Review: Detective Comics #880

I think Detective Comics #880 will become a significant issue in the history of Batman. It’ll be the issue where Scott Snyder solidified himself as one of the true greats in the industry. Snyder started his run on Detective Comics claiming he was going to deepen the psychological monster of Gotham City and show how its dark heart can infect the greatest hero. Between Detective Comics and Snyder’s mini-series Gates Of Gotham, he has managed to do that in spades, and while issue 881 will be the conclusion of his work, 880 is the announcement of his new status.

Going into the actual plot of Detective Comics #880 isn’t going to do it justice. You have to read this issue, the experience of both art and text married perfectly is where the impact lies. I can tell you that Snyder does some wonderful things within these pages by not pandering. When Jim Gordon’s ex-wife is attacked, we know it isn’t the obvious suspect. To some it may seem too easy, like a bait and switch that’s beneath a person of Snyder’s talents. You have to look closely and really read every line of text. Nobody in this issue fooled – they all know the reality in their hearts but none of them can face it, so they use what they can to deflect it. Dick Grayson uses bravado as Batman; he even seems excited to finally confront the Joker as the new Dark Knight. Gordon simply refuses to see the truth and only when there is no other option is he forced to confront his real horror. The one person who does see it is Oracle, and she may be too late.

What elevates Snyder’s work from good to great is his ability to tie all of his ideas together. Bringing in the work from Gates Of Gotham and Detective Comics, Snyder has masterfully realigned our understanding of Gotham City and managed to create a living, breathing entity from what has been mostly just the backdrop of Batman’s Universe. I love how Snyder deepened the Gordon family and how he makes the Joker not just evil, but truly maniacal and insane.  The confrontation between Joker and Batman is some of the best writing in the extensive history of Batman’s greatest enemy. I want Snyder to do a full on Joker story. I’m really interested in what Snyder will do once the reboot has kicked in. Focusing on Bruce Wayne will be a big shift in gears for the writer and I’m excited to see where he takes the character. To be honest, Scott Snyder’s Batman is one of the biggest points of excitement for me in the entire DC 52 issue reboot.

The hands down capper of the issue, the thing that just makes every page sing is Jock’s artwork. For me, in issue 880, Jock delivers the best cover in comics thus far in 2011. The Joker on this cover will go on to be a tattoo staple for any Batman fan, I guarantee it. Inside, Jock just goes off, creating one memorable panel after another. The splash page when Commissioner Gordon finds his ex-wife is stunning. Jock brings back the physical grotesqueness of the Joker. The scars are deep and wide and for the first time in a while, The Joker is hard to look at. The sense of noir, the rain work, everything is absolutely perfect and when it marries to Scott Snyder’s words, the results are breathtaking. Detective Comics #880 is a major marker in Snyder’s journey to become mentioned in the same breath as names like Miller, Moore, Waid, Byrne, O’Neil, Wein and all the others who have changed the face of comic books.




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