While the story, coloring, lettering, and backup are all putting in all the effort to make this a really great book there is no escaping the toxic cloud that is over it all because of Viktor Bogdanovic’s presence on the book. DC Comics choice to continue to give work to problematic creators when there are so many other deserving individuals (check out the backup artwork) who should be given this chance. The rest of the creative team does not at all deserve this as their work is beyond great.
It’s no secret that the comic book industry (as with most entertainment industries) is a place where the most toxic and harmful of individuals are never wanting for work. No matter what they do or say to others, as long as they are connected and generally as long as they are white cis heterosexual males publishers will never actually close the doors to them (not for long at least).
While it might have been easy to skip this issue to take a stand against DC Comics choosing to employ Viktor Bogdanovic, that would be the wrong way to go with this. Voluntarily silencing oneself in such matters is often something that those of us in marginalized groups have to do all too often, but when there is an outlet like this to make it known where one stands on such things where it might be noticed that is a chance that I feel I have to take.
As stated last month, Bogdanovic is an artist that is no stranger to the big two comic companies and is the same artist that chose to mock sexual assault by revealing his own story and claiming women should just learn to roundhouse kick to stop assaults/harassment from happening. When the internet rightfully clapped back, Bogdanovic doubled down and threw out blocks (this reviewer being one of the blocked) and then threw out a lacklustre “sorry not sorry” so-called apology.
Marvel, who was employing him at the time on Wolverine, said nothing about what happened as they rarely ever do and despite his time quietly coming to an end on work for them DC stood by with arms wide open apparently.
Putting such an individual on this book is disrespectful on so many levels especially since it puts a stain on the stellar work of everyone else that is on this book. At long last, a woman has been given the chance to write the book that this company is named after starring one of their biggest characters and just a handful of issues into her run this happens. Mariko Tamaki deserves better than this. Jordie Bellaire and Aditya Bidikar deserve better than this.
Tamaki is still building an intriguing story, even if it’s beginning to run just a bit long in some areas, which leans more heavily on the action this issue than any of the other genres of past issues or the detective work of prior issues. Roland Worth is one of many rich and powerful foes that Batman has fought but feels quite different because he has other power to back up his threat and cares very little for what gets in his way. It’s also more effective now that Batman has been brought down on so many levels, someone like Worth becomes a truly dangerous threat again.
Bellaire and Bidikar continue to do stellar work in this issue with Bellaire still bringing the moody and almost neo-noir elements of her coloring (similar but different from her work in Catwoman) and Bidikar nails the lettering across the board. There is a ton of dialogue as more of the story builds this issue, around the action, and none of it overwhelms or feels out of place.
As mentioned last review, Bogdanovic’s art is fine as a standard type of industry art but is a far step down from what this book has when Dan Mora and Bellaire are teaming up. Daniel Henriques takes over on the inking of Bogdanovic’s work and does really solidly. Bogdanovic’s work just lacks the detail and clarity of what the book had before, a number of scenes looking had Huntress or others looking blurry rather than clear and detailed.
At the end of the day all that aside, the man is the wrong choice for this book or really any other when he hasn’t begun to even make amends for what he has done in the past.
There is one backup in this issue, a Penguin-focused story from Meghan Fitzmartin, Karl Mostert, Bellaire, and Rob Leigh. It’s very well crafted and gives some great insight into how the Penguin has sort of fallen as a perceived threat to Batman and everyone else in Gotham. It also provides a glimpse into a moment in time that connects to the main story o the issue.
Mostert has a style that actually is closer somewhat to Mora’s that would have definitely been a closer match to fill in on the main arc of the book while Mora is away. It’s more detailed and meshes far better with Bellaire’s colors.
Leigh’s lettering work adds a whole lot as the variations in the dialogue styles just work great as do the very different caption styles that tell us all about the evolution of penguins.
Detective Comics #1038 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.