And here’s another chapter of “Shadows of the Bat,” the 12-issue weekly event running through Detective Comics. So far barely anything has happened in the story and it’s been a real chore keeping up with this. To make things worse, DC is also charging a lot of money for this series—if you were to buy every single issue of this event you’d end up spending at least $60.88. Please see my brief breakdown of the price point in the intro of my Detective Comics #1047 review for more information. Anyway, this book is bad, the price point is ridiculous, and I strongly recommend staying away from this. Let’s take a look at #1052…
The main reason why this book has been so bad is that it feels like almost nothing is happening. This issue opens with a flashback to “A Long Time Ago,” which shows us how Batman once saved Dr. Meridian. There’s some action here, but I don’t really care about any of it. We’re into the sixth chapter of “Shadows of the Bat,” and rather than focusing on forward momentum and plot progression, we are still doing flashbacks. If the writer or editor feels that it’s really important to establish that Batman and Meridian have known each other for a long time, then that should have been set up prior to the start of “Shadows of the Bat.” It’s too late for these detours now. Please get on with the story, for the love of Gotham!
But it gets worse. Pages 1 all the way through 6 are wasted (and that’s a lot of pages that could have been put to good use!). Instead of carrying on from last issue’s cliffhanger, where all hell is breaking loose and the inmates are all fighting each other in the mess hall, we go back to moments before all the chaos ensues. We see Helena and Meridian talking for a bit, but their dialogue is pretty much inconsequential. In fact, nothing that happens on these pages really matters. This comic could have simply opened with a terrified Meridian trying to hide from all the crazy inmates in her office and we wouldn’t have missed a thing.
I was hoping that the story would pick up after these 6 pages, but who am I kidding? For the most part, our heroes are only standing around and talking again. Batwoman and the Batgirls do kick some ass when they find a bunch of Party Crashers, and it might seem like there is a tiny bit of plot progression there, but there really isn’t. All that they accomplish in this action scene is uncovering a shipment of Numb, the drug that’s being pushed through Arkham Tower, but they already knew that that was happening. Besides, their entire investigation isn’t interesting anymore because we, the readers, already know what’s going on with Wear, Psycho Pirate and the Arkham Tower operation. Seeing our heroes stumble along and constantly not figuring things out is getting incredibly frustrating.
As for the art, it’s rather inconsistent. I do appreciate some of the detailed backgrounds, and the action scenes are dynamic, but at the same time there are a lot of empty backgrounds too. The fight scenes can also be cluttered, which interrupts the flow a little bit. Furthermore, it’s quite distracting how, for example, facial structures are changing from panel to panel. I’m not a fan of the coloring, either. It makes the comic’s visuals look kind of flat instead of adding depth. With all due respect, the art looks rushed, and it’s a far cry from the quality that Reis, Miki and Anderson brought to this story.
While “Shadows of the Bat” is on a downward spiral, “House of Gotham” only seems to be getting better. It’s always awkward when the backup feature is better than the main story, but that’s exactly what’s going on here. Blanco and Bellaire are firing on all cylinders once again, drawing an amazing sequential adventure with lots of great action and fantastic, rich colors. Rosenberg’s writing is also clearly improving. I wasn’t on board earlier in this story, but I certainly am now. I’m still not entirely sure what our unnamed protagonist is all about and what motivates him exactly, but that, too, is finally starting to take shape here. We see him standing up for himself more and taking actions that have direct consequences for him, for better or for worse. We also see character dynamics between our protagonist and others getting fleshed out, which means that the story is gaining more depth and becoming more interesting. I have no idea where this is going yet, but I’m intrigued, and I’m really enjoying this now. It’s a shame that it’s overshadowed by the main event and that it’s not its own book. Hopefully this will be compiled in a standalone trade at some point so people can read this without having to put up with the non-story that’s taking up most of the page count in these single issues.
- You are a fan of “House of Gotham.”
- You are a fan of Rosenberg, Blanco and/or Bellaire.
Overall: Seriously. Don’t bother with this. The only good content in this issue is “House of Gotham,” but I don’t think it’s worth paying all this money just for the backup story. You deserve better, and there certainly are much better (and cheaper) comics on stands this week.
If you’ve come this far you’ve spent at least: $30.94 (or $36.93 with the 2021 Annual).
(It would’ve been a 3.5, but I’m taking 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.