Batman: Detective Comics #1005 – Peter J. Tomasi, Writer; Brad Walker, Penciller; Andrew Hennessy, Inker; Nathan Fairbairn, Colorist
Ray – 5/10
Corrina: Good Teamwork. So-So Villain
Ray: Coming off the Reaper-focused annual just two weeks ago, the conclusion of the Arkham Knight story in Detective Comics #1005 suffers by comparison – the scale is bigger, but Astrid Arkham’s evil plot is so over the top and lacks any internal logic that it doesn’t work at all. When we last left off, Batman had learned her origin from her father and found out that the entire thing is the result of a misunderstanding that she got from the villains of Arkham and that her father never cleared up. What’s harder to understand, though, is how a cloistered teenage girl could have somehow gotten together not just a death cult that includes most of the villains of Arkham, but has somehow recruited cosmic villain Anton Arcane, who is mostly being used to generate obstacles and has fallen a long way since his time as lord of the Rot. The issue starts with Batman fighting his way through Arcane’s living wall around Arkham while Astrid prepares to unleash what she calls “the Totality Phase” – and plunge Gotham into eternal light.
Arcane is probably the weakest point of Detective Comics #1005, as scenes with him roaring in rage as Damian manages to easily take him out with some poison gas really feel silly. This is Anton Arcane, not Amygdala. Astrid unleashes her massive light bomb, blinding Batman and most of Gotham in the process. It’s a huge-scale plot with an almost incomprehensible damage scale – millions of people spontaneously going blind will cause mass casualties, even if it’s reversed (which, of course, it is). The comic tries to address that as Astrid is confronted by an enraged brother of a victim, but the use of an ugly ableist slur in that scene is just another negative in this issue. The series zig-zags back and forth between making Astrid a monster willing to cause untold deaths to make a point, and making her a sympathetic figure. Ultimately, what comes out isn’t an effective villain at all. The one good point? Damian’s banter is among the best we’ve seen in a while.
Corrina: It’s clear that Astrid is unhinged now. Blinding people so they’ll eventually see the light? That plan makes no sense, given the team she’s pulled together. I thought maybe she would want the oppressed of Gotham to rise up, while she and her knights took control to make it “better.” That would make more sense, though it would also put her in the same boat as numerous other Batman villains, who think they can make Gotham better, such as Anarky. Basically, there are elements that are compelling about the Arkham Knight, especially her team of villains, but they don’t go anywhere interesting.
The good of Detective Comics #1005 is finally seeing Bruce and Damian as Batman and Robin working together. Given how long Damian’s existed in comics, this shouldn’t feel like a rare event but it does. Tomasi has a good handle on their dynamic and on Damian’s skills.
The artwork, especially the plant wall created by Arcane, helps the story along, giving us some fine action sequences with Batman surrounded by decaying plants, and in the confrontation between Batman and Astrid. But the story is paper-thin. The end teases the possibility of Astrid’s return. Hopefully, that won’t be soon.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.