Detective Comics #994 reintroduces Peter Tomasi on writing duties for the Dark Knight, a role he clearly loves. And if this first issue is any indicator, the run-up to issue #1,000 should be a great ride.
Batman is confronted by one of his strangest mysteries in recent memory when the bodies of Martha and Thomas Wayne show up at the Gotham Aquarium. The killer ensured the bodies are perfect recreations of the Waynes the night they were gunned down. But, that intriguing mystery gets pushed to back burner when a powerful monster starts rampaging through Gotham.
The story within Detective Comics #994 can essentially be split into two halves. We get the opening scene of a methodical, classic detective story in the first half, before a jump-cut to an action-filled monster fight. You’d think this would cause some tonal whiplash, but the issue actually comes together extremely well.
The first half of the book unfolds slowly, allowing for a controlled building of tension. We see Bruce grapple with the emotional weight of finding his parents’ bodies just as they were on the night that transformed him, plus the need to keep his emotions in check to protect his identity.
Tomasi is a seasoned Batman writer, having provided writing duties for all of Volume 2 of Batman & Robin. His love for the character shines through in Detective Comics #994, but it doesn’t overshadow his skill as a writer.
The artwork is great throughout. It feels a bit lighter than in our last story arc, but is plenty-dark enough to match the tone of the story.
Doug Mahnke really comes across as a visual storyteller in Detective Comics #994. He provides a lot of interesting, and in some places even striking imagery. At the same time, you could clearly follow the story even without the need for dialog. It’s a fine line to walk, and he pulls it off exceedingly well.
Of course, the colors provided by David Baron really help bring Mahnke’s pencils and Jaime Mendoza’s inks to life. The aquarium scene feels appropriately clinical and cold, in contrast to the fiery tones in the book’s second half. You get a real sense of life in the faces of Bruce and Jim Gordon, as well as its absence in the corpses they’re examining.
Detective Comics #994 is a great start to Tomasi’s run on the series. I’m glad we’re in capable hands in the build-up to issue #1,000. I recommend you pick it up.