Probably more than many of the new #1’s flying out of the house DC built, Detective Comics certainly carries a fair amount of expectations from many fans of the Dark Knight, including myself. Of all the Batman franchises, Detective Comics has generally been my favorite as it grounds Batman more firmly into his base element, Gotham’s caped-crusader, and focuses more directly on crime and mystery rather than some of the more outrageous story lines some of the other Batman titles places the Dark Knight in.
Since it has been a real long time since we’ve been given a good old-fashioned knock-down, drag out fight between the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime, Tony Daniel kicks off DC’s newest issue of Detective Comics with Batman hot on the trail of Gotham’s Grinning Menace. If you’ve read this title in the past, you know Detective Comics generally treads a darker, more sinister road dealing with things best not talked about without the lights on. If you’ve never read Detective Comics, this is a good point to dive in and start reading this title. As such, this reboot does disappoint, delivering one of the creepiest story lines featuring Batman that I can recall, including the Joker and a new villain we are surely going to see soon, the Doll Maker.
The breakdown of Detective Comics #1 is that we are given a younger Batman, a ginger-head Commissioner Gordon, and the Joker in all his crazed and unpredictable serial killer glory. Batman, having discovered a series of patterns leading to the next victim of the Joker stumbles upon a scene that would make even most die-hard fan of Rob Zombie’s film library cringe. There’s also a hint of a new, possibly more gruesome element operating in Gotham known as the Doll Maker.
Does this book deliver? Hell, yes! Both the story and art are exceptional. The re-introduction of the Batman and the Joker as well as the lead-in to another seemingly worthy adversary with the Doll Maker all combine with the story to make this one of the best of DC’s New 52 that I have read so far. Tony Daniel working both the story and drawing board seems to manage both elements exceptionally well without drawing away from one for the other and delivers exciting, clean action sequences as well as a tight script (notwithstanding Batman’s conversation with Commissioner Gordon that falls a little flat). Tony Daniel also produces quite possibly the most shockingly gory last page that will come out of the New 52 #1 re-launch, with inking by Ryan Winn complements Daniel’s penciling as well as chainsaws and massacres.
Bottom line is, Tony Daniel not only provides DC Comics fans with a re-booted, #1 issue of Detective Comics, and he thrusts it out in a clenched fist proclaiming “READ THIS!” And, we you do, you’ll certainly feel that this series may be one that ranks up there with The Long Halloween and even Batman: Year One.
Reviewed by David Amburgey
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