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Detective Comics #1 - Batman in Detective Comics Review

4

Jumping into an early point in Batman's crime-fighting career, his no-nonsense attitude might not be enough to handle the Joker, the Gotham City Police Department AND a new and deadly villain. Full of grit and action for the hardcore Bat-fan.

The first of the "New 52" Batman titles starts with a gritty look at an early point in his career. It all starts with a bang as the Joker is involved. The fact that the GCPD is after Batman as well isn't going to make things easy for him.

The Good

One of the concerns many had with relaunching all of DC's books was seeing stuff we'd already seen. We know Batman's origin. His parents get killed and young Bruce dedicates his life to fighting evil. We have a few different Batman series and this one is set in the five years ago period as introduced in Justice League #1 last week. Because we have a slightly different take on Batman, it almost feels like we're jumping after the movie has begun...and that's a good thing. It's actually a little surprising to find this little sense of mystery appealing. I actually enjoyed not seeing what differences there might have been in the events that lead up to this point.

From the cover you can see that Joker is involved. Over the years we have seen many different versions of the Joker. Part of it simply depends on where his mind is at. To enhance the gritty tone of the book, this Joker isn't the pushover version. He's actually a bit of a beast. Throw in some new villains and this is a flashback story of Batman unlike any we've seen.

The writing and art by Tony Daniel has a different feel from his last Batman run. Daniel has to set up the Batman universe with this issue. There aren't major changes but all the tiny ones are more than enough to make a noticeable difference. Often when this is the case, the pacing suffers. Daniel keeps the action going with plenty of splashy scenes and explosions. If you're looking for Batman-action, you will definitely find plenty here.

The Bad

Despite the sense of wonder in jumping in the middle of a story, there is still a little sense of confusion. Yes Joker is a homicidal killer but what is his connection to the mysterious new villain? Clearly this is something we will discover on the way. We also are left wondering where is the rest of the Bat-family? This Batman has a dark and cold feel to him. He may simply be focused on nabbing the Joker but it's almost hard to imagine Batman in this stage having a Robin.

Another complaint might not fairly be directed at this title but considering this is a Batman early in his career, he seems to have quite a bit of tech in his arsenal. It feels like he has more high-tech gadgets than he did before the "New 52." It does make things a little interesting but does give a feel that makes if feel further from the Batman we all knew before.

The Verdict

The first "New 52" Batman arrives and gives us a grittier Batman than we might have expected. Faced with the Joker, a new villain and being hunted by the GCPD at the same time, this Batman is going to have to rise to the challenge asap. The version of the Joker we see not the silly clown version we sometimes see. This is a Joker that isn't going to mess around with Batman or anyone else that gets in his way. Tony Daniel sets up this early period in Batman's life, establishes his place in Gotham as well as the details of the Batcave and his new arsenal all while jamming plenty of action and suspense at the same time. The look of Batman's armor feels a little odd here and there and he has a high-tech feel but with the way things are going, Batman will need all the help he can get. If all that wasn't enough, the ending will leave you scratching your head wondering how the heck the next issue is going to begin.

33 Comments
Posted by SpikeSpiegel

Can't wait to this pick this up in a couple hours!

Posted by squadron

Love seeing these reviews up before the books are out. Makes going to the comic store alot less daunting when I know what to buy.

Posted by Christina

Yep I can't wait for this now!

Posted by BatUniverse

 
Tony Daniel is drawing better than before, I think that his style has chaned a lot, Going to the comic, I will be getting a review soon, The new Batman's costume is awesome, the think is that it looks like HIGH TECH, and i like a lot the High-Tech costumes like Iron Man's one. 
For me Tony would do a great job on ¨Pieces¨ and i hope he will be getting the best story arc as possible with this new villian....

Posted by _jackbauer

I'll be picking up this issue after class.  I don't really know what to expect in terms of satisfaction because, in the past, I haven't been a fan of Batman books.  There is a good chance that I'll be dropping the Batman books from my pull list. 
 
