I’ve already discussed how I don’t appreciate that the “Joker War” event has hijacked a good Two-Face story, and how that makes it seem like DC doesn’t care about the integrity of their storytelling. So I wasn’t feeling optimistic about Detective Comics #1025, even with Peter Tomasi as the writer and Kenneth Rocafort on art duties. Both are creators that I respect and admire, but since the material that they are forced to work with isn’t great, it remains to be seen how this issue will turn out. So, let’s have a look.
The main reason that I enjoy most of Tomasi’s comics is because he’s excellent at character work. He usually gets the characters’ voices right, understands their motivations, and constructs an intriguing narrative around them. However, none of these things are executed well in this comic.
Most of the characters are yelling, and their voices aren’t very distinct. If you would only read the dialogue without the art or any character names, it’d likely be hard to tell who’s talking. The dialogue is also somewhat clunky at times, especially when people start acting irrational toward one another. For example, Bullock and a few cops are pinned down by Joker goons, who are firing mortars at them. When Batwoman swoops in to assist them, she starts giving them orders. Some of the cops try to argue with her while the Joker goons are right there with their mortars. Later on, Batman and Batwoman have a pointless argument in the middle of their mission as well. Sure, these two aren’t exactly on good terms with each other, but when they are on the job, they should at least be focused and able to set aside their differences, no matter what happened in the (recent) past. These interactions just don’t add much to the respective scenes, but only serve to disrupt the pacing as well as clutter up the panels with hollow words.
This issue also lacks substantial character development and an intriguing narrative. In fact, this is entirely an action-driven story, filled with fight scenes and explosions, from cover to cover. The plot is very thin, as there is barely any plot progression to speak of. And while Batwoman’s appearance is most welcome, as I like that character a lot, she doesn’t have that much impact on the events in this issue if you think about it. She could be swapped out for any member of the Bat Family and the story wouldn’t change much.
Just as I don’t think this is Tomasi’s greatest work, I don’t think Rocafort is bringing his A-game, either. Granted, in the background of the first panel, he draws an awesome-looking Gotham City. It’s detailed and gothic and instantly recognizable as Gotham. However, later on in the book he draws the city from above, but this time it doesn’t have the same aesthetic as in the first panel. It’s like we’re looking at a different city altogether. Even though it’s still a good rendition of a city, it’s just not very consistent with the style and look that he established in the first panel.
Furthermore, there are a few panels where his characters’ faces and heads just look strange. It stands out to me because I’ve always enjoyed Rocafort’s character designs and renditions. This much inconsistency in the same issue is not what I expect from an artist like Rocafort.
Then there is this nitpick. At some point Batman and Batwoman drive an entire Bat-tank into an enemy base, and Rocafort draws these huge red beams that erupt from the tank’s cannon. The problem is that Tomasi writes that these are only concussive blasts that just knock enemies unconscious, but that’s not what the art conveys to me. These blasts completely destroy enemy equipment and machinery, and if those blasts are capable of doing that much damage, there is just no way that they merely knock someone out.
But I like the chaos and the fighting itself. It’s part of the reason why I do find entertainment in this book despite being critical of it. I just wish that it didn’t read and look like the creative team had to rush this. I wish that these creative teams had a little more time to polish their work before publication. I wish DC stopped interrupting good stories and making it seem like they only care about money as opposed to quality storytelling. Is that really too much to ask?
- You don’t care about story. You’re here for the fights!
- You like “Joker War” and want to collect all the tie-ins.
- You are a fan of Batwoman.
Overall: I enjoy this comic, but that doesn’t mean that I think it’s actually good. It feels very rushed, as if the creative team didn’t have enough time to polish their work. I just can’t recommend this comic in good conscience. This series was amazing when DC was letting Tomasi and his artists do their own thing, but the past few issues have been rough. Hopefully this will change in the near future…
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.