THE PITCH: Batman vs. The Joker. You know who they are, so there you go, that’s the pitch.
HOW WAS IT? You know what? It’s actually been a really, really long time since a knock-down, drag out fight between the Clown Prince of Crime, and The Dark Knight… And Tony Daniel delivers, both in the story, and the art. If you’re a fan of Batman, then you’ll be happy to know that Detective is in good hands.
There’s certainly a fair amount of expectation going into this issue, beyond all the attention being paid to DC’s 52 new comics. Tony Daniel has had a moderately liked, but not loved run on Batman (the title, and the character). Scott Snyder’s run on Detective Comics that preceded this, however, was one of the most critically acclaimed runs on the character in years, justly calling comparisons to The Long Halloween and even Batman: Year One. And beyond all that, Detective Comics IS DC Comics. When you’re presenting a new number one issue, it better be damn good.
Like I said, though, it is damn good. Daniel, clearly aware of the pressure to deliver, has, in spades. He’s upped his game on the art end, delivering exciting, clean action sequences. And his writing is tight, and the mystery a fun one that rewards a second reading. Plus, probably the most shockingly gory last page you’ll see all month… Once you see it, you can’t unsee it, and it makes number two a must buy. So kudos to that.
Daniel also makes a laudable effort to honor current Batman continuity – Batman is one of the few lines that wasn’t fully rebooted – while also adding in elements from the movies. In particular, the Gotham PD is more strom-trooper-ish, and attacking Bats whenever they can; clear shades of the end of The Dark Knight. In fact, across the board, this plays like the old Star Wars comic published by Marvel, which would advance character and plot points, while integrating plots from the movies as they came out. I’m curious to see if the same thing will happen when The Dark Knight Rises comes out… If so, it’s a smart move on DC’s part that (hopefully) won’t alienate comic book readers, while allowing an easy entry point for the much larger movie audience.
That all said, there is some stiff prose in here. And if you’re looking for a nice clean introduction to who Batman is, and what he’s all about, you’re not going to get it. Granted, I can’t imagine there’s a lot of readers who will say, “Who is this Bat… Man? Does he have bat powers?” and I’m sure DC was thinking the same. But that said, this reads less like a first issue, than a continuation of Daniel’s run. I’m not saying that’s overtly a bad thing, given the circumstances… But it’s not as new reader friendly as it could be.
That all said? It’s a ton of fun to read, and The Joker is as vicious and unstoppable as he’s ever been, reminding us why he’s Batman’s number one villain. There’s also the intro of a new villain here who seems perfectly on par for the usual Gotham villains, and that’s a good thing. I can’t wait to read more.
BEST BIT: The last page, no question.
WORST BIT: Batman’s conversation with the strappingly younger Commissioner Gordon falls a little flat – it’s nothing we haven’t seen a million times before.
EASTER EGGS: There’s a shout out to Catwoman, teasing what’s going to happen in that title. That’s pretty much it.
ACCESSIBLE TO NEW READERS? Assuming you watched The Dark Knight? Sure. If not, you may be wondering who this Bruce Wayne guy they keep referring to is.
WILL YOU BE PICKING UP ISSUE 2? Yup!