REVIEW: ‘Detective Comics’, Issue #1046

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Detective Comics #1046 - But Why Tho

Detective Comics #1046 juggles a lot of setup in an explosive one-shot tale for what’s to come with the new year. DC is setting this book up to publish weekly for three months as it takes Gotham and its heroes into the drama surrounding the new Arkham Tower. Mariko Tamaki sets up this first story as writer, with the backup tale spun by Stephanie Phillips. Artwork for the first and second tales are done by Dan Mora and David Lapham, respectively. Jordie Bellaire is first up as colorist, followed by Trish Mulvihill and Aditya Bidikar and Rob Leigh add in letters and word FX. In the last issue, Batman and Mayor Nakano came to an agreement—something the city needs, these two on the same side.

A highrise Gotham City apartment building is under siege by a murderous young woman, one suffering from criminal insanity and right in line with many of the city’s Rogues. Her rampage pulls in Batgirl Stephanie Brown and the Batman, with cues from Oracle. The crime spree is brutal and our villain definitely loves making things go boom. Her confrontation with Batgirl is a nice showdown, as the two have squared off before. Not sure why Batgirl threw a Batarang at the back windshield of the getaway car, or what effect it was supposed to have, but loved the brief, dirty joust. It showed upfront how heartless the villain is. Needless to say, Batman intervenes, and the rest of the main plot revolves around many characters coming to terms with the judicial system’s failings (i.e., why the convicted villain was free to run around killing), Batman’s state of mind, and of course, the soon to be up and running Arkham Tower.

Detective Comics #1046 offers another dangerous night on the town and continues the thread that Gotham’s villains are individuals suffering from a failed state system. Okay, merely punching bad guys, instilling fear, and tossing them into padded cells isn’t enough. Gotham needs to expand beyond the 19th century. A metropolis in darkness needs to be healed, and this theme transits through the issue well, from the mayor’s office to the Batman Family. We are treated to a lot of characters in this issue, and each gets their moment to shine and reflect on the situation coming. We also get a fair amount of personal arcs, but change is definitely in the air. 

The backup story completes the sullen tale of a tortured old man—once an inmate in Arkham Asylum, trying to stop the Tower from reaching completion. So far, this story has offered up a really good characterization of this guy. I hope he sticks around. And there’s excellent dialogue between Batman and Harley Quinn, a character I never really liked until Phillips showed me how back in her ongoing’s issue #1. The tone in both stories hits the same note: Gotham’s future in the light depends on the rise or fall of Arkham Tower, and it’s great to see the scope widen out to something other than just Batman’s darkness.

Tamaki knows every player under the Bat-Signal. She delivers a cool story, with everything served in the proper measurement. Nothing comes in too hot or cold, and Gotham feels more like a character now than ever before. As fans know, Batman will soon be away for at least a year, and for me this is great. The brutal darkness cast by how that character has been portrayed for decades has stifled Gotham’s story progress. The lore has so many epic heroes that could easily take front stage and be this book’s main character (Batwoman!) and forward progress is great storytelling. I have big hopes for what she’s cooking up for the big weekly saga.

The artwork is completely different, with Mora giving the first story edgy anime action vibes set against Bellaire’s cold and bold colors. I loved the line details in the hair, capes, cars, and tech.  Lapham instills in the second arc a humanity of happy and dejected faces, a distorted funhouse mirror in sinister Rogues and pained pleas. Mulvihill dominates much of it in a very human brown, which might seem plain but grounds the story and keeps our pitiful old man as the main point of eye contact. I appreciate the contrast, as each sets the tone for their respective stories well, embellished in lovely colors and sharp lettering of Bidikar and Leigh (including their difference in fonts).

Detective Comics #1046 ended 2021 by saying goodbye to the over-the-top stories that dominated the Batman line. It laid out the future in an accessible way and I look forward to ‘Shadow of the Bat.’

Detective Comics #1046 is available wherever comic books are sold.

Detective Comics #1046


Detective Comics #1046 ended 2021 by saying goodbye to the over-the-top stories that dominated the Batman line. It laid out the future in an accessible way and I look forward to ‘Shadow of the Bat.’

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