Review – Batman: Detective Comics #996: A Fallen Mentor?

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Detective Comics #996 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Batman: Detective Comics #996 – Peter J. Tomasi, Writer; Doug Mahnke, Penciller; Jaime Mendoza, Mark Irwin, Inkers; David Baron, Colorist


Ray – 6/10

Corrina: Does This Connect To The Other Bat-Books? Should It?

Ray: Coming off last issue’s dramatic events – which saw a longtime Bat-supporting cast member meet their end and Alfred wind up at the brink of death thanks to a targeted campaign of assassinations against those closest to Batman – things go from bad to worse for Batman in Detective #996. Batman’s beating of the Arkham inmates doesn’t bear any fruit, and with Alfred on the operating table, Damian briefly returns home to help but makes clear that he and Bruce are on the outs. I don’t think this rift has actually been fully explained, but it’s probably either Damian’s actions with the Teen Titans, Dick getting shot or both. It’s all part of a larger campaign to isolate Batman, which I’m not a big fan of. As it becomes clear that this assassination campaign is carried out by someone who knows that Bruce is Batman, he goes up against his number one suspect – Henri Ducard, his former mentor turned enemy who is also the father of the man Damian killed in Tomasi’s Batman and Robin run, the first Nobody.

Ducard’s always been one of my favorite obscure Batman supporting character, a deadly chaotic-neutral character with a sense of honor, and the complex Ducard family was a great subplot of Tomasi’s in his previous run. So the initial scenes with Ducard here are great…and then they’re attacked by the Bat-monster that killed Leslie, and Ducard is killed in an explosion when he sacrifices himself to let Bruce get away. So that’s another great Batman supporting character gone to prop up this new villain, and I’m unconvinced it’s worth it. Soon afterward, Bruce heads to another site – a temple where he learned many of his skills – and barely manages to save the sensei from another attack. Then comes a cliffhanger that brings in a character so obscure, so bizarre that even I had to go to Google for answers. I can safely say I have no idea what’s going on here. Tomasi’s run is definitely ambitious so far, but I’m not sure it’s worth what it’s costing the Bat-family as a whole.

The many victims of Batman’s rage. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: The lead-up to Detective #1,000 should be ambitious. But if you are reading all the Batman stories right now, you might be confused. Alfred is operating on the near-dead Joker in Batman Who Laughs, though Alfred is near-dead in this comic, and, over in Batman, our hero already beat-up all of the Arkham inmates. I guess we can pretend this is its own universe.

Aside from that, despite the ambition, I’m not connecting to the plot. Yes, the lead-up to the big anniversary issue should take us through Batman’s history but I was hoping for a new angle, not to start with bringing back a long-time female character only to fridge her to start the arc. And, once again, Bruce is simply acting out of rage, rather than channeling his rage, which I find frustrating in Batman stories. I like Damian’s appearance but, damn, Bruce, Alfred is there dead and, yet, there seems to be no compassion.

I’m not a fan of no-compassion, no-empathy Batman. But that seems to be where we’re mostly going, given this arc and the regular Batman title.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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