Tension is brewing on the streets of Gotham City. After a protest spearheaded by the Mirror erupts into violence, the entire Bat-Family finds themselves in the middle of a war between their supporters and the anti-vigilante movement. Will our heroes be able to deescalate the situation peacefully and finally convince their critics that they fight for Gotham?
“We don’t look for or want thanks…”
Bursting at the seams with exceptional character exploration, beautiful artwork, and an enthralling mystery, Detective Comics #1031 is an excellent entry into the series. Although all of this issue’s twists and reveals will leave you on the edge of your seat, Tomasi’s work with character exploration is the heart of this story. Gorgeously woven together with Bilquis Evely’s artwork and Mat Lopes’ colors, Detective Comics #1031 will leave you begging for more.
In the previous issue of Detective Comics, Tomasi’s nightmare sequence introduces us to the notion that Detective Nakano suffers from survivor’s guilt after his partner’s death in “The Joker War.” This serves as a great explanation as to why Chris would abhor assistance from masked vigilantes and make this part of his mayoral platform. Picking up shortly after the events of Detective Comics #1030, Tomasi once again uses the opening pages to explore Nakano’s character.
In this sequence, the Mirror confronts Chris Nakano, offering a flash drive that will deliver the election to the detective. Here we witness that Nakano is a man of honor as he states, “I have no interest in it being delivered to me.” In this moment, it is clear that the detective is not the same as his corrupt counterparts. Chris also remains true to convictions as he rhetorically asks, “Why would I stand side by side with someone who goes against my beliefs?” Nakano is unwavering in his call to action against masks, even though he and the Mirror may have the same goals.
Most importantly, Peter J. Tomasi makes sure that you know Nakano is no shlub. Although the Mirror attempts to entrap Chris into taking the flash drive, the detective wisely refuses to touch the device. As a result, Nakano eliminates the possibility of being implicated in any wrongdoing. Tomasi’s work here makes Nakano an honorable character that you can root for, even if you disagree with his stance on vigilantes.
One of the things that I love most about this issue is Tomasi’s ability to keep this conflict street level. All too often, we see Batman vying for Gotham City’s soul in a battle of fisticuffs with the Joker or any other member of his Rogue’s Gallery. With Detective Comics #1031, we are given numerous occasions of Batman interacting with the public.
Witnessing Batman take on street-level crime by breaking up a fight between two graffiti artists is a breath of fresh air. Tomasi handles the resolution to his dispute perfectly as Batman gruffly tells the boys, “I’m not breaking any heads. Go home and stop destroying public property.” It’s a testament to Batman’s power that the two boys listen and immediately head in opposite directions. Moments like this and his speech to the protestors show that Batman’s words can be just as powerful as his fists.
Unfortunately, Tomasi’s work with the Mirror in this Detective Comics #1031 falls short of the other characters. Throughout the storyline, this character had always stated that he would unmask when his work was done. Although you can never trust a villain’s word, this dialogue sets a certain expectation for the character’s behavior. As a result, his complete willingness to become a martyr for the cause during his first battle with Batman comes out of left field. Additionally, his desire to announce this plan to the enemy lessens his action’s impact. It’s a moment that feels out of character, but I have a sneaking suspicion that this is all due to Tomasi’s big reveal in this issue.
“When I was younger, forces beyond my control… forces that were allowed to grow and fester by corrupt institutions failed me. They destroyed my life. I put this mask on to prevent that from happening to others.”
Through Damien’s investigation of the black casebook, it is revealed that the officer investigating every murder attempt on the thirteen-year-old Bruce Wayne was actually a half-sister to the villain, Hush. Although this development is certainly interesting, it becomes instantly more captivating once Tomasi reveals that Hush has hidden sleeper agents among the pro-vigilante crowd at the protest. During the struggle, these agents incapacitate the rest of the Bat-Family, leaving Batman alone to diffuse the situation.
Peter J. Tomasi’s use of this twist as Detective Comics #1031’s cliffhanger has left me with a million questions that I can’t wait to have answered. Did the Mirror know that Hush had his agents hidden within the crowd? Evely draws similar features for both the Mirror and Hush. Are these similarities a visual cue that there is a connection between these two characters? Is the Hush the true mastermind behind the Mirror’s movement? I can’t wait to find out.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Bilquis Evely’s artwork and Mat Lopes’ colors. These two creators make an excellent team that expertly tells this story. Evely and Lopes perfectly capture the tone of each sequence. Some of my favorite panels throughout this entire story involve using the Mirror’s mask to frame other character’s facial features. This is executed perfectly and wonderfully encapsulates that the parallels between the characters.
Bursting at the seams with excellent character exploration, beautiful artwork, and an enthralling mystery, Detective Comics #1031 will leave you clamoring for more. Although the Mirror’s characterization falls short in his final moments, Tomasi’s character work is a highlight of this book. All of this narrative is beautifully woven together with Evely and Lopes’ work.
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