DC comics have been all about the Batman in recent years, and this over saturation has caused the iconic Dark Knight detective to become rather bland. When you have a vast cast of hangers on in your story, it’s hard to have any memorable moments or shifts in character. Icarus sees a new team pare Batman back to basics; this is a story about Batman solving crimes and punching villains, and little else.
Buccellato and Manapul change the tone of the series by focusing on the things that make a Gotham story work: corruption and murder. The plot brings back the deadly drug Icarus, a substance that causes spontaneous combustion upon overdose. A drug that took out Detective Bullock's partner, and one that Gotham PD and Batman had thought had been banished from the streets of Gotham for good. A conflict between Bullock and the Bat becomes inevitable, and in the meantime the city streets are literally burning. Expect more than the usual violence and plenty of twists and turns.
The art also departs from the regular DC Comics' style. It’s darker in tone and denser. The artists' vision of Gotham is a city where it is always raining and the sun is nothing but a distant memory. It’s so grimy and dark that you half expect the pages to stain your hands, though the art is never unclear and everything is well defined. Those who prefer their superheroes blocky and chunky will be delighted and though it isn’t exactly pretty, it’s very atmospheric.
Icarus is a classic Batman story. It cherry picks some of the moodier ideas from '70s, '80s and '90s incarnations of the character to produce something unique. Though the story is a little cluttered in places (and the Bruce Wayne B-story is overplayed), it’s a solid and much welcome addition to a growing library of well thought out crime dramas that just happen to set in a world with super humans in it.
INFO: BATMAN – DETECTIVE COMICS VOLUME 6: ICARUS / WRITER: BRIAN BUCCELLATO, FRANCIS MANAPUL / ARTIST: WERTHER DELL’EDERA, SCOTT HEPBURN, FRANCIS MANAPUL / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 2ND