Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Detective Comics #995 Review


Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza, David Baron, and Rob Leigh
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: January 2, 2019

In issue #994 ("Mythology" part 1), a murdered couple made to look like Thomas and Martha Wayne, down to their facial structure and jewelry and fatal wounds, was found submerged in the Gotham Aquarium. Batman, letting his emotions make him impatient and reckless, destroyed aquarium property and risked damage to the bodies and evidence by breaking the glass to "save time" getting the bodies out, even though a diver was about to jump in to retrieve them. Pearls were found in their throats, but there were no clues to who would do this. Meanwhile, Leslie Thompkins was attacked by a big red monster. Batman made it to the scene in time but the monster still got a hold of her and exhaled a green gas into her face, Jokerizing her.

First thing's first: the variant cover by Mark Brooks is fantastic, featuring Batman's rogue gallery and Batman himself walking through the gates of Arkham. It's now my iPad lock screen.

This issue starts with Batman holding a Jokerized Leslie on top of a moving Batmobile, desperately hurrying to get her back to the Batcave. With bursts of laughter in-between her sentences, they both go over their history together. How she helped him after the death of his parents, how she and Alfred helped him understand that life goes on, how she has more work to do. And it continues when they get back to the Batcave and Alfred is waiting with an anti-toxin. How proud she is of him, how he not only helps people as Batman but as Bruce Wayne as well.

And Bruce is freaking out. The anti-toxin isn't working. He tells her what she means to him, she tells Alfred to "look after our boy", and then she's gone. There's a moment of silence between Bruce and Alfred, and Bruce orders Alfred to charge up the defibrillator. With every shock, Bruce flashes back to a memory of Leslie until it's clear that it's not going to work. So he closes her eyes. My Zod this is just so well done.

Alfred goes upstairs, weeping, and puts a kettle on. The doorbell rings and voice recognition says that it's Commissioner Gordon. So he opens the door with no worries, only to be stabbed in the chest with a rapier by somebody dressed like Zorro (in case you weren't already aware, the Wayne's saw "The Mask of Zorro" with Bruce before being murdered). The man runs away and Alfred collapses, using a bell to call Bruce up from the Batcave. The scrambling from the Batcave up to the mansion and his reaction upon seeing Alfred on the ground is also just so well done.

After using a pressure gel to close the wound and calling Damian to repair Alfred's punctured lung (he's done it before), Bruce heads out to Arkham. In an intense scene, he scares Dr. Arkham into letting him in with the patients and then walks right down the hallway, passing the likes of Victor Zsasz, the Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Solomon Grundy, and Two-Face. His speech as he walks is perfect and chilling. Then the lights go out, and they're all in the dark with the real monster.

The art is friggin' awesome, so let's get that out of the way and get to the most important part of this book...

THIS is how you humanize Batman, not what's going on in the other title. You don't have his first son shot in the head only to skip what happened immediately after, bypassing Bruce's emotions of the shooting, and skip ahead to him tracking down the sniper with a vengeful rage (and use the same avoidance when anything big happens, for that matter). Here, something big happens. Here, you get to see how Batman handles it in the moment. Here, you see a humanized Batman struggling with the loss of somebody he deeply cares about and see why he cares about them. And THEN he goes after the killer with a vengeful rage. He actually talks like an intelligent person instead of grunting, he loses Leslie, him and Alfred grieve, then he almost loses his second father, and at the end when he walks into Arkham and is ready to take on all of its patients, you actually get the chills.

Bits and Pieces:

Crap is about to go down. The writer of that other book should take note. This is how it's done. This is what a real 10 out of 10 looks like. I don't see how you could improve on this issue in any way.


1 comment:

  1. I agree completely. . .THIS is how it's done! Leslie Thompkins has been a great supporting character for many years and her gruesome death was like an unexpected punch in the gut. In comics, you usually expect the hero to come through in the end. Batman's inability to save Dr. Thompkins was a sad, but fantastic swerve toward a really dark direction. . .