We’re back again with another installment of the “Shadows of the Bat” storyline in Detective Comics, written by Mariko Tamaki and drawn by Max Raynor, with backup by Matthew Rosenberg and Fernando Blanco. This is a pretty thinky sort of issue, so let’s talk about what I thought this week.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Detective Comics #1052!
The plot of this issue runs slightly parallel to last time, showing Dr. Meridian’s point of view of events (though that only serves to give the characters more clues to work off of). We get to see the Bat family slowly piece things together from the hints and clues being gathered (appropriate for Detective Comics of course), and it’s fun to see them think it through. That anticipation is great, especially when we as readers know all the answers already. The tension just keeps raising in that regard, and it leaves you wondering when the characters are gonna put it all together (in a good way!).
Characterization is still very solid, but Tamaki’s always excelled there of course. Meridian is probably the central character of this issue, and we get a bit of good monologue from her at the start of the issue. It doesn’t last all that long though, because before too long she’s once again under the control of the Psycho Pirate, and the detective work takes over the rest of the issue. I don’t mind this, since watching the characters puzzle over things is a lot of fun, and should be the central focus of a book with “Detective” literally in the title. We do get a bit of Huntress near the middle through to the end, which also gives us our cliffhanger, plainly spelling out that the cracks in Psycho Pirate’s control are already beginning to widen.
The backup was a lot of fun this issue too, with more of that early years Batman stuff that I had high praise for when it started out. A nice shock was the introduction of the second Robin, Jason Todd, into the story, giving a clear indication of how much time has passed since the last Robin we saw in the book was the Dick Grayson version. It plays well into the plot too, with Jason’s street criminal past factoring into Xix’s current involvement with the Penguin. Rosenberg has been doing a really good job with these backups, making you feel sympathetic toward Xix to a degree, but still showing that he will always be destined for villainy with the influences he’s growing up around. It’s tragic, and that makes for engaging character stuff. New villains are not easy to make memorable, especially in the Batman pantheon, but he’s doing a pretty solid job with this one’s extended origin.
The art in both stories is quite good, and fit their stories well. Raynor’s art follows that same semi-realistic style the previous issues have used, making everything feel nice and consistent. Blanco’s meanwhile, still feels somewhat cartoonish but stylized well with thick line art that makes everything pop nicely. Out of the two, I think I prefer Blanco’s because of personal preference, but they both do a great job fitting the tone of the stories they’re telling.
Overall, I liked this issue. It was more so about figuring things out rather than being a character study or advancing things quickly, but that’s totally fine with me. I like the pauses to put the pieces together; it shows that the story is being considerate and thinking itself through, rather than just rashly jumping from plot point to plot point. The art is great as per usual, and if you’ve been liking this story already, absolutely pick this one up.
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