by Tony Salvador Daniel (writing & pencils), Szymon Kudranski (art), Sandu Florea & Rob Hunter (inks), Tomeu Morey (colors), and Jared K. Fletcher (letters)

The Story: Batman has to fight through a mob of Occupy Gotham Joker fans to catch a killer.

The Review: Thus far, I’ve found Tony Daniel’s Detective Comics to be one of the new 52’s biggest surprises in that it’s actually been pretty enjoyable.  Hell, I’ll go as far as saying that Daniel has been doing some of the best work of his career both as a writer and as an artist.

Well, I guess he had to trip up eventually.

To be fair, it’s not entirely Daniel’s fault.  Rather, this victim falls prey to DC’s attempting a creative solution to hitting deadlines.  It’s clear that Daniel couldn’t get an entire 20 page issue drawn in time, so DC ends up publishing a 12 page Batman comic alongside an 8-page Catwoman-related back-up, both written by Daniel.  Sadly, neither story satisfies.

In the case of the main feature, it’s too damned short.  It’s meant to function as a prelude, but Daniel sets so much up, but moves forward so little, that it ends up being a little befuddling and feels almost like a waste of time.  Sadly, the pacing doesn’t help here.  This doesn’t feel like a 12 page prelude.  Instead, it feels like 20 page comic with the last 8 pages ripped out.  It feels as though Daniel accomplish what he wanted to, but running up against that page limit, he and DC just called it quits and sent it to the printers.  The result is a comic that feels terribly incomplete and unfulfilling.

Then there’s the back-up, which is definitely a case of “your mileage may vary.”  I actually rather enjoyed it and found it fairly well-written, but then, I’m a sucker for dirty, gritty noir.  As such, anything in that genre often gets more latitude from me.  Honestly, while technically it’s written fairly well, it’s also unremarkable.  It’s standard fare but, more frustrating, it’s fare that’s completely and utterly unrelated to the main feature and, thus, the upcoming arc.  There’s no Batman or Bat-family in sight, for instance.

While all this can be blamed on the issue’s format, not all this issue’s faults are out of Daniel’s hand.   You see, this month, Daniel attempts to get political, or “current.”  I’m sure that’s going to induce cringing and it rightly should.  Daniel does a completely ridiculous, ham-fisted, and embarrassing parody of Occupy that feels horribly simple-minded and immature.  Bear in mind, I myself am far, far from a fan of Occupy, but “awkward” doesn’t begin to describe this.  At best, it’s completely simple-minded.  At worst, it’s an utterly bizarre and left-field demonization of Occupy that would make Frank Miller proud, I’m sure.  Well, I take that back.  Frank probably would’ve had Batman viciously beat up slews of protesters, all while laughing maniacally.  Nonetheless, this was really, really strange and I hope Daniel doesn’t go back to this well any time soon.

But hey, on the plus side, this book is really, really pretty.  Daniel’s work continues to astound as he maintains the new heights his work has reached in mood, detail, and character.  While it was completely different from Daniel’s style, I also liked Kudranski’s art quite a lot, which was very dark and moody, capturing that “seedy underbelly” feel that always works well for Gotham.

Conclusion: I can’t imagine a scenario where a combination of Tony Daniel getting political and DC experimenting with new ways to hit deadlines  leads to a good comic.

Grade: C –

-Alex Evans