The Worst-Laid Plans Also Go Awry: Reviewing ‘Detective Comics’ #1055

by Scott Redmond

Overview

‘Shadows Of The Bat’ enters its final act as things take a dangerous and chaotic turn, putting various characters into dangerous positions as familiar new players enter the game. Both stories in this issue showcase the inherent dangers that can be present in Gotham, where the struggle between light and dark is heavy and takes a major toll on those caught in the middle.

Overall
9/10
9/10

Over eight weeks ago ‘Shadows of the Batkicked off with an issue that flashed ahead to the moment when the promise that Arkham Tower was a new and different endeavor crumbled apart. Through those subsequent weeks the tension was raised as all the pieces were shown moving into place, backstories expanded, moving ever closer to that moment of collapse.

At last, the moment is here, and chaos is running the show.

Mariko Tamaki has weaved a truly engaging tale that hits so many typical Gotham/Bat-family sort of areas but also brings a lot of new things to the table. In the previous eight issues, we were given every single piece of information needed to see how this all was going down, yet it never felt like too much. Doctor Wear for instance went from a shady enigma to revealed unraveling before our eyes conman before his very brutal demise. Through and through the character work shined on the pages and brought a lot of depth and emotional weight to characters new and old in fantastic ways.

Even now as the puzzle is complete and we enter the most chaotic action-packed part of the story, there are still things to be unraveled and players entering the game. A return to Scarecrow and his ‘Fear State’ stuff doesn’t feel too soon or off in this moment, it makes perfect logical terrifying sense. No matter what comes after this arc ends in a few weeks, I really hope this book maintains some of its deep cast of characters and ensemble sort of status because it’s been fantastic seeing so much of the Bat-family together regularly.

Each of the acts for this event has had their own distinctive visual flavor courtesy of them having different artists and colorists leading the way. Amancay Nahuelpan has a really detailed and smooth style that really captures all the emotions and great body language moments and flows great between the exposition/talking scenes and those that are filled with action. There are a lot of great instances where the panels are laid out to maximize the most out of the frenzied and horror vibes that are high in this particular issue, especially when it comes to the entry of Scarecrow into the story.

Jordie Bellaire returns to coloring the main portion of this book, after taking leave of sorts to handle the backup story companion (with her still handling that color now). With her return comes her very visually appealing palette of colors that bring just such a life to Gotham. Lots of darkness and shadows are used to frame things and moments, with the colors being at their peak here. Greens are vivid greens, same for reds and blues and purples and everything else. Beautifully colorful without losing a bit of detail/reality or impact/grimness.

There are a lot of great things about this twelve-week event, but one of them for sure is getting to see Ariana Maher’s colors for twelve weeks straight. They are always a delight because such care is taken to add little flairs of realism with the simplicity of changing the appearance (size/shape/etc) of fonts to make whispers and yells and normal conversation distinctive from one another. Alongside all the big powerful SFX that accompany moments but also at times perfectly take over the moment to be loud and, in your face, as they should be.

When it comes to backup stories, the way they are handled tends to vary greatly. Sometimes they’ll be snippets of moments or characters that are regularly part of the book or world, other times they’ll be disconnected from the main book, or other times they’ll share some narrative DNA or themes. This last one is sort of what we’re getting with the really great ‘House of Gotham’ storyline.

Matthew Rosenberg is mirroring the character work and tension of the main storyline, but through the filter of one particular character as they make their way through years of abuse from Gotham itself. Since we’re spanning years, it’s been really great to see little slices of Gotham stories we know from things like the Azrael Batman last week to ‘No Man’s Land’ this week. Funny enough this is the second time that we’ve seen that particular storyline in this very book, as the main story did a flashback to it just a few issues ago when focus was on Huntress.

We don’t even know the name of the main character of this story, but we’ve been able to really feel for him in different ways. His time in Gotham started rough and has not gotten easier, and the character is becoming very twisted as a victim of what Gotham and the never-ending war between light and dark can do to a person.

Fernando Blanco and Jordie Bellaire deliver a hundred times over no matter what is being called for in any given issue. After giving us a lot of very stylish and personality-filled issues of Gotham, they literally and metaphorically rip that all down to give us the broken shattered ‘No Man’s Land’ version of the city. It’s jagged and rough but still very much Gotham, still super detailed and full of emotion and every flowing energy.

Bellaire’s penchant for really vivid colors works here as the neon hue that colors this broken city feels appropriate on all levels. Replaced by stark harsh reds and dark shadows of the underground at times, hitting home just how much more dangerous and broken this always dangerous and broken city has become.

Rob Leigh matches all that energy, as usual, delivering a lot of great lettering that captures the mood and tone in the most accurate of ways. Not only are there the great uses of font changes for volume and tone in play, but there feels like there is a subtle but clear change when it comes to “the boy” and his words. Fonts are the same mostly overall but yet, it feels like the confidence and anger, and darkness within him is coming out even in the way his words are displayed. It’s accurately chilling.

Detective Comics #1055 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.

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