Review – Detective Comics #954 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: James Tynion IV
Art: Marcio Takara
Colours: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Release Date: 12th April 2017

The League of Shadows’ most sinister agent Lady Shiva has systematically wiped out all of Batman’s support, leaving him completely alone. To make matters worse, Ra’s al Ghul has made his way to the Batcave to confront the Dark Knight and may be the only lead as to where his comrades have been taken.

James Tynion continues his epic deconstruction of the Bat family after initially building them up to be Batman’s own version of the Justice League. As the series has progressed we have witnessed the loss of Red Robin (presumed dead, but we know otherwise), the psychological breakdown of both Orphan and Batwoman, the departure of Spoiler and now issues arising with Clayface. Each of these attacks have been given their own space during the course of the story story, and the different threads are now starting to slowly gel together. Even Batman himself is not immune to this, having only recently discovered a few mistakes that have come back to haunt him and, of course, the confession made by Ra’s this issue.

Marcio Takara takes over on both pencils and inks this issue, giving us a far muddier and bleak aesthetic as a result.  The series has had its fair share of artists and the last few issued benefited from a super detailed look thanks to Christian Duce. Now that we are in a storyline that appears to be hopeless and featuring a Batman in freefall, it feels much more appropriate to have Takara on the artwork, giving Gotham a more oppressive and suffocating feel as the walls start to close in. A generous use of shading matched with heavy linework paints a world that Batman himself is unprepared for, which is exactly what the written narrative wants you to feel.

Marcelo Maiolo adds to Takara’s darker theme using bright primary colours for the action scenes and a more muted pallet for the conversations and narrative portions. Maiolo understands exactly what needs to be where and responds accordingly, adding the tones and atmosphere required to fully realise such a dark chapter of this latest tale.

Detective Comics has always been about the more methodical, ‘master strategist’ version of Batman that is all too often forgotten about in his other titles. What we see here is Batman being put through the wringer; the battles in Gotham alone are coming too fast and he has been worn down with no time to formulate any kind of strategy or plan. It’s almost refreshing to see him struggle and watch as his foes gain the upper hand,.  In the opening pages alone we watch him cage Ra’s but did this in fact cage him instead? The final panel is super exciting for anyone who has been following this story, and indeed the series a whole, and I am looking forward to viewing how events play out from there.

This has been a great book since Rebirth began and it continues to be one of the strongest titles in DC’s lineup. For new readers however, it’s worth noting that a lot of the story that has been embedded so far is going to be hard to follow, so I’d recommend reading from issue 950 onwards as this is pretty near the end of the current story. There’s no reason someone who was reading before and drifted away couldn’t pick this up, but new readers should beware, as a brand new story is likely to begin soon.

Rating: 4/5.

[Click to Enlarge]

The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
John Tweets from @ShinKagato


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