I just finished reviewing the first season of Chris Claremont's X-Men Forever series this week, and it's honestly a very polarizing experience for me with the good and bad almost at equal odds with each other. Luckily for me, I have New 52 Batman monthly installments that I can curl up to whenever I need to take a break from the soap opera that is Claremont X-Men. No other title is perfect for such a daring rejuvenation like the current storyline of co-writers/artists Manapul and Buccelatto for Detective Comics. I have been a fan of this tandem from the start. Their first story Icarus, which started out strong, was astounding but the ending was quite flat and problematic. Still, I was eager to give them a second chance and Anarky is proving to be the most worthwhile venture I was happy to be a part of.
This third installment entitled Reconstruct is definitely the climax of the four-part story where key elements about two seemingly separate cases from Batman and Bullock's end have established an undeniable connection with each other. This story arc truly feels like a proper detective tale where vital clues slowly unfold and make sense together. The pacing for the three issues released had been leisurely yet always on the money, giving readers enough material to mull over and stay excited about. And there is plenty of that, trust me.
Here's what we know: Anarky killed a man named Jeb Lester in issue #1 and police detectives Bullock and Yip started investigating that case. Meanwhile, Batman apprehended Mad Hatter and stumbled upon a graveyard of bones which happened to belong to children. Anarky entrapped Bullock, Yip and some employees inside the Wayne Tower where he would have successfully bombed it to oblivion if it wasn't for Batman finding a way to chemically alter the composition of the explosion. In the last issue, we were introduced to a teenager named Lonnie Machin, the person behind Anarky as created by Alan Grant and Norman Breyfogle back in 1989. However, this identity was subverted when Detective Yip accidentally shoots Machin where he is now presently in critical condition at the hospital. This means he is not Anarky for this story and someone else is.
Reconstruct, as implied by the title itself, allows the readers to fully examine the threads unravelling in the case alongside Batman and Bullock in the light of the recent events, as well as to determine how random situations such as that concerning Mad Hatter (mumbling about his Alice being alive) and the dirty politician Sam Young (who seems to be connected with the late Jeb Lester who has ties with child trafficking) may be connected. What follows in the next twenty pages is a concise and chilling portrait of how these pieces somehow fit after all and our heroes are able to stand close enough just in time to see the image forming. The issue opens with Batman confronting Bullock inside the car and a series of flashbacks on both their ends occurred. We see Bruce and Alfred in the batcave, still wondering about the identities of the dead children whose bones and remains they found in the first issue. They had no means to identify them after Anarky tampered with the public database. Outside, Gothamites confidently started rampaging while they hide behind the masks of their own decoration and self-fulfilment. Back in the precinct, GCPD wants to blame Batman for Detective Yip's mistake when she gunned down an innocent bystander (Machin) and Bullock was forced to follow the trail of his case alone about Jeb Lester's child trafficking ring which at this time is slowly turning cold.
This is where Batman finds him and the two are forced to work together. It's worth noting that this story coincides with Batman Eternal where Commissioner Gordon is stripped of his title and imprisoned which was why both Bats and Bullock have no choice but to trust each other, at least where their cases are concerned.
Once they arrived at a vital location called the Blue House, they encountered a violent group of young men wearing their Anarky masks. Batman was left to fend for himself while Bullock crawls his way to a corner as he slowly bleeds out with a knife wound in the shoulder. Batman eventually ends the fight and proceeds to help Bullock with his injury, but the detective was far too consumed with the shattering discovery he just stumbled upon in that dark corner of the house. Just right outside, Batman sees Anarky arriving in a car with Mad Hatter whom he just abducted a couple of pages ago. It looks like he has some hatchet to bury with Hatter, and the issue abruptly--if not rightfully--cuts there, leaving me absolutely breathless.
I HAVE TO WAIT AN ENTIRE MONTH FOR THE NEXT ISSUE, goddammit! In the meantime, I'm posting pages from the issue again because Manapul and Buccelatto's illustrations need more exposure: