Review – Detective Comics #964 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: James Tynion IV and Christopher Sebela
Art: Carmen Carnero
Colours: Ulises Arredla
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Release Date: 13th September 2017

In the latest chapter of Detective Comics, Basil continues to struggle with staying in his Clayface form, finally snapping due to a liaison with a former friend, while Stephanie begins to see the truth behind Anarky and his underground sanctuary, bumping into a few old friends along the way.

Tynion and Sebela show us the inner struggle Basil has to currently deal with, his impulses and drive not unlike that of an addict dealing with withdrawal.  And, like most addicts, when he finally gets what he craves, his self-loathing and disgust in having given in are on full display.  Anyone who has had to deal with this kind of situation in real life will understand fully the dilemma presented.  Cassie plays the support role, serving not only as the only person capable of taking him down, but also as the only person that really understands what he is dealing with, casting a somewhat sympathetic light on his condition.

Meanwhile, Batman makes an unwanted house call on Steph and Anarky and it is clear that she still blames Bruce for Tim’s apparent death.  As the readers on the outside we already know he is on his way back and it is going to be very interesting to see how Steph reacts to him returning from Mr Oz’s prison.

Carmen Carnero once more brings some incredible work to the book with highly detailed renditions of the cast and some truly epic two-page spreads allowing the action to really flow naturally and uninterrupted.  The anguish on Basil’s face when he comes to his senses is clear and the understanding displayed by Cassie both in body language and expression says so much about her character.

Ulises Arredla colours every panel with care maintaining his dark palette even during daytime sequences.  The events in play are darker in nature than the majority of DC books out right now because they focus on the flaws and emotions of the main cast rather than a specific villain or world ending threat.  The use of this kind of high contrast colour really creates an uneasy atmosphere and allows the reader to feel the weight of the events on the lives of not only the characters themselves but those around them.

If I had to pick anything that detracts from the story it is ironically one of my favourite things about the book, the action sequences.  Though it is true that they are spectacular and do give a more fluid feel to the proceedings, it does not work as well on a tablet screen as it does on a printed one.  It is not always clear when one of these sequences is due to start and can lead to some confusion when the story appears to leap around randomly, when we do realise there is a lot of scrolling back and forth which can be slightly annoying.

In conclusion, this book continues to be an interesting and slightly more personal look at those who work with and support Batman.  New readers would be best served going back a few issues to get the most out of the story as there are quite a few pieces in play.  The final panel is an interesting one and something that will likely play out during the next issue. I am also keen to see how the return of Tim Drake will effect events moving forward.

Rating: 4/5.

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

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