A new arc starts in this issue, and it’s a great jumping-on point for new readers. All you need to know is that Bruce is broke and that a former police officer by the name of Nakano is running for mayor, while also campaigning against vigilantes in Gotham. That’s right. He wants to get rid of Batman and the rest of the family. So, let’s not waste any more time and jump right in!

Detective Comics is back on track! Although I still enjoyed the “Joker War” tie-ins, I hated the main “Joker War” storyline and thought those tie-ins were not exactly the strongest Detective issues so far. And while last month’s issue was a great deal of fun, it did have its flaws. But #1029 is where it’s at, folks. I love this comic.

What this issue does really well is balancing character work, intrigue and action. It opens with the introduction of The Mirror, a new villain who is against vigilantism but may or may not be in league with Nakano. This introduction reveals just enough about the character’s motivation and goal to make him an intriguing character. After this introduction we get a sentimental character moment with Bruce as he’s packing old family photos. This stuff isn’t overcooked and the scene doesn’t go on too long—in fact, it is a very realistic scene that humanizes Bruce, making him all the more relatable. At the end of the scene Bruce decides that he needs some distraction and goes out as Batman, and what follows is a fun action sequence that feels cinematic in scope, but, more importantly, shows us within the pages of this comic why Bruce can’t operate as Batman all the time and actually requires his Bruce Wayne persona to continue this mission. Here, Tomasi could have relied on a quick reference to the previous issue or to the main Batman title, so the fact that he went the extra mile to illustrate this aspect with a cool Batman scene is definitely appreciated.

What I’m getting at is that these different sequences all flow into each other and organically push the narrative forward. It’s so smoothly executed that Tomasi and Rocafort make this look easy. It speaks to the grasp that they have on this story. The creative team knows exactly where they need to take the narrative and how to get there, and this kind of high quality storytelling feels like a breath of fresh air after the mess that was “Joker War.”

But not only is this a comic filled with twists and turns, it’s also very detailed. The creative team takes the time to establish a world around Batman. This might sound kind of obvious but, to be honest, what I feel is missing from a lot of recent publications is a strong sense of place. Oftentimes Gotham just feels empty, especially when heroes and villains duke it out in locations where we don’t see any civilians at all. Tomasi and Rocafort’s Gotham feels lived-in. Granted, the civilians that we see mostly just linger in the background, but we hear them shouting things at Batman, like, “We love you Batman!” and “Unmask, unmask!” Just like that, Tomasi presents different views on the vigilante situation in Gotham, which is then illustrated beautifully by Rocafort, as each and every character that he draws has a unique face, a unique outfit, and a unique kind of body language.

Speaking of Rocafort, he draws a powerful, dynamic sequence during which Batman is after a bunch of bank robbers. We see Batman leaping, swinging and taking control of the situation. The compositions that Rocafort comes up with, along with the layouts and the sequence of panels, is just a masterclass in visual storytelling. Whether or not Rocafort’s aesthetic is your cup of tea, the man’s artistic prowess is undeniable. The action scene might be rather chaotic, but the decisions that go into creating these pages for our entertainment are calculated and precise, and so it is a controlled chaos. Tomasi and Rocafort make a great team together, and I’d love to see them work together more often.

Recommended if…

  • You love strong sequential art throughout your entire issue, whether it’s a quiet moment or a big action scene.
  • You are looking for a jumping-on point.
  • You need a palette cleanser after “Joker War.”
  • You like your comics detailed and tight.

Overall: This is a strong setup for this new arc. We have a mystery, we have two antagonists, and we have a new status quo in Gotham City. If you have been wanting to read Detective Comics, now is your chance to join in on the fun. Rocafort delivers outstanding comic book art, and Tomasi pens a strong script for Rocafort to work with. This is a meticulously crafted comic. Recommended!

Score: 9/10

Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.