Peter J. Tomasi, writer
Doug Mahnke, artist
Christian Alamy & Mark Irwin, Inkers
David Baron, Colorist
Rob Leigh, Letters
Previously in Detective Comics, Batman visits a mentor and close ally, Thaddeus Brown, at his home in Paris. The pair is attacked by a monster that represents Batman’s most dangerous villains. This issue begins, Thaddeus and Batman are in Thaddeus’ home; they’re bound by leather straps and the room is filling with water. Sharks are seen swimming in the water, Thaddeus is bleeding, and they are running out of breathable air. As the scenes play out, the monster from the previous issue morphs to appear like Batman himself. Batman, essentially, fights himself in hand-to-hand combat to the death.
The entertaining part of this issue is the amount of Batman-lore Tomasi taps into as he fills in the story. Thaddeus trained Batman, teaching him everything he knows, including how to escape from traps. Interestingly, Thaddeus is a mentor to another famous DC character who also is a master of escaping traps, Scott Free. Another interesting aspect of the story is the idea of Batman’s worst enemy being himself. While this trope has been employed in comics since the dawn of time, this is different because Batman finds a part of himself that the evil monster has overlooked. Despite the monster knowing all Batman’s secrets and all his fears, he doesn’t know all of Batman. This story twist flushes out Batman as a character and as a man and adds intrigue to the story.
The art is a highlight of this issue. Mahnke captures the different parts of Batman, good and evil, in picture form beautifully. For example, the evil Batman is impressive, with deep red eyes, and an imposing physique with broad shoulders and large hands. Batman is pictured with a noble chin and a traditional pure blueish-grey uniform. Thaddeus is an elegant, weathered man with a “lived-in” appearance that lends to the mystique that he taught Batman everything that he knows.
Overall = 9/10
Tomasi is building the story to a boiling point as Batman faces his most dangerous villains while protecting his greatest allies. It’s interesting that the story is built around Batman protecting those he loves while employing all of the skills that his mentors taught him so he can save their lives. I highly recommend this story for fans of Batman and DC.