‘Detective Comics’ 31: Batman, Bullock’s new case hits close to home

May 05, 2014 | 6:00 a.m.
detectivecomics31cover Detective Comics 31: Batman, Bullocks new case hits close to home

"Detective Comics" No. 31 is the second part of the "Icarus" story line -- and the second issue of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato's run on the title. Cover by Manapul. (DC Entertainment)

detectivecomics31batman66variant Detective Comics 31: Batman, Bullocks new case hits close to home

This "Batman '66"-themed variant cover for "Detective Comics" No. 31 is by Mike Allred. (DC Entertainment)

detectivecomics31p1 Detective Comics 31: Batman, Bullocks new case hits close to home

Page 1 of "Detective Comics" No. 31, by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. (DC Entertainment)

detectivecomics31p2 Detective Comics 31: Batman, Bullocks new case hits close to home

Page 2 of "Detective Comics" No. 31, by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. (DC Entertainment)

detectivecomics31p3 Detective Comics 31: Batman, Bullocks new case hits close to home

Page 3 of "Detective Comics" No. 31, by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. (DC Entertainment)

detectivecomics31p4 5 Detective Comics 31: Batman, Bullocks new case hits close to home

Pages 4-5 of "Detective Comics" No. 31, by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. (DC Entertainment)

detectivecomics31p6 Detective Comics 31: Batman, Bullocks new case hits close to home

Page 6 of "Detective Comics" No. 31, by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. (DC Entertainment)

detectivecomics31combo Detective Comics 31: Batman, Bullocks new case hits close to home

There is a combo edition of "Detective Comics" No. 31 that includes a code for a digital copy. (DC Entertainment)

Murder has come to Bruce Wayne’s doorstep.

The shocking conclusion to last month’s “Detective Comics” No. 30 showed Elena Aguila, a social activist the billionaire had recently agreed to team with, collapsing on the welcome mat of Wayne Manor as she seemed to catch on fire from inside her body.

The title’s new creative team – Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato – wasted no time in setting up a potentially complex mystery in their “Detective” debut. Wayne and Aguila’s deal, which would erect free medical clinics, drug abuse treatment facilities and education centers instead of commercial development on his property along Gotham City’s troubled East End waterfront, has rankled some people in high places: Congressman Sam Young was seen questioning the decision on TV (and answering to some shady characters in private). Also, a drug called Icarus has taken hold on the East End.

Could that volatile substance be what killed Aguila? And will the police treat Bruce as just a witness – or as a suspect? Those answers come early in “Detective Comics” No. 31, out Wednesday. Hero Complex readers can preview the first six pages of the issue in the gallery above or in larger versions via the links below.

“Detective Comics” No. 31: Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | Pages 4-5 | Page 6

Among the many remaining mysteries: How does the vicious East End criminal Mr. Squid figure in? And what will become of Aguila’s motocross star daughter, Annie?

There are some clues as to how the “Icarus” arc will play out.

Page 6 of "Detective Comics" No. 31, by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. (DC Entertainment)

Page 6 of “Detective Comics” No. 31, by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. (DC Entertainment)

Two detectives are investigating the death of Aguila – the GCPD’s Harvey Bullock and Batman. The Dark Knight is used to police cooperation from Commissioner Jim Gordon, but he can forget about that here, Manapul told a panel crowd at WonderCon in Anaheim last month.

“The great thing about Harvey Bullock is he ain’t giving him nothing,” Manapul said. There will come a moment when the vigilante asks the gruff homicide investigation detective, “What’s more important — you wanting to win, or solving this crime?” he added.

The story also seems to tie back to events in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s ongoing “Zero Year” story in “Batman”: Aguila told Wayne that a speech he gave six years ago (seen in that retelling of Batman’s early days) inspired her, and Bullock says he first encountered the Icarus drug during a storm six years ago.

Manapul and Buccellato – who co-write and collaborate on art duties – are in darker territory in Gotham than they were in Central City with their recently concluded, well-regarded run on “The Flash,” which they had been on since the New 52 launched in 2011.

Among the differences in writing for Batman instead of the Scarlet Speedster, Buccellato deadpanned to the WonderCon crowd, “He’s slower.”

Maybe in velocity, but not in wits. And it looks like he’s going to need them.

– Blake Hennon | @BlakeHennon | @LATHeroComplex

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