Detective Comics #1049 – Review



Detective Comics #1049

“When Huntress elected to go undercover in Arkham Tower, it was to investigate a place of healing that seemed too good to be true. But what happens when Helena Bertinelli really does need some healing? With Nightwing and Batwoman also on the inside, what began as an undercover mission has turned into a rescue operation as the mysteries of Dr. Wear’s Arkham Tower begin to unravel! Then, in “House of Gotham” part three, the young boy rescued by Batman has begun his course of treatment at Arkham, so why are the only people showing him kindness those whom the law asserts are criminals? It’s a cycle of violence the Dark Knight has no answer for as Gotham’s most vulnerable struggle to keep their heads above water!”

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Detective Comics #1047 – Review


THE TOWER, PART ONE / HOUSE OF GOTHAM, CHAPTER ONE 

“The Tower” begins! The 12-part weekly Detective Comics event starts here. Arkham Asylum has fallen, and in its place, Arkham Tower has risen in the heart of the city, a pitch made by the mysterious Dr. Wear. Unlike the Asylum, Dr. Wear promises his methods and drug treatments will heal Gotham’s criminally inclined for good—a claim that skeptics like Deb Donovan and the Bat-Family don’t believe. There’s something wrong with the tower, with Dr. Wear’s methods—and with Batman away from Gotham City, the rest of the Bat-Family is going to find out what…but not before everything explodes. Written by critically acclaimed author Mariko Tamaki, continuing her incredible Detective Comics run, and drawn by DC Comics legend Ivan Reis

PLUS! “House of Gotham” begins! For a long time two houses have overlooked Gotham City, beckoning its broken: Wayne Manor and Arkham Asylum. In this epic 12-part backup story, writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Fernando Blanco will explore the impact that Batman and Arkham Asylum have had on the city…through the eyes of a boy whose life was changed forever by The Joker one dreadful night early in the Dark Knight’s career!’



Detective Comics #1045 – Review

In the final part of writer Mariko Tamaki’s story, ‘Nakano’s Nightmare’, Mayor Nakano must put aside his differences with Batman so that the two men might destroy the parasitic virus

Detective Comics #1045

Writers: Mariko Tamaki (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and Stephanie Phillips (“Foundations Part Two”)

Art: Dan Mora (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and David Lapham (“Foundations Part Two”)

Colors: Jordie Bellaire (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and Trish Mulvhill (“Foundations Part Two”)

Letters: Aditya Bidikar (“Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Finale”) and Rob Leigh (“Foundations Part Two”)
Released: 23/11/21
Published by DC Comics

In the final part of writer Mariko Tamaki’s story, ‘Nakano’s Nightmare’, Mayor Nakano must put aside his differences with Batman so that the two men might destroy the parasitic virus, originally unleashed by Hue Vile, which has been terrorizing Gotham. Then Stephanie Phillips delivers part two of ‘Foundations’, which sees Batman chasing down a deranged man intent on destroying any chance of rebuilding Arkham Asylum, only to be confronted with a surprise visit from a former member of his rogue’s gallery.

I’m glad to see Tamaki’s story finally being brought to its conclusion. Truth be told, this particular run feels like it has gone on a lot longer than it needed to, with a somewhat muddled direction. It started out with an interesting new villain in the shape of Vile, who was then sidelined to make way for Mr Worth, only to fizzle out here with a giant monster that is ultimately destroyed in such a way that ties it directly to a particular moment in time during the whole Fear State climax. This would all be fine, except it really does become very confusing to work out what has happened when, and why the events that have happened elsewhere in DC’s Batman comics haven’t had more of a direct impact on each other.

It’s next to impossible to see how everything that has been happening with Scarecrow, Simon Saint, Peace Keeper-01 and Miracle Molly, over in Batman, could possibly be weaved into all the story threads that have supposedly been happening at the same time over here in Detective Comics. It seems to me that Tamaki’s hands have been tied by the whole Fear State thing, and so we get a story that is fighting for its own identity, whilst being hampered by the need to tie in to the bigger picture.

