Title: Detective Comics #958
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colours: Brad Anderson
Release Date: 14th June 2017
It really is a great time to be a fan of DC Comics, especially if you are of a certain vintage and can remember the original stories being so earnestly referenced during this company wide ‘Rebirth’. After a ‘Spoiler’-centric issue last time out, we jump back into the overarching narrative in the pages of Detective Comics. With no ‘Bat’ activity, the focus shifts to Azrael, and more specifically, the man who originally unlocked his subconscious programming, Nomoz. We also get a look at the Order of Saint Dumas’ latest weapon, Ascalon, an A.I. controlled machine seeking former members of the order to ‘excommunicate’ them.
Tynion IV certainly knows his DC lore and seems to enjoy dipping into the company’s rich history for inspiration. Here he brings another rather obscure character into play in Nomoz, but as always it’s entirely in service of the plot. From start to finish, the issue is an engrossing masterclass in character-driven setup, which cleverly touches on the unpredictability of human behaviour as being the flaw that can defeat any system; a point underlined by the appearance of a much-loved character in a genuine moment of ‘magic’. We also get a closer look at the burgeoning relationships being established on the back of recent events.
There are some character similarities shared by Luke and Jean-Paul, so their friendship is rather more obvious, but the connection between Cassandra and Basil is particularly intriguing. Both characters find it difficult to express their true selves unless in ‘character’, and one of my favourite panels in the book (beaten only by that cracking final splash), is Clayface whipping Cassandra into the air after her successful reading of The Tempest; the choice of story further foreshadowing the issue’s big reveal.
We are also treated to some stunning visuals, with Alvaro Martinez using double page spreads in particular to great effect, creating a smooth flow that expertly leads your eye around the pages. Layouts and compositions are top drawer, too, with shrewd use of angles and inserts to accentuate reactions and moments of tension. Brad Anderson’s colour work brings an extra touch of class to proceedings, striking the right tone alongside Raul Fernandez’s weighty inks, which really help nail the foreboding atmosphere where required.
In short, chalk up another win for DC. The Rebirth titles continue to impress, with Detective Comics right at the forefront. But let’s not forget: it’s all about the talent involved, and James Tynion IV and company have just pulled another rabbit out of the hat.
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The Writer of this piece was: Martin Doyle
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