Ram V has been on a roll in Detective Comics. Four of my last five reviews have been favorable. The title needed this stretch very severely. Sometimes, the story can feel bloated and pretentious, like your Uncle Larry after Thanksgiving. The one constant in the main story is that Jason Shawn Alexander brings his A-game issue after issue. Get him some Advil; his back must hurt from carrying the title for so long. Dan Watters disappoints at every turn but is paired with Juan Ferreyra. It’s artists to the rescue week on Detective Comics.
Let’s get into the meat and potatoes, shall we?
In the last few issues, V has taken a turn for the better; he relies intensely on characterization rather than character. Focusing on what makes Catwoman great: her style, confidence, and courage. Everything that makes her the greatest thief in the DCU. It’s when V makes a hard left and tries to pull what Tynion did on his run in Detective; too many new characters.
Who is the bootleg-looking Steel with a beard?
Enough of Six Eyes and the Wolf Man already!
Detective #1079 is the steady mixed bag; what V has been doing so well with characterization, he continues, and what he hasn’t in the overall plot and narrative also continues. Catwoman, being the lead in this “rescue mission,” is the backbone of the story. The team’s building was exciting, the discussion of the plan was interesting, and the execution of the project was almost perfect. If V can focus on classic Gotham, I think he would appeal to me more.
Catwoman’s monologue was damn good; that was the best part of the issue. The negative, I wasn’t expecting there to be such a plot hole with Freeze. If Catwoman was so wise to what Freeze was planning, why even bother? He never reached his “objective” and never had any intention to. V went through so much to plan this rescue: the multiple “distractions,” a “fake” Catwoman, and the perfect escape vehicle. Every step of this plan was thought out perfectly. How does she not anticipate the betrayal? I was excited when Freeze popped up in the story, but now, I question why he was involved. Was this done to serve as a plot device down the road? Can we focus on the story at hand, please?
Also, the whole “Death of Batman” issue did nothing for me. This story is not close to my heart; I didn’t expect it to move the needle. The book starts with the Dark Knight hanging dead and lifeless. This arc hasn’t been working for me since it started. Now, throw in the troupe of Batman being dead, and this story is losing any shot at redemption. There should be some feelings as a lifelong Batman fan, but alas, nothing. A hollow death, one not fitting for our beloved Caped Crusader.
Alexander’s art is on par with previous issues. What caught my eye the most was very simple. As Catwoman delivers her monologue throughout the book, Alexandar starts with an extreme close-up, heavy on the shading. As the monologue continues, he pulls farther and farther back until you realize where Catwoman is. The shots of Batman’s lifeless feet and the vultures were a wonderful touch, almost like something from The Birds. Alexander does a great job with his layouts and pacing. The action is easy to follow and enjoyable when the story isn’t, specifically AzBats vs the Wolf Man. Alexander does a great job putting you on the streets as all this goes down: explosions, Catwoman swinging through the air, and over-the-shoulder shots. You feel like a citizen of Gotham City watching the chaos ensue.
I have no clue what Watters thinks he is doing. Watters’ stuff has been disappointing initially, but it’s even worse when he tries to riff off V. This backup tale is a continuation of the main story, with the focus on the Six-Eyed woman and how she came to Gotham. This character is not enjoyable or worth my time when V writes her. It’s like Watters is trying to butcher something already a horrible idea. I’d appreciate an original tale to this. The plus side is that Juan Ferreyra illustrates the backup, while there is much for Ferreyra to work with on this tale. He does a fine job with what he has, leaving the reader on a panel of Batman all chained up and screaming. I am not sure where this tale fits in continuity-wise since Batman was still “dead” at the end of the primary, and when this tale began, he was free-roaming Gotham. If you want to know what Ferreyra can bring to a book, I highly recommend reading Spine Tingling Spider-Man. I have been reviewing that on my podcast, The Italian Spider-Man Coalition, and loving it!
The peaks and valleys of Detective Comics continue. Even the good issues seem to lack the luster that the title deserves. I’ve said before in these reviews that I am fed up with the artwork, which significantly outshines the writing. When you have a writer like V in your favorite book, you expect much more. I need more than excellent characterization, and I would have never expected Batman to “die” again when we know that won’t last. After working up my hopes for three issues, all that was left was a disappointment. The end of the story teases more Talia and Two-Face to come. We have one more issue of Detective Comics this month coming on 12/26. All I want for Christmas is this arc to be over.