Review: Detective Comics #1039
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Mariko Tamaki and T. Rex
Art: Viktor Bogdanovic, Daniel Henriques & Norm Rapmund and T. Rex
Colors: Jordie Bellaire and Simon Gough
Letters: Aditya Bidikar and Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Can the Bat-family stop the parasite that’s killing Gotham’s citizens? It’s Batman, Huntress, Nightwing, and Oracle and the Batgirls to the rescue!
Batman goes through cycles. And, while no one wants to see Batman be the goofy and silly character from the late 1950’s and early ’60’s there is also an aversion to the psychologically traumatized self-destructive loner. Sure Batman is a creature of the night, but he can have friends and a surrogate family that help sustain him. Detective Comics #1039 recalls the era of Batman in the ’90’s when Oracle was at the center of the crimefighting in Gotham and she organized and coordinated the Bat-family’s activities. When Detective Comics returned to its classic numbering at the beginning of “Rebirth” there was a similar attempt to bring the family back together. However, in those stories, Batman was also at the center of the mistrust.
What was teased last issue is proven to be true this issue– Stephanie Brown is indeed a Batgirl again. This exemplifies the return to the pre-“New 52” DC Universe that ten years ago this September seemed to be going away forever. With Oracle back in the picture as well as we’ve seen in multiple titles over the past few months the Bat-family is truly providing the nostalgia aspect that can be important to comics, the connective tissue that works hand in hand with a shared universe continuity.
While it’s a bit of a cliche that one of the Bat-family gets infected by the parasite in the midst of the finale, it is offset by the larger idea at work in the premise of the parasite. Huntress has long been characterized as the member of the extended Bat-family prone to violence and a more permanent solution, it seems appropriate that she is the one infected. As we see in the back up feature on Hue Vile by T. Rex, this parasite feeds on violence. This backstory is a well executed and clever tale that functions as much as a one-off horror story as it does filling in the gaps on Vile’s history.
The art in both the main story and the back is atmospheric when it needs to be and able to communicate emotions. Bogdanovic’s style is quite appealing as he is able to depict the big action stuff with ease and at the same time imbue the Huntress with just the right facial reactions just as effectively. T. Rex seems to be the perfect choice for this nearly EC Comics inspired horror story of Hue Vile’s early life. It’s quite clever to be able to insert a completely different genre into the issue and make it fit.
Bruce Wayne’s revelation on the final page of the main story feels a little awkward and banal. It’s could go either way, but we’ll just have to wait and see. There does seem to be a missed opportunity in failing to explore Worth more deeply. Clearly that subplot isn’t over and it may yet come to pass.
Detective Comics #1039 is a wonderful finale to the “The Neighborhood” story arc. Throughout, the issues have focused on character driving the story with the back up tales fleshing out different aspects of the larger story. The inclusion of the the larger Bat-family and nostalgia they bring with them raises the fun quotient in a significant way. This is another example of substance and character triumphing over event and hype.