That’s a heck of a cover from illustrator Doug Mahnke, colourist David Baron and the DC production department, with Mr Freeze icing up the mag’s logo to celebrate the Year of the Villain. Inside, Victor Fries barely appears – he’s confined to a two-page addendum after the meat of the issue concludes, working on his latest scheme to revive his dead wife, the unfortunate Nora. Lex Luthor, tweaked due to events in Justice League, is doing a Neron and upgrading villains for his own purposes, so he’s given Mr Freeze the tech to bring back Nora (presumably to smother her with his attentions – this is the world’s clingiest husband).
But that’s not important right now. Bruce Wayne, back from a Batman patrol, has business to attend to, and Alfred aims to make sure he doesn’t miss it.
So, after a lot fewer than 40 winks…
As it turns out, former playboy supervillain Deadshot still likes business class.
But while he can control a cabin, the Suicide Squad’s most charismatic member can’t control the weather.
This is a terrific issue. Writer Peter J Tomasi continues to remind us that Bruce Wayne still exists, he doesn’t have to be Batman 24/7 – he can function in the daytime and look at ways to make the world better that don’t involve having his Bat-suit covered in goon blood. And while he acts the bored socialite, he’s not to be underestimated.
If any of his industrialist associates believed for a second that Bruce is as shallow as he acts, his actions on the plunging plane this issue would put them right. He takes charge of the situation, doing everything he can to stem panic and save lives. And whether that risks compromising his secrets isn’t a consideration, there are souls to be saved.
It’s always a treat to see Deadshot back where he started, in a Batman story. As one of the few villains who isn’t an out-and-out nutter (I think we can overlook the world’s most wish-washy death wish), it’s refreshing to see him match wits against Bruce, while his bright costume is a breath of fresh air compared to the usual parade of purple and orange. As for what he’s up to, we don’t find out yet, but assassinating someone on the Wayne jet seems a safe bet.
Tomasi always gives us the best Bruce/Alfred scenes, showing them as the Odd Couple of the superhero set, while Lucius Fox seems back in his traditional role of business manager supreme rather than the genius inventor role that dripped down from the films.
Details such as the pithy notes Batman leaves when dropping criminals off at police headquarters, and the Bat-shower, make me smile, especially as drawn by Christian Duce. I don’t know if he’s done Batman previously – I know him from his regular Flash work – but I can’t see him being allowed to leave Gotham for long after this performance. The work is stupendous, from the different angle on the inevitable gargoyle pose to the jungle splash that closes the main business.
Duce’s attention to detail is evident in the way, for example, he shows Bruce walking upstairs with the tentative creakiness of a superhero after a busy night on the town. (Yes, yes, the Gotham skyline probably shouldn’t be seeable from the stairwell of stately Wayne Manor… maybe Batman has invented telescopic double glazing, to better keep an eye on the city?)
Colourist Luis Guerrero – another Flash alumnus, that would likely be group editor Jamie S Rich at work – does a cracking job, lighting the book with a variety of palettes, always highlighting and complementing the art. A full-page illo of Deadshot doing what he does best shows the thought Guerrero is putting into his craft. As for the letters, they’re courtesy of Rob Leigh – what more do you need to know, the man’s work is excellent?
A bit of a Day in the Life issue, partly supervillain scheme set-up, with a teensy weensy bit of company-enforced crossover, Detective Comics #1009 is a great comic – Tomasi and friends aren’t trying to change the game, they’re showing how well it can be played. And this is a winner all the way.