When I first applied to write reviews for this site I wrote a practice review for Detective Comics and sent it in, with the hope that I could simply join the team. And now at last, I’m lucky enough to be given the opportunity to properly review the title itself. I am so excited to jump in and get started. I can’t think of a better time to get started than with Tamaki’s first issue post Shadows of the Bat and a Riddler story.
In this issue we quickly learn that Riddler has taken to the airwaves to share his riddles over what he calls a pirate radio station, but also seems to be a live video stream. He’s been talking and giving riddles over the air for weeks according to Batman, and hasn’t made any overt moves. Not that it’s stopping him from causing chaos. The issue is filled with the mystery of seemingly normal people acting out and committing crimes, many of them associated with a riddle Riddler has asked over the air.
It’s very much a set up issue, designed to lay out all the pieces of this new puzzle: Riddler, the civilian criminals, Judge Donovan, and Batman himself. Batman and these riddles are the center of the mystery, but it feels like there’s a lot more going on than just the two of them. Especially as we learn more about the courtroom bombing that opened up the issue, and meet with more and more characters committing crimes.There are many clues and riddles to dig into, and a lot of readers might be trying to figure them out but for me I’m happy to enjoy the ride for now. I’m excited to engage with this mystery and watch it unfold as Batman and Bruce investigate. It’s how I like to read Riddler tales, and an approach I think will work well since it’s still early in this arc and we don’t have a lot of information yet.
Because there’s so much going on we get to see both Bruce and Batman doing some investigating here, and this dual use of both sides of the character was one of my favorite aspects of the issue. Tamaki and Shammas utilize both Bruce and Batman in the book to tackle different parts of the investigation. I always like to see writers using the character like this because it opens up avenues to Bruce that Batman might have. For instance here, he’s familiar with Judge Donoven’s mother, and can learn information by taking a more personal route rather than scaring someone or digging into their digital life. And in this particular arc, where it looks like many of the criminals/victims are refusing to speak to the police or Batman, it’s a good way to get information in a way that’s safe for him and the people he’s talking to.
I also really like the way Ivan Reis draws Bruce both as Bruce and as Batman. He gives him a very warm look that fits Bruce as a handsome unassuming character with a lot of history. His Batman also looks really solid, he creates some great moments of movement and action with him, like the scene where he’s bursting onto the scene I shared earlier, or his discovery of the extra bomb in the courthouse. Reis‘ style fits both the mundane of this issue and the more exciting moments.
What I wasn’t a big fan of was Riddler’s design. He’s supposed to be a social media influencer, who is streaming live to his audience, and with that comes a visual aspect. However here, he’s sporting a curled mustache, goatee, and fingerless gloves giving him less of a polished look and and more one that just feels messy. Perhaps this was the intention of the creative team, but to me the look doesn’t scream influencer, at least not in the traditional sense.
With the wrap up of the issue, I find myself excited to see where it’s going. Again, this is an issue that sets up a number of pieces and characters to carry this new mystery and arc. Still, it creates an intriguing enough mystery that I’ve found myself curious for answers. For me, it was a great jumping on point to Tamaki’s work on Detective Comics, and I am excited to see more.
Gotham Girl Backup
The backup this month is the start of a story featuring Gotham Girl. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Claire in a comic, so it’s good to see she hasn’t disappeared completely. I’ve never really known where I stand on Gotham Girl as a character. She’s certainly got a lot of layers to her for as new a character as she is, but I never found myself really connecting with her. This backup however, shines a new light on her, while respecting everything she’s gone through in the past. As a high school student, and fresh graduate of Arkham Tower Sina Grace gives her problems that are both very real to an awkward teenager, and to a dysfunctional and hurt superhero. I’m excited to see where this backup takes her. I think it’s a great jumping on point for new readers of the character, and old fans alike.
- You’ve been looking for a new mystery
- Riddler stories are your thing
- Social media woven into a plot is something you like
Between introducing the Riddler again, crime done through the use of social media, and the mystery of why civilians are suddenly committing crimes this is a busy, but interesting start to a new arc. Tamaki is building a mystery here that could be genuinely interesting while also utilizing social media in a way that feels like it could work both with Riddler and in the world of DC comics. If you’re looking for a good place to hop back into Detective Comics after Shadows of the Bat, this is a nice place to start.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.