Review – Batman: Detective Comics #1003: The Knight Unmasked

Detective Comics #1003 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Batman: Detective Comics #1003 – Peter J. Tomasi, Writer; Brad Walker, Penciller; Andrew Hennessy, Inker; Nathan Fairbairn, Colorist

Ratings:

Ray – 6/10

Corrina: A Real Bruce/Damian Team-Up

Ray: There’s been a weird pattern lately of major reveals that turn out to be anticlimaxes in Bat-books, starting with the reveal of Wingman in Red Hood: Outlaw to be…some big dude who Jason never refers to by name. That continues in Detective Comics #1003, as the Arkham Knight – who captured Damian last issue after fighting Batman to a standstill – reveals themselves to Damian as an attempt to win him over, and turns out to be…some random young woman we’ve never seen before. While Damian reacts with skepticism, Astrid’s goons respond by firing on him and nearly killing him – which leads him to nearly killing them. This scene is surprisingly bloody, and I can’t get behind how Walker draws Damian – between the white skin and the floppy hair, I have to keep reminding myself he’s not a smaller Tim Drake in several scenes. What could have been a nasty battle is averted when Astrid releases Damian, telling him she expects to see him side with her of his own free will.

Damian is soon reunited with Bruce and delivers a sketch of Astrid – which doesn’t match up with anyone in any of Batman’s databases. She’s clearly a mystery – both to the characters and to us, as we’ve never seen her before. I did like some of the interactions between Bruce and Damian, especially the addition that Damian is a talented artist. However, he still comes off as overly violent and cruel at times – a weird backslide that’s been going on across his appearances. As for Astrid, the reveal at the end of the issue makes clear the point is her last name, not her first. She’s a weird villain – alternately honorable and insane. One minute she’ll be refusing to hurt an innocent, the next she’ll be branding her henchmen with nuclear fire from Dr. Phosphorous. Ultimately, it feels like Bruce and Damian are fighting an edgelord teenager, not a serious supervillain. Compared to the Jason Todd version in the video games, she feels like a lightweight villain. Definitely not the anti-Batman villain she was hyped up as.

Detective Comics #1003
The Robin-signal, via DC Comics.

Corrina: Astrid Arkham might not be scary but Dr. Phosphorous (who I feel is under-used) definitely is terrifying, especially given a goal.

This issue felt old-school to me, with an actual Batman/Robin team-up, and even with Bruce letting his son drive the Bat-vehicle. I’d like to see more character progression with Damian, as Ray mentions, but I suspect this is the way DC editorial wants him to be. I’m going to retcon it in my head as Damian saying all the bloodthirsty stuff because it’s a habit, not because he believes it anymore. (But that is hard to believe with the events of Teen Titans.)

Bruce mentions doing some detective work. Alfred helps suit them up. The Dynamic Duo go out together. The stakes are small but this was, for me, the most enjoyable issue of Tomasi’s recent run.

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

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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