Comic Vine Review

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Detective Comics #19 - The 900; Birth of a Family; Birdwatching; War Council; Through a Blue Lens Review

4

An oversized issue celebrates 900 issues, fills in a few gaps, breaks new ground and introduces us to a long-awaited villain.

The Good

First of all: This is the 900th issue of Detective Comics! NINE! HUNDRED! That is IMMENSE! The book contains a “main” story and four shorter back-ups all but one written by John Layman (and the remaining one written by James Tynion IV). And with DC’s new focus on numerology, the number 900 plays a small, but important, role in the main story. The Layman stories all focus around a single night where a legion of Man-Bats are unleashed on one of Gotham’s most destitute districts. These bats, while similar to the ones seen in Batman Inc. are distinctly less powerful, but also far more numerous and less focussed. Drs. Kirk and Francine Langstrom look on at what horror Kirk’s wrought with a formula he only invented to cure deafness as the bat signal ignites the Gotham sky. There’s also a great, though brief, appearance by the extended Bat-family, including Batwoman, who continues to brook exactly zero of Batman’s attitude.

Layman puts in real overtime hours in four of the five stories present, and they’re all fantastic. From the city being filled with man-bats thanks to an airborne version of the formula to the backstory that reveals why the formula was created and who was behind its unleashing to a tale that gives Gotham at least four new factions to be afraid of, this book bombards the reader with an absolute metric TON of content, but it never loses sight of its main narrative thread, and all the threads lead back to one source.

Tynion, for his part, gives us a whole new look at the New-52’s Bane in all of his luchador masked glory. After an odd debut in the pages of Dark Knight, we see a bit more of Bane's backstory, having taken over the prison he, presumably, grew up in to an unlikely encounter with the Court of Owls, Tynion hews close to the Bane we already knew from comics, but breaks plenty of new ground that will apparently continue in the pages of Talon.

The artists can’t be downplayed here either with series regular Jason Fabok holding it down on the main story with his fluid, hard-hitting visuals brought to vibrant life by Jeromy Cox’s colors. Mikel Janin, Dave McCaig and Brad Anderson also give their A-games for the Bane story, showing just how massive the masked grappler is, but how menacing the Talons can be even without the size to match. The book also contains some great full-page poster art from a myriad of talent.

The Bad

There’s very little to dislike about this book, but what there was really stuck out. First and foremost: the main story has an editor’s note to another story far too frequently. There are five in all, which might not sound like much, but two are regarding the same thing and two are on the same page. And none of them help the reader gain a better understanding of who these people are or what they’re doing. The book also references the Family being distant ever since Death of the Family, even though we’ve seen numerous examples of this not being the case, and it comes off as a little schizophrenic.

While I mostly enjoy Jason Fabok’s art, I can’t help but notice that it’s quite similar to David Finch’s, particularly in the face region, which is not always Finch’s strong suit and isn’t Fabok’s either. Every now and then a face will just look...off and it’s very off-putting.

As much as I enjoy the Bane story overall, Bane’s actual reveal is extremely underwhelming, he’s merely suddenly there, even though the character is one of Batman's most feared villains and has barely been heard from. The story also makes it abundantly clear that, thanks to certain outside parties, Knightfall basically never happened, or if it did, happened VERY differently. As flawed as that story was in the middle and end, the beginning is one of the absolute most defining Batman moments and it’s sad to see it swept aside.

The Verdict

Those complaints do not ruin what is a very entertaining, VERY over-sized Detective Comics event. I haven’t been keeping up with Detective, but had absolutely no trouble jumping into this issue with its great stand-alone story and the new characters/factions that are introduced are absolutely intriguing and I hope have plenty of stories planned for them. The book may not say 900 on it, but it certainly reads like it is. It’s short on massive revelations or moments, but long on great plot setups and solid storytelling.

42 Comments
Posted by TheCheeseStabber

Is Azrael in it :3?????????

Posted by Mucklefluga

Yay Corey wrote a review! I was very surprised and happy that they called this issue #19 rather than 900.

Posted by Saren

The story also makes it abundantly clear that, thanks to certain outside parties, Knightfall basically never happened, or if it did, happened VERY differently.

What on Earth are you talking about? This story has nothing to do with Knightfall. It begins with Bane traveling to Gotham to secure a nuke a year prior to the events of this story, fighting Batman and falling off a cliff. This is just the other side of the first post-Flashpoint arc of Batman: The Dark Knight, a story where Bane confirms Knightfall still happened by telling Bruce "I'm the one who broke your back.....". Knightfall isn't even mentioned or alluded to in this story.

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Posted by Porcupeth

I disagree with the comment about Fabok's faces.. there are SOME similarities but i think his look better than Finch's.

Edited by Vulshock

I don't mind some characters being changed or reintroduced as being new to the universe. I felt that it was unnecessary to make this Langstroms first appearance, because DC decided to continue Morrison's story in The New 52. I would have liked if DC had kept Morrison's run unchanged by The New 52.

I liked the issue, but i couldn't imagine that a person would decide to call himself Emperor Penguin.

