Batman: Detective Comics #1002 – Peter J. Tomasi, Writer; Brad Walker, Penciller; Andrew Hennessy, Inker; Nathan Fairbairn, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Corrina: Can Batman Fight Villains Who Are Not HIm?
Ray: As Peter Tomasi introduces us to Batman’s deadly new daytime nemesis, the Arkham Knight, he continues to struggle to distinguish this masked villain from all other anti-Batmen. This character type has been around a while, from Wraith to Prometheus, and the last issue didn’t give me much faith that this one would stand out. From his over-the-top medieval getup to his ponderous rants about how Batman is the bad guy, he felt very generic. In Detective Comics #1002, there are a few signs of life in the big opening battle between him, Batman, and the GCPD. He still tries to kill Batman, but when a GCPD officer is about to be killed by his cultists the Knight jumps into the fray to protect him. He’s later able to leverage Batman’s determination to protect innocent life to get him to back off. He’s obsessively devoted to killing Batman, yeah, but he seems to be operating by a strict moral code that sets him apart from other villains.
Things get stronger once a wounded Batman is evacuated from the battle scene. Tomasi has always had a good handle on Gordon and Alfred, and I enjoyed watching them tag-team to snark Bruce. Damian plays a bigger role in this issue, which doesn’t surprise me as Tomasi has had a bigger hand in developing his character than any writer but Morrison. Unfortunately, there are still some rough edges to be sanded out here. No writer seems to be able to determine how “reformed” he is – he casually references that Bruce should permanently disable his villains more to make it easier. Then he goes on a mission to track down the Knight, an ill-advised mission that leads to him being captured as the Knight attempts to recruit him. Whoever he is, he decides to bare his face to Damian to win his trust at the end. The Damian segments are drawn very well, although Damian’s race once again seems to be backsliding. Overall, this issue is entertaining but not great and the arc will depend heavily on the reveal of the Knight’s identity.
Corrina: Tomasi has always had a good handle on the Bat-Family, from Dick to Jim Gordon to Alfred, and, especially, Damian, and that’s the strength of this issue.
Aside: it’s good to see Gordon again, as he’s been scarce in the main Batman title. I tend to think that’s a mistake, as Gordon is Batman’s moral compass, in so many ways, and Bruce is unmoored without him. But I digress…
Gotham looks as bleak and menacing as ever, so kudos to the art team, and I especially like the way the Arkham Knight’s costume is drawn as blocky armor, and the close-ups of Damian are excellent.
And, yet, the issue is just sort of okay, overall. Part of that is Tomasi hasn’t made the Arkham Knight interesting or memorable. Some of that is not his fault, though, as Tomasi is writing a story at the exact same time Bane, a more compelling villain, has taken over Arkham, and at the same time that Bruce is confronting the evil? Batman/Thomas Wayne in Batman and the Batman-Who-Laughs and that other evil version of Batman in the Batman-Who-Laughs book.
That makes four evil versions of Batman appearing in stories that are running all at the same time and two of them involve Arkham. It’s a near-impossible task for this story to rise above all that, especially since it’s the last storyline to get going.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.