Prior to the reboot, Batman: Detective Comics was being described as more “serious, darker, grittier” version of Batman. While it certainly is all of those things, at times it seems that every once in a while you can see the influence of Adam West’s Batman on the page and that is as not serious as you can get. Tony S. Daniel is pretty well known for his Batman work, so it only makes sense for the man to be given full creative control on one of the Bat-titles for the relaunch, and after the initial arc it would seem that was a perfect idea, but once you get past the halfway mark of the book you begin to notice that Daniel might need an editor standing over him at all times.
Daniel writes Batman well. The inner monologue of the character is an important facet of his stories because it gets us in the head of Batman and takes us through his thought processes. Daniel has this side down, he writes Batman dialogue so well he makes it look easy and in the first arc he even has great writing for Gordon and other GCPD characters. From the set up it looks like this book will be a good balance of Batman solo work and Batman teaming with Gordon. This comic being titled “Detective Comics” you would assume this and for that first arc you’d be correct.
Daniel’s story for the first arc is pretty sick and demented. It also is the only real offering from The New 52 of The Joker that we’ve gotten thus far, so if you need a Joker fix this might be the book for you. It’s the kind of story that you really expect from a dark, gritty Batman comic. Then you start reading the second arc and it all falls apart. There isn’t a real connection between the two, there is but it’s thread bare, and that could be a little maddening for anyone that has waited for the trade. The story is very disjointed and more often than not its quite boring. While the first four issues deal with a weird story that I was totally wired into and interested in, the second arc is a spy caper that makes almost no sense and leaves little to be cared for.
While his plotting skills aren’t the best in the world, Daniel does know how to draw remarkably. His splash pages are incredible and though he might put Batman in impossible positions sometimes, they still look great on the page. Daniel has such good art that even when nothing exciting in the story is happening and it’s pure dialogue it’s interesting to look at. The pages of Gordon and Batman on the roof talking or Alfred driving a boat are still fantastic even though they aren’t typical action comic art.
Batman: Detective Comics‘ first volume isn’t entirely forgettable but it’s also not as memorable as Scott Snyder’s Court of Owls. It has the right start that a serious Batman tale needs, but slowly starts to derail and never quite recovers along the way. Huge Batfans will want to read it, but anyone with only a passing interest might be just as happy if not more by sticking to the regular Batman title.
Rating: 6 / 10