THIS WEEK: DC inaccurately celebrates an anniversary in an oversized anthology featuring Batman creators, past present, and possibly future with Detective Comics #1027.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.
The most striking thing about this issue is that it’s inaccurately celebrating this anniversary. When you start with issue #27, your thousandth issue featuring Batman would actually be #1026 rather than #1027.
Detective Comics #1027
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Brad Walker
Inks: Andrew Hennessy
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover: Andy Kubert & Brad Anderson
Unsurprisingly, the first story of this anniversary is by the ongoing creative team for Detective Comics. It is also one of the least interesting of the stories in the volume. The funnest part of this issue was watching Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessy go through various eras of Batman history, drawing Batman, Robin, and their various rogues in their looks from all the years of Batman history. The artists do a great job of mimicking the looks of years past and giving us a feeling of all that history. The story itself was pretty lackluster, Batman trying to deduce which of his enemies could be behind his current predicament, and it turns out it was none of them, but just a generic hitman. It was a decent showcase of Batman being a detective, but also a bit anti-climatic.
“The Master Class”
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: Joshua Reed
This one was probably my favorite of the stories in this anthology, which probably comes as no surprise as it features the family to a larger extent than the other stories. While some of Bendis’s dialogue tics come through pretty heavily, it for the most part works. In particular, most of the bigger Bendisisms come from Spoiler, and that’s a character that that sort of dialogue really works well for. This story really highlights the personalities of all the kids and shows how well they play off of each other. All of the kids work together to solve a crime, and it’s just a delightfully fun family story. Marquez as always, delivers some of the best art in the business, making everyone appear visually distinctive and unique, a tougher task when doing a story with two separate Robins.
“Many Happy Returns”
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Chip Zdarsky
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
The most surprising story in this special was this one from team Sex Criminals. Fraction and Zdarsky have been a brilliant comedy pairing for the last seven years, but they aren’t necessarily a team that shouts “Put em on Batman!”, ya know? But if you are going to have them do a story? Doing a fun and wacky Joker story is the way to go. This is less of the Joker that we’ve seen recently (despite it fitting the theme of one of the Three Jokers), and more of what we saw of the character through the Silver and Bronze Age. He’s still a killer, but not as sadistic and much more of a prankster. It’s a weird story of monthly birthday gifts, some more benign than others. A very nice touch was that one of the birthday gifts was a reference to the fourth printing cover of Sex Criminals #1. I know I said I’m sick of Joker stories, but if more of them were like this one? I’d like a lot more of them.
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Pencils: Emanuela Lupacchino
Inks: Bill Sienkiewicz
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
I don’t have a lot to say about this story necessarily, other than to talk about how drastically a change in inker can do for a penciler. Emanuela Lupacchino has a very distinctive style, one that is very easily identifiable. She usually works with Ray McCarthy, and the pair have developed a great working relationship. McCarthy does a wonderful job with Lupacchino’s flowing linework so that his inks very much feel a part of her work. Alternatively, Bill Sienkiewicz is well known for a sketchier style, best exemplified in his work on New Mutants with “The Demon Bear Saga” and Warlock. These aren’t necessarily what I’d think of as complementary styles, and indeed, Sienkiewicz’s inks give Lupacchino’s pencils an entirely different look. It’s wonderful to see what her work looks like under someone else’s inks, and no less impressive than her normal collaborations with McCarthy.
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Dan Mora
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Letters: Tom Napolitano
The last story of the volume is also one of the most intriguing. It pairs two of the hottest creators in comics, current “Best Writer” Eisner Award winner Mariko Tamaki and superstar artist Dan Mora. The story is clearly the start of a new story, and indeed the end of the story says that it will continue in Detective Comics. Now solicits do list Tomasi as the writer until at least December, and does reference the Black Casebook of this story, but my hope is that soon we’ll see Tamaki and Mora start a proper run on the book. That would be a welcome change in an era where we’re starting to see the same talent grow stagnant on books throughout the line. It’s time for newer blood, and this story was a wonderful example of it.
The nicest thing about this anthology is that all of the stories do focus on the detective side of Batman. Despite being off by an issue, Detective Comics #1027 is a fantastic tribute to the character.
- Catwoman #25 is a fantastic fresh take on Catwoman, setting up what is hopefully a long run from Ram V. He takes time to give Selina a new base of operations, and a new supporting cast. The “Joker War” story to lead in the issue was the least interesting part of this book, but luckily both backups were utterly fantastic.
- “Joker War” continues in Batman #99, I guess? It’s the opposite of the Fraction and Zdarsky Joker story in Detective Comics #1027, and I just really don’t find myself caring much at all?
- “Doom Metal” starts in Justice League #53, and again didn’t do much for me. There were only seven books this week, and having five of them tie into events revolving around Batman and the other two also being Batman tangential seems a bit overkill on that particular character. The only book that doesn’t feature a Batman character in some way is Metal Men, but even that is tying into Death Metal.
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