Ram V continues his run of Batman vs Universal Monster rejects, now with a brand-new artist, Riccardo Federici in DETECTIVE COMICS #1081. We cannot forget that Dan Watter is back for another lackluster backup tale. The combo of V and Watters might be the worst one-two writing combo in comics. Oh, the pain!
V picks up right where he left off, at the corner of pretentious and dull. You pick up the book and cannot get two pages before Batman turns into Little Red Riding Hood. I have not seen a more dreadful mix of villains used in a book before. This combo of new monster villains mixed with Dr. Hurt falls way short of quality. On the one hand, you have villains created for royalties (toys, merch, etc.), then on the other, you have a writer trying to add to the mythology of one of Batman’s more convoluted and idiotic villains, aka Dr. Hurt. Sprinkle on the tired trope of a “dead” Batman, and you have an overstuffed book with horrible ideas. Ideas we, as readers, have already read. Everything about this tale feels like I have been there before new characters with Tynion and Zadarsky recently, Morrison’s Batman RIP, Knightfall, O’Neil/Adams. The only fresh idea is Six-eyed Sally, which pops up now and then to take PT away from the likes of Mr. Freeze and Two-Face who have been far superior villains in their brief appearances.
Then, there is the whacked-out structure of the story. I do not know if this was an issue with the review copies we received, but there is a Question tale in the middle of the Batman/Hurt tale. This is beyond irritating. The two have little to do with each other but cannot help but interrupt each other. It prevents the reader from ever getting into the flow of these pathetic stories. I will not know if there was an issue with the “digital” printer until New DC day. I was already not feeling the vibe of this tale. You throw in this Question/monkey wrench, which takes me out even more.
Did the previous artists from Detective tell Riccardo Federici that he will need a prescription for carrying the load of this title on his back? Time after time, these outstanding artists get wasted on this horrible tale. Federici delivers a beautiful brand of art that almost looks like fine colored pencils. The lines are then sharp, and the details have a JRJR look to them, just more subtle. There is that hint of realism that you see from an Alex Ross or a Lee Bermejo. Federici brings a beautiful combination to the book. Like the other artists before him, that is not enough to save this book.
The backup tale is a new one from Dan Watters. The story centers around a support group and three members’ tales of Gotham City and their experiences. Even this tale feels like I have read it before. This backup reads like a poor man’s version of Maxwell Prince’s Ice Cream Man book from Image Comics. Watters’ backup tales have the same issue as the primary. These are stories that have been told before and to a higher standard.
Detective Comics has become a shell of itself. The long-standing legacy title gets outshined month after month embarrassingly. This is not just bad Batman; it is shit Batman. I have never been so frustrated by a writer I enjoy as much as V. His characterization of legacy characters can be brilliant, but he seems to get in his way more often than not. Combine that up with Watters, who attempts to sink the book every month in nine pages or less, and you get this disaster. A few people have told me this run reads better collected; I will try that later, not soon. This run and I will need some time apart before I revisit it. Overpriced, overstuffed, and not worth your time. This one is a pass. – Peter Verra