It’s time once again to take a look at another issue of Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora’s run on Detective Comics, a book that’s easily my favorite thing out of DC Comics at the moment. This issue mostly serves as setup for the next major story arc happening soon, but lets see what it offers us in the meantime anyway.
The plot lightly ties into the events going on in the main Batman book (currently being taken over by Josh Williamson, another favorite current writer of mine). We see Bruce in his Batman, Inc. suit to reflect that, and he announces his leave of Gotham to coincide with that storyline. What this means for the status quo of this book remains to be seen, especially with the Shadows of the Bat event coming next issue. For now though, this issue serves to further some sub-plots and character arcs for the supporting cast, with focus being pulled away from Batman himself a bit. That’s not a bad thing, though — you need breathers like that every so often, especially after recent events in Gotham.
As per usual, the characterization is the best part. I’ve gushed multiple times over how good Tamaki’s take on the Batman’s world and characters is, and she only continues to prove me right. Even the way she writes Batgirl Stephanie Brown (who is still looking more New-52 Spoiler than Batgirl, but that’s a problem beyond the scope of this particular book) felt instantly recognizable as the character I expect her to be, even if her role in the issue was relatively minor. I don’t know enough about Batwoman to say if she’s similarly well executed to expectations from her fans, but from my perspective she was inoffensively used. Her Huntress has also been great most of this run, and that is no different here. Again, Tamaki just seems to have this understanding of where these characters should be as a baseline, and with how wildly characterization can vary from writer to writer, that sense of sturdy familiarity is important, and a key strength of why I’m enjoying this book so much lately.
The backup story (written by Stephanie Phillips with David Lapham on art) is also serviceable, as per usual. It ties more into the Arkham Tower plot that’s going to be expanded on in Shadows, and serves as a good bonus to the main meat of the issue. It’s not as in depth as the primary story, but it still does a good job at what it’s trying to accomplish for the overall narrative.
Dan Mora’s art in the main story continues to be phenomenal — he’s easily one of the best artists in comics right now, as I’ve said many times already in these reviews. His sense of style is unmatched and I love just how much personality oozes from his pencil work. The winter mood and atmosphere is also very comfortable if you’re into that kind of vibe, which I am, so his snowy Gotham was a real treat. Also, seeing his take on the fan favorite Beyond suit strung up in the Batcave was really cool. I hope that ends up playing into future plot, because I absolutely want to see him draw it in action.
I can’t help but emphasize just how good this book is for Batman right now. Detective Comics understands these characters and how they interact with the world around them and each other so well, even when they’re not important to the story overall. With how inconsistent characters can feel passing from creative team to creative team, it’s really nice to be given something that feels sturdy characterization wise. Tamaki isn’t trying to deconstruct anything or redefine Batman forever; she’s just telling fun, good stories in Gotham City with a character who’s recognizable and beloved. Breather issue or not, I wouldn’t pass up a single moment of this run.
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