Detective Comics #1048 review

Another week, another chapter of the overpriced “Shadows of the Bat” event. Last week I started off my review of #1047 with a breakdown of the price point. It’s not something that I usually talk about in my reviews, but in this case I think it’s important to bring this to your attention. Here’s a quick reminder: if you were to purchase every single issue in this event, you will be spending at least $60.88, but it will likely get even more expensive than that if you factor in the 2021 annual, B covers and price markups at your LCS. And no. I’m not letting this go. This just reeks of corporate greed, and the quality isn’t even there to justify this sky-high paywall. Now…on to the review proper.

This issue has its fair share of problems, which start with the opening scene. We see Tobias Wear, years ago, as a young child, at the Gotham City Children’s Services. He’s sitting on a couch and he’s reading a magazine. The structure of the scene is okay: it provides us with some context for Wear’s character, albeit strictly surface level. But the main problem is that we see photographs of Batman and Bruce Wayne in the magazine that Young Wear is reading. This raises difficult questions: How many years ago does this flashback take place? How old is Wear in the present day? How old is Batman supposed to be in the present day? Bruce and Wear look to be about the same age in the present, so how can it be that, as a young child, Wear was looking at photographs of our hero, who doesn’t even appear to be any younger? Did not a single person that worked on this issue ask these questions? Is it just me? Has Bruce been snorting Lazarus powder in secret? Is he actually a vampire? Who knows?!

Moving on, Batwoman visits Arkham Tower, disguised as Dr. Lisa Frow, for a job interview. Wear is impressed with her (fake) credentials and completely neglects to run a check to see if these are even real at all. It seems to me that that should be standard procedure at Arkham Tower, which is arguably the most dangerous place in all of Gotham, because it’s located in the middle of the city and houses a lot of mass murderers, homicidal maniacs and terrorists. During the interview, Wear receives an urgent phone call, and he asks Kate to step outside of his office. The writer creates an opportunity for an interesting narrative turn here, but then immediately misses it because there’s no follow-up to this phone call. We follow Kate into the hallway, where she calls Oracle, but just as Oracle tries to ask Kate an important question, this is cut short when Wear comes out of his office to offer Kate a tour through Arkham Tower. In other words: the writer misses two opportunities to create intrigue or suspense on the very same page, and I’m left wondering what the point of this page even is.

What follows is the tour through the building. It’s a good idea to take readers on this tour so early in the story, because readers need to have at least some understanding of the tower’s layout and interiors if the majority of the story is to take place inside the building. However, nothing particularly interesting, narrative-wise, happens during this sequence. We just see Kate and Wear walking from room to room as Wear tells her about the facilities. The dialogue throughout is long-winded and dry, and there is no action besides watching characters walking around, which dramatically reduces the entertainment value of this comic.

During this tour, the writer continuously misses opportunities for interesting narrative turns or character moments. For example, Wear and Kate encounter Mr. Freeze. Wear asks Freeze if they can talk to him for a moment and ask him how he is feeling today. Freeze says that he’s fine and that he’s on his way to get an iced coffee, and he takes off, and that’s it. This could’ve been a moment where an inmate talks about how they experience Arkham Tower, so we get some insight into their point of view. This doesn’t even have to be a long scene! Even the bare minimum would have been appreciated, but this comic is giving us even less than that.

As for the art, Reis, Miki and Anderson are doing good work, as always. The inks are precise and detailed, and the colors are nicely layered and create a good sense of depth. Both inks and colors aid Reis’ excellent pencils in creating a colorful world that’s rich in background details and populated by well-designed characters. However, I can’t help but feel like this amazing art team is completely underused. Here are some of the greatest artists in the business, who always meet high standards in their work, and all the writer has them do is create scenes in which characters are either sitting down or just walking around, while talking the entire time. Yes, we get some cool static images of Batman fighting rogues and very brief flashbacks to villains armed with knives, but these are few and far between. Technically, the art is impressive, but the majority just isn’t very exciting to look at.

I’m also surprised that I don’t like how Reis draws Kate Kane in this issue, since I really loved how he rendered her in the previous one. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but my best way of explaining this is that Kate kind of looks old and young at the same time. In some panels it’s almost like she’s had plastic surgery or something. Either way, to me she looks different as compared to the previous issue, which means that it’s inconsistent. One more thing about Kate, I wonder why she’s wearing a red wig while posing as Lisa Frow. For her Batwoman costume, the red wig is cool and iconic. But for her Frow disguise, I don’t think a wig that’s the same color as her real hair is enough, seeing as Kate Kane is not exactly an anonymous person in Gotham. At the very least I would have liked to see a different wig color. As it stands, she’s barely disguised at all.

Then there’s the backup, which picks up where last week’s left off. I’ll keep this short. The art by Blanco and Bellaire is good, and particularly their Clayface rendition looks great. These artists are just fantastic. However, I don’t like that Bruce isn’t taking care of himself. He’s not eating, he’s barely sleeping, and he doesn’t care about his hygiene and injuries in the slightest. This is a horrible trend in Batman comics and it needs to stop. There’s absolutely nothing badass about this. All it does is turn Bruce into a total jerk and it sends a very negative message to readers. I would love to see a Bruce Wayne who does care about his own well-being because he understands that he needs to take care of himself in order to take care of others. And for God’s sake, let him thank Alfred for those sandwiches and munch on them for once!

Recommended if…

  • You can afford this very expensive series.
  • Reading a comic in which barely anything happens sounds fun.

Overall: The paywall’s high and the entertainment value low. There’s hardly a story here, and there is barely any character development other than very brief flashbacks to Wear’s past. Honestly, I don’t think this is worth the money. If you really want some cool Ivan Reis artwork, then I recommend picking up the Batman/Superman: The Archive of Worlds hardcover that just came out, which is one of the coolest comics that I’ve ever reviewed! But I can’t recommend Detective Comics #1048. I wish I could.

If you’ve come this far you’ve spend at least: $9.98 (or $15.97 with the annual).

Score: 3/10

(It would’ve been a 4, but I’ve taken away a full point due to the price.)

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