For years Detective Comics was always my go-to Batman title. I am not sure why it was my love, maybe it was the usually present side story which focused on the deeper story of a side character, or that it was the more noir title of the Batman Family focusing on the “detective” side of the Dark Knight.
The first issue stayed true to the role of quality you would expect from their flagship Bat title. The Dollmaker story was dark, mysterious and full of curiosity.
- Who was the new criminal?
- Is Gorgon dead?
- Why and how did he take Joker’s face?
- Is the Joker hiding behind a new face?
Like a good Batman story they answered what they had to and left more out there for our curiosity to build and develop. Unfortunately our curiosity built over two very poor follow-up stories that really did the Detective Comic title an injustice. The Casino/Penguin story to the mismatched timeline jump to the Owls and then the return to timeline disaster of the Poison Gas character who was a blatant rip off of the Joker’s Red Hood character. A story that just made to feel like it was intended for one of the less quality Bat titles like Legends of the Dark Knight or Shadows of the Bat. A place where poorly written Batman tales went to die, but made a few bucks on the way out. Now they seem to have slipped through quality control and made it into the premiere title.
While there was a lull in the action so to speak, the side stories were exceptionally good for the most part, I most enjoyed the Eli Strange introduction and then the special Issue 0 really gave that core Batman lesson that you are treated to every once a year that gives you a glimpse into his character and really lets you experience how deep and damaged Bruce Wayne is and what makes it possible for him to be The Batman.
With the wealth of great Batman villains it pains me that they wasted so much time with such poorly written stories and the use of some second-rate
talent bad guys. Why not kick off the comic with a bang? While I did enjoy the Dollmaker the story was not so much about him as it was the hunt and pursuit of the truth. Following the Dollmaker conclusion they continued with the Charlotte Rivers love line and made her a major player in the “Casino” story. While they did bring in a major villain in Penguin he really was in the background behind a cast of disposable mutants like Hypnotic and the Invisible Man. With this being a relaunch it really was far too early to be using a 3-4 issue arc on no-names. We don’t need the Joker or Two-Face, but at least use Mad Hatter or even Deadshot.
The segue story with the Scarecrow was the only bright spot before again dimming to return to the Gas Man arc from the previous tales. The 12 issue run is dark, some of the most graphic and brutal Batman I have seen since beginning to ready Batman with Frank Miller’s Year One in the mid-80s. The level of horror in Gotham rivals the danger in The Walking Dead, DC has clearly made this the city you question why people continue to live in its limits.
With Year Two on the horizon and the return of the Joker planned for lucky issue 13 we should see a strong return to quality.