SYNOPSIS: When the terrorist organization known as THE RED CROWN took control of Mayor Nakano’s personal security detail, only the Batman could protect Gotham’s highest-ranking city official from certain death! But when the pair is thrust into the sewers below, a much more sinister threat lurks in the darkness. Better look sharp, Batman, because a hundred thousand eggs with a hundred thousand little monsters inside are about to hatch…and they look HUNGRY… Back-up: Arkham Asylum may have been decimated during A-DAY, but its legacy lives on. Now, Mayor Nakano has given the green light for a brand-new ARKHAM TOWER to be erected in the heart of Gotham City, and some strange and horrific things are going down at the construction site. Don’t miss this epic kick-off to a story arc that will shape the Batman universe for years to come!
Detective Comics #1044 keeps up with the good vibes of issues past. Everything that has worked in previous stories is on full display. This book has two top DC writers under one cover, Mariko Tamaki writes the main tale, and Harley Quinn scribe Stephine Phillips writes the backup. Tamaki continues her political body snatchers thriller, while Phillips delivers a wonderfully spooky tale perfect for this time of year. Not to mention Dan Mora on pencils for the main story is always a huge plus. With this much talent in one book, can it possibly live up to the hype? Let’s get right into it!
Tamaki has become a master at mixing themes and genres in her books. She opens Detective with a beautiful monologue preaching the retched truth of Gotham, then takes the reader down to the depths of the sewer only to have all the sediment rise to the top. The heavy political undertones make this one of the unique books I have ever reviewed. If you told me that Tamaki at one point was a White House correspondent, I would believe you. Everything she is doing with Mayor Nakano and city hall is brilliant.
While some might claim that the villain(s) could be a tad underwhelming, it’s the aspect of “team Batman” that works so magnifically. Batman is working with Oracle underground while Batwoman works above the surface. This is the type of orchestrated planning that Batfans love and expect from the best tactician in comics. The highlight of the tale is the one on one between Batman and Nakano. Nakano gets a chance to finally let Batman know how he feels while The Dark Knight is doing his best to save the mayor from suffering a fate similar to his own in issue 1042.
Welcome aboard, Stephanie Philips! Philips is one of DC’s hottest new writers; Sensational Wonder Woman, Harley Quinn, Aquaman 80 are all well worth reading. Here Phillips enters the political ring herself while adding the perfect amount of Arkham madness for the Halloween season. Phillips is the opposite side of Tamaki’s coin; Tamaki has the Batman angle covered while Phillips leans more towards Bruce Wayne. Both stories show different sides of mayor Nakano. Phillips’s version of Nakano almost looks and feels defeated. Very unlike how we saw Nakano talking to the Dark Knight and fighting for his life in the primary. From mad men on the steps of city hall to underground zombie scares, Phillips has set the stage for her short stay on Detective.
Dan Mora delivers one of his more nuanced issues here in #1044. His art sets the gloomy tone of the book from the get-go as we have become accustomed to Mora delivering fine panel placement, easy-to-follow action while displaying emotion with ease. Mora’s scruffy Batman has become one of my personal favorites. Mora puts his hatching skills on display, adding a texture to not only Batman but the backgrounds and everything around him. At times this feels like an old-school comic book, solid color backgrounds on muted colors, shout out to colorist Jordie Bellaire, and those thing lines around a character’s head add to their reactions. The underground scene is where Mora excels. The range of emotion from both Batman and Nakano is beautiful to behold, especially when Mora gets to draw them in a fear state (see what I did there?).
David Lapham pencils the backup story, and his art will give you that Matt Wagner vibe. Very clean pencils with thick black lines. The story is drawn well and has a simple layout to follow. Lapham does an excellent job with that calm and crazy look early on during the construction of Arkham Asylum. He is setting the tone of the bloody tale that you are about to read. Lapham’s does draw a fantastic Batman crashing through a window.
Detective Comics #1044 is worth every penny! This book has two of the best DC writers doing wonders with all the drama going on downtown and mixing it all up with the perfect amount of “ghosts and goblins” that is perfect for this time of year. Fantastic writing, definitive Batman and Bruce Wayne moments, uncertainty in the mayor’s office, there is nothing more a Batman fan could ask for out of a book. This title has been the best Batman book for a long time, and it just keeps on getting better. If this book is not on your pull list on new DC day, you must hand in your Bat-card. – Peter Verra