While in the whole of it all I consider Detective Comics the greatest comic book conceptualized to date, past and current, this particular issue also set forth to reach a benchmark quality by which comics are judged perfect in my opinion. As a writer and artist for the debut Tony Daniel was able to not only write a great story, but also visualize for us the image he envisioned for his dialogue and storyboard.
While I did not find the art exceptional, I found the story and the ability for the author to relay his mind’s eye more than overcompensated for a slight lack in artistry. I would take a strong story with marginal art any day over the inverse of great art and poor writing. This is not to say the art is poor, it is a mid-to-high 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. Daniel has a great artistry for background, structure and tones, but I found his faces, particularly the mouths rather flat.
Enough with the creative talk and onto the meat of the issue.
Detective, like Action, are set back from the standard timeline that the remaining 50 Comics currently reside. While it remains a mystery exactly what history remains intact it is clear that Batman is rather young and the purpose is to give a clear back history on the new timeline for the flagship titles. Mr. Daniel opens the story hard and fast with a face-off between Batman and his future nemesis ‘ole smiley. (I say future because of the early assumption in his career, they know one another but it is clear that they are still building a dossier on one another.) The Joker comes across as dark, evil and homicidal the only way he should be portrayed, I find it irritating when he is portrayed as mischievous and forgiving. A final clue to the timeline is GCPD, while always hot on his tail for apprehension they also do not trust him and he spends as much time-saving them as he does fighting off the Joker while still having time to share that wonderful back and forth that makes their battles always so memorable.
Always the plus of Detective is it has always focused more on the darker, more painful story than Batman Comics and by the closing panel Tony Daniel is cooking up noir with a side of ingenuity. The Joker’s plan runs deeper then perceived, no surprise. The closing scenes in Arkham leave us with a special treat… the most disturbing image I have yet to see in a mainstream comic book.
Batman is the large and all-encompassing aura, sort of like the Olive Garden of DC Comics, while Nightwing is simple and raw like a small mom and pop Italian whole-in-the-wall on Mott St… not tell me where you would rather eat? Primarily the reason I would probably pick Nightwing if I could only subscribe to only on comic.
The artwork is stellar and to the point. Eddy Barrows draws Nightwing just like it should be drawn, gloomy, grimy and dangerous. Metropolis is far to clean and safe for a superhero.
The debut opens well after Nightwing is trained, he never comments on Robin, but does reference living in the Mansion. He also mentions spending a year covering for Batman and glad to be back in his own threads. So it questions if the “Broken Bat,” Fugitive,” or “Death” could be a past story still inherited in the timeline. It will probably be explained as a sabbatical for Bruce Wayne in the end I am guessing. But it is hard to tell where it falls and what did or did not happen in only one issue and DC is being about as helpful as a politician in a non-election year.
Is Dick a cop? I think the timeline might be set earlier… but I could be so very wrong.
Is he in Bludhaven? It seems to imply he has a Gotham apartment, again I could be wrong, it happens.
The comic spends much of the time setting up a circus reunion between Dick and what might be “the one that got away,” and what might be the love that stands between them. My guess he turns out to be a bad guy in the coming issues.
So if the first issue of Detective Batman was a perfect 10 than judging against greatness, Batman Comics was a 7, and the only thing holding it back from also getting a 10 was it’s somewhat confusing nature.
Detective was a bit irritating only in the sense that you are unsure where batman is and what his history contains, but it is very early that much was clear. But Batman One was all over the place, Dick was Nightwing, Damien was Robin, Drake was Red Robin. Reference was made to the Teen Titans and we can almost assume Todd was killed. But what history is there intact? If it is all there then why reboot? DC you are killing me with your games.
A questionable reboot aside let’s just look at it as a book. It was solid and it ended with some great questions that I won’t spill.
The art was not as good as Detective, but the story (confusing nature aside) was a great introduction to a coming story arch that seems to be a fairly recent rehash with some new names attached, but always interesting none the less.
It is nice to see that what ever happened in the DCU that Batman’s dark humor is still intact in the new writer’s head. Batman sends Nightwing undercover to Arkham as an inmate and Bruce comments when questioned why he left him incarcerated longer than planned that he felt he had been working to hard and needed a vacation.
Only Bruce would consider an asylum a vacation from the norm. Solid book from a classic title.
Birds of Prey #1
BoP is that comic I always like but never enjoyed. In my opinion it was like Superman in the early-2000’s where they always focused too much on the romance and loveliness rather than superhero business. The relaunch shut me up, the gals in black are brutally tough and what I wanted to see in Gotham’s Charlie’s Angels.
The story bounces around between present and recent past events to bring us to where we are today. Veteran author Duane Swierczynski uses his novel skills to slow roll what will be a very good detective slash P.I. slash guardian angel type story. If you have seen the new drama Person of Interest this is just that only without the billionaire and ex-special forces op.
Sprinkled with humor and action, my favorite being the “nice to see you up and walking” line tossed Babs way Swierczynski had the most story oriented tale of the #1. Of all the books I was unfamiliar with, this one delivered to the highest quality, really looking forward to what they offer this title month to month.
Dark Knight #1
For me this book ranked at the near bottom of the pile of the Batman titles this month. Not to say the book was bad, but of the lot there has to be some you like less than others.
The story has a strong upside potential with the introduction of an Internal Affairs detective from Gotham P.D. looking into the possibility that Bruce Wayne is funding the Batman with the help of someone in the department. Following an all too often breakout at Arkham Batman comes face-to-face (no pun intended) with a familiar enemy who seems to have been getting visits at the asylum from his buddy Jose Canseco.
While I found the set up for the storyline strong with potential, I found the art style distracting at times. I expect that D.K. will be up near the top in future weeks.
Batman & Robin #1
If any Batman title is going to annoy me it will be this one. While I thought Damian was mildly entertaining as Robin when Dick Grayson wore the cowl. The situation created a reversal of roles where Batman (Grayson) was more laid back and humorous where Robin (Damian) was the dark and more stoic of the duo. While the Robin’s throughout history have been defiant and reckless, this incantation of the sidekick seems to be more of that fresh-mouthed child who talks back to their parents in the mall, at points even minimizing the value of life whether friend or foe.
The book was not much more than a long scene in combat displaying the relationship between father and son and teacher and student. Not a bad book, but I can’t believe I will say this… I miss Tim Drake.
Unfortunately someone has to finish last, and it wasn’t for lack of trying, Batwoman was a good read. So let’s use some horrible grammar and call this the least good book of a series of great books.
Now I have to be honest, I have never read a Batwoman comic before this issue, and it may have led to some of my confusion of the characters and history. While I had a hard time grasping the present and past, I think this will become more familiar after a few issues and more understandable after a second read-through.
What Batwoman lacked for me in story it made up for in layout and design. By far the most creative layout of the entire Gotham arc, the design team makes use of the haunting themes and bat imagery to bring the story to life in an amazing cell and page framing design. Even if you have no intention of reading the book you really owe it to yourself to thumb through the book in your local shop to eyeball what maybe some of the most innovative use of eye path and page designing I have ever seen.
Thanks for reading Update 1.1, more to come in Update 1.2 to include Batwing, Catwoman, Batgirl, Red Hood and the Outlaws… and more to come.
Follow me on Twitter @ObiWanCanubi