DETECTIVE COMICS #881 cannot be overhyped. This is one of the best single issues I've read in a long time. What's surprising, given that it's a concluding chapter in a superhero book, is that it focuses on a series of conversations -- first between Barbara and Jim Jr., then between Dick and Jim Jr., and finally between Jim Sr. and Dick -- and it avoids any of the usual action used to conclude a big arc. Yet the violence, the sadism, and the regret behind these conversations make each scene incredibly powerful.
Barbara Gordon, the invalid, stabbed in both legs, and unable to pull out the knives; Jim Jr. making sick, sarcastic references to the KILLING JOKE; extended discussions on Nietzschean supermen and the virtues of psychopaths -- this book is nightmarish on so many levels and in so many ways. The image of Barbara with two knives in her is jarring. The long rationalization of violence by Jim Jr. is obnoxious. And Dick's desperation in trying to find and save Barbara is incredibly suspenseful.
I'm going to pay this issue the ultimate compliment: Scott Snyder has written a Batman book that is as smart and terrifying as Christopher Nolan's THE DARK KNIGHT. I am stunned by Snyder's devilish imagination here.
The art is strong and appropriately creepy. Jock's pages are excellent, and Fancesco Francavilla's art has a weird simplicity to it that really conveys the sinister emptiness of Jim Jr.
DETECTIVE COMICS #881 is absolutely flawless. Go out and read it!