Title: Detective Comics #958
Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colours: Brad Anderson
Release Date: 28th June 2017
If there is something the creative team on Detective Comics do incredibly well, it’s re-establishing lore. Last issue we had a flashback into Bruce’s life and his relationship with Zatanna, and we also got to bear witness to Azreal’s replacement Ascalon. The fight continues this issue as Bruce seeks Zatanna’s aid in locating a lost ally whilst fighting off the order of St Dumas’ latest assassin.
It should come as no surprise to anyone following this series that this issue, like those before it, is heavy on lore building and character development. We spend time with young Bruce once again, but we also get to spend some quality time with Azreal both on and off the battlefield. James Tynion would appear to have a bottomless supply of backstory to show us aspects of our cast we have not yet seen. His genius this issue can be seen in his reworking of the St Dumas order and, of course, its brand new representative Ascalon. There is something very dangerous about a villain who can out manoeuvre Jean-Paul Valley and take on the entire Bat family single handed.
Alvaro Martinez is on pencils this month and each panel is illustrated with a keen understanding of the characters and how they should carry themselves. The action sequences are spectacular as we watch Ascalon dance around his opponents, matched only in ferocity by Azreal and Batman himself. The level of detail on display is breathtaking and regardless of the page is likely to impress even the most critical eye.
Brad Anderson brings his ‘A-game’ with his colours this issue, turning a gorgeously drawn book into visual masterpiece. From the very beginning Zatanna steals the show with her magics on display and it’s Anderson’s ability to give them an almost tangible energy that lights up every panel she appears in. Ascalon’s neon red markings on his mask make him a visually intimidating foe, really hammering home the danger he represents. Batwing is suitably impressive too, thanks to glowing white eyes and Bat symbol imbued with the very colour of electricity (I swear I could hear it hum as I scrolled through the pages).
It is very easy to be excited by this issue and the threat a newly determined order of St Dumas represents. Since becoming an ally to the bat we ironically lost one of his greatest foes but in bringing this new, sleek, dangerous personage into the tale we have a reason to feel on edge once more. As with previous issues the digging into the past and present of our heroes is an absolute joy and brings us closer to them in a way that only this team have been able to do.
Another well-crafted issue with visuals that match the compelling narrative and exploit the cast of characters we have come to love. Ideally you would want to have at least read the issue prior to this one but it is not an impossible task to grasp what is happening so new readers should consider it viable.
The series remains a favourite of mine as it continues to expand upon exactly what it means to work with Batman and the repercussions that frequently follow. This book continues to be at the top of my reading pile on comic book day, and honestly deserves a higher score than I have available to me.
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