Time for another issue of Detective Comics, and the “Shadows of the Bat” storyline, written by Mariko Tamaki and drawn by Max Raynor, with backup by Matthew Rosenberg and Fernando Blanco. Things really started to rev up this time, with one of the most intense issues since the start of this story, so let’s talk about how things went down in Gotham this week.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Detective Comics #1054!
Plot wise, shit has really hit the fan, for the characters that is. As a reader, it was pretty good, with that same high-tension, high-energy feeling as the first issue in this arc. Speaking of that, we’ve finally begun to catch up to that explosive start that quite literally showed the inmates running the asylum, with the Psycho Pirate’s hold finally slipping while he fights Nightwing, and all hell breaks loose. Meanwhile, Dr. Wear’s time is up with the Penguin, and everything goes wrong just as his plan to take off with his money is about to complete. Hilariously karmic and rife with tension. Gotta love it.
The character work this issue is relegated mostly to Wear’s conniving on full display — the plot and action are the real selling points. But again, in spite of that, everybody feels fairly on point and acting within their expected roles just fine. As I’ve said before, not every story has to be mental anguish for our heroes, and often it’s more fun just watching them do their thing. Wear is great, though — he’s such a hilariously terrible person that you love to watch him squirm and try and weasel his way out of the hole he’s dug for himself, only to have it keep blowing up in his face. Amazing.
The backup by Rosenberg and Blanco moves ahead in time this issue, going from the Jason Todd era of Batman all the way up to Knightfall, and the tenure of Jean-Paul Valley’s Batman. That explains the Bane appearance last time, and as a big fan of DC’s ’90s era for Batman, I really dug seeing those characters in that setting once again. Valley’s Batman is just as unhinged and causes just as many problems as one would expect from reading the old story, and that creates the perfect logical excuse for Tim Drake as Robin to be unable to help the young Nero Xix. That kind of dynamic was all over the ’90s books, and Rosenberg definitely did his homework on how to make everything feel right there.
The art is great, as usual. Raynor’s style is fun and dynamic, and can get expressive in all right ways without ever feeling overtly cartoonish, which would clash with this story’s tone a bit. His posing is fantastic, and I love the specific body language he gives to characters like the Psycho Pirate to convey their personality. Blanco is still really doing great work on the backup, too — his rendition of Azrael Batman is super cool and strikes a great silhouette. I love how even his civilian take on Tim looks EXACTLY like he was drawn back in his original ongoing solo book, just a great minor touch for the fans.
Detective Comics #1054 is one of the best issues in the arc. The action was great, the story was fun, and the art was a treat for the eyes in both the main and backup stories. We finally move closer and closer to the climax we were teased at the start, which I’m very excited for. Even with that though, the backup’s ’90s period piece is probably my favorite part. Call me biased, but that IS my favorite era of Batman stories; I gotta rep what I like. If any of this sounds like a great time, it’s because it is.
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