Review: Detective Comics #1016
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: PeterJ. Tomasi
Art: Dough Mahnke, Tyler Kirkham, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne & Mark Irwin
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
The final fate of Mr. and Mrs. Freeze! Batman teams up with Mr. Freeze to try and stop Nora and save her from herself, but at what price?
Tomasi continues to make the reader really feel for Victor Fries. There are even some moments where Tomasi is able to channel some real emotion for Nora as well. Interestingly, Detective Comics #1016 finally puts a twist on the status quo of Victor and Nora, moving their story forward. This story arc easily could’ve returned Nora to the same coma-like state in which she’d been depicted for years. The first issue of this arc seemed to indicate that this would not be a return to the same status quo and this issue is truly the payoff. Batman’s final words to Mr. Freeze on the last page are truly heart wrenching.
Throughout his run on Detective Comics, Tomasi has presented a balanced, classic approach to the Caped Crusader. While his Batman is a far cry from the Adam West television show from the 1960’s, Tomasi imbues the story with some of the less realistic elements which were a hallmark of the show, as well as classic Batman comics of the past. There’s some comic book super-science at play with the Mr. Freeze character to begin with, and the this is integral to Freeze’s plan to save Nora. Freeze has always been one of those Batman villains that’s tougher to translate realistically, which is why his sympathetic storyline with Nora has been so important.
The emotional roller coaster ride is what makes this issue so great. It’s not only in Victor’s unconditional love for Nora, but how he deals with Nora’s rejection of him. It seems their story is destined to be a tragedy. It’s this blending of classic literary theme with comic booky sci-fi that places this portrayal of Batman and his world in that “classic” space. It’s a depiction that utilizes elements from different era while never feeling derivative or satirical. The real human emotion is the lynch pin that holds it all together and develops the relationship with the reader.
Exploring Nora’s character a bit is an effective way of getting the reader to look at things from a different perspective. It still reveals something about Freeze, but it adds to Nora’s character to develop her a bit more. Also, there’s something that’s slightly campy, yet engaging about the last scene we see of Nora as she stares at her snow globe.
The ice sculpture she creates of a mausoleum for Victor is enigmatic and evocative of the way their relationship has twisted. The depiction of it by the art team on these pages creates a lasting image. I’m not even clear on why it works so we, but the fact that it does work well, is laudable.
There’s only one element that stands out as a negative. The flip flop with Freeze and Nora ALMOST feels trite, despite the fact that it works very well here because of the outstanding emotional arcs the two are experiencing. And, there is a bit of satisfaction in knowing that neither character is completely off the table. Still, it’s a little too convenient and too perfect an ending.
This one won’t make you cry, but Detective Comics #1016 is a fine example of creating a classic Batman tale that still feels contemporary. Tomasi’s been building this Batman since the beginning of his run and it’s an enjoyable and satisfying read that provides some real emotional content as he pushes Nora and Victor’s story forward. Hopefully, the events in Batman won’t destroy the even keeled character that inhabits Detective Comics every month.