Detective Comics #1033 review

This is the final issue of Tomasi’s Detective Comics run and, unfortunately, I am not too enthusiastic about it. Before I get into specifics, I just want to say upfront that I am a big fan of Tomasi’s work in general and that I think cutting his run short is a mistake. While this issue isn’t terrible and I certainly enjoyed aspects of it, I think this definitely isn’t as good as it could have been. So, without further ado, let’s have a look.

There are a few scenes in this issue that have potential. For example, Bruce’s inner monologue during the opening pages is heartfelt and all about how much Bruce cares about his son. Now, I expect to see some comments about how Bruce has been neglecting Damian for years, and while I agree that that is the case across several stories, I think what Tomasi writes here is in line with the work he did on Batman and Robin, especially seeing as the creative team is referencing events from that title. That said, I still think this monologue doesn’t quite cut it because Tomasi simply doesn’t have the room to develop it. Yes, he does follow up on it by having Bruce and Damian talk about their relationship as father and son later in the comic, but that conversation isn’t fully fleshed out, either. In real life, sometimes conversations like this one don’t get finished, and that can be tragic, but here I am not quite feeling the tragedy, nor the hope that Bruce may still have. With the limited space available, we rush through these moments, and when all is said and done I find myself just shrugging and moving on. These scenes aren’t bad, but they pale in comparison to the character work that Tomasi has delivered in the past.

Instead of a fleshed-out character sequence, we end up with a shallow portrayal of Hush, who I feel got shoehorned into this arc. His motivation is underdeveloped and therefore hard to buy into, and his appearance is entirely forgettable because his part of the story just doesn’t really go anywhere. There is an attempt at elevating Hush’s part to a higher level by referencing his and Bruce’s childhood friendship, but this never rises above being a collection of snapshots. Hush gets defeated much too fast and much too easily after a somewhat lackluster fight scene, and there is nothing in it that makes me care about him even remotely. I would’ve gladly traded in Hush for an extended character interaction between Bruce and Damian. As it stands, this book seems to want to be both a Bruce/Damian story and a Hush story, and while this type of dual storytelling can absolutely work, it just doesn’t here because there’s no room for it.

Zooming out, I think this entire final arc is somewhat problematic. At the beginning of the arc I said, “Tec is back on track,” because I genuinely think that those first chapters are solid. I love the detective-style issue with Nicola Scott on art, and I thoroughly enjoy how Tomasi has been building up the character of Nakano. However, Nakano’s story turns out to be setup for Tamaki and Mora’s upcoming run, and it remains to be seen whether that creative team’s take on the character is going to be consistent with Tomasi’s. Furthermore, the villain Mirror vanished without a trace, which is a loose end. Granted, Tamaki and Mora might pick up Mirror’s story, but who truly cares about that? The character has remained one-dimensional and uninteresting. Finally, the Bat Family is present but criminally underused, as they literally don’t do anything. They only exist here so they can be kidnapped by Hush and then saved by Batman and Damian. That is not how anyone should write those characters.

The art is rather hit or miss as well. We get cool splash pages, like the one where we see Batman and Damian crashing into Hush’s base, shown above, with the title card. There’s a lot of energy to this image that makes it a very dynamic start to the comic, which is great. Turning to the final two pages, there is a nice personal and emotional touch to the art on them, where we see Bruce returning to the Batcave to gather all the animals and paying respect to Alfred. This is all good stuff.

But we also have panels like the one on page 7 (at least, on Comixology it will be page 7, and you can see it above), where we see Bruce and Hush locked in combat. For some reason the faces of Bruce and Tommy’s younger selves are drawn on top of their masks. When I first opened my review copy, I honestly thought that it was a printing error, and it was only when I opened the issue again in Comixology that I realized that this is here by design. It just looks rather off-putting to me.

Despite my criticism, I don’t hate this issue at all. In fact, I’m glad that we get to see Bruce and Damian working together again. I like how they still operate as a team, setting aside their differences, in order to save their family from Hush. And, even though this final arc ended up as setup for Tamaki and Mora’s upcoming run, I think that Tomasi and Walker did a good job concluding the issue. While the story continues and not all plot points have been resolved, there is still a sense of closure as Bruce finally leaves the manor and delivers a heartfelt final line as he’s in the car with the animals, driving off into the distance. Batman is an ongoing saga that won’t truly end until DC stops publishing the books, so this type of open ending fits, and potentially provides a good jumping-off point for those who decide not to continue picking up Detective Comics when the next creative team takes over.

Recommended if…

  • You have been following Tomasi’s run from the beginning, or perhaps even from the start of Batman and Robin. Definitely get this final issue if that’s the case!
  • You want to see the Dynamic Duo in action, even if it’s just briefly.

Overall: This issue is not as good as it could have been. Both the writing and the art are hit or miss. But I don’t entirely blame the creative team for this comic’s shortcomings. Their run got cut short and they only had so much room to wrap up their storylines while simultaneously setting up someone else’s. As a single issue, I wouldn’t recommend this because it’s an average book at best, but as a conclusion to Tomasi’s run I think it’s worth picking up if you’ve been following since the start.

Score: 5.5/10

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