Ultimately, having Nightwing show up at one particular point in the story is a big mistake, as this was Batman and Nakano’s story. It should have stayed that way. As it happens, I do like the character of Nakano, and the direction they seem to be heading with regard to his and Batman’s relationship is something that has been sorely lacking without the presence of Jim Gordon. This should begin to fill that void quite nicely. Although, yet again, I am reminded that certain information that Batman gives to Nakano surely should have been the very thing that got Bruce Wayne released from prison a considerable number of issues back. How does Nakano NOT know this already!

Despite my mixed feelings across this whole story-line, I would love to see Tamaki continue on Detective Comics now that she is free from the shackles of ‘Fear State’. Let’s see what she can do when she is allowed to remain self-contained. Also, Dan Mora’s artwork has certainly been a highlight throughout this run, so I would be more than happy to see him stick around.

With ‘Foundations’, writer Stephanie Phillips poses the question, “Is Arkham Asylum truly worth rebuilding?” After all, it can hardly be noted for it’s stellar track record in releasing flocks of cured patients back out into the world, ready to contribute to society. It’s a nice little page-turner, which has the feel of something that might have appeared within the pages of ‘Legends of the Dark Knight’, back in the nineties. As I read it though, I am struck by the thought, “what if Bruce Wayne put all the funding into a place like Arkham, making sure to hire the best mental health practitioners in the world?” Instead of dumping people like Scarecrow and Joker into Arkham, only to wait for their inevitable breakout, Bruce could use his resources to take a more active role in their recovery.


Verdict –

The end to Mariko Tamaki’s contribution to the ‘Fear State’ saga really does feel like a long time coming, perhaps ending with more of a, “meh”, than a, “hurrah”. But it sets up some enticing prospects for the future, whilst the second part of Stephanie Phillips’ ‘Foundations’ poses an interesting question, which only leads to more questions (in the best possible way).


Review by Bryan Lomax, 04/01/22

Detective Comics #1044 – Review

An issue filled with physical horror that explores the darkest depths of what makes Gotham such a lost soul. Corruption and darkness are the bedrock upon which it is built.


Detective Comics #1044

Writer: Mariko Tamaki (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and Stephanie Phillips (Foundations Part One).

Art: Dan Mora (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and David Lapham (Foundations Part One).

Colours: Jordie Bellaire (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and Trish Mulvihill (Foundations Part One).

Letters: Aditya Bidikar (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 2) and Rob Leigh (Foundations Part One).
Released: 26/10/21
Published by DC Comics

Mayor Nakano remains trapped in the sewers with a host of hatchling parasites belonging to Hugh Vile. The only thing that can save him: Batman, of course! But he’s kept out from a wall of fallen rubble that might bring the whole world down on their heads if he begins to move it. Clock’s ticking Batman! What are you going to do? Meanwhile, Bat-woman makes a play to end the reign of terror by Nero XIX, back at City Hall.

Mayor Nakano remains trapped in the sewers with a host of hatchling parasites belonging to Hugh Vile. The only thing that can save him: Batman, of course! But he’s kept out from a wall of fallen rubble that might bring the whole world down on their heads if he begins to move it. Clock’s ticking Batman! What are you going to do? Meanwhile, Bat-woman makes a play to end the reign of terror by Nero XIX, back at City Hall.

As I mentioned in my review for Detective Comics #1043 that the introduction of Nero XIX could be the lead into something bigger, imagine my frustration when that whole subplot is wrapped up by Bat-woman in a couple of pages, making the whole thing seem like an afterthought. So the real story here is the relationship between Batman and Nakano. Nakano has done everything he can to rid Gotham of vigilantes. But could the events of this particular issue be the turning point in getting Nakano on team Batman? Well, it might if Nakano actually survives the attack against him by Vile’s newborn parasites. And what a disgusting attack it is too! Seriously, it’s something right out of a horror movie, which is quite up my street really.

The real question is how much life does this Vile parasite storyline have left in it? We see that these same eggs, that burst forth these pesky critters to attack Nakano, are also present in the morgue, which means that even if Batman kills all of them down in the sewer, there’s more waiting for them up top. One can’t help but draw a correlation to real-world events. Is Vile’s parasite actually written by Mariko Tamaki as a way of addressing the fear of Covid? A virus that spreads, mutates, and seems unwilling to die. An obvious comparison, sure, but it definitely adds more relevance to the villain that has been plaguing Batman for months now.

