Detective Comics #1062 is the opening act of Ram V’s time on the book. Promising operatic darkness, and a new enticing mystery this arc –and run– is sure to be an interesting one. I’m delighted to get a chance to review it, as Ram V is one of my favorite writers at DC right now. His work on Justice League: Dark was great, and only paved the way for my excitement seeing him take on Detective Comics.
This first issue does an excellent job setting the stage for Ram V’s first arc. It carries a very specific tone throughout, and leans closely to the promise that Ram V is presenting a Gotham opera featuring Batman. After hearing that and seeing some of the stunning preview art and covers for this title I kept internally calling this arc: Batman of the Opera and that feeling is something you definitely get from page one. Not only does Bruce Wayne no-show for his seat at Gotham’s showing of L’auriga but the book’s overall feeling matches the tone, from it’s title page to the narration running through it. Even characters introduced later on both have designs of what you might find in an opera, and personalities befitting the medium.
The issue wastes no time in setting up the plot going forward by quickly dropping readers and Batman into the mystery he’ll be investigating. While Batman is taking down some thugs smuggling artifacts, he runs into Bruno Maroni, and the man changes from just a guy into a zombie/monster version of himself, green ooze dripping from his mouth and everything. Add to that Talia showing up to give cryptic warnings, and Bruce finding odd artifacts and you’ve got quite the recipe for an intriguing investigation.
Beside that, we get some hints of who or what might be behind the strange transformation as Ram V introduces a few new characters, whose design and setting clearly follow the whole opera theme: the Orgham family. They’re tied to the artifacts that were being smuggled, and seem to have some deeper roots in Gotham that I’m excited to see explored over the next few issues. With their introduction, the stage feels set to push forward into more momentum next issue.
Speaking of designs, the designs in this issue are wonderful. Rafael Albuquerque does a great job both in creating characters and and generally setting a tone that matches the writing. His monstrous younger Maroni and the enigmatic Orgham family both look the part. Maroni in looking gruesome and unnerving, and the Orgham’s in both setting and design. The whole scene with them transported me back to the last time I watched an opera, Mozart’s Magic Flute. Only instead of a brighter wondrous feeling, this had darker omens across the whole thing.
In addition to introducing the mystery, the issue also gives readers a look at the kind of Batman we’re likely to see from V going forward. He is a Batman that is calculating, meticulous, and even while soloing a case willing to reach out to the greater Batfamily for the occasional moment of help.
There’s two elements of his Bruce/Batman characterization I want to lock onto right now. The first is that Ram V seems to be writing a Bruce who is a bit more tired and aged than he wants to let on. He’s aging and getting just a little slower at being Batman. We get this from the opening scenes where he’s dealing with some thugs down at the docks and takes them down in 22 seconds instead of the 18 he’d estimated. Talia reiterates this fact a few pages later. And while neither are huge shining shows that he’s slowing down, it is an indication that something is off.
The second element is the comfortable banter we see between him and Nightwing when he calls to check in with him regarding the weird transformation that occurred in Maroni’s nephew earlier in the night. The two talk mostly about their work, but there’s some playfulness between them too. It’s a short scene, but in it you can feel the closeness between Batman and Nightwing. Added to that, we get to see a panel of icons indicating he’s got more than just Nightwing on speed dial in the cave, which promises that this Batman isn’t a total loner.
The book doesn’t push itself much farther than introducing the characters, mystery, and a few key elements to both. However, it does leave off on an unsettling nightmare that gives me vibes of some of the older Batman tales I’ve read. Added to that, Albuquerque’s second to last page is absolutely stunning, leaving readers with quite the impression of the story to come.
Jim Gordon in: The Coda
This backup is the first of three parts penned by Simon Spurrier with Dani on art. It both stands on it’s own, giving readers enough details to understand Jim’s place in the narrative, and acts as a –well coda to his part in The Joker.
It features a Jim Gordon who has been back in Gotham a couple weeks and is still trying to find his place post his world wide hunt for Joker. He’s floundering and a bit lost, and more than happy to take a missing person’s job offered to him that sends him right back into Arkham investigating. The narration has a distinctly noir tone to it that I don’t mind, and this part really just introduces you to the main players and plot to be explored further. Overall it does a solid job hooking in readers and giving us the first part of this larger story.
- You like your Batman with a dose of spooky
- Thematic stories are something you like
- It’s dark, it’s haunting, it’s full of opera, you gotta pick it up
In general, I found this issue to be both a great introduction to this new arc of Detective Comics, and Ram V’s own take on Batman. You can feel the exact tone he’s going for in its pages, one of mystery and darkness, all woven together in the style of an opera. It’s dark, and haunting, and a fascinating read that leaves me excited for whatever is coming next.
Overall Score: 8/10
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.