This month the action really picks up in Detective Comics as Batman races to deal with the attack on the Orgham family. The fun doesn’t stop there as old faces from this run show up again, in new and surprising ways.
I’m really enjoying this run of Detective Comics by Ram V. It’s ticking away at a solid, steady pace with each issue building off the last in a way that feels both satisfying and engaging. Every time I pick up an issue and start to read it, I’m delighted by the fact that so little of what happens goes to waste. Even the backups are starting to play a part in the main story!
Much like the previous issue this one feels segmented into large chunks. The focus shifts between the main players in this arc: Batman, the Orghams, the League, and Two Face. Though, Batman plays a lesser role in this issue. The real action is focused mostly on what’s going on in Gotham.
We’ll look at Batman first. Again, I have to praise V for his steadfast focus on featuring an aging Bruce Wayne. Batman is late to the opening fight. He’s late, he knows it, and he’s frustrated by it. It’s a great return to the opening issue where he found himself slower than expected. A few seconds off his estimate then turning into legitimately late to a huge fight now.
Not only do we see him late, we see him lose, in a way that fits with the narrative being told. With V building up the idea that something is wrong, it’s not too much of a surprise to see he’s miscalculated his own limits as he’s trying desperately to make it back to the surface of the harbor. Not only does he miscalculate, but Barbatos makes a stunning return, showing himself to be very much a demon of Bruce’s mind –at least for now.
This sequence is also beautifully done by Rafael Albuquerque. I feel like I’m always talking about his shots with Barbatos and for good reason! They’re just so gorgeous. His eye for detail everywhere else is also a delight, especially in aspects such as the Orgham’s outfits. But his Barbatos! As I mentioned, this one features the bat demon underwater reaching out to catch Bruce as he’s on his way up to the surface. Bruce’s desperation to make it up is juxtaposed by the dark depths Barbatos is in, giving the whole composition a really dynamic look. He’s also looming here, instead of huge and imposing, detailed more like a creature of the deeps with red eyes and sharp teeth.
It’s also nice to see the Orgham’s actually making moves in Gotham. Now that they’ve arrived they can stop plotting and start really acting, and we get quite a bit of that here. Yes, they’ve had people in Gotham before this issue but the group we’ve been following closely has only just arrived, and now that they have it feels like things can really start to shift. It’s made clear they too want events to move faster as they press for control over Arkham Asylum’s land almost immediately.
Two Face makes his return here, not only in the main story but in the backup as well. It feels like if the back ups keep feeling so deeply tied in with the main narrative I might have to start reviewing it all as a whole pretty soon. But for now we’ll focus on what we see of Harvey in the main story. He’s out of his gold mask and back to running the underground, but conflicted. This is not a Harvey who chose to do any of this, but is being pushed to–even if he’s faking it on the outside. I like his internal conflict here, and am eager to see more of it through the series.
Something else I’m enjoying about this run is the way it’s balancing characters. While Batman doesn’t play the biggest role in this issue, it doesn’t feel like he’s less a part of this arc than any other major player. V spends his time wisely, giving different characters more or less of the limelight in a way that feels really natural. We’re seeing who we need to see when as events develop, instead of focusing in on a single figure or two. For Detective Comics, which should be about the world of Batman, this feels really right.
That comes into play again as we get another happy surprise this issue: Jim Gordon returning, with his new friend from the previous backup in tow! I was genuinely surprised to see the kid he’d started working with in the backup here. While the backup he just had felt pretty self contained, it did also have ties to Gotham, but I wasn’t really expecting it to come into play immediately. Since Jim’s backup is in the last couple issues of this series, I’d suggest checking it (and the backup in this issue!) out if you’re like me and typically assume backups might not always play a vital role in the main story and didn’t already read it.
Jim also leads us off into a rather quiet ending to the issue, but in a story that’s already as compelling as this I don’t want or need a ton of cliffhangers to keep me coming back for more.
Two-Face in A Tale of Three Halves Backup
I’ve already suggested you check out this backup, and now I’m going to tell you why. It’s focused on Harvey himself dealing with his own internal struggle with whether or not he wants to reach out to Batman or not for help. Simon Spurrier is on script here, and sets the story in a dream of Harvey’s, as he comes face to face with the inner monster that is Two-Face. It’s a great bit of insight into Harvey’s own dilemma during this arc, and his side of the story.
The art is also amazing. If you’re a fan of unique art styles, this is certainly one to check out. Hayden Sherman tackles art with Nick Filardi on colors and together they create a really stunning dream sequence. From towering structures painted in a rainbow of colors to the dark, dismal underground where Harvey’s other half resides the landscape is alive and rich and wildly unique.
- A well balanced story is in your wheelhouse
- You like seeing many cogs in a tale start to turn
- Jim! And Harvey! Pick it up for these old favs.
As I mentioned at the start of this review, this series continues to really shine. It’s paced and structured in such a way that it keeps you interested with each character the narrative turns to, whether that’s Batman, or characters new to this run. No element once introduced feels wasted, even if it takes a little time to get back to it, V proves that time and again in this series, making careful attention to each issue worthwhile. Even the backups add to the main story, providing insight into other characters during the run and their own struggles. This is certainly a book I’d recommend picking up!
Overall score: 9/10
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.