By: Ginger De Los Rios

For those who read the first issue, they now very well know the facepalm shocker at the end when we get a full-page which features the dripping bloodied skin that was so skillfully peeled off the joker’s face. (By his choice!) Gordon calls the frenzy about this skin as bad as the ‘Shroud of Turin.’ There’s a big mystery to solve now that a faceless Joker has escaped Arkham Asylum and is running loose around Gotham. Or is he? Could he be a victim? The Dark Knight Detective needs to figure out whodunit and why. And the poor little girl Olivia, who was witness to the Joker’s murder in issue one, has been kidnapped again.

Issue two begins with a day in the life of Bruce Wayne, rock climbing and making business deals with a big, brawny man named Hugh Marder. It’s strange how he’s built like a superhero. Cut to Wayne Enterprises the next day and we see that Bruce has accepted the offer to acquire Hugh’s company, Mecha-North Corp, because it will better Gotham City and he’s all for that. But we the readers have no idea what this company is all about. Hugh was dropping hints all over the place like “In technology time moves at lightning speed.” and “Time in my case, is more valuable than money.” He looks like a Pirate and talks like a time traveler. Could he be important?

Bruce’s 2:15 arrives and Bruce opens the door to find a prostitute…oh excuse me…a beautiful ‘I will do anything for a story’ reporter named Charlotte Rivers. She claims her viewers demand to know how he can keep up his playboy lifestyle and still run Wayne Enterprises so smoothly. I guess the bimbo never heard of outsourcing, networking, or for that matter simply having employees. But no one says she’s an economics major. He knows her all of 5 minutes and the 2:15 extends to a 6:15 when he dims the lights in his office and turns it into a love nest. Cue the ‘Boom chicka bow-wow’ music now.  Apparently some superheroes will do anything to keep up their secret identity. Oh what a hard life they lead. Bruce later makes plans to meet that weekend at her place and she starts questioning her values–claiming it’s sad she has to resort to…(an unfinished thought because she’s spoiling the mood.) Something tells me like all raunchy females from 80’s horror movies (Because this story line is a HORROR) she may be massacred. Unless she is to be the new ‘Vicky Vale’ of the series.  Could she be important?

Moving right along, the Batman meets Gordon on the rooftop and stops him from ‘killing’ himself by forcefully flicking the cigarette from his mouth. What? So casual, meaningless sex with a stranger in the age of STDs and Aids is better for your health? How dare DC Comics turn Batman into a self-righteous Mimbo.

Gordon tells Batman the particulars on the missing child case. And Detective Harvey Bullock (Who actually has a pretty cool revamped look and street-smart personality.) couldn’t get any real leads. Batman is perturbed as to why the kidnapper, who posed as her uncle, was so discreet getting in and out of Arkham Asylum, but now he is leaving clues all over like a bull in a China closet.  Do you smell a trap? The last few pages have Batman in an abandoned apartment building looking for little Olivia and smelling rot, blood and death all over the place.

Meanwhile Gordon has made a gruesome discovery in the trunk of a back up squad car, and he is still alive. It is no doubt a cop with a peeled face. I’m glad they didn’t illustrate it. At the end of this issue the villain and his disgusting, monstrous cohorts are revealed. We are left with another flabbergasting cliffhanger and I won’t reveal it here. To quote Herman Munster, “I won’t! I won’t, I won’t, I won’t!” Let’s just hope that by issue 5 Bruce Wayne wakes up from this nightmare and we get back to traditional Batman stories.

Detective Comics has taken a nosedive into shocking and horrifying displays in their stories and artwork. Well, this Batman fan feels it’s going that way. I’m not reading a classic Batman story, I’m reading the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Hills Have Eyes. Or could it be that we’ve become a nation with Zombie fever? (That’s not a clue to this storyline, but I was reminded of it, and you’ll see why.) What’s the next monster we’ll be forced to sympathize with and have every incarnation shoved down our throats in the mass media?

What in the world has happened to the state of comic books today? For that matter what has happened to the Batman stories I knew and loved? Where are the simple bank, art, jewelry heists? Or the common street thugs? I guess those are things best kept in the seventies and eighties. (My favorite era for Batman.) Batman, and for that matter all these other Superheroes in the new 52, now deal with maniacs run amok and vile supernatural creatures who are killing everyone in their path in the most gruesome ways possible. ‘Saw’ much?

Is this a case of art imitating life? Are the writers just simply bowing down to the frenetic blood lust of today’s entertainment fans? Thoughts to ponder. There is little to no denying that overt gore, violence and sexuality have become pervasive in movies and television, and now…comic books. Well, this fan humbly backs away. I can’t wrap my head around this senseless butchery of my beloved hero and so I choose not to continue reading this series.

This is truly a shame, because despite the gore, the story itself is extremely intriguing. Batman is in top form when he’s wandering the dirty Gotham streets and I felt as if I was reading the voiceovers/thoughts of Batman of time’s past. Better times. The artwork is excellent. Bruce Wayne is admittedly a stud and in some panels looks like a buffed, blue-eyed version of classic actor Gregory Peck. But none of that will keep me coming back to Detective Comics from the new 52. I just hope little Olivia makes it out alive, but she will definitely not be unscathed. Maybe Bruce Wayne can pay for her future therapy sessions, because she will seriously need it.

Overall Grade: 8/10