Review: Detective Comics #1036
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Art: Dan Mora and Clayton Henry
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
The Huntress joins Batman to help him discover why Sarah Worth’s corpse has ended up on Bruce Wayne’s doorstep, and in the second feature the Huntress follows her first lead in the death of Mary Knox.
With episodic fiction, it’s necessary to convince the reader to come back next month. It’s not always easy. In the current climate of six-issue story arcs, it can sometimes easy to pace a story effective landing a cliffhanger at the end of each issue and at the same time move things forward enough between the covers to give the reader some meat to chew on. Detective Comics #1036 accomplishes both nicely with just the right helping of interpersonal tension between Batman and the Huntress. At the heart of all of this is the mystery, who murdered Sarah Worth?
Bruce Wayne and Helena Bertinelli haven’t always gotten along. However, there’s been a detente between them for enough time that they can work civilly together. However, their past can color how they interact. Tamaki plays with this idea as Helena isn’t necessarily convinced that Batman/Bruce doesn’t have a role in the death of Sarah Worth. This issue utilizes this strained alliance to create the tension between them as Helena having been working on her own murder case in the second feature in this and the last issue wonders if Sarah’s murder is related to Mary Knox’s. This uneasiness between Bruce and Helena makes them both feel like real people and not just characters on a flat page. It’s a great starting point for exploring their working relationship.
The art in this story is solid as ever. Dan Mora’s homage to the cover of Detective Comics #27, the first appearance of the Batman is both clever and fun. It connects this story to the history of the character, seeming to indicate this is the only existing file photo of the Batman available for the newspaper to use. Along the way, he chooses just the right framing shots and angles to keep the mystery of Sarah’s corpse vital for as long as necessary. He has a great handle on the emotional outbursts of some of the characters especially Sarah’s corpse and her dad.
The second feature, the second chapter in the Huntress’s search for Mary Knox’s killer ties into the main Batman story subtly. Mary Knox is mentioned by Batman as he notes the recent spate of murders of women in Gotham and wonders if Sarah’s is related and it’s just coincidence that she has a high social profile. It works well to utilize the second feature to tell another facet of this story. It’s not clear how they are related, though and it’s not certain that they are. It’s another effective part of the mystery.
Clayton Henry’s work in the Huntress story differentiates itself from the Batman tale in that he captures the differences between the Bruce and Helena effectively. It’s not just that they approach things differently, but they move differently. Jordie Bellaire colors both stories with some really high impact moments in the Huntress’s tale while continuing to keep Batman’s story awash in lots of grays.
When Helena confronts Mary’s ex-boyfriend, Bellaire chooses to use a lot of red. Instead of simply coloring a background or scene realistically, the color functions in an expressive manner that accents what’s going on emotionally in the scene. Clearly Helena’s angry and the color choices in these sequences enhance this aspect of the story. Excellent work!
I would say it’s hard to find a negative in the issue.
Like the previous two issues in Mariko Tamaki’s run, Detective Comics #1036 blends a great mystery with good characterization and exciting art. The creative team make it look easy, but it has to be anything but. It relies on great storytelling as opposed to an event gimmick. Don’t pass this one up, especially for fans of the Huntress.