Batman is not having a very good week over in Detective Comics. Friends are dying, Alfred is getting attacked, and he’s wasting time outside of Gotham to find the culprit to his pain. In the last issue, Batman was led to New Mexico where a death trap was laid for him and he fell for it. This is not a usual week for Batman.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
There’s no man on Earth more convinced that he knows what makes Batman tick than Dr. Hugo Strange! Which makes him a natural target for the thing that’s hunting Batman, unless Batman gets there first!
Why does this matter?
The cliffhanger last issue not only set up a death trap that takes up much of this issue, but it also reintroduced a long-dead character. Thaddeus Brown, aka Mister Miracle, died way back in 1970 but apparently, he’s back. What’s the deal with that? Read this to find out.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue opens with Batman and Thaddeus in peril danger as water fills a room and sharks swim around them. There’s no shark repellent, but there is a lot of ingenuity and fast thinking from Batman. Peter J. Tomasi establishes Thaddeus’ age being a factor in not escaping further forcing Batman to save them both. Through captions, we gather Batman’s anxiety and stress which heightens the drama. This bleeds into a good action sequence thanks to Doug Mahnke’s art.
Manhke’s art is far stronger this issue with a cleaner finished look compared to the somewhat messy style of the last issue. Layout design during the fight is appropriately chaotic and intense and the monster Batman faces is grotesque and strange. This makes the usually no brainer fight between Batman and assailant more intense since we can’t even figure out the villain so what chance does Batman have? The opening escape sequence is well rendered too with some tricky close quarters moments clearly drawn. It’s a tricky scene with Batman and Thaddeus floating amongst sharks but it’s clear and believably rendered.
It can’t be perfect, can it?
The detective side of the narrative doesn’t appear well articulated in this issue. I say this because the big reveal at the end has no breadcrumbs leading to it. Unless I missed some subtle detail, and for sure the story doesn’t explain how Batman got to this villain, it’s unclear how we get there. That cheapens the reveal here. It’ll probably be revealed next issue, but it seems tacked on here.
The addition of Thaddeus seems insignificant to the overall plot. I’m still trying to understand why he needed to be in the story besides reintroducing him to the DCU. His presence ties into breaking free from a trap, of course, but that’s somewhat unnecessary. Maybe there’s a grander plan to this and the past acts in the arc, but so far it’s unclear why much of what has happened matters.
Is it good?
This is a fun issue with a good action sequence, escape sequence, and a cliffhanger that begs you to read the next issue. It’s good comics, but it’s not great comics thanks to a lack of purpose.