Issue #10 is one of the more readable installments in some time, but for a series called “Detective” where you’d think logic would prevail, very few events in this book makes sense. There’s more action and detective work here than I’ve seen from this series since the Dollmaker storyline making it a real page turner as long as you don’t think too hard about what everyone’s motivation is– hopefully some things will make more sense in upcoming issues what with this being the first part of a new arc, but judging by what I’ve seen in the past 9 issues I highly doubt that’ll happen. Had this been the typical $2.99 adventure I would’ve given it a better score of around 7/10, but the back-up story featuring Two-Face is absolutely horrible and makes the added dollar to the price tag laughable.
So with “Detective Comics” #10 you’re getting a brand new arc that, unlike what the solicits described, is about Batman investigating a heist involving fake Batmen and a new villain named Mr. Toxic (who we saw in the Penguin arc a few months back along with Hypnotic, who was the villain DC said would be in this issue). You’ll also see what has to be the world’s most economically sized large hadron collider (even a small one should stretch for miles, plus–oh and it was built in 9 months) and what could be a send-off (and boy, is it a painfully awkward goodbye) to Charlotte Rivers.
This time around, Tony Daniel is taking a breather while Ed Benes handles the art. Benes’ style matches Daniel’s well enough except it has a scratchier quality (and quite a few characters have lankier arms) and the colors by Tomeu Morey add to the consistency between issues in a way that I imagine many will read this and never realize that Daniel didn’t pencil it. My only serious complaint about any of the art would be the design of the fake Batman seen in the book’s opening pages.
The story opens with a truck heist during Gotham’s rush hour. It’s a pretty exciting scene, but I would have liked the fake Batmen to have had cheaper, makeshift suits akin to the ones we saw at the beginning of the film “The Dark Knight”. Not only would this have made the scene more visually interesting, but it would’ve made the fight scene with Batman later in the book much, much easier to follow. How did these thugs create suits that are an exact replica of Batman’s? They are way too spot-on in my opinion and the only way you as a reader have of distinguishing them from the real Batman is that they have a bit more stubble on their chin and diagonal stripes on their chest plate. These guys have a few cool surprises in store for Batman and it gets pretty intense, but when it’s over you’re going to ask: what was the point of them dressing up like Batman if that was all they were going to do? Also,
The heist, battle, and reveal of Mr. Toxic are the real highlights of the issue and I hope that Mr. Toxic turns out to be an interesting villain with a strong plan. He’s certainly threatening looking, albeit a bit ostentatious but in Gotham, who isn’t?
There is one important, spoilerish thing that I want to go ahead and address. It didn’t raise or lower my level of enjoyment of the issue, but it should be pointed out because it potentially changes a very big plot point of recent Batman continuity.
Alright, on to the backup…
When we last saw Two-Face he was being abducted by what appeared to be ninjas. Well, in this issue…I’m just going to spoil it. It’s stupid. Don’t even read the backup, please. It’s bad. Two-face is all mad at first about being abducted and even goes so far as to call the bald leader of the cult “Baldilocks” –so you know he’s super serious. The leader of the cult’s name is “Leader”, by the way. About one page later he’s cool with the whole thing and even joins the cult who recognizes the light Harvey has within and tells him that they will help him with his “darkness”. Then they say they can’t help him with his darkness and let him go. Exciting stuff, right? Then we learn that Tommy Freakshow, the guy Two-Face was hired to kill in order to get his District Attorney job back (wrap your head around that), hired the Leader to kill Harvey! Only he goes on to explain that he hired the leader and his crew knowing full well that Leader had only one condition about contract kills: he wouldn’t kill anyone who was still capable of good. THEN DON’T HIRE THAT GUY! How did this guy even get in the murder for hire business? Everyone is capable of good. And why would you think that The Leader would kill Two-Face, a guy known for his duality as a terrible gangster but also Gotham’s white knight. He wouldn’t kill anyone who was still capable of good? You…he…Harvey is capable of doing good at the flip of a coin. Hell, he’s only trying to kill Tommy Freakshow so that he can return to life as a public servant–and he didn’t even flip the coin to make that decision!
Overall, the main story sets up an arc that has potential to be better than the brief Penguin encounter or the Dollmaker saga, but it’s still not good enough to justify paying $3.99, especially when that extra buck comes from the absolutely idiotic Two-Face backup tale.