Creatively, Batman can seem most dull in his longest running titles.
Dull periods are to be expected in monthly titles — "Batman" and "Batman: Detective Comics" — with an 80-year history and counting. Especially when Batman is and has been the subject of so many brilliant prestige projects such as "The Dark Knight Returns," "The Killing Joke," etc.
Still, periods of excellence can be found in the flagship Batman titles.
The on-going "Batman" series led by writer Tom King has been one of the most fun and imaginative runs of the monthly title in decades.
Another gem was the "Icarus" storyline by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato collected in the sixth volume of "Batman: Detective Comics."
Part of what makes a sub-par monthly Batman run is mismatch of artist and writer. The writing may be good but the art isn't inspired. Or the art is fantastic but the story goes nowhere. Or both the art and writing are poor.
With "Icarus," the writing and story are top-notch.
Partly because Manapul does double duty as artist and co-author with Buccellato. Manapul has a vivid graphic style. His panel work is exceptional and expressive. He covers a lot of ground and movement through well-paced and plotted panel placement. His panel work is reminiscent of Will Eisner's ground-breaking work on "The Spirit."
Tough breathing new life into a character with an 80-year history, especially one with multiple deadlines per month. But, like King on "Batman," the Manapul-Buccellato run on "Detective" was a breath of fresh Gotham air.