Peter Tomasi’s Detective Comics run has been a lot of fun, for the most part. The quality dipped when that “Joker War” nonsense blatantly interrupted Tomasi’s story. Now that “Joker War” is behind us, I’m crossing my fingers that Tomasi can just do his own thing again, as that is what made his run so great at the start. Let’s have a look!
Even though the premise of this new arc stems from “Joker War” (an event that I profoundly dislike), it seems that, at least for now, Detective Comics no longer needs to tie in to an event that I never asked for, and I find myself having fun with this book again.
There is an emphasis on detective work here, which is always welcome. Granted, the detective work could have been more intricate, because what it boils down to now is that Batman visits a few crime scenes, examines a few dead bodies, and a few pages later he has tracked down and apprehended the killer. Of course more than that happens in this book, but that’s the gist of it. I would’ve liked to see more of the detective work. I would’ve liked a more in-depth look at how Batman figures out the identity of the killer, and how he tracks him down. But the fact that there is any detective work at all, including a scene where Batman sneaks into the GCPD evidence room, is a good start. My criticism isn’t about Tomasi’s approach to writing detective work, but rather about the length of this story.
It’s a one-shot adventure that stands on its own, one that you can read by itself and enjoy for what it is. At the same time, it sets up the arc that will kick off in the next issue. In that sense, Tomasi is being very economical with his writing. Yet, at the same time, there are moments and scenes that feel rushed, like the detective stuff I mentioned. Had this been a two-parter rather than a one-shot, this story would have breathed more. There would’ve been more room to develop the killer as a character. There would’ve been time to actually show us what happened to the killer’s father, rather than just telling it via exposition. The detective work could have been more elaborate, allowing us to think along with Batman as he goes about his investigation, trying to come up with the solution before he does. What makes detective stories fun in particular is that very interactive component—without it, it’s just a series of snapshots of the detective in various locations, picking up various pieces of information. Furthermore, it doesn’t help that the killer in this issue actually unmasks himself and starts explaining his motivation to his final victim, instead of Batman apprehending the killer and being the one to unmask him. Not only would something like that have given Batman more agency, but it would also have allowed the audience to truly experience these events through Batman’s eyes.
That said, this is the kind of stuff that I want from Detective Comics! Smaller scale stories that are driven by mystery and detective work, which fit easily into one or two issues. Detective Comics #1028 may not pull this off perfectly, but it’s definitely a fun step in the right direction.
Scott’s artwork, along with Mulvihill’s colors, is absolutely beautiful. Scott has been one of my favorite artists since I discovered her in the pages of Earth-2, during the New 52. Rather than drawing a hulking figure in a batsuit, she renders a lean and able Bruce Wayne, one who can be light on his feet but still overpower someone in a fight. Someone who can be stealthy and also swing across Gotham. This is how I prefer my Batman to look, as it’s more realistic and believable than when he looks like a big brute.
The art looks very polished in this issue. From the noir-Gothic atmosphere to the big buildings, and from the expressions on people’s faces to the way they interact with other characters. The shadows and colors blend easily, and Mulvihill’s work fits Scott’s pencils and the tone of this story so well that I wish this art team would show up more often in the pages of Detective Comics. The layouts are clean and the sequential element—especially during the chase scene toward the end—is crisp. Out of all the artists that have been featured during Tomasi’s run so far, the team of Scott and Mulvihill has to be my favorite. Seriously, they’re amazing.
- You want a smaller-scale story in which the World’s Greatest Detective is actually detecting.
- You’re a fan of Scott and/or Mulvihill.
Overall: Although this story could’ve been developed more, the pacing could have been slower, and the detective work could have been more intricate, I welcome the return of detective work with open arms. I enjoy this issue a lot, despite some of its flaws, and I marvel at the artwork. Hopefully we’ll get more content like this in the near future, with more room to develop these concepts and characters. But it’s safe to say that Tomasi, Scott and Mulvihill just get it—this is my Batman. Recommended!
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.