Big and Little Things

December 7, 2009 at 6:31 pm (Comic Books)

Detective Comics #859

There’s a lot to like in this issue, most of which (I think) is the fault of Williams III. Most of these are small details: the simple motif of the ring in the first part of the flashback. It begins the issue as the pride of the navy, every fellow sailor exclaiming its beauty in jubilant glee (no one ever said this comic was subtle), in short: Kate as the favored. To compliment the favor, Williams III has the army dress when half naked moment, eroticizing the encounter for Kate (which, as we’ve already seen, has been a source of tension before in this book).

And then, after Kate comes out to her commanding officer (a pitiable situation rendered by surprising tense and subtle dialogue from Rucka), she sets her ring back on the counter: the favor of the navy denied by her true love! (remember: never say this comic is subtle)

This may be a heavy handed usage of a symbol, but it only gains that symbolic power its representation on the page, switching from a very detailed and chunky ink line to the very, very simply portrayed visual world around it.

And then, when the ring is set down, it fades into watercolors and incomplete ink smudging for a background, the entire colors fading into gray and memory.

That scene also has another nice trick of Williams, the lighting in the scene coming from the window, drenching the interrogator in darkness and Kate in light, Kate facing a spotlight when she must make the decision, all light turning onto her. It’s the little things.

But it’s also the big things: this issue has a pretty exciting little bit definitely from Rucka, too: Instead of the boring and clichéd daughter pleasing daddy we have in this issue, we have her coming out experience. And then, right after she proclaims her gayness, we flash back to the present, of Renee fighting monsters dressed up as Batwoman. This quick juxtaposition, right after “I have never wanted to serve more than ever in my life”, shows Rucka not just having a tough as nails lesbian (which, yes, his fetish is showing), but it has a little queer theory in there as well: the superhero as the gay recourse to serve the populace! Superheroes, we always knew you were a little queer, but this just confirms it.

And, similarly big and Ruckian, we have a quirky montage. We have the narrated quote: “I Wanted to Serve… That was ALL I wanted”, and the images, well: marriage, sex, sex, alcohol, sleeping when others are studying, sex, and speed.

Lots of serving going on.

And then we have Rucka quoting All Star Batman and Robin, pretty much, Kate shouting out “I’m a Goddamn”, interrupting by Batman, suddenly appearing to complete the quote.

All that needs to be (un)said.

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