Infernal operas, zombies, mysterious artifacts and creeping dread are just the tip of the iceberg for this new era of Detective Comics. Issue #1062 kicks off the 4-part “Gotham Nocturne” arc, which serves to pivot the book’s direction with a new creative team. Writer Ram V and artists Rafael Albuquerque and Dave Stewart collaborate to deliver an engaging opening issue that is bound to chill as well as entertain.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Detective Comics #1062!
Things that go “bump” in the night seem to be running rampant across Gotham. In a theater, a masked performer gives a devilish performance, demanding a demon show himself. Across the city in the dockyard, Batman busts a smuggling operation that goes south with with appearance of an seemingly undead foe alongside a warning from his lover/adversary Talia. Plus, the arrival of hooded figures from an unknown land leads to a bloodbath. An unknown evil presence seems to be permeating the shadows of Bruce’s city.
We’re dropped right into the mix of these swirling plots as Batman begins his journey to find what lies behind these crimes and an unexplained sluggishness that irks the back of his mind. There’s a lot going on here and all the threads flow naturally into each other. This reads as a self-contained and taut Batman adventure – the kind that’s been lacking with the more grandiose, expansive narratives of recent months.
What really drew me into the issue is its distinct voice. The narrative is much more of an intimate mystery, which sets it apart from the raucous action of the main Batman title. It keeps the focus on Batman and the case, instead of the larger Bat-family. We get to see Batman collecting and analyzing his clues as he begins to piece Gotham’s latest puzzle together. New characters and a blending of the Bat-mythos further set the issue apart. By the end, I was fully bought into this arc.
Alongside the engrossing mystery is moody art that brings the tale to life and exceptionally enhances the narrative’s atmospheric tone. Gotham and its inhabitants are enshrouded by shadows, as the tale unfolds across one long night. The colors really enhance the mood here. A very muted palette is utilized to give the story a different feel. Gotham’s orange lights give it the darkness an eerie tinge. The undead creature Batman encounters brings a sickening green to the page, and the lurking demonic presence bathes the backgrounds blood-red. The evocative artwork speaks to a great collaborative effort here between pencils and colors.
Also included here is the first entry in a 3-part Jim Gordon backup that’s a thematically fitting inclusion. Here, it plays into the effects of Arkham Asylum’s destruction (see Infinite Frontier #0) and the return of Jim Gordon. Jim’s fallen into a rut since his return to Gotham. He’s finished his quest after Joker, he’s retired from the force, and as this issue shows the city has moved on from him. This offers a different kind of Jim Gordon story, one more reminiscent of a pulpy, noir tale. It particularly leans into this with Jim’s grizzled narration and a classic inciting incident of a dame walking into a bar seeking his help. This leads him to a missing persons case that offers a heroic quest, but whose cost remains to be seen.
The art here suits the grimy mystery that begins to unfold. The abstractness creates bizarre proportions that tug at the nightmares lurking in the shadows. It balances this through panels of art juxtaposed with some of just text, which contributes to the overall pulpy feel of the story. It’s an equally intriguing inclusion here that I’m excited to see play out.
Detective Comics #1062 as a whole really worked for me. I like the arc’s premise and though demonic cults arriving in Gotham can be very familiar, the operatic twist makes it feel fresh. I’m invested in finding out what’s wrong with Bruce, the mysterious artifact’s purpose, and unknown motives of the new characters. It’s nice to have a Bat-title that’s more of a grounded, slow burn.
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