Thursday, August 22, 2013

DETECTIVE COMICS #673 - April 1994

Losing the Light
  Chuck Dixon (writer), Graham Nolan (penciler), Scott Hanna (inker), John Costanza (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  The firing squad lined up against Batman realizes the Joker has only provided them with blanks.  Batman uses the confusion to escape and rescue Cindy.  She reveals that she’s an actress who was in on the scheme all along, but never expected to be placed in actual danger.  Disillusioned, Batman chases down the Joker and brutalizes him.  The police arrive and prevent Batman from killing Joker.  After the Joker is taken to an ambulance, he manages to escape while strapped to a gurney.

Irrelevant Continuity:  During a subplot scene featuring Commissioner Gordon and his wife, Gordon is once again adamant that the current Batman is the original.  Batman has already established that Gordon has actually come to the opposite conclusion.  The Joker, meanwhile, quickly realizes that this is not the original Batman while watching him fight his flunkies.

Review:  I don’t dislike all of Kelly Jones’ covers, but I find some of them just galling.  This has got to be the worst one I’ve seen so far.  It’s certainly a poor comparison to Graham Nolan’s interior art, which is very well constructed and easy on the eyes.  His layouts are also strong for most of the issue.  The page depicting the Joker’s realization that he’s watching an imposter Batman, featuring a tiny circular insert of the Joker at the bottom of each panel as the “camera” moves tighter and tighter, is fantastic. 

As the first meeting between the new Batman and the Joker, this arc works fairly well.  I question if it really needed to last three issues, though.  The two plot twists this issue (that the Joker doesn’t want any of his goons to kill Batman, and the revelation that Cindy’s an actress) probably could’ve been covered in the last chapter.  Regardless, both of the plot points are used effectively.  I’m assuming it’s already canon at this point that the Joker doesn’t really want to kill Batman because he loves their game too much, so playing on that idea and showing how Joker responds to a replacement Batman is a nice angle to explore.  And while it’s not a shock to learn Cindy’s an actress, the revelation is a smart way to advance Jean-Paul’s growing cynicism about the citizens of Gotham.  One of the better concepts behind “Knightfall” is the emphasis on why Jean-Paul is such a terrible replacement -- not merely because he’s generically comic book crazy, but because he lacks any of Bruce Wayne’s humanity or concern for his city.

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