There’s something to be said about an issue of a comic book that’s practically non-stop forward momentum. It knows where it needs to go and how to get there, hardly slowing down at any point to break the pace. Such is the case with Detective Comics #1005, the conclusion of the “Medieval” arc.
But just because it moves the story forward and reaches its conclusion, does that mean its a satisfactory ending? Frankly, that’s entirely debatable, more because it really isn’t a hard stop, definitive ending than because the quality of the storytelling is lacking. It is strongly hinted that the Arkham Knight’s crusade will continue one day down the line, so this is more of a chapter break than the end of a book.
Still, that’s really all it’s trying to be. I love Tomasi’s writing, as you well know by now, and because of that he’s earned the benefit of the doubt with me. That’s not to say that this issue is poorly written or anything like that, of course. Far from it. It’s just that, this issue at least, the visual storytelling overshadows the writing on the page, which may very well have been planned. It’s confidently and competently written, but the action is sticking with me longer than the dialogue.
There are some pretty great lines, though, especially when Tomasi just leans into the silly and ludicrous.
“Initiate the totality phase” would be a pretty sweet prog-rock album title, not gonna lie.
Tomasi is one of those writers who is very generous with his artists, knowing precisely how to utilize their skills to tell the story. A lot of that comes from his time as an editor, no doubt, and it’s in clear evidence here with his work with Walker, Fairbairn, Hennessy, and Leigh. After the buildup over the past several issues, we get what amounts to a two-man siege on the Arkham Knight’s stronghold, with the action kicking off right from the first page and not letting go until the issue’s final act. There is some fun interplay between Bruce and Damian, showcasing Tomasi’s grasp on what makes them work as both a father and son duo and a crimefighting team, but really, it’s just a ton of fun seeing Batman rush into a dangerous situation.
To take down a borderline nutjob like Astrid Arkham.
Armed with a friggin’ Batarang in each hand.
So yeah, what follows is a pretty relentless series of action set-pieces, brilliantly choreographed and illustrated by Walker, Hennessy, and Fairbairn. Walker uses some pretty creative panel layouts, cutting between larger wide shots to closely cropped inset panels, and it all works wonderfully. It’s very cinematic storytelling, to the point that you could easily see these as storyboards for an actual film.
Just look at this sequence here:
You have the establishing shot of Doctor Phosphorus (whose word balloons and font are brilliantly realized and stylized by the great Rob Leigh), followed by a cut to Batman lunging at the villain. There’s a lot going on here, at least in regards to the point of view changing between panels, but it’s never unclear what is happening at any point.
Plus it just looks so incredibly cool. Batman leaping at a bad guy, Batarangs in each fist, and wisps of green fire about his costume? Awesome.
As I alluded to before, this likely won’t be the last time we see Astrid Arkham. Her plan here is kind of bizarre, which is pretty in line with her pretensions of having a “righteous crusade,” to be fair. She aims to blind the citizens of Gotham because, and I quote, “only in complete darkness can you truly see the stars.” It’s consistent with her conviction that Gotham has been “blinded” by Batman’s actions, and her big “sun bomb” from 1001. Would I have liked to have seen a little bit more to her character? Sure. She’s interesting, especially considering she sees herself as a self-styled crusader like Batman, but with a truly righteous cause. No doubt we’ll see more of her in the future, though, and I won’t complain that we were given a villain who is weird and a little bonkers as opposed to truly, fully despicable and vile.
So yeah, this is a fun book. It’s lean, the pace is quick and rather relentless without feeling rushed or overbearing, and it’s illustrated wonderfully. Sometimes you just need a “good comic book” that wants to be just that, and this is a good comic book.
- You love excellent visual storytelling.
- You’re into Astrid Arkham’s kooky crazy crusade.
- You just want a solid, entertaining comic book.
Overall: This doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor did it set out to in the first place. What this issue of Detective Comics is is an entertaining diversion with some great action set pieces. Tomasi’s writing is solid, as always, yet his real strength here is how he lets the artists carry the story as well. There’s great teamwork across the board, with Tomasi, Walker, Hennessy, Fairbarin, and Leigh being a true “creative team.” You can’t really go wrong with a solid adventure with a breakneck pace and a little bit of weirdness thrown in, which is precisely what Detective Comics #1005 has to offer.