Batman is in loads of trouble in Detective Comics #1042 — so much so that he’s no longer in control of himself. Mariko Tamaki wraps up “The Jury” this week after continuing to carve out a unique take on Batman. Joined by Victor Bogdanovic, the A story in this issue is all about action and whether or not Batman will break his one rule.
Opening with said A story, Tamaki puts Batman in a very dangerous place, but as Rorschach once said, he’s not locked in with them, they’re locked in with him. Batman is being controlled by a parasite, which looks gnarly as heck as if he’s a Cthulu beast. The story plays out with major confrontations, a moment for Huntress to shine, and some self-reflection on how Batman could hold back the thing inside him. It’s a so-so conclusion that is more about the visual action than tough choices.
Bogdanovic’s lines are sharp and his rendition of Batman is haunting. His Penguin is also excellent though he’s limited in the story. There’s some cool framing, like the silhouette of Batman on a rooftop at the bottom of one page and a giant Batman walking towards the reader hanging over it. Some framing is a bit odd, as if it’s being cut off and a double page layout has gone missing, but the nightmare vibe is always present. Some pages can look a bit bare too which further reveals there isn’t a lot of story in this final chapter.
Jordie Bellaire shows why she’s one of the best in comics with impressive colors in the A story. From the green glow of Batman’s face and eyes to the shocking red that permeates the backgrounds, this book’s horror vibe can be attributed to her colors.
The B story continues Matthew Rosenberg’s excellent Red Hood storyline with artist Max Raynor and color artist Diego Rodriguez. Red Hood is rude, crude, and certainly not playing by the usual rules. This issue has Red Hood and journalist Deb Donovan team up to figure out why dead bodies are disappearing. Opening on Red Hood stuffing his face, you can immediately understand this is a different kind of relationship.
Rosenberg puts you inside Deb’s head via captions straight from her notes and it’s fun to see her play cool in a dangerous situation so she can get her story. There’s a fantastic eight-panel page with Deb going about her day and taking guff from a guard, showing how she takes her job seriously. Raynor does a great job with Deb’s reactions, from shock to determination, to outright fear at times throughout the story. She grounds the story well.
Detective Comics #1042 has a nightmarish wrapup to its A story that gets the job done, but feels a bit thin. The B story, however, is excellent, and should have fans excited for what Rosenberg and Raynor bring in the next chapter and beyond.
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