Review: Detective Comics #1052
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Mariko Tamaki and Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Max Raynor and Fernando Blanco
Colors: Luis Geurerro and Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Ariana Maher and Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
It’s a second look at Psycho Pirate’s moment of weakness from a different perspective as Dr. Chase Meridian takes center stage, plus Jason Todd goes into action in Chapter Six of “House of Gotham.”
In the review of Detective Comics #1050 I began comparing Mariko Tamaki’s narrative approach in “Shadows of the Bat” to that of William Falkner in The Sound and the Fury. This technique of utilizing different time periods and different points of view is exciting. It may be something we’ve seen before, like Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Watchmen, but I feel like Tamaki has her own take on it in this story arc. In Detective Comics #1052 we see last issue’s “incident” from another perspective that of Dr. Chase Meridian. What’s really effective is that it allows Tamaki to give us a little insight into Meridian’s character through a flashback before recapitulating the scene with Helena on her couch. While Helena still gives Meridian instructions to call Dr. Frow, instead of following Helena into the mayhem in the hallway, we get to see what Meridian does and how it leads to a further peeling of the onion of the conspiracy between Dr. Wear and the Psycho Pirate. Meridian’s call to Dr. Frow (really Batwoman undercover) in turn gives Oracle and the Bat-family another clue. This all works wonderfully as it continues to build the mystery and the way in which the Bat-family works it out.
The flashback to Dr. Meridian’s rescue by the Batman is a nice addition to the story. It gives a bit of characterization to Meridian so that we get to know something about her. She’s not simply a plot device, but she starts to have a real motivation for what she does. It also provides readers a look at a moment of change in her life when she started looking at things differently- specifically masked vigilantes. (This may or not be a thematic reference to her appearance- her first appearance anywhere- in the 1995 film, Batman Forever.)
The sixth chapter of “House of Gotham” takes an interesting turn as Jason Todd’s Robin makes an appearance. First, it’s really interesting that we’ve got this boy who has now interacted with both Dick and Jason as Robin and he actually figures out that it’s a different kid this time. He can tell that Jason is younger than he is (or about the same age) whereas it was clear that Dick Grayson was older than himself. We’ve seen Commissioner Gordon comment on such things as new Robins have made their first visit to the top of Police Headquarters, but not like this, nothing in this context rings a bell. It’s a really compelling detail in the story.
And, it leads to something even more interesting. Our young boy, the story’s protagonist turns this observation into the notion that Batman is creating an army- an army of Robins. It sort of makes the read question Batman’s motive’s for just a moment. We know he’s not really creating an army, but that has to be what it looks like to Gotham’s underworld and those who are afraid of/ disapproving of the Batman and his methods.
Of course Fernando Blanco turns in another great job on art for this chapter. The scene with Batman breaking in on the Penguin in the Iceberg Lounge is iconic. It’s also great to see Batman with the yellow oval Bat symbol on his chest. We only see this in flashbacks and Josh Williamson’s book these days, and it’s always fun. Finally, Max Raynor does his part on this chapter of “Shadows of the Bat.” He infuses his characters with a very natural relaxed look. His layout for the page on which Psycho Pirate takes back control shows a creative approach to the action.
Much like last issue, I can’t find a negative with Detective Comics #1052. It’s not only a lot of fun watching the Bat-family work together on a case like this, it’s well written within a creative narrative style really engages the reader.
Detective Comics #1052 continues to build, utilizing character and an engaging dynamic for the Bat-family told in a unique narrative style. Both “Shadows of the Bat” and “House of Gotham” hit with surprises to keep the plot rolling. With the Penguin making appearances in both storylines, one can’t help but wonder if Cobblepot will end up being the lynchpin to tie them together.