Review: Detective Comics #1047
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Mariko Tamaki and Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Ivan Reis & Danny Miki and Fernando Blanco
Colors: Brad Anderson and Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Adriana Maher and Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
There’s already a tragedy in Arkham Tower and the Bat-family must investigate, but it already looks bad for the Huntress as Dick Grayson moves in undercover.
As “Shadows of the Bat” launches in Detective Comics #1047, Mariko Tamaki gives the reader a mystery in media, as we’re dropped right in trying to figure things out along with the Bat-family. A mystery is always a good start in the opening issue of a story arc and this is no exception.
We’ve seen the family, Dick, Barbara, Cass, Steph, Kate, and Helena in bits and pieces over the past year in both Batman and Detective Comics. Despite the popular notion of Batman being a lone vigilante, it’s undeniable that it really works. Glen Weldon notes in his book, The Caped Crusade: Batman and the Rise of Nerd Culture that Batman goes through cycles from dark loner to super-hero family man. At this point, with the long list of partners, protegees, and associates, it’s hard to imagine Batman ever being that lone vigilante. Characters need growth and this seems to suit the Dark Knight as it suggests that in lieu of a biological family, Batman has created his own family of vigilantes of which he is the patriarch.
While the last issue provided a wrap-up to “Fear State” it also fired the opening salvo for “Shadows of the Bat.” In tandem with Detective Comics Annual 2021, these two issues set the stage for what we find in Detective Comics #1047. The annual appears to tie directly into the second feature as we get a truly harrowing story of a boy who watches his parents die at the hands of the Joker and (as he mistakenly believes) the Batman as well.
Matthew Rosenberg writes a grim tale that feels genuinely disturbing., as you can sense that Batman won’t get there in time to save the boy’s parents. It’s a completely helpless feeling. Fernando Blanco captures the visuals perfectly, not giving in to the horror, but making the reader complete it in his/her own imagination. It works on a second level because it then is understandable that the boy isn’t able to determine what was done by the Joker and the late-to-the-party Dark Knight Detective.
It’s laudable that Tamaki doesn’t make “Shadows of the Bat” feel like an event, because members of the Bat-family itself are in danger. Sure, the bigger mystery involves the perpetrator of the bombing from the last issue that got her into Arkham Tower as a patient, but Tamaki gets us invested because Dick and Helena are in trouble. It’s a remarkable way to set things up going for character over high concept, and it works so much better than the over-used Bat-events we’ve seen over the past few years.
The visuals for part one of “Shadows of the Bat” are provided by Ivan Reis and Danny Miki. Reis is an artist who makes everyone look good, and that’s also the case with this issue. Miki has worked on Batman before, and his inks compliment Reis’ pencils, which have a bit of that classic “Neal Adams” look that feels so familiar and works so well on any Batman title.
I’d usually curmudgeon about another “Bat-event,” but this doesn’t feel like one. Maybe, it would be good to miss Batman a bit, however, the Bat-family is a strong cast of characters that can hold their own without the Dark Knight presence.
Detective Comics #1047 is a fantastic start to “Shadows of the Bat.” The Bat-family and the mystery are plenty good enough to make the reader forget that Batman isn’t present. We do get the Dark Knight in the second story, but the little boy is the main character. Tamaki continues to explore Gotham City in an interesting manner with a strong emphasis on character that’s always engaging.