Time for another issue of DC’s Detective Comics, and another installment in “Shadows of the Bat”. We have the main story written by Mariko Tamaki with art by Amancay Nahuelpan, and as usual the backup written by Matthew Rosenberg and drawn by Fernando Blanco. This one was intense as hell and full of juicy stuff, so let’s look at what we have this time.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Detective Comics #1055!
The plot finally catches up with the start of the story, and we’re past the point where Arkham Tower has been overrun, now with all the backstory we need to understand how it happened. Everything went to hell for Dr. Wear, and he’s paid for it with his life. Meanwhile, we get Nightwing and Huntress making their way through the tower, fighting off Mr. Freeze while trying to get a hold of everything, and protect the mayor’s wife all the while. It’s non-stop high-octane action with plenty of stakes that really feel earned. It’s a very Batman: Arkham Asylum kinda story (the game, I mean), and that closed off nature of their mission is fun to see here as the action unfolds.
Character stuff is another win too, as expected. Huntress is so well utilized in this issue, with her spitfire and gumption in the face of overwhelming odds being perfectly captured in her fight against Mr. Freeze. Helena’s not THE central character of this arc (it’s hard to say who is, really, if there is one at all) but she certainly seems to be the Bat-adjacent that Tamaki is giving the most narrative development to. That’s fine by me, though — Helena is awesome and getting a bit more spotlight is well deserved.
The backup continues to woo me with its nostalgic setting, this time set during the time frame of one of the most iconic Batman stories of all time, No Man’s Land, a massive personal favorite of mine. Rosenberg has been killing it with these period pieces that give a new perspective on these slices of Batman history, and this one feels like it could have easily been published back in the ’90s. It’s super great, and on top of that, it’s a good character development story for Nero Xix. We finally get to see all those lessons in villainy pay off for him, and he’s getting a lot better at controlling a situation to his advantage. With this extended origin, I’m interested to actually see him as the central villain of his own major arc in the future.
The art is stellar, but that’s no shock. Nahuelpan is a new talent picking up this story, but takes over from Raynor just fine and offers some really great panel layout work and expressiveness. They do a good job keeping that similar feel to Raynor’s art, and I honestly barely noticed the change. Blanco is well used to drawing the backup by now, so his work there is about as solid as ever. I will say it’s been fun seeing him do such a good job capturing the tone of the era of Batman he’s working with, and I’ve loved that attention to detail a lot.
Overall, I think this issue was great. We’re really in the climax now, and it feels like we’ll be wrapping up pretty soon. It’s been a great ride so far though, some classic Batman action all around, with mystery, intrigue, and complex villainy… all without Batman himself even being here! And the focus on the secondary Bat characters in general has been great. The writing is great, the art is stellar, and the backup story does equally well in all those regards. We’re almost done this story folks, so join me again, same bat-time, same bat-book, to see where we go next.
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