Detective Comics #1006 was one of the best Batman comics I’ve read this year, a supernatural mystery with timeless artwork that had a stunning, moody aesthetic.  I loved the writing, I loved the mystery, and yes, I absolutely adored Kyle Hotz’s pencils and David Baron’s colors.  It was a comic that could have worked no matter when it was published over the past forty years or so, and that timeless quality made me think that it could one day become one of the best “unsung” Batman stories.

Detective Comics #1007, on the other hand, is a pretty okay conclusion to this two-part story.  It’s perfectly fine, but it could have been great.

And you know what?  That is okay.  This story is far from a dud, and even with the best creative teams you’re not always going to get the Best Comic Ever.  Do I wish this issue was great?  Yes.  Do I still recommend it, even if I wasn’t blown away by it?  Of course.

Because what this issue really does is set a mood, and establishes Kyle Hotz as an artistic force to be reckoned with.  If that wasn’t already clear in the previous issue, then this one certainly cements it.  He has a classic style that would fit within any “modern” era of comics, and brilliantly blends the supernatural world of the Spectre with the streets and alleys of the Dark Knight.

Truth be told, this works better as a horror comic than it does a mystery.  There’s a bit of a sense of urgency in Batman and the Spectre’s quest to find Corrigan, but it’s over practically before it’s even begun.  His overall fate is never really in question, but whether he comes out unscathed or not does add quite a bit of tension.

I commended the previous issue for taking some turns that I didn’t expect, but enjoyed just the same.  At the start, it looked to be a police procedural, with two detectives investigating a murder.  Read any of our reviews here at Batman News and it won’t be too long before you see that we’re all longing for more detective-focused stories, ones that utilize Batman’s skills of deduction and investigation more than punching and kicking.  Still, Tomasi set up an intriguing yarn, taking a left turn into supernatural horror when the Spectre appeared.

Now that story comes to its resolution here, and as much as I hate to say it, it’s not a great Batman story.  And that’s mostly due to the fact that Batman just… doesn’t do an awful lot.  He makes some gruff threats toward the Spectre, and then again to Jim Corrigan, but I don’t see how the Spectre couldn’t have solved this mystery by himself.  Batman is pretty much only there because it’s in Gotham.

While the overall narrative left me a bit wanting, Tomasi continues in his fine tradition of pairing up mismatched characters and wringing some good drama out of it.  The relationship between Batman and Spectre is believably and effectively tense, thanks to Batman’s refusal to kill and Spectre’s “nature” as a force of vengeance.  There’s a great scene where the duo try to get any leads on the Cult of the Divine Hand, and Spectre takes his interrogation tactics a bit too far.  Some of Batman’s lines throughout the issue are a little too hardnosed and flippant (the way he says “you do that” when Spectre says he’ll search for any abnormalities in an apartment is hilarious, in a way that may not have been intended), but hearing Bruce pleas go unheeded until he gives a final, resolute “enough” is pretty powerful.

There’s also the confusing matter of Batman’s knowledge of Corrigan and the Spectre, which isn’t really Tomasi’s fault.  A lot of DC’s supernatural characters have kind of been in flux for the better part of the last decade or so, with new origins introduced and then discarded as needed.  Batman knows Corrigan and is aware of the existence of the Spectre, which was made clear in the previous issue, but he doesn’t know their connection to each other.  Given the blending of different continuities since the launch of Rebirth, having Bruce’s memories of the two be wiped away would make sense.  I just kind of wish there was something here to explain that, even as simple as Spectre saying “things you once knew are once more unknown” or something.

The elements are here for a great Batman and Spectre team-up, absolutely, and it should be… quite clear that I love Batman interacting with all sorts of different characters.  The main problem I had with this story is that it’s a really good supernatural mystery starring the Spectre, and Batman’s just tagging along because… he’s Batman.  Tomasi gets some decent drama out of their reluctant pairing, but it never really gels into a satisfying story.  If anything, it feels like a backdoor pilot for a new Spectre series, given where Corrigan winds up in the end.  Still, it looks absolutely amazing, with a genuinely creepy gothic aesthetic that suits both Batman and the Spectre.  It’s a visual feast through and through, with its dark shadows, swirling capes, and genuinely unsettling environments.

And also spooky ghost dinosaurs.

We could all use more spooky ghost dinosaurs in our lives, yeah?

Recommended if:

  • You love the Spectre.
  • You really liked the previous issue and want to see how the story ends.
  • You love Kyle Hotz, Dave Baron, and Rob Leigh’s spooky visuals.

Overall: A definite dip in quality from the previous issue, this is a better as a Spectre story than anything.  Tomasi has some good dialogue, and Kyle Hotz’s pencils, Dave Baron’s colors, and Rob Leigh’s lettering give the issue a creepy, unsettling feel.  Still, it feels rushed, with an ending that feels like a “backdoor pilot” for a potential Spectre title, and Batman seems fairly superfluous.  Regardless of its shortcomings, though, the overall atmosphere is haunting, making this a good study in mood and an effective throwback to the horror comics of years past.

SCORE: 6/10