There are two sides to Detective Comics #1039. One involves the menacing Hue Vile — #1039 spends time unpacking the journey that his tentacles and teeth have gone through, while also revealing just how far he’s willing to go to sow chaos. The other half is the giant presence of Roland Worth, a loud, vengeful brute determined to get his revenge.
And it’s Worth’s half of the story that feels like an overstayed welcome, a weight that’s blurring the brevity of what made Tamaki’s run on Detective Comics so special to begin with.
Detective Comics #1039 is still an intriguing story. It’s refreshing to see the Dark Knight being pressed to such new limitations, and the inclusion of the Huntress makes the series feel wholly new. Tamaki and Mora proved their finesse for Batman in Future State: Dark Detective and that they’re a creative duo worth following.
But Batman ironically said it best himself: “I’m getting a little sick of fighting this battle with you, Worth.” While Worth has run a bit too long with nothing worthwhile to add in his character development, you can appreciate the action that Tamaki is trying to bring into the series, against the detective focus of prior issues. This adrenaline is obviously being fueled from other directions, like Vile’s poisonous plague in the shadows and Lady Clayface.
But thankfully, it seems Worth’s presence will be quiet for now after his last encounter with Batman. And it’s not only Worth’s side of the story that’s looking to take a quick break, but Vile’s too as his disappearance could only spell more drama across Gotham. And after an intense exchange with the Huntress and Vile’s intriguing opening in this issue, his welcome would be far more appreciated than Worth bashing back into the fold.
Bellaire continues to do fantastic work in this issue with explosive coloring across bright orange chaos, brown smoke and poisonous greens alluding to Vile’s influence across the ensuing chaos. Bogdanovic’s art is fine as a standard style, but there were some scenes where it lacked clear detail, particularly when characters are looking to the side with missing pupils; the dead eye appearance is a little jarring. But Bogdanovic does an excellent job capturing Vile’s plaguing and creepy persona.
The Life & Times of Hue Vile: T. Rex explores Vile’s character further in the backup story, with a grittier and edgier tone throughout the art and Vile’s monologue. It’s a truly horrific montage of Vile’s development as a young boy to the sinister, violent villain he is today. But it also solidifies his identity in ways that if Worth had the same treatment, he’d feel more of an important figure in the overarching plot. Vile is perhaps one of the most engaging characters to unfold in Detective Comics, and how his role continues to influence Gotham is still a plot worth paying attention to if executed well.
While the action tries to reach a roaring climax, it ultimately lands a tired blow after a run with Worth that’s worn out. There is still a lot of potential in Detective Comics with further developments behind Vile, the Huntress and how Batman responds to the chaos unleashed, but the pace will have to pick up quickly before the series loses its spark.
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