The story is bookended with a piece that Deb Donavan is writing about the filth in Gotham’s water supply and a scene in which that filth makes its way to the surface in the final pages. Filth can only be kept hidden for so long. Water is a symbol of purity. But here in Gotham, it’s as dirty as the city itself!

I love the lore that surrounds Arkham Asylum. The asylum itself has always felt like a character in its own right, in much the same way The Overlook Hotel does in The Shining, or the Bates Motel from Psycho. So the back up story here, ‘Foundations’, is a welcome one that will hopefully offer something new to the pantheon of stories that have focused on this house of extreme darkness.


Verdict –
An issue filled with physical horror that explores the darkest depths of what makes Gotham such a lost soul. Corruption and darkness are the bedrock upon which it is built.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 05/11/21

Detective Comics #1043 – Review

Jason Todd leading a Suicide Squad-like team of undead supervillains? Sign me up for that one!


Detective Comics #1043

Writer: Mariko Tamaki (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 1) and Matthew Rosenberg (What the #!$% is Task Force Z: Finale).

Art: Dan Mora (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 1) and Darick Robertson (What the #!$% is Task Force Z: Finale).

Colours: Jordie Bellaire (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 1) and Diego Rodriguez (What the #!$% is Task Force Z: Finale).

Letters: Aditya Bidikar (Fear State: Nakano’s Nightmare Part 1) and Rob Leigh (What the #!$% is Task Force Z: Finale).
Released: 28/09/21
Published by DC Comics

Mayor Nakano puts some heated negotiations with Simon Saint on hold in order to catch a breather. But once he sends everyone home for the night a group of armed men storm the building and attempt to kill him. He escapes, with the aid of the Batman, only to find himself caught in a situation that might prove to be much worse.

This issue doesn’t have a right lot of plot going on. Instead, writer Mariko Tamaki presents us with a prolonged action set piece, in which Mayor Nakano shows why he was once a cop. He’s a man of action, not one to shy away from a fight, and quite willing to get his hands dirty. He proves to be much tougher than the typical bureaucrats that have sat in Gotham’s mayoral office over the years. Anybody remember Mayor Armand Krol?

I do struggle in placing the story that is running in Detective Comics right now neatly alongside the stuff that is going on over in Batman. I just mentioned Mayor Krol. But back in the days when Krol was mayor (that would be the mid nineties folks!), we had at least 4 monthly Batman titles and I had no problem keeping up to speed with where each one of them was in the main overarching story. I appreciate that James Tynion IV has the story that he wants to tell and Tamaki has hers, but I feel as though they’ve not been organically woven together into the current “Fear State” epic that has currently taken over the Batman line. If you take them both at face value then it seems to me that characters have the uncanny ability to be in two different places at once as convenience seems fit.

It’s a shame because the Hugh Vile storyline (yes, that’s still going on) feels like a major storyline that deserves to be held in its own vacuum. But it’s suffering as a result of needing to fit within the greater world of everything that is going on with Fear State. There’s so many balls right now that are being kept in the air that it’s hard to know which ones are genuine game changers and which ones are just passing through. Take the men that storm Nakano’s office for instance. The impression given is that Simon Saint has no idea who they are. So who are they? Where did they come from? Do they have something bigger planned? And did they really need to be introduced in the midst of everything else that is going on?

The back up story gets us ready for what is sure to be a bonkers ride in the new Task Force Z monthly. Jason Todd leading a Suicide Squad-like team of undead supervillains? Sign me up for that one! It features some nice art work and some particularly nice colours from Diego Rodriguez.


