Announced back in January, Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert’s foray into the world of an older and wiser Batman kicks off today. It’s a story that takes Batman out of Gotham as he attempts to solve a mystery that heavily involves him. Without a bird-themed sidekick or Alfred, can Batman go it alone in unfamiliar territory?
The biggest draw for this series might be the idea of a globetrotting Batman. He’s practically 007 already, but now he has no excuse to not wear a sharp suit and do whatever it takes to take the bad guys out. The book opens with a terrorist attack on a plane by a bunch of people wearing white Batman cowls. They’re nearly thwarted by Beryl Hutchinson aka Knight, who is basically London’s version of Batman. It’s an attack that likely is meant to draw out Batman and it works.
This first issue utilizes some clever surprises, some tools in Batman’s toolbox, and the main premise you won’t see coming till the last page. It also does a good job establishing relationships Batman has to unfamiliar or underused characters, but makes them seem real and natural. It isn’t immediately obvious how old Batman is or how far into his career he is either, but you get the general idea that he’s not at the beginning of his career by any means. Much like Batman and his many toys, Tom Taylor is stuffing this book with clever surprises that liven up the book every few pages.
Andy Kubert is a legend at this point, so don’t expect him to slouch on this one. Backed up by Brad Anderson on colors and Clem Robins on letters, this book looks great and has a heavy weight on its shoulders. This is a Batman who doesn’t smile — he has no reason to, but he also isn’t stuck in a world of self-pity. His body is large and muscular and he’s ready for a fight like a boxer but also resilient with his cool-looking gizmos and costume.
There are many pages that you’ll find yourself lingering on. There’s a great page where Batman is walking away from his manor. The mansion is way too close to the city, but stylistically it works to establish how Bruce is moving on from his life. The city itself is uncharacteristic yet looms large and dramatically. How often have we seen it lit with so much red and yellow? It also has an interesting futuristic look which helps sell the fact that this is an older Batman in the future. Again, the visuals have a weight to them, from the heaviness of Batman’s coat to the city on the page below, which helps give the book a lived-in feel.
Tthis book lives up to its name, featuring Batman in true detective mode. That goes for the fight scene too as his edge is only because he’s planned for every contingency.
Even if you’re the type who thinks there are too many Batman books, I recommend giving Batman: The Detective a try. This is not only a very different Batman compared to the mainline books, but this first issue makes a strong case to justify the series’ existence. Batman: The Detective is an engaging new adventure for Batman that never lets up and never lets us forget the weight on his shoulders.
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