By: Scott Snyder (writer), Jock (art), David Baron (colors), Jared Fletcher (letters) & Mike Marts (editor)

Commissioner Gordon back-up by: Snyder (writer), Francesco Francavilla (art & colors), Fletcher (letters) & Marts (editor)

The Story: Dick Grayson settles into his role as the Batman of Gotham City with a case that comes straight from the GCPD’s evidence locker!

What’s Good: New creative teams bring excitement to a title.  What will they do?  What past stories will they pull from?  Will it be good?  So, it was a great pleasure to see a promising new(er) writer (and super nice guy) like Scott Snyder take a stab at Dick Grayson’s Batman.  The basic set-up for this story is pretty simple: Someone is stealing super-villain stuff from the GCPD evidence locker and selling it to the highest bidder.  Imagine all the crap that the Gotham cops have taken from Batman’s rogues gallery over the years and you can see what a potential for mayhem we have.

But, what separates this issue is that Snyder obviously knows a lot about Batman and Dick Grayson’s past.  A writer needn’t be a slave to continuity, but when we’re reading a comic that is #871 there should be some nods to the past.  So, it’s a nice bit of fan service when writers dig up and use those little scraps of stories from years past and Snyder works it to great effect in writing the relationship between Dick Grayson and Jim Gordon.  Dick has basically grown up with Gordon around and he has a past as a cop, so it makes sense that this would affect their relationship both in and out of the cowl.  Snyder also makes an effort to differentiate Dick’s Batman.  Dick isn’t the looming/brooding creature of the night like Bruce and that is well captured here.  He’s younger, happier, cockier and showier.  Snyder “gets it” and I appreciate that as a reader.

We’ve seen Jock draw Batman before, so it isn’t any surprise that the art is stellar.  What sets Jock apart in my mind are the choices he makes on the page: should a scene be realistic or fantastical, would a scene work better without a background or even a panel border, should an insane scene use jumbled panels, etc…  He pretty much always makes a good choice and he also knows how to draw Dick as distinct from Bruce (even when they are wearing the costume).

The back-up is a nice story about Commissioner Gordon.  The cool thing about this back-up is that the bird theme bleeds into the main story.  Anytime a writer has a chance to make it clear that two comic stories are happening at the same time and place, I’m all for that.  Francavilla’s art is wonderfully soft and moody.  Nice stuff!

What’s Not So Good: Minor criticisms only.  It wasn’t clear to me who the prospective villain was in the back-up story.  Perhaps it is supposed to be a mystery, but the guy was revealed as if it should be obvious and it didn’t click with me at all.  Granted I haven’t read every Batman comic over the last 30 years, but I’ve read a lot of them.  Maybe I’m just being dumb.  🙂  I was also a little confused by the opening sequence of the main story.  It wasn’t immediately clear to me that the boy [SPOILER] had transformed into a Killer Croc-like character.  I thought that THE Croc was in the pool with those kids.  It didn’t really damage my enjoyment of the story, but it was a missed opportunity for the reader to think, “What the heck? How did that happen?”

Conclusion: Snyder “gets it” and is writing a uniquely Dick Grayson detective story.  Jock and Francavilla are delivering awesome art.  Must read!

Grade: A-

– Dean Stell