Verdict –

Heavy on action but light on plot, Detective Comics #1043 is mostly concerned with the character of Mayor Nakano, showing us there is more to him than your average bureaucrat.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 05/11/21

Detective Comics #1041 Review

One of the more interesting aspects of the current run of Batman comics is the fact that Bruce no longer has the endless wealth that he once had at his disposal. This means Batman has become more like a street rat, operating out of the sewers, without the security of his old bat-cave…


Detective Comics #1041
Reviewed By Bryan Lomax

Writers:
Mariko Tamaki (“The Jury Part 1”) and Matthew Rosenberg (“What The #!$% Is Task Force Z Part 1”).
Art: Dan Mora (“The Jury Part 1”) and Darick Robertson (“What The #!$% Is Task Force Z Part 1”).
Colours: Jordie Bellaire (“The Jury Part 1”) and Diego Rodriguez (“What The #!$% Is Task Force Z Part 1”).
Letters: Aditya Bidikar (“The Jury Part 1”) and Rob Leigh (“What The #!$% Is Task Force Z Part 1”).
Released: 10/08/21
Published by DC Comics

Batman is called out by “The Jury”, a host of Gotham’s criminal underworld, led by Penguin, the Falcone’s and Mr Worth. But when he shows up to meet them, in order to answer for his “crimes”, he finds himself dealing with those who are unwilling to listen to reason. Batman is caught in a trap that might tether his very soul to that of another: Hugh Vile.

I would love to know just what information it was exactly that Oracle gave to the authorities in order to facilitate the release of Bruce Wayne. Mayor Nakano still appears to be clueless about Hugh Vile’s involvement in the whole affair, but surely that would have been the first piece of information that Barbara would have handed over! It only adds to my frustration over the sloppy handling of the story in the last two issues.

Aside from that though, writer Mariko Tamaki goes some way to winning me back on this issue. I like the motely crew of second string villains, led by Penguin, now referring to themselves as The Jury. Each one of these guys on their own probably doesn’t pose much of a threat to Batman. United, however, they may prove to be more than effective as a collective adversary. I think this is proven by the end of Tamaki’s story, in which Batman finds himself in quite the predicament, albeit one that reveals a rather interesting link to Huntress that has the potential to go to some exciting places.


One of the more interesting aspects of the current run of Batman comics is the fact that Bruce no longer has the endless wealth that he once had at his disposal. This means Batman has become more like a street rat, operating out of the sewers, without the security of his old bat-cave. This sometimes results in moments of humour, such as the one Tamaki gives us here, in which Bruce scares a woman carrying her groceries when he climbs out of a sewer grate.
These moments of Bruce struggling to live the life he once lived without the resources he once had also make me long for, perhaps a more valuable missing piece, Alfred Pennyworth, the father figure that Bruce is now lacking and yet sorely needs. Seeing him calling Oracle about business, inside a diner with public gawkers, is somehow one of the saddest reflections of just how far he has fallen from the ivory tower. Dare I say, he seems quite pathetic these days, when dressed in his civilian clothes!


Matthew Rosenberg’s B story, “What The #!$% Is Task Force Z Part 1”, is a really great start to a Deb Donovan adventure. It is filled with intrigue as the no nonsense reporter begins investigating the apparent disappearance of bodies from the Gotham City morgue. Rosenberg has a real knack for dialogue and the art from Darick Robertson is very easy on the eye. I’ve said before that I am really enjoying the Deb Donovan character. But, on the strength of Rosenberg and Robertson’s work here, I’d go so far as to say that, if these guys were assigned to a Deb Donovan monthly title, I’d be the first in line for a pre-order.


Verdict:


Mariko Tamaki shows us just how far Bruce has fallen and how, now more than ever, he is in need of allies. Backed up with excellent artwork from Dan Mora and Jordie Bellaire, she is able to give us a really great character study of Bruce Wayne/Batman, as he struggles to maintain the vigilante life-style without the resources he once had.

4/5


Reviewed By Bryan Lomax – 22/9/21

Detective Comics #1040 Review

The splash page of Batman and Joker crashing through a skylight, during a flashback, is stunning and I get a kick out of seeing the 1980’s colours on their costumes…


Detective Comics #1040

Reviewed By Bryan Lomax


Writers: Mariko Tamaki (“The Weekender”) and Dan Watters (“The Quiet and Unsung Death of Kirk Langstrom”).
Art: Dan Mora (“The Weekender”) and Max Raynor (“The Quiet and Unsung Death of Kirk Langstrom”).
Colours: Jordie Bellaire (“The Weekender”) and Arif Prianto (“The Quiet and Unsung Death of Kirk Langstrom”).
Letters: Aditya Bidikar (“The Weekender”) and Rob Leigh (“The Quiet and Unsung Death of Kirk Langstrom”).
Released: 27/07/21
Published by DC Comics

