Publisher: DC Comics
Story: James Tynion IV
Art: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Adriano Lucas
Release Date: 8th June 2016
As is evident from the cover, this first story arc establishes a refreshing new order, with a certain shape-shifting villain featured alongside various members of the new-look Bat family, but it’s not the only change happening in the pages of ‘Detective’. At times reading this issue, it felt as though the company were speaking directly to the fanbase through the characters, reiterating that this is a new era for DC. Change and improvement are very much the order of the day company-wide, and this issue highlights this in microcosm, bringing DC’s approach during this ‘Rebirth’ into sharp focus.
The general premise concerns an attempt by Batman to bring together a new and improved Bat-Family for the inevitable threat to Gotham, in this case a coming war. The members of the team are given short introductions, but enough page time to establish their character and offer a little background insight. Undoubtedly, Batwoman takes centre stage, and looks set to play a major role moving forward. Moreover, she represents a very definite shift toward not only more diversity, but also an increased focus and strengthening of the erstwhile supporting cast. For example, Stephanie Brown’s elevated status to something more than a minor supporting role is a welcome change, and the casting of Clayface as a tragic villain on the cusp of redemption has a genuine sense of pathos.
Batman by contrast is a far cry from the ‘God of Knowledge’ we were shown recently. Here he is unafraid to ask for help, has a healthy dose of respect and perhaps fear for those around him, and for once, might not have all the answers. Tynion’s cultured ear for dialogue, and vast knowledge of the characters shines throughout, and he is able to blend all of these elements with a tight narrative to set up an intriguing mystery early and tantalising cliff-hanger ending.
Eddy Barrows art is at times spectacular, although there are some minor issues with panel flow in the early going. Character designs overall are stunning, and Batman in particular is drawn in an appropriately menacing and malevolent manner, echoing both Jim Lee, and Neal Adams. A sensational inking job from Eber Ferreira truly brings Barrow’s pencils to life, with delicate shading and solid blacks bringing real depth to every panel. His use of light and shade is superb, and the book has a suitably tense and brooding atmosphere as a result. Adriano Lucas’ dark, but subtle palette rounds things off, matching the overall tone perfectly.
As a cornerstone of the company’s catalogue, the ‘Detective’ title carries a hefty burden of responsibility for the creative team who tackle it, and if you add the pressure of the company’s ‘Rebirth’ to the equation, it’s an almost Herculean task. Luckily, DC have made every effort to secure some of the industry’s top talent, and this particular team are off to a highly impressive start.
The Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
You can follow Martin on Twitter