We’ve nearly reached the final showdown between Two-Face and Batman, but with the prelude to “Joker War” still developing, Detective Comics #1023 reveals Batman is in big trouble. This issue offers a tantalizing battle that fans of the bat-cop Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Batman story won’t want to miss, plus Court of Owls goodness!
This issue reads like a love letter to what Snyder and Capullo have done. It not only opens with Joker cracking open tombs of the Court of Owls, but has Batman face off against the blue robo-Batman suit Jim Gordon once wore. It’s an easy way to give a nod to recent Batman stories, and I suspect most fans will think it’s super cool.
Don’t worry, the fan service is awesome thanks to Brad Walker’s pencils and Andrew Hennessy’s inks. His style is in-your-face, dynamic, and truly unique. He’s one of the best in the business and I dare you to read this and not think so, too. Colors by Brad Anderson help nail Joker’s duds, the Court of Owls lair, and the robo-bat suit too. When Batman gets pummeled by the Batbot it’s intense as they rush right towards us, or when Walker draws us into a fight manage across the city the double page layout will have you linger for ages. This is one of the best-looking books out this week.
The story is just so-so. It’s all visually arresting and action-packed, but when you put this book down you’ll realize there isn’t a lot to it. Joker is given quite a bit of page time to ham it up, which is fun, but it also slows the pace down. The big action sequence between Batman and the Batbot is exciting as hell, but again, it runs on for so long it inhibits development in this issue. Between the opening and Batbot, action is a pointless pit stop that takes too long to move forward. It’s nice to see more conflict and other villains in the book, but it adds very little. You could argue it’s the detective part of Detective Comics, but ultimately, there is very little detective work here.
I also had trouble reading the lettering when Batbot is talking since the light pea green they used for the bubble doesn’t give the white text inside it much contrast. Rob Leigh’s letters elsewhere are great, with a lot of good emphasis and pace throughout (especially Joker’s scenes), but the green bubbles are unfortunate.
Detective Comics is one of the cleanest and most visually appealing comics on the stands today. Walker, Hennessy, and Anderson are delivering an action-heavy superhero book with a dynamic range that’s intense, gripping, and in-your-face good. The visuals deliver, and I recommend picking it up just to see them, even if the plotting runs on too slowly.