“The Lesson of Murder”
Plot: The subtly-named Flay is teaching lessons to a bunch of crooked cops, and winning new acolytes. The Question looks into this, and so does Renee, who has one of the Books of Blood. Supposedly. Except all the pages are blank.
Comments: I’d probably know a lot more about this issue if I read any of the old Renee Montoya series. But to me she’s the character from 52 who took over for the deceased former Question, and she’s in love with the beautiful new Batwoman.
Whom I like a lot, and want to see more of. But not this issue, which she sits out. Instead, Renee returns to her former police haunts, intent on dealing with the cop-killer who is stalking Hub City since his encounter with Flay. The story is relentlessly grim, like one of the darker episodes of Homicide: Life on the Street. Or like the movie Se7en. Rucka is going for a David Fincher vibe, and Olmos matches him for the most part on the art. He’s better with the subtler stuff than the macabre details, though. He does a very good version of Charlie’s professor friend, who has a tension-fraught relationship with Renee. The facial expressions in their terse dialogue in their new shared home are excellent at conveying the full dimensions of both characters.
He does well by the grim horror of the cop-killer in his lair when we see him, too, and with a bleak snowy battle across rooftops that ends the issue. So far Renee hasn’t proved very effective against this foe, and the lesson we learn this issue is a cruel one.
This series, though well-executed as a procedural mystery with super-hero trappings, is leaving me cold and a little turned off as it progresses. I don’t think I want to learn these lessons. But I’ll be back next issue, because Rucka is the undeniable master of these characters. I’m just thinking they’ll do fine in the larger super-hero world too and not just on the mean streets with the crazies. Renee and Kathy should get that chance.
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