Edited by ccraft

I disagree with the comment about Fabok's faces.. there are SOME similarities but i think his look better than Finch's.

I dislike how Fabok draws faces, a lot of them are to similar.

Edited by TheDarkSalmon

this issue was really disappointing. the whole man bat thing stepped on its toes from the beginning and Bane was handled badly. i am Jack's black hole of despair

Posted by iaconpoint

How is Batwoman a member of Batman's family? She has as much to do with Bruce as Jessica Drew does with Peter Parker. At any rate, can't wait to get this issue.

Edited by broo1232

Glad to see this is good as IGN were hating it.

Posted by inferiorego
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Posted by V_Scarlotte_Rose

How is Batwoman a member of Batman's family? She has as much to do with Bruce as Jessica Drew does with Peter Parker. At any rate, can't wait to get this issue.

Good question. She's definitely not one of the family, and I hope she won't be.

It said 'Extended Bat-Family', but I'm not sure what that means exactly.

Posted by ThreadPool

@broo1232 said:

Glad to see this is good as IGN were hating it.

I was wondering about that. The 3.2 out of 10 seemed a bit extreme. I mean, there have been some REALLY bad comics this year. Almost any issue of Teen Titans...

Posted by Ashlor84

John Layman is doing a fantastic job here. He's using the Gotham universe and characters with perfection, and that reminds me of what Dan Slott is doing with Spider-Man. When Snyder tends to be too psychological, Layman develops a good balance between psychology and plot. And hell, here Batman is a DETECTIVE, not a victim. 5 stars, love this book since Tony Daniel left it.

Edited by broo1232

@threadpool: : It is harsh some of their points just felt wrong. Having not read Teen Titans I can't tell but there was a lot worse that came out this year and to say that this is the worst Batman Comic of the new 52 just felt wrong.

Posted by darkwingdan

@broo1232 said:

Glad to see this is good as IGN were hating it.

I was wondering about that. The 3.2 out of 10 seemed a bit extreme. I mean, there have been some REALLY bad comics this year. Almost any issue of Teen Titans...

I've noticed that Jesse at IGN tends to be very harsh on DC's books since the relaunch. When I saw he was the reviewer I knew the score wouldn't be good.

Posted by broo1232

@threadpool said:

@broo1232 said:

Glad to see this is good as IGN were hating it.

I was wondering about that. The 3.2 out of 10 seemed a bit extreme. I mean, there have been some REALLY bad comics this year. Almost any issue of Teen Titans...

I've noticed that Jesse at IGN tends to be very harsh on DC's books since the relaunch. When I saw he was the reviewer I knew the score wouldn't be good.

I see that now as well don't know why exactly Detective comics is one of my favourite ongoings and quite consistent and while I haven't read this particular issue I doubt it's worthy of a 3.2 more like a 4 like Corey said. I don't agree with a lot of what IGN says some of it just feels a bit extreme.

Posted by Spaceman973

Excellent review. I thank you for not spoiling the WTF moment. I was looking forward to that.

Posted by manwithoutshame

I didn't like this issue. I'm also getting sick of John Layman never tying up any plots. There's 5 stories in this issue and none of them reach anything resembling a resolution. You'd think you'd get a full story in a triple-sized issue, but you get a bunch of half-baked cop-outs.

Posted by Undeadpool
Staff
Posted by MadeinBangladesh

@broo1232: haha I was goonna say IGN gave it 3.

Posted by Dark_Guyver

Good review! I really enjoyed This issue. Price was a little steep but it did have a lot of content. 4/5 is a pretty accurate score.

Posted by detective38

This issue was very disappointing to be such a milestone. Didn't like the langstrom's new origin, the Bane story was ok although I don't think the character is being properly utilized by putting him in talon because that series blows, Mr. combustible and all those no names that are working for emperor penguin are stupid, and that story with the cops was pointless. Altogether it most definitely was not worth my 8 dollars and I very well might drop the series just like The Dark Knight. 2/5 stars

Posted by Ganthetsward20

I enjoyed this book and I'm not a Batman fan.

Posted by Miss_Garrick

Wow, 900. I think this makes this the longest running comic book ever.

Posted by darkwingdan

@manwithoutshame: I understand your frustration with the content of this issue. The only thing I can say is that you have to curb your expectations for any of these oversized issues. Almost every time you're going to end up with several backup/short stories. On the plus side, I can justify paying for this more than that ill-fated Young Romance garbage from February (which isn't saying much).

Edited by Vitacura

@ganthetsward20: Maybe that's why you enjoyed it.

The only thing I liked about this was the reason they talked about the 900's. Everything else barely average.

Posted by soumya

@vulshock said:

I don't mind some characters being changed or reintroduced as being new to the universe. I felt that it was unnecessary to make this Langstroms first appearance, because DC decided to continue Morrison's story in The New 52. I would have liked if DC had kept Morrison's run unchanged by The New 52.

I liked the issue, but i couldn't imagine that a person would decide to call himself Emperor Penguin.

