Detective Comics (2016-) #995
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Doug Mahnke
As you look at the cover of this issue, DC takes the top of the page to remind you that we’re just 5 issues now from the 1000th issue of Detective Comics to ever be published. With that being the case, being the writer of this book right now should be regarded as an incredibly prestigious position. Such a position should only be given to a consistently high-quality writer who delivered the best mainline Batman book since 2011, which is why Tomasi is a great choice.
This is the second issue of Tomasi’s Detective Comics run, picking up quickly after the ending of issue #994 where we left off with (spoilers) a Jokerized Leslie Thompkins. Tomasi wastes no time at all in getting the plot moving and delivers a tightly paced, emotional and intriguing 2nd issue. This issue’s pages are chock full of drama and tension, and the premise of the mysteries Tomasi has set up leave you desperate for the next issue to give you more answers, or even more questions. In addition to the mysterious murder of a couple surgically altered to look like Bruce’s parents, a new unlikely and seemingly inexplicable event occurs here in the form of an uninvited guest from Bruce’s past. It’s the kind of panel that leaves you asking a series of “What? Who? How? Why?” questions, which, for a book with “detective” right in the title, is absolutely the kind of reaction I want to have when reading.
Tomasi’s characterisation of Bruce and Alfred is as strong as it was in his Batman And Robin run, with the sheer raw force of Bruce’s absolute and unwavering determination shining throughout. It also ends on a moment that captures what Batman should be to criminals: An intimidating, terrifying figure who’s very presence elicits fear from anyone he’s after. Meanwhile, Alfred as an exemplar of the British stiff upper lip is realized excellently (speaking as a Brit myself), and his ability to remain calm (and make sarcastic remarks) under intense pressure and life-threatening circumstances is perfectly on display here.
A book with writing this strong deserves art to match, and Doug Mahnke delivers in spades. Mahnke’s art is a slightly odd style that toes an interesting line between being realistic and being stylised. The characters and setting, that you’re looking at feel real, the proportions and movements make sense and you can understand them. His art possesses a quality to it that makes everything look slightly darker and grounded in a place of nightmares. Character expressions are clear and detailed, panels with high emotional or dramatic intensity are drawn so as to deliver perfect impact. The very last panel of the book gives you the chills in the way only a well-written and well-drawn Batman comic really can. No panel is wasted and left with just average art, every single one matters and is given the same excellent artistic quality throughout.
An excellent second issue that builds on the mystery and leaves you wanting even more in the best way possible, enhanced by impeccable art.