The review score is encouraging though!  I'll wait to read the review until after I read the issue.

Posted by scnjedi

I really liked this issue, but it's worth noting that this isn't a flashback story. Daniel confirmed on his blog that it's set in the present, and the article that said it was set five years ago was wrong.

Edited by aldenconner112
@scnjedi: how many timelines do we have going on just 2 the justice league one and then the regular 5 years after the formation of the JL ? and how does action comics #1 timeline relate to this one ? the time span for each book is getting hard to follow. hopefully it becomes more clear once ive read them later today
Posted by TheDarkKnight335

Cant wait to pick this one up today along with batgirl
Posted by MrMazz

hehe finally having a comic shop on the way to school is great. holy balls the ending. Love the art Ryan Winn did. Not quiet sure when this is exactly happening but meh thats not a big deal.

Posted by bones360uk

Really enjoyed it,pretty violent which is always a plus

Posted by ltbrd
@scnjedi
Can you post a link to that because this definitely felt like a "5 years ago" story to me when I read it especially with the good point that G-man picks up of Batman being a little cold and cocky which makes it feel like the beginning of his career. Plus not having any info or reference to any of the rest of the bat-family and the hostility of the GCPD towards him all makes it feel more like Batman: Year One than an already well established hero. 
 
I like the greater tech Batman is employing and the new suit because it makes more sense for one of the richest men in the world to have this kind of stuff. Bruce is the DC equivalent of Tony Stark (though of course its really the other way around) and while he's traditionally been defined by his martial arts and mental abilities it makes sense that he would go into something as dangerous as being Batman with the best and most technologically advanced equipment he can get his hands on. 
 
Just interested to see what happens when the tech goes away and how the batsuit handles then, whether it can be taken over by other techno-oriented villains, etc....
Posted by CombatSpoon86

The art is gorgeous as usual. Some gruesome stuff here. His writing was a little bit better than b4. I'll give him props for that. As long as my brother keeps picking up this book, I'll be reading it. All I can say about the last pg of the story is eye popper serial killer moment.

Posted by Eyz

The "5 years ago" in all the books is kinda...silly, from a narrative point of view I mean, these stories could have all stood on their own, be as entertaining and fun, with simply a "Some years ago" instead :P
 
Anyway, Snyder back on Bats!
One of the musts so far :D

Posted by Enzeru
Posted by PirateNeal

Last page creeped me out for sure, really excited to see where this goes.

Posted by scnjedi
@ltbrd: http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=12527439&postID=411860258630585176
 
It's the 13th comment
Posted by doordoor123

This was fling great. I was shocked to see how great it was. It reminds me of the kind of feel Hush had. 

Posted by Omertalvendetta

Very impressed... a few things were weird, but it is definitely deserving of the score it received.

Posted by Ulviar

Very good. Batman hasn't been this cool since his death and return.

Posted by NixonV3

This was a good start but its needs more noir to it

Posted by labarith

See, Batman's the new Ironman.  Everyone liked that Ironman movie, right?  Tech, tech, prep time, and tech beats even the wiliest of thieves - criminals sure are a cowardly lot.

Posted by Booster_Bronze

Creepy and very "Batman" in its feel and tone. The last page was very Hush-ish also and disturbed me to a great extent.

Posted by joshhh_10

oh wow this comic is the best of the new 52 yet great book
Posted by ltbrd

After reading this twice I'm a bit torn by the internal dialog we get in this issue. Its strange but this book makes you get the sense that the story is happening in the present timeline yet at the same time some of the internal dialog makes it feel like this Batman isn't quite as experienced as he should be for being in the game for 5-6 years. Plus not having any mention or reference to Robin begs the question of where he is and why he isn't at least in the Batcave when Batman returns for a bit. I read the blog post where Daniel says this is set in the present but if that's the case why is the GCPD still treat Batman like an enemy as they did 5+ years ago? Why do we get internal dialog of Batman asking if the Joker always removes his clothes? Or the Joker shocking him and Batman thinking how the Joker shows him how unprepared he (Batman) is? 
 