As I suspected, at the end of issue #1039, the “finale” to Mariko Tamaki’s story, “The Neighborhood”, was anything but. Hugh Vile, we are told, is still alive, leaving Penguin and Mr Worth to continue whatever scheme it was that Vile had concocted. Huntress and Deb Donovan wake up in hospital, seemingly recovered from the effects of Vile’s attacks. Meanwhile, Bruce sits in a prison cell talking to a drunken man, allowing Oracle to put the evidence together that would get him out.

All of this amounts to a mildly amusing dose of pop psychology, as Bruce’s drunken cellmate, having learned that he is Batman (something he conveniently forgets once sober), tells him that he essentially brings all the darkness and misery upon himself; that he is attracted to it. Bruce looks rather non-plussed by this revelation. Dan Mora’s art work, particularly his gift for facial expressions, body language and framing, really help in selling these exchanges. The splash page of Batman and Joker crashing through a skylight, during a flashback, is stunning and I get a kick out of seeing the 1980’s colours on their costumes.

We are told by Penguin that Vile is still alive but we don’t see him. We can only assume at this point he lies in a hospital bed under armed guard. And with Deb Donovan now fully awake and able to testify as to what happened to her, it’s unclear as to just what evidence Oracle needed to gather in order to free Bruce from custody.
The tactics that Penguin employs here also make little sense to me. He’s killed many people over the years without the perceived need to remove Batman from the equation first. And, given the level of destruction he manages to pull off at one point, it feels like a somewhat flimsy excuse for Penguin and Worth to not use all their resources to make a co-ordinated attack directly on Bruce.

‘The Quiet and Unsung Death of Kirk Langstrom’ makes a concerted effort to paint some heroic light onto the tragic character of Man-Bat. Unfortunately, it relies quite heavily on some past events from stories that I’ve never read, which means I felt a bit distant from it all. Not to mention the fact that, by now, we all know that when people die in comic books they rarely stay dead. This made it hard for me to connect in any real emotional way with Langstrom, especially given how few pages that writer, Dan Watters, had to tell his story. In that respect he did a good job given he was so restrained.


Verdict:

Mariko Tamaki’s ongoing story, that began with so much intrigue, now seems to hang in limbo with too much uncertainty, while Man-Bat is given a “final” send-off that struggles to resonate emotionally. The highlight is Dan Mora’s artwork.


Reviewed By Bryan Lomax 6/8/21

Detective Comics #1038 Review

Fans of The Penguin will be pleased to know that the nefarious birdman is starting to rear up as a key player in this story. Again, it’s not exactly clear how he’s going to figure in to the plans of Hue Vile, but he will undoubtedly have his own agenda.

Detective Comics #1038 Review by Bryan Lomax


Writers: Mariko Tamaki (“The Neigborhood Part 5”) and Meghan Fitzmartin (“March of the Penguin”).

Art: Viktor Bogdanovic and Daniel Henriques (“The Neighborhood Part 5”), with Karl Mostert (“March of the Penguin”).

Colours: Jordie Bellaire

Letters: Aditya Bidikar (“The Neighborhood Part 5”) and Rob Leigh (“March of the Penguin”)

Released 22/06/21
Published by DC Comics


The Neigborhood Part 5 sees Batman battling Mr Worth in the sewers beneath the city streets of Gotham. It is the perfect setting for their showdown given the themes that were explored in the previous issue. Everything that is wrong with Gotham is represented by these two men, whose struggle now rocks the city at its foundations, threatening to bring it crashing down on top of them.

image courtesy of DC Comic News

The artwork by Viktor Bogdanovic depicts the two men as titans, though I feel, excessively so in the case of Mr Worth. This guy looks like he’d make Bane appear modest in size.

