Batman: Detective Comics #1038 – Mariko Tamaki, Meghan Fitzmartin, Writers; Viktor Boganovic, Karl Mostert, Artists; Daniel Henriques, Inker; Jordie Bellaire, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: The addition of Mr. Worth to Batman’s rogues’ gallery has been one of the best decisions the Bat-books have made in some time. A powerful in more ways than one titan driven by misguided rage, he’s a great illustration of how privilege and entitlement can turn someone from a nobody to a monster in a hurry. When we last left off, he had decided to storm the Gotham police station where Bruce Wayne was being held wrongly for a murder to blow it up and kill Wayne before trial—only to be met by Batman instead. Worth was a unique villain because he wasn’t actually an enemy of Batman’s—but after this issue, that’s changed in a big way and the first battle between them seems like it’s only going to be a prelude.
Tamaki does a great job of illustrating just how hard it is to stop someone like Worth. He’s caught with illegal weaponry attacking a police station, and is released almost immediately to continue his hunt. An alliance with another Bat-villain soon follows, followed by another attack that targets one of Bruce’s civilian friends. The pacing never slows down, with Worth’s presence adding a great sense of tension. I’m still not sure about the choice of some evil green possession bug as the main threat here—it seems to unravel what’s actually a very down-to-earth story in a lot of ways—but Tamaki is a good enough writer that she’s able to make it work even if it’s an odd fit.
The backup this month is by Meghan Fitzmartin and Karl Mostert, featuring a fun cameo by Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown as they battle the Penguin. But it’s actually Penguin who plays the starring role in this story, as the old-school Gotham crimelord grapples with the fact that he’s been eclipsed in the new reality. He could retire and enjoy his real estate holdings… but instead he makes some very risky decisions to escalate his power. There have been a few great stories with Penguin that delve into his complex psychology, and this feels like another one, even if it relies a little too much on shock gore at a few points.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.