This month Detective Comics kicks into high gear as Batman and his allies charge forward to confront the Orghams. Will pushing the pace into a higher gear jump start this run, and breathe some much needed momentum into things? Let’s see.
Right away I want to say that I am so glad to see faster pacing in this issue. It’s brisk, and you can feel the characters in action across the board. The story hops between Batman, Nightwing, Batgirl, with Oracle as the go-between for them all and balances them all well.
The narrative focuses in on Batman’s attempt to stop the Orghams from using their reality machine to alter Gotham and on the rest of his team’s attempts to save the people that had been kidnapped, while keeping the grand opening of the Orgham’s building from getting out of hand. Things do not go as planned, and the story is packed with a variety of excellent action scenes, and adventure as everyone struggles to keep Gotham safe.
Ivan Reis and Stefano Raffaele are on pencils together this issue, and both do a great job balancing out the action. Between color, pencils, and inks the creative team really gets a chance here to flex in moments of action through the whole issue, and here that’s really important as so much of the issue is focused on the minute to minute and second to section action going on.
There’s scene after scene here where Batman looks great as he’s working his way through thugs, and some of the tougher members of the Orgham group. From scenes where he’s swooping in to the fight, to ones showing his ease in handling a group in a fight, this issue showcases him really well. Even the moments where he’s struggling are well worked.
The other characters, Nightwing and Batgirl get equally nice moments featuring their own specialties. Cass is a ghost, sneaking up on the people she needs to take down, while Dick is flashy and bright with his expressions and quips. Everyone feels very well balanced, and for all the action packed into this issue, having these scenes look great makes the book flow even better.
While I did enjoy the way the pacing picks up here, I’m also not sure it works one hundred percent. Before you say “Wait, Matina, haven’t you been begging for some action and momentum?” I have. I am so pleased to see it. However, it’s structured very much as a grand climax, and while Ram V has certainly laid the ground for that, the series meandering, slower paced narrative means this sudden jump into big action and high stakes feels almost hollow. The rising action and growing tension that should have led to this big explosion is layered under the story’s longer structure.
It also feels abrupt because I cannot actually remember how much Batman should know of the Orghram’s plans. They’re spouting information about their reality machine, and Batman himself is poised to do whatever –and I mean whatever– it takes to stop them, and I keep finding myself trying to remember just what he knows. The stakes don’t feel real, because the story has cast a wide net, and only keys in on Bruce here and there every issue. His investigation feels lost in the myriad of plot lines going on. Each element, including the investigation, feels disconnected from one another and even the story each part is trying to tell. This issue might be cleared up in reading the whole arc together, in trade format, but month to month it causes the story to struggle a bit.
Stepping back to look at the issue as a whole, I like that the story has picked up. I like seeing Batman move against the Orghams and I like seeing Batgirl and Nightwing backing him up, and the group working as a team. I want this momentum going forward, especially with how explosive things get at the end of the story. The tension is high, and I want more of that as pieces long set up move into place. I am eager to check out the next issue.
Backup: Things That Must Die Part 1
The backup this issue is penned by Dan Watters, with Stefano Raffaele on art. Having Raffaele on the backup and main story helps make the backup feel even more intertwined with what’s going on in Detective Comics’ greater narrative. So much so, I felt almost like the issue had simply continued on instead of stopping to switch over to the backup.
The backup focuses on Arzen as a young boy, specifically as he deals with the news of his father’s passing. It’s an expansion of the backstory we got in the last couple issues of the book, and a great way to add depth to Arzen as a character. So far, we haven’t gotten to see a lot of just him through the series. He’s very much been set up to oppose Bruce: young, rich, and the up and coming savior of Gotham. Beyond that, we haven’t gotten a deep look at his personality. This backup serves to fill in some of those holes, and show defining moments in his life to make him someone who would go to the lengths the Orghams have gone to in the main book.
As part one, it really sets up the story, showing Arzen training, and his initial reactions to losing his father. It also sets up various people and elements who might be important to Arzen, and that could shape him depending on how they fare through the progression of the narrative. As a look at him, it does a good job opening up the story, and I’m interested to see where it goes.
- The pace picks up in a great way
- You like a dash of Nightwing and Batgirl alongside Batman
- The art is really lovely here, full of excellent action and movement
This issue does what I’ve been excited to see Detective Comics do for a while: Gets everyone in on the action. Filling the pages with Batman, Nightwing, Bagirl, and the various enemies that have been mounting through the run, there’s plenty going on here. While some elements can feel a little lost with such a sudden jump to action, it is a refreshing jump nonetheless. I am eager to see where the story goes from here.
Overall score: 7/10
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.