honestly), but let me just say for the second time that Manapul and Buccelatto's visual approach in telling this story is quite cinematic in such a way that they omitted narration boxes altogether and allowed Batman's actions in panels to show as oppose to tell the sequence at hand. It's marvelous! There was no need for speech bubbles for readers to understand Batman's process of thinking which is a welcome change for me because comic books after all are supposed to be primarily visual and it's been a while since I've gotten exactly that from a Batman story. I also enjoy the fact that we see him gathering evidence and connecting events using his own reasoning without always relying on machines to give him the answers which most Batman stories often do for a long time now just for the sake of moving things along. I'm happy these two did not take that route and truly put some great effort to make most of sequential storytelling which should be visual more or less. Hey, I love a great dialogue and narrative (Snyder's prose always gets to me) but for a title that emphasizes the 'detective' side of Batman, this is probably the best approach to tell all his cases from now on.

Speaking of which, Batsy does so many regular sleuth stuff here for this issue alone as oppose to just showing up and beating up the bad guys to a pulp. That does happen eventually and when it does, it's so much more gratifying and straight-up awesome especially with Manapul's art style. The image below is one of my favorite illustrations in the issue mostly because of the gorgeous detail in Batman's cape. They look like shadowy spider webs cascading behind him which, I kid you not, shortens my breath every time I see it for some weirdly...erotic(?) reason. The fight scenes at the end portion of the comic is very Miller-esque too; gritty, pulpy and often brutal and the colors Bucellatto employs makes everything unusually pretty in spite of the actual action involved. It's...gah, extraordinary! I'm gonna shut up now and just let you take in the illustration below in all its splendor.

I'm not giving you any more details, but the Icarus story so far has got me very intrigued especially in the context of the other craziness happening in Gotham City during this Batman Eternal timeline. Of course minor crime syndicates will still continue to push through making profit from their child trafficking and drug-peddling even if there is an ongoing turf war, a high-profile trial and some paranormal activities scattered across the city. Of course Batman never catches a goddamn break, while Bullock gets crankier since Gordon is out of commission (due to committing a massacre accidentally, tough). This is Gotham and the darkest hour is all upon us, and yet Manapul and Buccaletto, thankfully enough, are able to depict such an ugly world with their beautiful colors.


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