Moody, foreboding, and strange – Ram V and Rafael Albuquerque kick off their Detective Comics run with an anxiety-laced gothic opera that's heavy on the weird. The new comic is moody, dark, and driven by the impending doom of one's own mortality, which is all a departure from Detective Comics prior direction, one that struggled to find itself in the midst of Batman's ever-changing status quo. By embracing the darkness, Detective Comics #1062 sets the mood for what could be an instant classic by two of the comic industry's top talents.
Ram V and Albuquerque weave a delicate dance between supernatural horror and superheroics in their opening issue. While the comic opens with scenes from a gothic opera starring a bat demon, it then pulls back to what seems to be a standard confrontation between Batman and a group of smugglers. However, it's clear that something is "off" about Batman – he's distracted and anxious, checking his vitals and fretting about slowed reaction times. That distraction allows a corrupted gangster to get the drop on Batman, and later leads Talia al Ghul to make an appearance and escape after giving Batman a warning. From there, the comic shifts to an offshoot of the Arkham family, who plan on returning to Gotham and reclaiming their legacy. However, the Orgham family's strange garb and penchant for violence hints at more supernatural threats on the horizon, as does the disturbing dream Batman has about the bat-demon Barbatos.
Albuquerque is one of my favorite artists in comics, and his artwork really shines whenever the horror elements come into play. The opening scene of gothic opera is particularly unsettling, as is the shifting and bulging mobster that Batman faces. What I appreciated most about the art direction is how Albuquerque seemed to keep the strange and horror elements constrained. There were times that the issue looked like a typical Batman comic, with the horror elements only leaking out and pouring through in key scenes. The Barbatos dream and the opera almost feel like a different comic, thanks in part to the red-tinged color palette used by Dave Stewart. The shift helps make the comic feel even more unsettling and off-balance, mimicking the feeling that something is "off" with the changes in pacing.
Simon Spurrier and Dani take on the second half of Detective Comics with the first in a three-part story that brings James Gordon back to Gotham. Still exiled from the police force and sporting a strange blemish on his forehead, Gordon takes on a missing person case that almost certainly seems like a set-up and takes him into the bowels of Arkham Asylum. Dani's artwork is gritty and evocative, providing an interesting juxtaposition to Albuquerque's more polished style. The comic's artwork reminded me a bit of Frank Miller's Sin City, reveling in the abstract while still following the beats of a noir tale. It was a great chaser for the lead story and maintained the issue's mood while not duplicating the unique supernatural horror of Ram V and Albuquerque's tale.
Detective Comics has traditionally worked best when it feels distinct and separate from the rest of the Batman line. Let the other Batman comics tell superhero stories, but Detective Comics seems to shine when it focuses on crime, horror, and the supernatural, all elements that Batman can thrive in when he's given room. After months of struggling to stand out, Detective Comics has instantly made a splash with its new gothic direction. It's definitely the sort of comic you'll want to talk about and hopefully this issue marks the beginning of an exceptional new run.
Published by DC Comics
On July 26, 2022
Written by Ram V and Simon Spurrier
Art by Rafael Albuquerque and Dani
Colors by Dave Stewart
Letters by Ariana Maher and Steve Wands
Cover by Evan Cagle0comments