Review: Detective Comics #1042
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Mariko Tamaki and Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Viktor Bogdanovic & Daniel Henriques and Max Raynor
Colors: Jordie Bellaire and Diego Rodriguez
Letters: Aditya Bidikar and Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
The Huntress comes to Batman’s rescue to end Hue Vile’s reign of terror and Deb Donavan and the Red Hood form an uneasy alliance in the Task Force Z second feature.
“The Jury,” the current Batman story arc that concludes in Detective Comics #1042 owes as much to the horror genre as it does super-heroes. It’s been a fairly gruesome tale of a parasitic creature that has taken hold of Hue Vile who works in the mayor’s office. It’s nice when genre’s can intersect and bring a little something different instead of it just being straight standard super-hero fare. Perhaps the single best aspect of this is the ending, the final pages after Batman and Huntress have recapped and the scene switches to the morgue. No spoilers, but a chilling cap to the story. And, it might even tie in with the shenanigans going on at the morgue in the second feature, ‘What the #!$% is Task Force Z?”
At the end of last issue we saw Batman get infected by the parasite, and Detective Comics #1042 picks up right there. This presents Batman as part of the problem and clearly unable to assist in stopping Vile. While Batman finds himself able to summon enough inner strength from experience to resist doing Vile’s bidding, he not able to do much more. This opens the door for Helena (The Huntress) Bertinelli to save the day! And save it she does! It’s great to give her the power in the issue. Batman is not portrayed as unbeatable to the point that he doesn’t require assistance at times and it gives the spotlight to Helena (albeit for a limited time) in which to deliver the coup de grace to Vile.
As the parasite ejects itself from Vile’s mouth Helena hits it with a crossbow bolt from across the room in a sequence excellently depicted by Viktor Bogdanovic. It’s a really cool moment that supports Helena’s decision to carry such a weapon. No moral conundrums over killing a beastly parasite that’s responsible for innumerable deaths and terror throughout Gotham City.
Afterwards, Batman and Helena find themselves in a poignant moment at the grave of Sarah Worth. While being able to recap the events and bring closure to the death that started it all, there’s also a subtle moment between Bruce and Helena. Bruce’s vulnerability was revealed in the same instance that required Helena to finish things by herself. It’s not overstated, but their parting words seem to indicate that they’ve both learned something about each other and they are a little closer for it.
Yes, Even More Positives!
As good as this finale is, it may be overshadowed by the second feature in the issue starring Deb Donovan, Vicki Vale and the Red Hood. While Jason Todd doesn’t come off as endearing or any more likable, the mystery is just too good! Plus, the back and forth with Deb and Jason makes for a very entertaining read. Even if you don’t like the Red Hood, seeing it all from Deb’s point of view is a clever way of telling the story. If you do like Jason, you’ll probably love it even more! As it is, it’s a refreshing approach. When you add in the strained professional relationship between Deb and Vicki it becomes even more interesting. The character work is just as good as the mystery of the bodies disappearing from the morgue (See above).
There are a couple of meta references that are made in connection to Jason Todd’s history as Robin that are not only clever, but downright funny. That’s an excellence and much appreciated touch, Matthew Rosenberg! There are lots of unanswered questions as to what’s going on and exactly what the #!$% Task Force Z is, but these first two chapters are a sign of good things to come!
The sole negative for Detective Comics #1042 comes in the first story, and it is small in the grand scheme, but it is notable. The pacing with this final chapter feels a bit off. Helena’s day-save is great, but it seems to come too quickly. It works for what we get, but the story would’ve been served better if she had gotten more well-deserved time in the spotlight to take down Vile. It almost feels like we would be set up for one more chapter, but it had to be truncated to make way for “Fear State.” Events often have a way of getting in the way and this feels like that.
Sometimes a second feature will overshadow a lead, and this is what happens in Detective Comics #1042. That’s not saying that Tamaki, Bogdanovic, Hernriques, Bellaire and Bidikar did a bad job, but rather Rosenberg, Raynor, Rodriguez and Leigh matched them batarang for batarang and pulled a little something extra out of the utility belt as well (no, not Bat-Shark Repellent!) You can’t go wrong with this issue! Might as well pick up the whole run while you’re at it!