I’m back to take a look at another issue of Detective Comics, written by Mariko Tamaki with art by Dan Mora, also featuring a backup story by Stephanie Phillips with art by David Lapham. This issue draws a conclusion to this current storyline, with Batman and crew making quick work of the city’s infection.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Detective Comics #1045!
Plot wise, we of course follow up on last time, with Batman and Mayor Nakano trudging through the sewers looking to deal with the Vile parasites. It mostly serves to give the two time to talk, with Batman criticizing the Mayor for being blind to threats right under his nose. It’s good development for Nakano, who by the end seems to recognize the error in his ways thanks to Batman’s intervention. By the end of the issue, we see Nakano willing to work with Batman after a change of heart, potentially setting up for a future partnership with City Hall ala Jim Gordon. My only critique of the plot is that it wraps up rather quickly by the end, perhaps too quickly, but the character stuff with Nakano and Bruce more than make up for it. Of course the parasites themselves are quickly disposed of thanks to the aid of Batman’s allies, leaving Vile’s actual fate and potential return for another day.
The characterization is once again my favorite part of this. Batman is a character who inspires, much like his contemporaries Superman or Wonder Woman, and that aspect of him is often overlooked in flavor of the “striking fear” aspect of his mystique. Tamaki chooses to lean into his goodness here, and it’s something I very much love about her take on Bruce. Bruce’s words actually manage to get through to Nakano simply by being honest about how misguided the mayor’s crusade against him and other masked heroes is. He makes him realize just how badly he’s let real threats fly under his radar in pursuit of it. And with Bruce saving his life, Nakano does the right thing and follows Batman into battle to save him in turn. Nakano’s development here, realizing he’s been arrogant and misguided and vowing to do right, shows a maturity to his character and showcases one of the best aspects of Batman media. Much like Superman, he is more than capable of inspiring kindness in others by simply doing the right thing. Tamaki understands how important it is to have that be the central theme of this story, and I can safely say her Batman is very much “my” Batman as well.
The backup story is not quite as high stakes, but still a fun little romp. Continuing from last issue as well, it follows Batman climbing the Arkham Tower, the successor to the Asylum. We get some fun imagery thanks to some stolen fear toxin, with a bit of simple but effective pathos in a vision of Bruce’s parents. It ends off with Harley Quinn of all people, who teases the next part of the story for next time. It’s short and sweet, but that’s a welcome complement to the more intense main story.
The art is, put simply, stunning. Dan Mora is an artist with gorgeous work under his belt, and one of my personal favorite talents in the industry right now. Like I said before, him on a Batman book is a dream come true for me, and he brings his A-game here with some stunningly detailed and atmospheric pencil work. The art in the backup (done by Lapham) is also good in its own right. It’s detailed and colored well, giving it a very moody vibe that suits the backup quite well.
Overall, this was solid. I wouldn’t say it blew my mind or anything, and the conclusion did feel a bit hasty, but it’s overall good stuff. The backup is again, a bit simple but harmless overall and serves well as a bonus story, and the main story serves as an appropriate final to the Vile saga. The character work is superb, and the artwork incredible. Tamaki just gets Batman in a way I haven’t seen from the comics in a long time, and so long as she keeps writing him, I’ll keep reading it. Simple as that.
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