DC Comics released Peter Tomasi’s Detective Comics #1023 on July 7th. Joined by artist Brad Walker, inker Andrew Hennessy, colorist Brad Anderson, and Rob Leigh on letters, this issue serves as a lead-in to James Tynion IV’s Joker War event.
As the Joker raises Lincoln March and an army of Talons, Batman pursues Harvey Dent, breaking into Hugo Strange and the Mad Hatter’s lair to find him. Batman eventually confronts Two-Face, but right when he thinks he’s been subdued; Lincoln March arrives with the Talons.
There are a few nice callbacks in this issue. The Court of Owls continues to show their resiliency as a relatively fresh addition to the Batman lore. Two-Face even dons the armored suit used by Jim Gordon during his brief stint as Batman during Scott Snyder’s run.
Overall, however, this issue rings a little hollow. I say this as someone who really likes Peter Tomasi’s work, but the characterization in this issue just seemed shallow. At times, the writing in this issue was just people yelling other people’s names and then fighting.
One gets the impression that some of the books at DC are in a holding pattern mode, waiting for the new status quo to establish itself after Death Metal.
Art, Inks, and Colors
The art team does a serviceable job on this issue. I appreciate their Joker, a kind of grinning gremlin, and the other villains, like Two-Face and Mad Hatter. Their Batman, however, made me less than enthused.
I have to acknowledge that I enjoy the line work and the colors, particularly the shine that the darker parts of Batman’s costume has. But while Batman’s legs are certainly muscular, the rest of the design, from the upper body to the cape to the cowl, make me think of a skinny guy in cosplay. Maybe I’ve just been too spoiled by Jason Fabok, Mitch Gerads, and Mikel Janín’s Batman designs over the last five years, but Batman has lost some of his foreboding grandeur.
I will say that the image of Alfred’s broken neck that Batman sees while he’s in the Hatter’s trance did make me feel a little.
Batman snapping his neck back into place sits in an awkward place between touching and perhaps needlessly grotesque, but I think the moment works in a comic with some otherwise shallow characterization.
Leigh’s lettering is serviceable in this issue. I have a lot of respect for a letterer who tries his best to make sure that every character has a unique voice, whether through font or coloring, which Leigh does here. He is also able to communicate tone well, whether its Batman’s steady internal monologue or the aforementioned characters-shouting-each-other’s-names-and-then-attacking dialogue. Leigh also adds in plenty of “sound effects” throughout the issue, all of which are seamlessly added into the fabric of the story without begin overwhelming or distracting, but providing the accentuation (as in the above “krak” of Alfred’s neck).
I was initially excited about Tomasi being on Detective. I’ve been a big fan of his for a few years now, but this issue demonstrates to me that maybe it’s time for a new writer to take over. Hopefully, once the Joker War runs its course, and Death Metal establishes a new status quo, a fresh vision can be brought to this Bat-title.