Category Archives: Detective Comics

Detective Comics #1041 Review


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


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

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

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