Detective Comics #994 (DC Comics)
Like a lot of the first Rebirth titles, Detective Comics started off extremely strong, only to lose steam as different creative teams came and went on the title. The previous arc was honestly so bad that I almost dropped the book entirely. But when I saw that Peter J Tomasi and Doug Mahnke were going to be taking over the title leading into the big Detective Comics #1000, I had to stay on. And I’m glad I did, because while there are a few similarities to the other Batman title I reviewed this week, the end result is still so well done that I don’t even mind.
After exact duplicates of the bodies of Martha and Thomas Wayne are found in the Gotham Aquarium, Batman needs to start looking for answers. Namely, who would go to such trouble to perform plastic surgery on two innocent people to make them appear to be the Waynes, and what ties, if any, does it have to Batman and his secret life as Bruce Wayne? And how does it connect to the new creature that attacks Leslie Thompkins’ clinic in downtown Gotham?
We don’t get any answers to those questions just yet, but if this opening issue plays out like Tomasi’s previous comics work, then we’re in for a wild ride. While crafting a narrative that starts like a lot of other Batman stories, Tomasi’s decision to have the victims of the case appear to be near exact duplicates of the Waynes adds a whole new layer to the case, and Tomasi even has some surprisingly heartfelt little moments where Batman almost slips up a few times while checking over the victims, saying “my” and quickly correcting himself to cover his secret identity. This angle, while small, does wonders to mix up your usual Batman tale, and leads to a case that gets much more personal than typical Batman tales.
Of course, Doug Mahnke is an artist that needs no introduction. Like Tomasi’s other long-running collaborator Patrick Gleason, Mahnke works so in sync with Tomasi that the two are able to lift any project they are on. It’s impossible not to look at some of the pages in this issue and not say “wow”, with the title splash page being the biggest example. Mahnke is clearly firing on all cylinders here, and at this point, I’m almost convinced that he’s incapable of turning in a bad piece of art.
With so many comics coming out lately, it’s easy for some really good ones to fall through the cracks, but I hope that Detective Comics #994 finds a new spot on some pull lists. It’s a solidly made issue that shows what can happen when you put two creatives that are always a sure bet on a character that is one of the best that the medium has to offer. All signs point to Detective‘s march to issue 1000 being a good one.