DCAU #60: The Third Door

IN THIS ONE... Bruce Wayne is accused of murder after being found in a locked room with a body.

CREDITS: Written by Kelley Puckett; art by Brad Rader and Rick Burchett.

REVIEW: The comic can definitely do things the animated series can't, like show a murdered person face first in a pool of his blood. That means the comic is more lethal, more dangerous, and that's a good thing as far as building suspense goes. And this locked room mystery starts out pretty well, with Bruce Wayne unable to explain how he got into the room with Batcrobatics without blowing his secret identity and going to jail while Dick/Robin is left to investigate just what really happened. Unfortunately, 22 pages does not seem to be enough to tell this story, which suffers from major plot holes AND requires you to forget the title because it's really the solution to the mystery.

Not that the mystery is too deep to begin with. We  only meet one other character who might've done it (spoiler: he did). The dying man's last word, his wife's name, is a red herring. Bruce had ample time to get out the way he came (the balcony), but suddenly can't pull a disappearing act. There's this whole bit with a nervous cop pulling a gun on Bruce's cellmate that amounts to nothing and makes the GCPD look clownish. Bruce can't fight back when bullied so as not to give himself away, but just when the police are present; it's fine when he's alone with the convict. How he escapes jail to save Dick and returns without anyone noticing is the real mystery of the issue. No great addition to Dick's competence either, being SHOWN the solution rather than figuring it out for himself, then getting chumped by an old man. Dick feeling sorry for the "helpless" killer who had him bound and gagged? Rings false. And the tag at the end with Bullock wanting to know how Bruce got into the room has Bruce give a glib, nonsensical answer that falls incredibly flat.

There are some good elements, but they're mostly in the art. I love the "silenced" conversation Bullock and Bruce Wayne's lawyer have in the background while Bruce tells Dick his story. Rader once again shows proficiency with lighting effects and shadows, making the interrogation room, the cell, and the stormy night of the climax each look and feel completely different. The fear on the killer's face when Batman crashes into his house is palpable, and from the art alone, a completely warranted reaction! And though neither Bruce nor Dick did too well in the first two acts, their silent communication in the third shows how well-oiled this duo can be.
REREADABILITY: Medium-Low - The art has some nice moments, but can't really elevate an unpolished, unfinished script.



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