If you read the last issue of Detective Comics you probably don’t need to be reading this review. Issue #994 was excellent, mixing in real detective work with crazy action. Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke are pushing Bruce Wayne in new ways with a silent and mysterious killer who somehow knows who is closest to Batman. It’s all building towards the milestone 1,000th issue.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Alfred Pennyworth…attacked at the Wayne mansion! Who’s hunting those closest to Batman? The monstrous shadow creature plaguing Gotham City gains the upper hand when two of the Dark Knight’s most ardent allies fall prey to the violent vendetta. Will those tragedies send Batman over the edge? Good thing he’s on his way to Arkham Asylum–but will he investigate a murder, or get incarcerated in a padded cell?
Why does this matter?
With the 1,000th issue on the horizon, any deaths that occur now should be considered legitimate. Chances are this is all building towards a massive issue that aims to rejigger Batman’s life and possibly take characters off the board. Case in point, Leslie Thompkins who opens this issue dying from Joker toxin.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
The art by Mahnke with inks by Jaime Mendoza and colors by David Baron (and letters by Rob Leigh) do a great job giving this story a dark atmosphere. As Leslie smiles in great pain, you feel the tension at the moment. Batman is resolute and won’t give in to emotion so as to save her life. It’s an intense sequence that takes up much of the issue, which makes the last half more emotionally profound. Batman doesn’t lose, nor does he let bad guys get to him.
Tomasi does a great job reminding us who Leslie is as she dies slowly in the opening sequence. A flashback is a reminder, but also her tender words even as she lays in Batman’s arms in intense pain. Alfred does what he can and he’s an expert at it, but even he in his quietness reveals his fear and sorrow. It’s an intense sequence that doesn’t lose an ounce of emotional resonance. This leads to another twist, shock, and the eventual Batman reaction. Tomasi is plotting a great story here that makes Batman’s emotions getting the better of him believable. Batman has always been a vigilante hero breaking from the mold and doing immoral things, but in this issue, Tomasi gives Batman a good reason to do so. It’s not an obsession with results or any callousness, but a man who deserves to act the way he does.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
This issue gets away from the detective work, mostly focusing on Batman reacting to terrible things. The emotional story is built up well, but the way it finishes leaves one to wonder if we could have gotten some detective work in this narrative. He’s rushing into something and being rash forgetting what we learned in the last issue. Keeping up with that fantastic detective work could have made this perfect.
Is it good?
A really great issue that hammers home the emotional toll Batman is going through. If you push this superhero far enough you’re going to get your worst nightmare.