Scott Furnell-Calvert reviews Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 1: Faces of Death…
“As a part of the acclaimed DC Comics – The New 52 event, DETECTIVE COMICS is relaunched for the first time! Bruce Wayne returns as Batman – and sets his sights on the Gotham Ripper, who in turn has his sights on Batman. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne explores a budding romance with TV journalist Charlotte Rivers, who’s visiting Gotham City to cover the gruesome slayings. But time is running out as Commissioner Gordon and Batman work to uncover the secret of the dread Dollmaker!“
Right from the striking cover image to the cliffhanger final frames, issues 1-7 of Batman: Detective Comics grabs you by the scruff of the neck and doesn’t let go. The art is a feast, action set-pieces are picked out boldly and even in the story’s quieter moments (and yes, there are some) the use of colour gives each frame a sense of pace and energy.
The high standard of writer/artist Tony S. Daniel’s work is sustained throughout and this collection showcases some of the most dynamic layouts and colouring you’re likely to see. Indeed, the tone is set pretty early on with a gruesomely realised fight between everyone’s favourite mass murderer, The Joker, and an unknown assailant. The art embellishes the punchy and genuinely funny dialogue, where staccato changes in tone throw into sharp focus this beautifully unhinged iteration of The Joker.
This bait-hook opener creates a genuine sense of mystery, which compelled this reader to plough through the story in one sitting. Key to this creation of intrigue is Daniel’s use of the Bat-monologue. Where previous chatty Batman’s have distracted, even detracted, from the mystique of the Dark Knight, Daniel manages to create a well-rounded character, more closely linked to Bruce Wayne than ever before. As a result this Batman is fallible (if only slightly so), creating believable peril for this all too invincible hero. Many may find this more human Wayne/Batman tricky to accept but it’s a worthy attempt at bridging the gulf between man and bat.
Those adverse to change and tinkery however will find it hard to resist the morbid and sinister new villain, Dollmaker, and a plot that keeps the reader guessing at every turn of the page. A solid edition to the New 52 series and quite possibly your favourite if you like your Caped Crusader’s mettle tested.