Thanks to comic publishers renumbering everything these days you may not be aware that Detective Comics #19 is actually Detective Comics #900. To celebrate, DC stuffed this issue with 80 pages, five stories and eight pinup posters for your viewing pleasure. That’s a lot of content, but if you’ve been around the block you know in most cases 80 page giant sized issues tend to have a lot of filler. On top of that this book was a whopping $7.99, which begs the question more than ever, is it good?
Detective Comics (2011-) #19 (DC Comics)
If you’re debating whether or not to purchase this book let me fill you in on where we stand as far as the story goes. Emperor Penguin is the new penguin-related villain in town and he’s given Zsasz a knife imbued with the power to release a man-bat virus. The virus has taken hold of 900 block and turned a huge amount of Gothamites into man-bats. Batman’s bat family is currently pissed off at him for the whole Death of a Family storyline so he’s on his own. The first story runs 26 pages and focuses on the conclusion of this man-bat virus storyline.
The absolute truth still stands. All babies are ugly.
Artist Jason Fobok gets main story duties and he does not disappoint. His style is a good example of why artists who ink their own work shine bright. The style is moody and perfect for the storyline. Writer John Layman does a good enough job with what he has to work with, although I was unimpressed with the deus ex machina conventional ending that concludes this story. It’s also a tad annoying how many times we’re reminded of the virus hitting 900 block. Okay, we get it, it’s issue #900 and the virus hits 900 block! Clever…move on! Layman does introduce a neat idea for Batman to track down all of Zsasz’s killings by the tattoos on his body and it immediately struck me as a cool way to tackle the character in a movie.
How exactly can Batman track these though?
The fact that Batman knows this is Zsasz is kind of insulting. I mean he’s ugly, but not THAT ugly!
Three of the four remaining stories focus on man-bat related stories. The first focuses on the doctor who created the virus. Layman writes this one as well, but Andy Clarke takes up the art and does a great job as well. This adds much needed emotional resonance to the sacrifice the doctor made to save Gotham as well as an interesting dynamic with his wife that’s sure to be the focus of future stories.
He turns children into these monsters and decides to continue his testing…yeah you fall under scientist cliché bud.
The remaining two man-bat related stories are also written by Layman and deal with the post man-bat fallout and what Emperor Penguin was up to. The Emperor Penguin story reads like filler as it doesn’t add much and really only tells us Penguin is still angry. We already knew that, but hey, I guess he deserves some time since he’ll probably be important in the next issue. The fourth and final man-bat related story takes us into a hospital where a cop turned man-bat turned human talks to his anti-Batman cop buddies. It seems to be harvesting a new pro-Batman cop partner duo that’ll come into play in the future. A nice change of pace for sure but nothing earth-shattering here.
Emperor Penguin’s goons are decidedly different. Plus, check out the Dark Knight Rises reference in the middle pane.
The fifth story is written by James Tynion IV and is the only story of the five that doesn’t tie into the man-bat storyline. This one focuses on Bane and where he’s been since Batman punched him off a cliff back in the absolutely forgettable Batman: The Dark Knight #7. Considering the New 52 Bane was rewritten to be a musclebound idiot it’s nice to see this story redact some of that crap and make him intelligent again.
Bane making henchmen with “Venom testing.” Groan…
This story has two odd flaws. The first is that Bane is somehow capable of making new Venom-based henchmen with the same stuff he pumps into his veins. Huh…I guess? The second is he’s made it his personal goal to stop the Court of Owls. Didn’t Batman already do that? Bane is building an army to take them out, which is actually kind of cool as this means we’ll get some kind of super villain gang war going soon, but I don’t see how this story makes sense unless the Court of Owls are still strong in Gotham.
There’s a nice nod to The Dark Knight Rises here as Bane reflects on his commandeering a nuclear bomb to take out Gotham. Only in this comic version the Court of Owls stops him instead of Batman.
Bane doesn’t mess around with Court of Owl goons.
- Incredible art in every story
- Story elements introduced sure to be interesting in the coming months
- A lot of filler from the pin ups to some of the stories being so-so
Ultimately this is a great issue, but for the price it doesn’t quite live up to what it should be. We’re introduced to some new cops that could play into future Batman stories, Bane has an actual purpose since the New 52 came to be and man-bat has been set up to be something worth reading. The art is also fabulous in every single page of this beauty of a book. Two of the five stories are so-so in quality which brings it down a notch, but by all means this is good comic book reading.
Is It Good?
Yes. If you got the dough don’t hesitate to spend it, but pound for pound when it comes to the price it’s not perfect.