The New Detective Comics #1: A Much Darker Knight

It’s a new Gotham and a new Batman, but the core themes stay the same.

It’s no surprise that in the shadows of Gotham City lurk any number of killers of unknown calibers for the world’s greatest detective to go head to head against.  It’s no surprise that the police don’t like Batman or that the only good cop is a now younger Jim Gordon.  It’s also no surprise that the greatest nemesis Batman has ever faced is the elusive and maniacal Joker.

What will surprise you is how dark and shocking this book has become and I mean that in a good way.  Right out of the gate, writer/artist Tony Daniel has adapted and changed his approach to the book he had been writing previously with Dick Grayson wearing the cowl of the Caped Crusader in Batman.  With Bruce Wayne at his disposal, Daniel takes advantage of a new Gotham and its terrifying inhabitants by updating not only his own illustrative style, but also the level of grit used in the narrative.

We come in on an experienced, yet slightly less seasoned Batman; juggling his social life and whose report with the cops is terrible.  He must make use of every gadget and piece of information in order to catch what he defines as the most dangerous kind of killer—one with no true pattern.  Immediately we see his greatest foe murdering another killer as if to re-familiarize the readers with the insanity of the Joker.  But the tone and the twists in this book dive deep into a darkness untapped by Tony Daniel before as the curtain draws on a truly grotesque and bloody moment for the Clown Prince of Crime—one that will surely affect readers old and new alike.  The mystery of this  The Dollmaker is sure to keep us cringing the entire ride.

The art on this book is astounding and you’ll notice a difference in style from Tony Daniel’s previous run on Batman.  The line-work is more contained and less edgy with a heavier emphasis on form rather than shadow.  As usual his architecture frames the city nicely while his Batman soars above it.  The true star of this book though is the colorist Tomeu Morey, who somehow found a way to bring a subtle hint of breathing color to a dark and brooding city that almost makes it seem more alive.  Rosey cheeks and noses add a level of realism to each character and really provide a fluid cinematic feel to them—all enhancing the shocking final page even more.

 

The grit and gore of this book balance on a line between unwatchable and must-see to the point of brilliance only achieved by stellar murder mysteries of the same tone like “Seven” or “Kiss The Girls”.   For fans of Batman this book has it all:  Gadgets, high-flying action, Batman versus Joker, Jim Gordon, The Batcave, Alfred, murder mystery, and dark twists around every corner.  For new readers I suspect this will be a hauntingly memorable experience that no doubt will have them crawling back to their local comic book shop for more.

You really can’t miss it.

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