Detective Comics’ new team brings their first arc to a mostly satisfactory conclusion, that feels somewhat rushed while also being dragged down a bit by the continued presence of Viktor Bogdanovic on the book. What should be one of DC Comics’ top books continues to be marred by the company leadership’s choices to keep bringing toxic and problematic creators back into the fold.
The first story arc in DC Comics’ new direction for Detective Comics has concluded, and thankfully so too has Viktor Bogdanovic’s time on the book. Only for two issues though. Because comic books are one of many industries that continues to reward creators despite how toxic they might be as individuals.
As stated in the last reviews, 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 took offense to this, 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.
Overall, this issue isn’t quite as solid as the previous ones, it feels a bit rushed, but it still is bringing some interesting concepts and ideas to the table for the ongoing narrative that Tamaki is building. The battle between Batman and normal but just quite large and rage-filled Mr. Worth has gone on a bit too long and the destruction that has ripped through Gotham is pretty substantial.
It stands out because James Tynion IV’s Batman series is doing a storyline about the rise of the Magistrate seen in Future State featuring the bombing of City Hall and Mayor Nakano basically declaring a sort of martial law. One would think these two extreme examples of utter destruction in Gotham would line up a bit better with how connected the creative teams seem to be but for the moment they seem disconnected.
The origin of the villain Vile is finally laid out and fits the overall mood of Gotham as a whole, but I did groan at the fact that he happens to have a last name that fits being a villain and his style. That’s comics 101 for sure and I respect the legacy, but it still got a groan.
Tamaki still has nailed down the characterization of Batman, and Bruce though he doesn’t appear as Bruce in this one, and has a good handle on Huntress and Oracle. It’s a shame that the action and destruction have taken away from the more lowkey neighborhood story and detective aspect of Batman’s work. While I understand comics’ feeling of need to do big action stuff all the time, some lower-key stories with Batman in his new life solving some crimes (while dodging Nakano’s anti vigilante stuff) would have been nice.
Bellaire and Bidikar continue to bring their A-game to the issue. There are quite a number of panels that are brought whole new life by the variety of colors that Bellaire brings to the table. Even with the abrupt art change, the book hasn’t fully lost the unique aesthetic that it began with since the shadowy and bright moody coloring is still there. Bidikar handles the large number of captions (competing captions at that) and dialogue well and gets to cut loose even more with a ton of SFX that elevates all the aforementioned action.
Bogdanovic has a sort of fine standard superhero-type look to his art, and there was a bit of elevation in this issue compared to the last that sort of moved beyond that a little bit. There is more detail in some of the panels whereas the last issue had a lot of figures what were blurry or looked slightly blobish. The art itself is fine and even fits for this type of story or a Batman book. It wouldn’t stand out as much if it weren’t such an abrupt middle of the story change from the aesthetic this book kicked off the new era with. Dan Mora returns for the next two issues so that look will be back for those issues.
Bogdanovic handles some of the inking himself this time while both Norm Rapmund and Daniel Henriques also pitch in on inking.
At the end of the day all that aside, Bogdanovic 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.
This month’s backup story delves even more into the very horrific and almost cynical origin story of Hue Vile. There is definitely nothing sympathetic about this new villain, as the story showcases all the brutal and awful things he caused others to do as he made his way through various DC locales before being able to make his return to Gotham during the recent Joker War storyline.
The writer and artist T. Rex definitely hit all the spots of just how horrible this character truly is, creating some horrifying visuals along the way. Especially the final image of Vile in action. This is highlighted by Simon Gough’s colors that accentuate the horrific and brutal nature of these acts, while Rob Leigh does a lot of heavy lifting with pages that are heavy with dialogue and captions. He makes sure that it never takes away from the horror that is being built with each subsequent page.
Detective Comics #1039 is now on sale in print and digitally from DC Comics.