Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke don’t pull any punches with Detective Comics #995. Without giving away too much, one of the people closest to Bruce Wayne dies, while another is gravely injured in this gripping new issue.
Batman races with Dr. Thompkins back to Wayne Manor following the attack on her clinic in the previous issue. She’s been infected with the Joker’s toxin, and is just moments from death. But, as the issue’s cover illustrates, Leslie Thompkins is not the only person close to Bruce who’s being targeted. By the issue’s end, a grieving Batman makes his way to Arkham to find answers…and he may have finally been pushed over the edge.
Tomasi is clearly not holding anything back in the run-up to issue #1000. The storytelling in Detective Comics #995 crackles with energy and anxiety as Batman rushes to save not one, but two of the individuals closest to him.
The writer understands that one of Batman’s most important strengths has always been his secret identity. Even his longest-running villains (with few exceptions) are unaware of the man behind the mask. But, whoever it is that is stalking Bruce seems to know who he is, and just who to hurt to strike the most damage. For Batman, that is the most terrifying threat of all.
Bruce coming to terms with yet another loss in Detective Comics #995 is pretty heart-wrenching. What’s worse, though, is the threat of what he might do now. As the issue closes, we’re left with a genuinely worrying picture of Bruce’s mental state.
The pencil and ink work by Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza shine in this issue as well. The images of Dr. Thompkins’ face contorted by the Joker toxin are striking; even under the ghastly smile, you get a sense for the intense pain the character is experiencing. David Baron’s colors help accentuate the grotesque features to really sell the image.
Much of Detective Comics #995 is dominated by tight, close-up shots of the characters, accentuating the drama of the sitaution. The sketchy, hatched lines and shadows add a sense of gravity to the characters’ expressions. And, by the book’s end, we have some truly demented imagery underscoring how close Bruce is to his breaking point.
Baron’s color choices change with expert precision to match the tone of the situation. We go from naturalistic colors to a warm, washed-out palette for flashback panels. Finally, by the book’s end, we see Arkham bathed in a kind of supernatural cross of greens and dark shadows, reminiscent of the monstrous funhouse Batman promises to visit on the asylum’s inmates.
Detective Comics #995 elevates the drama and tragedy, pushing Batman to the edge in the process. Although it’s a stretch to believe that Tomasi would actually take Batman over the line, I’m hyped to see what happens next.