Review: Detective Comics #963

Since the start of Rebirth, there have been two books that have consistently been fantastic, fortnight in, fortnight out.  Detective is one of those books.  Initially the idea of a Bat team book that included not one but two former Batgirls, continuity be damned and the only place you would see, at least for a time, a Robin with Batman.  The book also gave Batwoman a place to shine and of course, the inclusion of former villain Clayface was the curve ball that caused so much consternation.  However, under the guiding hands of James Tynion IV, the team have dealt with threats from within and without, had loses and made some gains utilizing the specific skills of some of the most under used Bat family characters, without losing the quality of the storytelling that we have come to expect from Tynion.

After the conclusion of the intense Azreal storyline, its time to for something a less weighty, maybe even lighter.  Of course, this being Gotham, lighter means the  Monsters of Gotham making a reappearance.  The book starts in a winsome manner, with a rooftop meeting between Steph Brown and Tim Brown, setting up some of Steph’s current plan as she continues to try and deliver Batman’s goals without doing it the Batman way.  Teamed up with Anarky, she starts to get an idea of his big scheme, whilst Clayface gets some attention in the subplot.

Story wise, Tynion is joined by Christopher Sebela, the latter also providing the words.  Between the two, things seems a little slower than previous issues.   This is probably due to the amount of words that appear on each panel and on each page. With this being the first issue of this arc, the pair also need to set up the sub plot for those who haven’t been picking up the book.  The book also feels just a tad off, structure wise.  True, Steph realises that she is still doing things that Batman would expect of her, but this is due to the whole save one life at a time vibe she carries from Tim.  In addition, at face value, the idea of saving more in a shorter amount time a la Anarky matches Tim’s greater goal.  As such, by hanging with Anarky Steph may well be feeling a level of projection even maybe comparison.  Thanks to the power of Previews, we know what is coming in the next arc, so this almost emotional transition in Steph is massively important as it will have a huge impact when Mr Drake re-appears.

The art is provided by Carmen Carnero and is a mixed bag.  I have seen and enjoyed Carnero’s work before on the Adventures of Supergirl.  Carnero has an almost Adam Hughes style of facial art which is shown of to great effect in the opening pages of this issue.  The action scenes are also well choreographed with good camera angles used.  Where there is a need to improve is the characters who don’t have a regular face.  Clayface in particular suffers from a lack of, pardon the pun, consistency, as does Steph in mask mode.  This isn’t much of a problem when drawing Supergirl, where there is a lack of masks, but Gotham is mask heavy.  Still, when all is said and done, the art, inked by Carnero herself, is a nice change of pace to the overly dark pages from the previous arc.  Colors are provided by Ulises Arreola and one of my personal favourites, Kelly Fitzpatrick.

The change of pace and change of focus may put some fans off, especially as they may feel its like a filler song before the big hit on a CD.  Extending the metaphor a little, if you spend your time waiting for Anna Begins, you will miss out on the nuanced Perfect Blue Building.  Despite the changes, events in this arc will have repercussions down the line, which in part, is why Detective remain one of the most consistent books from DC Comics.

Writing – 4 Stars
Art – 3.5 Stars
Colors 4.5 Stars

Written by; Jame Tynion IV & Christopher Sebela
Art by; Carmen Carnero
Colors by; Ulises Arreola & Kelly Fitzpatrick
Published b; DC Comics

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