Now that DC Comics is all done celebrating 1,000 issues of Detective Comics it’s time to dig into a brand new story by Peter J. Tomasi and Brad Walker. Many are anticipating this book thanks to the Arkham Knight, or what looks like the Arkham Knight, being teased in Detective Comics #1,000 for this story arc. This story kicks off what appears to be a case of an army going after Batman and the hero being caught way off guard. The spoils (Gotham) goes the victor.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
After 1,000 issues, you’d think Batman could finally have a break…but no: as a new era dawns, he’s facing the most dangerous threat of his career! The Arkham Knight has arrived in Gotham City with an entire round table of deadly allies, and their first encounter will leave Batman shaken to his core!
Why does this matter?
Not only is this a fresh start for new readers but it’s also keeping with the title of the series and maintaining a mystery. The issue also begins a story about a mysterious group not run by Ra’s Al Ghul or any other main villain. He’s new (so far as we know) and ready to kick Batman’s butt.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This is a strong first issue in an arc many will be talking about due to the villain on the cover, but many props go to the plotting and art. Walker and Tomasi have constructed themselves quite a mystery to open the book, effectively throwing the reader and Bruce Wayne off. Bats are dying all around Gotham and there’s no explanation as to why. The first half of the issue is focused on this mystery, but the very first few pages suggest a group of mysterious folks taking part in a knighting are probably the culprits. By the end of the issue, there’s a whole new army for Batman to fight and a lot of questions that’ll get readers jazzed up for more.
It’s worth noting there aren’t a ton of answers, but there are very subtle clues as to what might be going on. I’ll leave eagle-eyed readers to point out what I mean.
The art in this issue by Walker is excellent, along with inks by Andrew Hennessy, colors by Nathan Fairbairn and letters by Rob Leigh. I’ve been following Walker’s art for some time via his run on The Demon: Hell on Earth and Aquaman, but this might be his cleanest work yet. It’s detailed, nails expressions, and is moody with the lighting and ink work. There’s also plenty to love be it Bat-cave shots, an intense action sequence to end the book, and even a moment that’ll make readers cheer. I won’t spoil it, but know that Batman would probably rule at surfing. There really is something in the level of detail at work here too. Take a panel where Bruce Wayne is rushing out of the bat-cave. In it we see Bruce grabbing his cowl moving off to the right and moving to the left is a judgmental glance from Alfred. To Batman’s right is the cave framing him nicely. His muscles are sharply drawn and Bruce’s expression is all business. The quality of work here is top notch.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The only negative I can find is how this Arkham Knight looking bad guy is still a complete mystery. That’s okay, we’re still early into the story, but he’s still a complete mystery and even doesn’t take part in the fighting.
Is it good?
To be honest I had low expectations going into this because all the buzz seemed to suggest this is a cash-grab sort of story weaving the video game character into the comic series. I was wrong. This is far and away one of the best first issues in a story arc DC Comics has delivered all year. It’s action-packed, filled with mysteries, and looks gorgeous doing it.