I felt same too...DC already incorporated Morrison's idea,so why reintroduce Langstroms again?!also I understand that things are a little tensed between Batman and his family members,but the way they treat their mentor from now on is unacceptable.Bane's story is ok,but irrelevant on this issue.....better told in Talon's ongoing issues.overall 3 out of 5 from me

Posted by ThreadPool

@broo1232: Ah well. You're not missing much. Spotty characterization all over and it feels plucked right out of the mid-90s. Though I haven't read it in few months now.

Posted by Ironhawk22
Posted by SmashBrawler

Pretty good issue, Layman has done a great job so far.

Wow, 900. I think this makes this the longest running comic book ever.

Nah, if this new volume counts as part of the previous one then Action Comics has 923 issues currently.

Posted by broo1232

@threadpool I like it a lot it's different from the other bat books and which characters did you think had spotty characterization?

Posted by Undeadpool
Staff
Posted by ThreadPool

@broo1232: I was meaning Teen Titans. Detective has been really solid since Layman took over.

Posted by broo1232

@threadpool: Ahhh my mistake yeah Teen Titans has had some dodgy characterization and I've only read a few.

Edited by saoakden

Wow 900 issues. That's awesome.

Edited by Miss_Garrick
Posted by k4tzm4n

The story also makes it abundantly clear that, thanks to certain outside parties, Knightfall basically never happened, or if it did, happened VERY differently.

What on Earth are you talking about? This story has nothing to do with Knightfall. It begins with Bane traveling to Gotham to secure a nuke a year prior to the events of this story, fighting Batman and falling off a cliff. This is just the other side of the first post-Flashpoint arc of Batman: The Dark Knight, a story where Bane confirms Knightfall still happened by telling Bruce "I'm the one who broke your back.....". Knightfall isn't even mentioned or alluded to in this story.

I was thinking the same, but just to play it safe I asked James on Twitter. Here's his response:

I am treating Knightfall as essentially in continuity, although the details would be different in the New 52.

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Edited by MuyJingo

The story also makes it abundantly clear that, thanks to certain outside parties, Knightfall basically never happened, or if it did, happened VERY differently.

What on Earth are you talking about? This story has nothing to do with Knightfall. It begins with Bane traveling to Gotham to secure a nuke a year prior to the events of this story, fighting Batman and falling off a cliff. This is just the other side of the first post-Flashpoint arc of Batman: The Dark Knight, a story where Bane confirms Knightfall still happened by telling Bruce "I'm the one who broke your back.....". Knightfall isn't even mentioned or alluded to in this story.

Errrr....what? He talks about ruling Gotham...refers to Batman as a nuisance...speaking as though he hasn't yet faced him let alone broken his back. This all goes down as Night of the Owls is going on. So yes, Knightfall didn't happen, or happened very differently.

Why else is Bane speaking as though he hasn't yet faced Batman and still trying to rule Gotham?

The only way it makes sense is if when the talon refers to a night of the owls, he is referring to something different.

Posted by k4tzm4n

@muyjingo said:

@citizenbane said:

The story also makes it abundantly clear that, thanks to certain outside parties, Knightfall basically never happened, or if it did, happened VERY differently.

What on Earth are you talking about? This story has nothing to do with Knightfall. It begins with Bane traveling to Gotham to secure a nuke a year prior to the events of this story, fighting Batman and falling off a cliff. This is just the other side of the first post-Flashpoint arc of Batman: The Dark Knight, a story where Bane confirms Knightfall still happened by telling Bruce "I'm the one who broke your back.....". Knightfall isn't even mentioned or alluded to in this story.

Errrr....what? He talks about ruling Gotham...refers to Batman as a nuisance...speaking as though he hasn't yet faced him let alone broken his back. This all goes down as Night of the Owls is going on. So yes, Knightfall didn't happen, or happened very differently.

Why else is Bane speaking as though he hasn't yet faced Batman and still trying to rule Gotham?

The only way it makes sense is if when the talon refers to a night of the owls, he is referring to something different.

James' tale recognizes Bane's previous New 52 appearance and in that Bane spoke about how he previously broke Batman. I hoped to clear up the discussion and asked James about it on Twitter. Here's his response:

I am treating Knightfall as essentially in continuity, although the details would be different in the New 52.

Staff Online
Posted by MuyJingo

@k4tzm4n said:

James' tale recognizes Bane's previous New 52 appearance and in that Bane spoke about how he previously broke Batman. I hoped to clear up the discussion and asked James about it on Twitter. Here's his response:

I am treating Knightfall as essentially in continuity, although the details would be different in the New 52.

I guess without the details we can only guess at how it went down. Still, regardless of how it went down, it is still odd the way Bane talks in #19. You would think he would refer to their past encounters in some fashion, and certainly not underestimate him as a nuisance, knowing better.

Edited by briyen

really this was the worst issue by layman, open your eyes, dont let the fanboyness blind you!!

i mean its not a 3.2 outta 10 like ign says, still readible, but just pretty boring, i was pretty hyped

Edited by DanteTheRedKnight

This was an amazing issue! I hope most issues become like this instead of the boring stuff before.