Time for the book that punches everyone in the face, like an episode of Oprah but with violence! Batman was left in a tough spot last issue and has to fight his way out of rival gangs and cops to escape. This book does a great job of isolating Batman and really showing him in his element as a detective. We get a classic gang story that brings Batman back down to the streets and feels very akin to Frank Miller's Year One. When I make that comparison, I'm really not talking about the "dark" or "gritty" Batman, because we see a lot of those stories, but to really see one man take on real treats like drugs and gangs, it gets to the heart of the character more than colorful villains. Don't get me wrong, I love colorful villains, but to see Batman on the streets stopping gang violence and running from the police just makes me happy, and I am sure that I should get that checked out.
Francis Manapul's art has quickly made this book one of my favorites at DC. Manapul's Batman is old school and intimidating, and the panels when Batman is in the shadows are just classic. The panel layout in this book is also fantastic. The story flows and is easy to follow, but still feels interesting and just pretty to look at. Panels where Batman is hanging upside down and searching for clues in a warehouse are just awesome. Brian Buccellato not only writes the book, but also does the colors for Manapul's art and they are one of the best teams out there. The colors used when Batman lurks in the shadows are beautiful, just really dark blues that almost blend to black.
I had to laugh at the ending but I loved it none the less, and I am glad to see Batman's conflict with Harvey Bullock come to a head ... and then beat the shit out of each other!!