A Zero Year tie-in that is not only a decent standalone story but was also a vibrantly drawn and pretty fucking fantastic ride of my life! John Layman consistently writes great issues for Detective Comics and he is officially my new boyfriend now next to Snyder and Tomasi. As for the focus of this story, I would just like to state that James Gordon definitely belongs to my most enduring favorite fictional characters in comics who is not a superhero, and this issue entitled Whistleblower's Blues gave me new reasons why I love him so darn much.
If you read Snyder's Zero Year issue #25 which was set six years ago before the New 52 continuity officially started, then you know that a city-wide blackout in Gotham has happened courtesy of the Riddler, and you might have wondered where Jim Gordon was for the first arc. This issue more or less answered that. I'm a sucker for character-driven issues with a well-paced exploration for a certain person's angst and motivations so I enjoyed this issue A LOT.
In this case, it's a personal and riveting story of an honest man who had to stand strong against the corruption deeply embedded in a law enforcement agency that he is a part of. It's a rather lonely mission with nobody stable and trustworthy enough to fight it with him but Gordon perseveres anyway. What I like about his monologues is the tonality of it; he's simultaneously disheartened and hopeful that he can make a difference one step at a time yet he also acknowledges that it's going to take lots and lots and lots of those steps. The saving grace of it all is that he may not be as alone as he thinks. If one man is not enough for this mission then perhaps two men could do the trick. We have seen through the course of seventy-five years that the timeless partnership between this good cop and this vigilante can accomplish so many things together, and that they save the city they swore to protect from completely falling apart.
Told solely in Gordon's perspective, Whistleblower's Blues is a Die-Hard-esque noir tale sans the flashy action and heart-pounding race to the finish line--though there is plenty of build-up and suspense to keep it exciting enough. Jason Fabok's constantly impressive style and scene depictions are at their A-game for this one. I especially loved the washed-out colors of gray, brown and yellow. In essence, the one-man crusade trope is vey much alive for this story since it's Gordon's journey to fully embracing his role as a self-appointed guardian who will one day clean up GCPD once and for all, but it's still implied that Batman is a part of this too, lurking in the shadows, and ready to help him.
As usual in every Detective Comics issue, this one has a backup story set in the present time where we go back to the first installment of the ongoing Man-Bat subplot from issue #22. Here we get Gordon and Officer Wallace talking about the strange string of killings and what is Kirk Langstorm's role in all of this. It's a great set-up for the upcoming issue which will conclude the Man-Bat storyline, something I've been diligently following from the start. As I've stated before, I think the Langstorm-Man-Bat story was fantastically done because Layman took his time to piece together the elements for it and the result is a deftly realized and earnest look at the composition of monsters and what drives human beings into becoming one, in a physical and metaphorical sense.
Overall, this was a personal favorite issue that I can re-read again and still enjoy. Now I'm going to be spoiling the beautiful illustration that contained the most striking imagery of the story. It's also its climactic scene. I felt my eyes sting just a little as soon as I laid my eyes on those panels. Be warned of the SPOILER TERRITORY: