After a number of more action-packed city-wide terror type of issues, Detective Comics returns to a semblance of the intriguing status quo change that it promised when this run began so many months ago. Much like Batman, when the normal creative team is together and firing on all cylinders the imagery of Gotham City is dynamic and bold and stylish and beautiful in it’s own often dark ways.
There was a point in time when this brand-new Detective Comics run looked to be a counterpart to the main Batman title, focusing more on Bruce Wayne’s new life and struggles to be Batman without all the money and gear. Then the run took on a more bombastic, Gotham City under siege (a totally different city-wide siege disaster than the one happening at the same time over in Batman) and a lot of that was mostly pushed to the side.
Despite a lot of the new supporting cast and even Bruce Wayne’s new home this run introduced being wiped away already, this issue finds the book returning to the status written above. Within this issue, we get a real taste of what we might have gotten if this book was more lowkey, smaller intimate storylines, rather than a big giant city threatening action epic.
Mariko Tamaki writes a really great Bruce Wayne/Batman and seeing how she deals with him being homeless and cave-less and trying to piece together his vigilante life to take on the threat to Gotham is really great. Especially when that leads to a return of the old school grey and blue with splashes of yellow Batman costume (seen in a flashback in the last issue) brought to glorious life by Dan Mora and Jordie Bellaire.
Seeing Bruce struggling with the loss of his homes, dirty, out of sorts, ten steps behind those that are plaguing him is a good story. Before the ‘Joker War‘ story, the default Batman was super rich and had all the toys and was ten steps ahead of everyone including gods and aliens and other threats. Honestly, a book that focused on more actual detective work with a Batman just doing his best with what little is on hand would be a very desired direction for this series.
Especially when it’s a world brought to life by Mora and Bellaire, who are truly a dynamic duo of their own. Their combined pencils and colors make Gotham a truly varied and often gorgeous site. The sewers are darker and take a green tinge, while Gotham itself is bolder and brighter and somewhat more neutral in tone followed by the scenes with the cabal of villains known as The Jury taking on ominous dark red tones.
The aforementioned full-page image of Batman in the new costume, which sees some changes to the pencils and colors that make it almost look like an actual old school page, as well as Batman staring at the vast city and a page with Barbara Gordon/Oracle are just amazing to look at. That’s before we even get to the action-packed hectic final pages with Batman going quite old school with the tools at hand taking on a veritable army of foes, by heading for the shadows. There is so much beautiful action it feels like it’s coming off the page right at you.
Aditya Bidikar keeps coming out swinging as well, bringing so many great flares to the dialogue of many characters, making them distinctive to their personality or gimmick. Those action pages mentioned are then filled with big powerful, colorful, and exciting SFX that just makes everything even more ‘real’ feeling, adding to that off the page feeling mentioned.
As a holder of a degree in Journalism, I’m a sucker for any story that really focuses on nitty-gritty journalism. Deb Donovan is one of the few remaining characters introduced as part of Bruce Wayne’s new world, and her part in the strange happenings of Gotham City grows even more in the new backup series. Like the previous Man-Bat focused one, this backup is connected to the upcoming new Task Force Z series.
Matthew Rosenberg, the writer of that upcoming new series, does a firm job of introducing what is going on with the dead villain’s mystery and really digs deep into Donovan’s investigation and how far she’s willing to go to solve a mystery. It’s a really great character piece that deepens the plot, brings back Vicki Vale, which is always nice, and is overall a pretty fun time.
Darick Robertson is always a great addition to any story, and together with Diego Rodriguez, they create a really nice gritty noir-like world for this journalism story. While the main book has art that makes Gotham look beautiful/stylish and more neutral at times (outside the sewers and villain hideouts), this backup reminds us that there are the grim and darker more unnerving parts of this city.
Rob Leigh handles the letters and really knocks it out with the notepad/newspaper-like style caption boxes as well as tackling the large amount of dialogue. Then there is a page where an entire panel is just devoted to one giant SFX, and it’s pulled off brilliantly for effect.
Detective Comics #1041 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.