Detective Comics #1052 winds back the clock again, just a bit, to fill us in on the wild Day 19 in Arkham Tower. The madness of “Shadows of the Bat” rolls on with Mariko Tamaki as writer and Max Raynor on art. Luis Guerrero sticks around for colors, and Ariana Maher drops letters. So we already know that on Day 19, Psycho Pirate loses whatever marbles he has left, and because of this, the patients at Arkham are free to be less than jovial, to put it mildly.
But first, as usual, our first story begins with a flashback. This time around, it centers on Dr. Chase Meridian, another nice touch as the flashbacks have been revolving around a wealth of Gotham characters, not just heroes and supervillains. It’s an exciting thrill ride from the past as the Batman rescues Chase from what would have been certain death while she reminisces on the problems of Gotham.
This leads into Day 19 again, and we’re shown more details about what happened to the rest of the staff just before Psycho Pirate went haywire, starting with Chase and her call to the mayor’s office. The remainder of the story is Tamaki carefully crafting tidbits of how the situation deteriorates and everyone from patients to workers to heroes are afflicted. She also pulls other story points forward, and strange as it may sound, progress is being made. But will the Bat-Family be too late? We already know an even worse situation dawns on Day 24, so…
Raynor has now gained a second issue of this story as a notch on his belt, and his pencils are more open, almost fun pop compared to Reis’ attention to detail, especially with the added zeal of Guerrero’s coloring. But make no mistake. Raynor can turn lighter faces into hellish ones in a single panel, and his transition from relaxed to grim is eye-catching. There is a particular page later in the tale that Raynor uses to create some imaginative, deconstructive use of panels and visual distortion. At the same time, Maher flowers the story with precise word balloons and SFX to dizzy the reader with a word funnel fit for Charybdis in front of a tentacled Scylla colored by Guerrero’s wonderful hues. All in all, great art and story all around. If I had a gripe, it’s changing artists in the middle of a story, but it’s a meek one as this introduced me to Raynor’s skill.
Detective Comics #1052 shifts back into the past with the traumatic “House of Gotham,” and I’m sure Matthew Rosenberg has triggered my depression. As a reader, I find this bad. As a writer, I applaud his talent and ability to affect a reader. The Boy, if you recall, has come under the wing of the Penguin. That should sum it up right there. But, no. It begins in an ice cream parlor, where the Boy and Elliot meet Jason Todd, then a kid and secretly Robin. Good old Elliot brags that they “kill people for Penguin,” which sets off the plot of this issue since, as you know, Jason runs back to tell You-Know-Who. Needless to say, the Boy’s life will be in flux yet again, and he must be the most transient character ever in comics. At the start, it seemed like the Boy would turn out okay, despite all the trauma. But at this point, there’s no way. Gotham eats its young.
Rosenberg kills this part while making it look easy. Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire, and Rob Leigh drop readers into a dreamlike landscape of sepia-toned goodness before returning them to the shaded evenings and troubling shadows of a typical Gotham night. Everything is spot on, and the feel of childlike innocence looks fleeting on the pages and by the end, our Boy is further confounded and lost. It’s a well-played, expertly executed modern tragedy.
We’re at the halfway point now, and I hope the Family saves the day and doesn’t need to be bailed out by Batman’s return, as DC loves to rewind the clock. Let Bats be a global hero. Leave Gotham for Batwoman and the Fam. Chapter Seven is only a week away!
Detective Comics #1052 is available wherever comic books are sold.
Detective Comics #1052
We’re at the halfway point now, and I hope the Family saves the day and doesn’t need to be bailed out by Batman’s return, as DC loves to rewind the clock. Let Bats be a global hero. Leave Gotham for Batwoman and the Fam.