So while this was a great book all around it felt a bit incomplete in the sense that DC possibly wanted this book to be an early Batman story like Action Comics and Justice League are doing but Daniel wanted to tell a present story and somehow the two mixed together. This just didn't feel or read like a seasoned Batman story and felt alot more like Year One. It works both ways too because there's nothing to say the Joker couldn't have been killing before Batman showed up and this could still be 5 years before the present but Batman has been active for a year or two before this (and therefore longer than any of the other heroes) while at the same time this could all be taken as Bruce resuming his official role as Batman within Gotham City and that's why he's not quite on his game as he was before. Guess we'll have to wait and see how this arc goes and what type of references are made throughout it.

Posted by niamahai

those batman armor-lines won't last a year. 
 
at this point whats the distinct difference between Detective Comics and regular Batman books?

Edited by gangly

I'm kind of confused as to why everyone is confused about the timeline here. The very first internal monologue in the book is... 

One-hundred fourteen murders over the past six years... And I can pin them all on him, even if the courts can't. 


 To me at least, this clearly tells us that Batman has been around for about six years (one year longer than when we see him in JL #1), and in all that time, he's been following if not fighting the Joker. Later, Batman thinks to himself... 
 

I've tried and always failed to get into the Joker's mind.


Batman getting kinda beat up may make him seem like a rookie to some of you guys, but I think it's just reinforcing that the Joker is a formidable opponent. Logically, a dude in a suit of high-tech armor who it at peak physical shape and has trained in tons of different fighting styles would completely obliterate a scrawny dude with a messed up face. But we see in this book that it's the Jokers unpredictability fueled by his madness that forces Bruce to not really know how to take him down. 
 
This is the guy who, with some planning, can stop The Man of friggin' Steel, but no amount of planning can prep him for a Joker fight. 
 
Also, I've read this 3 times, and when I turn the last page it still makes me jump. This is some beautifully grotesque stuff!
Posted by Jake Fury

Best DCnU book so far for me.
Posted by Psychotime

I think the final page wasn't necessary at all. I'm not a fan of shock imagery and it really made me wonder what they were thinking when this is supposed to me a new starting point to get new readers. 

It's like the dark 90's are back again and the stories somehow need to be violent in order to get readers. Yes, horrific things happen whenever the Joker's involved, but there is such a thing as good taste.
 
I'm mostly coming at this with the idea that Batman should still be appropriate for kids to still read. I don't think a Batman story should ever push farther than the Nolan films in terms of content. Those films were excellent in that they could have intricate and mature crime stories that can still be appropraite for kids to be able to see.
 
Not all superheroes need to be kid friendly, but Batman does. And as I said, the Nolan movies have shown that being such doesn't prevent him from having amazing stories.

Posted by sa5m

Enjoyed this. Good review G-man =)

Posted by They Killed Cap!

Does this joker seem more sadistic to people?
Edited by Daveyo520

I really loved this issue. The art in it is really amazing. it is my favorite new series/issue so far.

Posted by LOTR_Dan

Look, I don't wanna be a hater, but this book is bad. This book pushes the shock value so hard that it's embarrassing. It's like they are desperately trying to prove that comics aren't for kids, but it doesn't work. If anything it makes it seem more juvenile. The writing leaves a bit to be desired too. "His modus operandi changes with the wind and it's been windy in Gotham City." You can't put that on your first page an expect me to take this book seriously, no matter how much mayhem you draw.

The relaunch is supposed to draw in new readers, but this book is simply going to turn them away. A non-fan is just going to look at this book, be a bit shocked, and have their beliefs reaffirmed that comic books are stupid. After the pretty enjoyable JLA #1 and the extraordinary Action #1 I was hoping for more. Oh well.

Posted by CODYSF

LOL wow you guys go read a Barney book the book is fantastic.