REVIEW: DETECTIVE COMICS #996 by Pete Verra

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SYNOPSIS: In the catacombs under Paris, Henri Ducard is not going to sit and wait for the death that’s coming for everyone who helped to train Batman…he’s going to wrestle it to the ground and put a bullet between its eyes! Good plan—but what if it just gets right back up? Can even Batman save him then?

Strap on your seatbelts cool kids!  Peter J. Tomasi is taking us on a ride like none we have experienced in Rebirth Detective Comics!  This book is an action-packed mystery worthy of the Detective title.  Doug Mahnke is truly a gifted artist; his action layouts are a blast and really add the finishing touches to the book. This issue is nonstop fun from page one!

It has been such a great run recently in Detective Comics, leaning heavily on mystery and the unknown.  While Tomasi does a great job at planting breadcrumbs for the reader, it is his ability to write meaningful dialogue that steals the issue.

Two interactions specifically, the first with Damien in the Batcave is about as touching of a moment that the two have ever had.  Tomasi writes Damien in a way where you see compassion and respect that you have never seen before.  Usually, Damien is written as a little punk, but here, Tomasi really taps into the father-son relationship.

The second is Batman and Henri Ducard, Bruce Wayne and the man who trained him. These two go from fighting each other to fighting for one and other and that is where Tomasi brings out past relationships and the preverbal who tried to kill whom first. Between the banter and the action, this was one of the more incredible Batman sequences in a while.

Someone is hunting Batman’s mentors one by one. Can The Dark Knight solve this mystery be further lives are lost?

Are you on the edge of your seat?

I am!

If you haven’t read my previous reviews of Doug Mahnke’s work on Detective get ready for compliments!  What was not to love? From page to page the artwork is awesome.  Seeing Mahnke’s bloody knuckled Batman walk down the halls of Arkham will put a huge grin on your face.  This is my first real chance at looking at Mahnke’s work I’d compare him to other well know artists such as Andy Benes and Tony Daniel. With sharp lines, clean looking pages, solid amount of shading, and not too much hatching, just quality art. The Batman/Ducard fight was brilliant. Batman scaling the snow-covered mountains of North Korea is something you will not forget either. There is an awesome Matrix tribute panel that is nothing short of amazing. The book is purchase worthy purely on art alone.

Shout out to colorist David Baron; you nailed the perfect amount of blue on Batman. While The Batsuit has predominately been black recently. Baron does a great job of matching the 70’s/Adams look perfectly. Similar to how BTAS nailed it, use blue as an accent around black/shadows. Batman just looks phenomenal in this issue.

Let’s rehash here, fun mystery story, tons of Batman fights, awesome pencils and a jaw dropping ending you didn’t see coming (Tom King didn’t).  You need to add Detective Comics to your pull list.

This issue was so good I forgot to mention we are only four issues away from ‘Tec #1000. Tomasi is building up this insane tale and every issues just gets better and better! – 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!