Friday, July 25, 2014

DETECTIVE COMICS #681 - January 1995


Knight without Armor
Credits:  Chuck Dixon (writer), Graham Nolan (penciler), Klaus Janson (inker), John Costanza (letterer), Adrienne Roy (colorist)

Summary:  A masked, armored figure is terrorizing the Gotham underworld.  Batman is certain Jean-Paul Valley is the culprit, while Robin is skeptical.  They agree to split up the investigation.  Batman finds Jean-Paul living in a shelter, too emotionally fragile to hurt anyone.  Robin, meanwhile, investigates the mobster most likely to be hit next.  After Robin takes out his guards, he’s confronted by the real killer, Steeljacket.  Meanwhile, Batman returns to the Batcave and finds Bruce Wayne waiting for him.

Irrelevant Continuity:  Detective Mackenzie Bock is introduced as Lieutenant Essen’s new assistant.  This is treated as a significant introduction, but I don’t know if he ever amounted to more than just a minor supporting cast member.

Review:  I like the basic premise of the story, but I don’t think the “falsely accused” angle really goes anywhere.  Jean-Paul’s return to the book probably should feel like a significant event, but instead he’s cleared with one dumbfounded look and the story moves on.  Plus, it’s Dick Grayson who meets him face-to-face, and the two of them have barely interacted in the past, so there’s not much going on in the scene.  Regardless, there are some decent action sequences in the issue, and Klaus Janson inking over Graham Nolan just looks amazing.  There are a lot of big, dramatic images this issue, and while they contribute to the unusually short read-time, there’s a sense that the creative team is utilizing Janson to the best of his ability.  I’m relatively certain that Steeljacket never went on to become an A-list villain, and there’s not much to the mystery, but this issue has to stand out as one of the best-looking Bat-comics from the era.

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