Detective Comics #996 Review

Peter J. Tomasi, writer
Doug Mahnke, pencils
Jaime Mendoza, inks
David Baron, colors
Rob Leigh, letters

The previous issue ends with Alfred on an operating table, but alive, and Batman in Arkham Asylum ready to confront his rogue’s gallery who are currently held there. This issue begins, the bruised and beaten faces of several of his villains are pictured. Batman obtains evidence that leads to his pursuit of Henri Ducard in Paris, France. After confronting Ducard, they join forces when they are attacked by a creature that captures the essence of all of his most famous enemies: Bane, Joker, The Riddler, etc. Confused? It’s not clear if this is a mythical representation of the villains or a metaphor and a hallucination; however, the fight is very real. After defeating this monster Batman travels to North Korea to talk to his sensei and find some answers. He finds the sacred Ninjutsu Temple after an attack. Sensei Kirigi is alive and in need of protection, which Batman offers.

The compelling thing about this story is how Tomasi injects elements from Tom King’s run while keeping the enemy elusive and unknown. For example, at the end of the issue, #50 King shows a panel that includes all the villains Batman fought in the first 50 issues. Many of these characters are included in this morphing monster. The writer is very clear in describing the enemies strategy: to remove the people in Batman’s life who made him Batman. This is a brilliant move on Tomasi’s part because it keeps the reader guessing while making the motive crystal clear. The enemy wants to destroy Batman and everyone who made him who he is, the hero of Gotham City.

The art is beautiful which depicts this morphing imposing monster made up of all of Batman’s villains; you really have to see it to appreciate the artistry. I have been thrilled with the way Mahnke draws Batman. For example, a panel toward the end of the issue shows Batman climbing a mountain. His blueish grey suit over blueish white snow covered mountain is absolutely gorgeous. The pacing and structure of the issue build suspense and does not feel over-stuffed with activity. For example, Batman moves from the psych-hospital to France, to North Korea in pursuit of the evidence trail. It appears to be leading toward a colossal confrontation.

Overall = 9.5/10

Final Impressions

Detective Comics has been injected with new energy since the change in creative teams. Tomasi utilizes Batman’s extensive gallery of character to make this story feel grounded in the lore yet mysterious and fresh.

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Tom Zimm
I am a licensed clinical social worker and trauma therapist that works with children. I've been interested in comic book heroes since I was a young child. However, it's been in the last 3-4 years that I've been making the weekly trip to the local comic book store to redeem my pull list. DC's Rebirth really won me over, especially Geoff Johns' 80-page book. My favorite properties include The Flash and The Incredible Hulk. My criteria for a good comic book include taking stupid and fun seriously while remaining self-aware.