Tamaki’s run definitely has had some cool issues/moments, but the overall quality has been inconsistent. For every solid issue, we seem to be getting one where it almost feels like Tamaki’s just kind of winging it. I think Detective Comics #1046 is a good example. Let’s have a look.
Par for the course, Tamaki once more opens up the comic with random Gothamites saying random words about random things that they encounter in the city. Seriously, I can’t stress enough how this device is being underused by the writer! The Gothamites can provide some insightful commentary about how they think about certain events that took place or even about Batman, but I can’t recall one instance where this actually happened. It remains a big missed opportunity. In this issue specifically it’s even worse than before, because now we have Oracle and Stephanie repeating exactly what these random Gothamites just talked about. I think it would have been better to just start the story with Oracle and Stephanie and go from there.
But that’s not this issue’s only problem. I find the dialogue to be rather bland and at times boring because it can get cold and factual. We get forced jokes that don’t work (at least not for me); there’s hardly any life/personality to most of the dialogue (safe for Deb Donovan, her lines tend to be well-written); and at times it feels like characters are saying things for the sake of saying things. There’s also a moment where Stephanie is trying to help someone who got stabbed in the leg, and the victim asks her if he should pull out the object he was stabbed with or leave it until he gets to the hospital. Stephanie replies, in a joking manner, that she can never remember that kind of stuff. You’d think that these Bat vigilantes would have gone through some basic field medical training now that they’re all working together, but apparently forced comedy is preferred to making our heroes look cool and competent nowadays.
My final critique about the writing for today is that this entire issue feels very scatterbrain. There is a lot going on, but nothing really gets fleshed out or goes anywhere at all. This comic is trying to be a superhero comic, a mystery, a setup for “Shadows of the Bat,” a character drama, and a kind of team book all at once, but as it’s not committing to any of these concepts, all of it falls flat. For example, a scene that shows us Nakano at his house, dealing with family drama, could be interesting, except the writer does exactly nothing with it beyond a very brief introduction. Another example is that this issue starts with a villain that—for no specific reason—has killed a whole bunch of people and now she has to be stopped, but this plot beat gets interrupted and cut short because there has to be time for Batwoman and Oracle to dig into a mystery, which also doesn’t get off the ground. It’s like we’re constantly being thrown into different stories and none of them speak to each other or run parallel. There’s too much going on and there are too few pages and, honestly, I don’t feel like I learned anything new here that I think is going to be super relevant for “Shadows of the Bat,” either.
The art is good, though, but that’s kind of a given with Mora and Bellaire. I especially love a sequence early on in the book, where Stephanie has to try to catch this psycho-killer. There’s a great page during this sequence that depicts a red car. This image is sliced into three panels, and we see how Stephanie jumps over the car to avoid getting run over. The simplicity of the layout enhances the dynamic energy and it just looks damn cool, even if it’s probably a bit much for someone without any superpowers to pull off this feat.
However, I’m pretty sure that this is Mora’s last issue for this run. Yes, he’ll appear in Detective Comics #1050 alongside Mark Waid, but that is to promote their upcoming ongoing series Batman/Superman: World’s Finest, and I imagine Mora is going to be focusing on that book primarily. This could be a good jumping-off point for those who’ve been picking up this series purely for Mora’s art. It’s a good jumping-off point for everyone else as well, since “Shadows of the Bat” is going to be insanely expensive (over $60!), but more on that in next week’s review!
The backup, by Phillips and Lapham, isn’t doing it for me, either. I haven’t been really onboard with this story to begin with, but now, for its finale, it’s just rehashing ideas about Arkham Tower that we’ve already explored in the Detective Comics 2021 Annual and several other Batman titles. The art is serviceable, but nothing to write home about, either. Ultimately, this is yet another backup feature that ends up being nothing but an ad for another story. I’m getting really tired of this.
- You want Dan Mora’s full Detective Comics run—this seems to be his last issue.
- You want to see lots of Bat Fam members in the same issue, drawn by Mora and Bellaire.
Overall: I don’t want to be this negative, but I can’t recommend this comic in good conscience. It’s trying too hard to be too many things at once and as a result nothing really works. This is another setup for “Shadows of the Bat” at best. At least you get to see many Bat Family members in one issue, though. That’s still pretty cool.
Disclaimer: DC Comics provided Batman News with an advance copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.