Review: Detective Comics #1044
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Mariko Tamaki and Stephanie Phillips
Art: Dan Mora and David Lapham
Colors: Jordie Bellaire and Trish Mulvihill
Letters: Aditya Bidikar and Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Batman attempts to rescue Mayor Nakano after the attempt on his life by Nero XIX. Plus, what effect does the Arkham legacy have on the new Arkham Tower?
It’s no secret that the Bat-books are currently knee-deep in Fear State. However, this doesn’t stop Mariko Tamaki from telling her story. As we saw in the last issue, something is in the Gotham sewer and it seems to be related to Hugh Vile. Besides finding a way to continue what she’s been building, Tamaki also uses the first few pages to give Deb Donavan a bit of closure with “The Road to Task Force Z.” We know from the last issue that it’s to be continued in Task Force Z #1. But, here in Detective Comics #1044, Deb gets a moment that provides some connectivity to everything else that’s going on in Gotham. Despite the scope of the Fear State event, Tamaki finds a way to keep things on a more personal level.
This is most evident in the fact that Batman has to try and rescue Nakano from the sewers. While Nakano doesn’t trust the Batman, the Dark Knight has to convince him that he should, because otherwise, he’s dead. As Nakano gets into deeper trouble, the Batman makes a desperate ploy to save him. No spoilers, but Tamaki gives us a surprising cliffhanger that is going to set things in a particular direction depending on the outcome. This not only raises the tension but drives the personal nature of the conflict between Batman and Nakano even deeper.
The second feature in Detective Comics #1044 is another Batman tale, unlike previous issues that gave us, Red Hood, Deb Donavan, or the Huntress, it stars the Dark Knight. The set-up this issue promises a continuation in the next issue and it is a curious tale that incorporates the history of Arkham Asylum into the construction of its newest incarnation, Arkham Tower. Stephanie Phillips introduces the idea that Arkham Asylum is cursed no matter what form it takes. Coupled with the moody art by David Lapham and Trish Mulvihill, it is the perfect horror tale for an October issue in time for Halloween. It’s not often Batman gets a straight-up horror story, but this one certainly seems to evoke the same type of haunting in something like Stephen King’s The Shining.
Dan Mora and Jordie Bellaire turn in a fine job on the art chores on the lead story as well. Bellaire’s colors enhance the bleak outlook for Nakano as he’s stuck beneath the streets of Gotham while Mora takes advantage of the opportunity to use the facial expressions of the characters to communicate the fear and desperation they are feeling as they both realize that time is quickly running out.
It’s notable that there’s no major negative in this issue. Often, events like Fear State can derail a series and just feel like a distraction. While part of the issue is, of course, devoted to Fear State, Tamaki and company keep the reader focused on the storytelling and don’t let the event dominate.
Detective Comics #1044 maintains its intimate focus as we see how the ongoing story fits within Fear State. If you’ve been following this series and enjoying it, this issue is no different. In addition to the lead story delivering, the second feature is a unique tale that moves into the horror genre in an engaging and creepy fashion.