Batman: Detective Comics #999 – Peter J. Tomasi, Writer; Doug Mahnke, Penciller; Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, Inkers; David Baron, Colorist
Ray – 6/10
Corrina: Um, what?
Ray: After reaching the penultimate issue before Detective Comics #1000, I’m not sure if I’m relieved or frustrated.
Relieved because most of the issues I had with this run – killing off long-standing supporting characters in service of a generic new villain – are no longer a problem. Frustrated because I largely feel like the last three months of stories were killing time before the anniversary. When we last left off, Bruce was confronted by the latest manifestation of his shape-shifting enemy – now appearing like a young Bruce Wayne in a Batman costume. It attacks Batman, and starts ranting about how Batman sent him to test him. He gets bigger with every punch, eventually turning into a fully-grown rival Batman. This strange figment of the past seems determined to take Bruce through his traumatic past, including the first time they nearly died as vigilantes and ending up at their parents’ graves. And that’s where the issue loses me, because it hangs on an idea that I fully disagree with.
That would be the concept that Bruce died with his parents, and Batman is something else. The twisted ritual of Batman burying the young Bruce is a creepy visual, but yet another example of writers believing Batman is much further down the rabbit hole than the best runs have shown. Then comes the big twist – none of this has been happening. It’s all a simulation Bruce runs every year on his birthday to test himself and prepare himself for the trials to come. Alfred and Damian pull him out of it before his body collapses from the stress. So Batman tries to kill himself through a computer program every year and is apparently obsessed with turning Gotham into a murder-free utopia. It’s all rather disturbing, although I did like the final scenes with Bruce taking Alfred and Leslie out for dinner. Leslie being alive is enough to make me grateful for this ending, but this story as a whole paints yet another disturbing picture of Batman that I can’t say I agree with.
Corrina: I’m using “pointless” a lot in this week’s reviews because the stories basically seem that way. Detective #999 not so much the same reasons as the others, but, still, if you are going to do an imaginary story, at least toss in some foreshadowing. It won’t surprise me if Heroes in Crisis is a simulation, for instance, and over in Batman, I’ve yet to discern what’s real and what’s fake. (Christopher Priest is a master of this in Deathstroke.)
But if there was foreshadowing, it was so slight that nearly everyone missed it.
It’s good Leslie isn’t dead, yes, and good the rest of the mentors are okay. But the reasons for Batman doing this are weak and make him look more insane than usual. (And, whew, they did dodge a bullet because, for a minute, I thought Damian did the simulation. Which, given the Damian we’ve been seeing in Teen Titans, was a possibility.)
It’s frustrating that the lead-up to one of the most iconic issues ever had to be a filler story. I wanted something grand.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.