With ‘Shadows of the Bat’ over, ‘Detective Comics’ shifts focus and goes smaller scale again as the Riddler makes his big return and Batman races against time to solve a mystery that is putting Gothamites in serious danger. It’s always great when Batman stories focus on and let the world’s greatest detective do the detective thing and bring greater focus to characters alongside the action.
Detective Comics is a series that has worn many masks over the many decades that it has been published by DC Comics, but for the majority of its life it has served as a book focused on Batman, Gotham, and the Bat family in some capacity. Every run has its great moments or focuses, but truly the book is often at its best when it’s living up to the first part of its name and allows Batman to do true detective work.
That’s one of the things that has been really great about this current run since it began, as Mariko Tamaki and a variety of artists have gone street level with Batman and his allies and provided numerous mysteries to solve. Just in time for the latest cinematic endeavor, the detective’s eye is turned towards Riddler and some deadly amateur crimes that are plaguing the city.
Since taking over the book Tamaki has done an amazing job at really fleshing out Gotham and the characters within, perfectly balancing the character moments/developments and action beats alongside the mystery/detective pieces and that remains as Nadia Shammas joins her as a writer for this arc. The recent “Shadows of the Bat” weekly storyline event showcased all of these elements but taken to a bigger stage with a bigger cast. Here we slim down again to a story focused on Batman, Riddler, reporter Deb Donovan & her judge daughter Caroline, and the city itself.
Riddler doing a podcast/live stream situation to reach out to all of Gotham to spread his riddles and more is exactly something Edward Nygma would do. There is just the right number of discoveries and mysteries to keep one intrigued without revealing too much about where this story may or may not be going. Also, Deb Donovan has been such a fantastic addition to the Bat-line since her debut, and I really hope we see more of her either when the new creative team takes over this summer or just in the Bat-line somewhere.
It’s great to see Ivan Reis, Danny Miki, and Brad Anderson back on the art of the series after they handled the first quarter of the “Shadows of the Bat” issues. Reis has such a vivid and electric style that breathes such an intriguing life into Gotham and all the characters. It has a more grounded somewhat realistic vibe but still very much feels like what one would expect in a comic book in the best ways. This is heightened by the inking work of Miki, which bring even more depth/weight to the proceedings and helps highlight some of the more ominous or darker tone moments that come with a Batman story.
Anderson’s colors are very slick and smooth with a shiny tint to them but also are heavy on the shadows and bright splashes of color that are common with Gotham as we view it these days. Through the last year or so we’ve gotten such a varied look at the realms of Gotham and the city has such a bright and shiny and gorgeous but overwhelmingly dark atmosphere to it and Anderson nails that.
Ariana Maher is a wizard with lettering, and it’s always great to see her name attached to a book, and we get a ton of that here. From the little flairs in different characters’ speech to set them apart/show personality to the shifting of font size to showcase volume/tone, it all helps make the dialogue/captions stand out far more. Reading words is one thing, but with the right bit of work and energy, they become something that we can feel and almost even hear at the same time. Immersive in the moment SFX is also another part of that, making this book feel very lived in just like the rest of the artwork.
I must confess I’m not too up to speed on the story of Gotham Girl/Claire Clover, outside of the first arc of Batman in 2016 that debuted her and her brother. I knew she was part of Bane’s plot I believe in the last bits of that series run and ended up in Arkham. That’s about it.
So, reading this backup story was something that had a lot of unfamiliar elements which is nice at times. Especially since it seems that this is a story dealing with mental health and trying to cope while reintegrating into one’s life and the world. Sina Grace gives us enough to catch up those that aren’t as familiar with the character, while there is still a lot that is left unsaid as it takes the route of assuming you at least know the basics about the character. Which is often a given when it comes to comics such as these.
David Lapham and Trish Mulvihill’s work together has a really classic Batman sort of feeling to it, which is a really cool thing. I especially like the way that Lapham frames pages with the white borders and shifting panel styles, with closer and wider shots being used interchangeably. Mulvihill’s colors shift from brighter to lighter, while all have a sort of toned-down filter quality to them that fits with the classic sort of aspect. Truly, the first thing that came to mind was it reminded me of Batman: The Animated Series somewhat in a sense.
Rob Leigh has been tackling all the lettering of the backup stories for quite a number of months now, and it’s great to have that bit of consistency across the variety of stories. He makes the moments of heavier dialogue/captions flow and read easily while also adding small elements to make sure we catch the tone required for certain words. Smaller text and dotted line bubbles for whispers is a great touch, I love when letterers do that sort of thing to make it clear.
DC Comics Detective Comics #1059 is now available.