Batman: Detective Comics #1001 – Peter J. Tomasi, Writer; Brad Walker, Penciller; Andrew Hennessy, Inker; Nathan Fairbairn, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Another Evil Batman??
Ray: There has been no shortage of “Anti-Batmen” over the year, ranging from Owlman to the Wrath to Prometheus, but none has really stuck. The most famous is probably the Arkham Knight, the popular video game series’ deranged take on Jason Todd. Now that character is making his DC Comics debut – but he’s not actually Jason Todd, as that character has his own identity here. Introduced with a splash page-filled story in last month’s Detective Comics #1000, this version appears to be a cult leader convinced Batman is the one who plunged Gotham into darkness – and he’s the one to bring it to the light. This issue is the character’s first full spotlight issue, and thus far I’m not entirely sold that he’s the compelling new Bat-foe he’s supposed to be. The issue opens with a segment where the Knight addresses an army of cultists – all of whom are dressed up in suits of armor that look like they just came from a Renaissance Fair. He comes off as kooky so far, not creepy.
That changes when his plot starts unfolding – starting with a mysterious plague that kills off thousands of bats around Gotham, both in the streets and in the Batcave. This brings in a character I wasn’t expecting to see again – Francine Langstrom, aka the second Man-Bat. Thankfully her history from the Layman run as a serial-killing vampire bat seems to be retconned, but it’s a good excuse to have a more dangerous, out-of-control Man-Bat again now that Kirk has gone full-time hero. This segment delivers in suspense, but when the Arkham Knight’s forces attack the tone shifts. A big part of the Arkham Knight’s motif is that he fights in the daytime, but that strips a lot of the tension out of the issue. Batman being attacked by an army of armed cosplayers feels a bit cartoonish when in bright light, and as such the issue lacks the intensity it needs. A lot of this story will depend on the identity of the Arkham Knight, and so far it’s a big blank slate.
Corrina: This is not all the creative team’s fault but, at this point, I’VE HAD IT WITH ALL THE BATMEN. There are, what, four or five running around right now in current comics? Soon, we’ll have Az-Bats back, yes?
The only thing worse is all the Joker-clones.
In any case, that means that the Arkham Knight, even if he already existed in a video game, (and I’m not impressed with the imagination of a game that went there), has to be distinct to work as a great new villain. And he’s not. He’s yet another in a long line of “oh, Batman, you’re so awful for Gotham that you created yet another horrible foe.”
The parts with the dead bats (hello, symbolism) and Francine work well, but they’re not enough to save the story. The art, too, is worthy of a top-tier Bat-book, especially Francine’s transformation and her flight across Gotham, as well as the panels of dead bats, which are truly freaky.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.