I’m still enjoying the mystery that writer, Mariko Tamaki, manages to convey, particularly in regard to the character of Hue Vile, who has yet to reveal just precisely who/what he is and what his endgame might be. However, I do feel that Tamaki’s writing gets a bit choppy at one point, with Mr Worth seemingly having given up the fight with Batman, only to announce to the world that he still wants him dead. It leaves me wondering if there was a page torn out with a missing scene on it.

Reporter Debbie Donovan finds herself in hot water by the end of this issue. As I expressed in my review for Detective Comics #1037, she is a character that has grown on me, so I’m really routing for Batman to save her come issue #1039.

Huntress is a bit lost in this one, like Tamaki didn’t quite know what to do with her, while Batman is off fighting Mr Worth. She gets to save a cyclist, leading to a humorous exchange between the two, but it’s a scene that could have been cut without having any impact on the overall narrative.

Fans of The Penguin will be pleased to know that the nefarious birdman is starting to rear up as a key player in this story. Again, it’s not exactly clear how he’s going to figure in to the plans of Hue Vile, but he will undoubtedly have his own agenda.

Cobblepot is a survivor. He changes and adapts to the times, which means that, while he’s never quite top dog he always manages to hold a seat at the table of the criminal underworld. This is highlighted in the short story, “March of the Penguin”, by Meghan Fitzmartin, which reminds us that, while Oswald Cobblepot is quite easy to laugh at, he is also quite easy to underestimate. Because of this, it is impossible to predict just how the character will play into the events of Tamaki’s story moving forward, which is, ultimately, what makes him an interesting character.


Verdict:

Writer Mariko Tamaki leaves us with more questions than answers in the fifth chapter of this highly engaging mystery thriller.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 03/07/21

Detective Comics #1037 – Review

It’s an effective little story, revealing that not all of Batman’s allies are by his side for the same reasons.

Detective Comics #1037 – Review by Bryan Lomax


Writers: Mariko Tamaki (“The Neigborhood Part 4” & “Exclusive”)
with John Ridley (“3 Minutes”).
Art: Viktor Bogdanovic (“The Neighborhood Part 4”), with Karl Mostert (“Exclusive”) & Dustin Nuguyen (“3 Minutes”)

Released: 08/06/21
Published by DC Comics


Things are really heating up in “The Neighborhood Part 4”. The Huntress, having found the murderer of her friend, Mary Knox, is thrust into an investigation of the parasite that has now killed him. The parasitic antagonist that has been claiming lives throughout these last four issues is the perfect metaphor for writer, Mariko Tamaki, to explore the theme of corruption in Gotham City.

Tamaki brings the character of Mr Worth to the forefront as he goes all out in his pursuit of revenge against the man he believes is responsible for his daughter’s murder: Bruce Wayne. Worth represents much of what is wrong with Gotham. He is the flip-side of the same coin to Bruce; a man with money and power, who uses it to signal virtue on the one hand, whilst infecting the city with corruption on the other. He demands results from the mayor whilst paying off the police to look the other way.

This is a theme that Tamaki explores further in the four-page short story, “Exclusive”, which sees reporter, Deb Donovan, reluctantly cruising in and out of a high society charity ball. Donovan is a character that is fast growing on me. She is one of those rare female characters in comic books who is defined by her personality rather than sex appeal.

“3 Minutes”, by Dustin Nuguyen, takes the themes set up by Tamaki, the almost viral spread of immorality throughout Gotham, and redirects the focus of it upon Batman himself. The story is essentially a short conversation between Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox, during the early days of Batman’s career, which calls into question Bruce’s decision to take on a child partner. Is Bruce, in effect, just as contagious as men like Mr Worth? It’s an effective little story, revealing that not all of Batman’s allies are by his side for the same reasons.

Viktor Bogdanovic takes over pencil duties from Dan Mora, who covered Parts 1-3 of “The Neighborhood”, which is a shame as I was really rather enjoying Mora’s haunting depiction of Gotham. I am also a sucker for continuity. Even so, there’s some very nice artwork on display here, with Bogdanovic not veering too far away from the tone that has already been established.


Verdict –

Writers Mariko Tamaki and Dustin Nuguyen explore the theme of corruption, in three powerful stories, that compliment each other very effectively. Great stuff!

Review by Bryan Lomax, 20/06/21