The Bat-Cave: The Value Of Life In ‘Detective Comics’ #757

by Tony Thornley
Cover by Dave Johnson

Batman is regarded as one of the greatest superheroes ever created. He’s seen as the ultimate badass, a man amongst gods, and a man who can defeat those same gods. However, there’s an aspect of the Dark Knight that a lot of fans forget, a trait that’s at the center of Detective Comics #757.

After the year-long ‘No Man’s Land’ saga, the Batman line saw new creative teams across the board. The run that made the biggest impact out of the gate was Detective Comics by Greg Rucka. Rucka was coming off his first hit comic series Whiteout and he brought a similar modern noir approach to the series. The art (by rotating teams) was a stylistic shift towards a more expressive and simple style, while the colors were minimalist. It was a big change for DC’s flagship title, but it paid off as the series hit big.

One thing Rucka made his name on was the excellent characterization, both with existing characters like Renee Montoya and Batman himself as well as several new characters such as Sasha Bordeaux and Detective Cris Allen. Because of this, the run is full of forgotten gems, both one-shot tales and longer arcs. The human side of the Dark Knight is the focus of Detective #757, featuring the art team of Rick Burchett & Rodney Ramos, as a case begins to go wrong in a way that almost turns tragic.

A gang of drug dealers have murdered two cops, leading to a high speed chase between the dealers and Batman. However, on a blind curve, a family is driven off the road into a nearby lake, unbeknownst to Batman. Can he realize what happened before an entire family loses their lives?

Batman has always believed strongly in the sanctity of life. Many writers treat that as simple motivation for his superhero side, but Rucka here leans into it as something different. It’s a defining trait of Bruce Wayne’s personality so much that he begins to beat himself up in the race against time to save the small family’s lives. He doesn’t go for the obvious either, with no mentions of the Waynes or Crime Alley. Batman simply holds human life in such high regards that he springs into action when he realizes what happened, and it’s executed wonderfully.

Burchett and Ramos draw a lot of influence from Batman The Animated Series in their linework. Though it’s not in that Bruce Timm style many think about when someone says that, it’s simply, expressive, but also packed with details that make the story come to life. They also experiment with their layouts on the page, adding a sense of claustrophobia, as the victims’ car fills with water. Really the only drawback to this issue is the colors, which is full of strange choices (such as an opening chase dominated by greens and blues) but even then you have to admire the issue for trying something different.

There are many forgotten gems like this one in the history of the Dark Knight. It’s a story that really gets to the core of Bruce Wayne that also provides an exciting superhero action story as well. It’s absolutely worth picking up.

You can find single issues of the series physically and digitally from any retailer. The story is also collected in Batman: New Gotham Volume 2.

Detective Comics #757, DCl Comics, 2001. Written by Greg Rucka, line art by Rick Burchett & Rodney Ramos, color art by Wildstorm FX, letters by Todd Klein.

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