SYNOPSIS: Bruce Wayne is supposed to be dead…but this Dark Detective is on the run and shining a light on the mystery of his own “murder”: How did the killers know Bruce Wayne was Batman? As the forces of the Magistrate zero in on Bruce’s location, it’s a race against time to unlock the secrets of their surveillance tech and take the fight to the very top! But is the knowledge that Bruce’s own legacy helped to enable the greatest authoritarian force the city of Gotham has ever seen too much to bear?
Here we are at the halfway point of Future State’s Dark Detective, and writer Mariko Tamaki continues her captivating story. The reader will be delighted to see moments inspired by some beloved action films and similarities to current events while having a wonderful Batman twist. Artist Dan Mora is something to behold as his panel placement is truly unique, never once repeating himself throughout the book, continuing with his emotional action-driven approach. Colorist Jordie Bellaire is the standout in this issue as the unique color palate makes every page pop, captivating your eye.
All eyes in Gotham should be on Dark Detective right now. Tamaki is juggling like she is the main attraction in the center ring with the spotlight. This is developing into an in-depth tale about the psyche and determination of Bruce Wayne. At one point, Tamaki crafts a monologue about death that would make Chris Terrio proud. At times, she blends paranoid citizen elements with moments from Robocop 2, The Fugitive, and Terminator with just the right about of Batman. We see Batman getting his hands dirty, doing detective work, investigating the scenes, and protecting the citizens of Gotham.
Tamaki is really in the head of Bruce Wayne; she knows how to write this character. Not only is she exploring the detective aspect of the Dark Knight, but it’s the personal element of Bruce Wayne that is so interesting in his day-to-day life. Hearing the way this Bruce interprets his death was fascinating to read. This seems to be the perfect balance of miserable and dark but yet motivated Bruce. Hearing Bruce talk about his trials and tribulations is something that draws the reader into this future version. Tamaki continues with a nonlinear timeline for exposition perfectly, never once causing confusion or having the reader needing to “flip back” a page.
Dan Mora’s artwork is a splendid gift from the comic book gods. Not one page is the same as the last. Each panel flows right into the next and always in a different pattern. Mora and Tamaki are in perfect sync from the first page. We see Batman ride the back of a Magistrate Cyber like it was Robocop and Cain in Robocop 2. Bruce Wayne is evading Peacekeeper-01 like Richard Kimble in The Fugitive. Writer and artist work in unison, and it pays off. Mora’s crouching Batman is dying to be posterized; we only need him in a traditional Batsuit. The fight with Peacekeeper-01 leads into this awesome piece of the Dark Knight Returns homage and the Superman/nuclear warhead panel. That alone in the book will have fanboy’s jaws drop to the floor.
The way that Mora draws impact to his action sequences stands out. Explosions, gunfire, and even diving into the water provide such a grand form of expression. Shrapnel, smoke, and bubbles provide the elements desired for these scenes to carry the influence necessary. Mora adds some old-school comic book traits to his artwork. He uses that throwback way of adding action streaks around the character’s head when they make those quick turns; there is a little streak following them when they jump, a few lines showing movement when someone grabs a shoulder. Those little things will make the long-time readers smile.
Jordie Bellaire provides the colors for this issue, and I must say that this was the book’s highlight. Bellaire adds some depth to every panel of Mora’s artwork. Mora’s art is already stunning, but these backgrounds are draped in an array of colors that you can’t help but notice. The Dark Knight Returns tribute, the drones chasing Batman, Peacekeep-01 getting blown sky high are all highlighted with these added colors. Bellaire is doubling down on that Blade Runner 2049 vibe, and I love every minute of it.
Dark Detective is arguably the best Gotham-based FUTRE STATE book, the other being Nightwing (make sure you read that). Tamaki, Mora, and Bellaire’s creative team excel at every aspect of crafting a fine comic book. The writing is compelling and draws the reader in from page one. The artwork is mesmerizing, taking Gotham City to a level we have not seen since Batman Forever. This is a tale that is getting into the trenches of Bruce Wayne’s mind, and we are just along for one hell of a ride. A Bruce Wayne story, first and foremost. This is a must for the pull list this week! – Peter Verra