DETECTIVE COMICS #994 Review by Pete Verra

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SYNOPSIS: Batman’s strangest case begins as the new creative team of writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Doug Mahnke take over DETECTIVE COMICS!

Commissioner Gordon calls in the Dark Knight Detective when there’s a murder at the Gotham City Aquarium—staged to look exactly like Thomas and Martha Wayne’s crime scene, right down to the Playbill and pearls. How does this bizarre homicide tie into the shadowy monster that attacks Dr. Leslie Thompkins? This creature looks to wage a war on Batman—and it’s using Joker Gas to do it!

Finally, it has arrived. The arc we have all been waiting for. Peter J. Tomasi makes his long-awaited return to Gotham!

James Tynion brewed a fresh batch of Batman with Rebirth’s Detective, while Bryan Hill, James Robinson, and Chris Sabella added some Sweet n’ Low. But Tomasi takes his all natural: black, no filter.

The writer is a big name, the real deal, hot off the success of the animated DC film The Death of Superman.  He even has a Green Lantern named after him (his last name backward, Isamot Kol).  Having this guy write Batman should send any comic book fan into euphoria.  Doug Mahnke provides the best-drawn Bat-book since “Rebirth”.  The book is nothing short of stunning to look at. It’s simply beautiful from start to finish.  We are six issues away from Detective #1000, you know this story is going to be big!

In this week’s issue #994, Tomasi nearly writes a perfect Batman story. These 20+ pages are patiently building up to something and serves as a great first step toward Detective Comics #1000.  Continuing one of Robinson’s strengths last arc is Batman doing actual detective work.  The dialogue between the Dark Knight and Gordon is brilliant and better than Robinson. Their relationship feels more complete, instantly showing their mutual respect for one another.  Tomasi does bring out emotion in the stoic Batman. It’s always refreshing to see a writer show the more human side of our hero.

There is also plenty to sink your teeth into here, with cameos from the fan-favorite Leslie Thompkins, as well as the confusing “ Martha and Thomas Wayne”. Where Tomasi loses me is in the big action scene.  The “rescue” aspect is tremendous, showcasing Batman do what he does best and be the hero. But it’s his target that doesn’t win me over, this giant monster man.  As I said earlier, seeing Batman operate in a last-minute rescue ejected from the Batmobile is nothing short of amazing. But this flesh, grunting, red mass just falls flat. It’s a little “out there” for my Gotham sensibilities.

Fortunately, that’s my only complaint about the book. The final page will leave you jaw-dropped and speechless.  After one issue you can feel we are in for a good time with this one.

Doug Mahnke, where have you been all my comic book life?!  Look, I know I praise many artists I review.  I like to think that Detective Comics has really been blessed with a great rotation of artists since I have started reviewing the book.  Mahnke delivers with every panel.  Seeing Batman do detective work gets me every time.  There is something to be said for the little things when it comes to drawing a book.  Sure, the action is great but seeing Batman investigate the crime scene with Gordon, the attention to detail is a pleasure to see.  There is a wondrous splash page of Batman zip-lining with the Bat signal in the air that is to die for.  There are some great screenshot pages for the digital crowd.  You really won’t find a better-drawn book on the shelves of your local comic shop this week.

This is a must-have for your pull list.  One weak villain in a fight won’t take away from how great this issue is.  A world-class writer and a world-class artist are going to bring us a classic.  The build-up to Detective Comics #1000 has begun and it’s going to be a hell of a ride.  Tomasi has the pulse of these characters, everyone.  This is some of the best investigative banter I have read in a while.  Mahnke matches Tomasi’s level of greatness with a stellar looking Batman.  I honestly can’t wait to hear the reactions to this book.  I think everyone is really going to love this!

This is it for Detective Comics in 2018. Issue #995 goes on sale 1/2/2019.  Here’s to another great year reading Detective with everyone!! – Pete Verra

GRADE: A-

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Peter Verra
A lover of genre films from BATMAN to FRIDAY THE 13th. A producer of college sports at the world’s most famous arena, MSG. A fool for watching that SCOOBY DOO teaser trailer from 2002 and praying Batman is the one who turns around every time. Backyard BBQ enthusiast & sports fan Yankees, Pacers, Devils, who ever plays the NJ Giants!