The Review 52: Detective Comics 1
Last week marked the start of the New 52, DC Comics’ universe wide reboot, with the launch of Justice League issue 1. Unfortunately I have been really busy with school and podcast (check out our first one here) stuff that I never got around to reviewing it. The long and short of it: Batman is Batman, Green Lantern refers to himself in the third-person, Superman’s kind of a dick and it is all pretty awesome, check it out. Since I missed that one, this week I will be reviewing all the New 52 to come out as I get my hands on them. We will also be covering all the new 52 to be released over the next in a feature we will be called The Review 52. So, without further, let’s talk about the goddamn Batman.
Detective Comics was one of the third and final publication released by DC Comics, then National Allied Publications, while the company founder Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson was still in charge. The series is best known for introducing the world to the motherfucking Batman who, in my humble opinion, is the hero everyone should want to be. Why? Because Batman, that’s why.
The issue follows the Batman as he tries to catch the Joker, who has been a very busy boy, and evade capture from the police. Apparently in the New 52 universe the mayor of Gotham is channeling J. Jonah Jameson as he has ordered the GCPD to take down the hooded menace that is the Batman. None of this is actually said, though, seeing as how the mayor is not in the issue. I just inferred this from what the cops say.
I really liked the story in this issue. There is a bit right at the beginning when the Joker is fighting (pretty competently, I might add) against this guy with a skin hat that leads us to believe that the Joker is working with someone. It gives a sense that he is part of something much bigger. Plus, anyone that can work with the Joker for any period of time and live for longer than it takes the Joker to shake their hand has got to be some kind of evil. Batman really has his work cut out for him this time around.
Now, let’s talk about the big man himself. Like before, he is more concerned about being Batman than he is about being Bruce Wayne. While out Batman-ing he missed a date with a girlfriend, and while that does faze him for a second he gets right back to Batman-ing with his awesome tech. Speaking of tech, he has a Ro-Bat…. Let that sink in. Ro-Bat. For all the grittiness and darkness that Tony Daniel put into this Bat, he still kept around some of the stupider tech that he had.
In terms of Batman-ing messing with his life, it kind of looks like Batman-ing is messing with his Batman-ing. When he crashes in on the Joker and he flees, Batman is so focused on catching the Joker that he almost misses a little girl who was hiding in a box. If he had been just a little faster, that girl would’ve died. I get the feeling that this may play into events later down the line. Batman is so focused on stopping the bad guys that he may inadvertently sacrifice innocent people to do it.
I really like the new Batsuit in this universe. It seems to take some inspiration from the Arkham Asylum suit, being in pieces and looking more like armor than spandex. His utility belt, though, seems to have come from the older iterations of the character. It’s just a belt with a whole bunch of small yellow boxes on it for holding shit, like the Ro-Bat.
The Joker as written by Daniel is one of the low points in the issue for me. As I said above, the Joker seems to be able to almost handle himself in a fight. When the Batman finally does catch up with the Joker, Joker manages to get a few good shots in on Batman rather than Batman just beat the holy hell out of him with no problem. The fighting style that Joker seems to use more traditional weapons than what we are used to. While he still does have stuff like the Joker toxin and the joy buzzer, he also seems to have a lot of knives. While fighting Batman he pulls, like, six knives out of his jacket and keeps trying to stab Batman. The whole Joker thing just seems like a gimmick rather than a personality. I prefer my Joker to be committed to the clown thing, rather than just a crazy guy with a face like a clown.
The art, also done by Tony Daniel, is really good. It is all very shadowy. In any panel a good section of Batman is covered in shadows, making for really great shots of him standing tall with the white eyes and it looks awesome. But one bad thing about the shadows is that it kind of makes it hard to see colors. During the Batman/Joker fight I couldn’t tell if the Joker’s suit was purple but covered in shadow or if he was just wearing a black suit. I know this may sound kind of petty, but I really can’t stand for the Joker to be wearing something that isn’t straight purple or at least funny like The Killing Joke.
Detective Comics issue 1 is great first issue to this series. It sets up a mystery, introduces some new characters and ends in a way the no one will see coming. Batman is still the fucking Batman, and while Joker isn’t my favorite kind of Joker he is good for what he is. Batman has a hard road ahead of him, and I cannot wait to see what happens next.
Final Score: 4.5/5