In Justice League: A New Frontier, by the late, great Darwyn Cook, there's a delightful sequence where J'onn J'onz, an alien posing as a detective, watches TV and mimics the shows he sees, trying to get a firm grasp on how to seem human. It's a funny, charming sequence that gets in the head of an alien character in way that's thoroughly sympathetic. Weird Detective includes a sequence that is almost identical, but somehow manages to be more obvious, half as interesting, and never funny, which is, sadly, indicative of the whole issue. Weird Detective is the tale of Sebastian Greene an average beat-cop who, seemingly at random, begins solving cases with the speed and intelligence of Sherlock Holmes. Thankful but confused, the higher-ups partner him with a younger detective, in hopes she will be able to figure out what caused his change. And, giving the book its awkwardly on the nose title, Greene has begun to exhibit some truly strange, distant behavior somewhere in between with autism and/or alien life. Greene is tasked with figuring out the cases of a body found in a public pool...missing all of its bones, muscles, and organs.
You understand the dynamic of the comic if you've ever seen an episode of 'Monk', 'Bones', 'Castle', 'House', 'Elementary', 'Lucifer', or 'Life' (seriously network TV--step up your game). We have a weirdo, partnered with by-the-book cop, and they bicker like an old married couple. Unfortunately, this side of the book is way, way too familiar. Each joke feels telegraphed pages too early. Weirdo does something weird, partner questions it, weirdo says something weirder in response, studio audience laughs, etc.
There are some more atypical elements to 'Weird Detective' as it starts to get into what exactly is up with Greene, but the writing never feels sharp enough to make it work. Fred Van Lente makes Greene so obviously strange and bizarre that when his true nature is revealed, it's not surprising in the least. Similarly, while there are some interesting elements to the supernatural tinged case the detectives are working, it's the type of material that would be served by a writer and artist with a little less generic an approach.
Weird Detective is not without its charm such as an animal character with a very familiar attitude, but at 48 pages, it's too long to hold one's interest without more going on. Greene, by nature of his, well, nature, isn't particularly compelling, and his sassy, ethnic, lesbian, tough-as-nails sidekick is too much of a cliché to make much of an impression. As such, the book falls almost entirely flat by the 30-page mark, making the end something of a slog.
There's one running joke in Weird Detective #1 that represents my whole reading experience pretty perfectly. Whenever the subject of how odd Greene is comes up, his peers blame it on him being from Canada. When its first used it's a solid, amusing joke that makes the book seem light on fun. By the third time, it's getting a little repetitive. When one character actually explains the joke, saying ' why do people keep saying that like it's an explanation?" it becomes dumb and dull. There's a good comic buried in Weird Detective, but it's buried deep.
[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]