Detective Comics #1053 drops readers into Gotham’s seedy courts and the underworld. DC’s oldest title is helmed by Mariko Tamaki and Matthew Rosenberg on writing respectively “Shadows of the Bat” and “House of Gotham.” Max Raynor and Fernando Blanco are on art duty, with Luis Guerrero and Jordie Bellaire on colors. Rob Leigh and Ariana Maher handle letters as we ease into Chapters seven of the two stories. Crime is afoot in both, and they take center stage.
In the last issue, the Batman Family found out where the Party Crashers dwell, in a “cute” subterranean wannabe medieval city, and quickly put their wrists in cuffs. Good work. But this is Gotham, where crime pays, and thanks to a rather impressive form of legal defense, this issue finds the main goons in the Crashers getting off in court. This puts them back on the streets, mad as hell, and looking to find out who ratted them out. This takes us on a tour of the Gotham underworld, as Dr. Wear, now further in debt for bailing out the Party Crashers, must secure more funding, and not from the bank. This gives Tamaki the time to float villains around the city and use them this time to move the first half of the plot, which she uses to the fullest to show bad guys do not rest on their laurels. This is great, as later on in the issue, it puts them on offense. Our heroes, already several steps behind, are in a bad state. I loved before how Tamaki gives us a broader view of Gotham, its heroes and villains from the underworld on up and this issue makes fuller use of that with a brief dive into the courts, Penguin, and the bitter unfurling of Arkham Tower’s insecurities.
Raynor and Guerrero keep bringing classic comic book action and multispectral diversity to every panel. Raynor really puts in the work with an army of human characters to illustrate yet every single one is distinct in look and visual persona. Guerrero lights up Gotham and its citizens in just the right places, and this really feels like a new era for the city, where the slum appearance of old has given way to a more gentrified, yet no less dangerous, Gotham City. Maher deftly handles a bevy of word balloons as this issue drops a ton of dialogue. But never fret, she has it all under control. Once again, this is one of my favorite stories, with the tying fave going to…
‘House of Gotham’, which left us off last time with the Boy back in Arkham Asylum—back with his pal, the second, monstrous, and drippy Clayface. After being in league with Scarecrow, and then adopted by Penguin, the Boy by now is just a walking, numb little guy. If anyone is waiting for relief to come, spoiler, it isn’t this time around. Arkham falls into a lockdown and the guest villain is one heck of a surprise whose lesson to the Boy might just make him more of a proactive player, rather than an unwitting follower. Rosenberg knows Gotham’s villains and its streets as if he was raised there. But he also manages to find the gray areas of them as well, making them twisted yet informative guides on the Boy’s malignant journey.
Blanco and Bellaire deliver their best with art and colors right off the bat, as usual. Panel one of the Boy, eyes as blue as they are dead, says it all. From there it’s a bloody ‘red alert’ style lockdown coloration that sets the tone. The one difference is the art appears more real this time with less inky darkness, and that’s great considering the story. Leigh herds all the words together while continuing to make playful SFX even during dark moments.
Detective Comics #1053 is a bona fide blast from start to finish. I’ve never been more interested in Gotham and its quirky characters, even the common ones who turn the gears. Arkham Tower has now clicked over to Day 21. Things are worse. The Boy is a criminal at this point, and we’re about to go over the cliff. Stay tuned.
Detective Comics #1053 is available wherever comic books are sold.
Detective Comics #1053
Detective Comics #1053 is a bona fide blast from start to finish. I’ve never been more interested in Gotham and its quirky characters, even the common ones who turn the gears.