I bought this ‘Landmark 1050th issue for the World’s Finest preview, which is just as well, as the rest of the issue wasn’t my cup of tea.
If you’re going to use anniversary status – even a weird one no one’s ever heard of – to bring in new readers, the trick is to be accessible. The two stories here are not accessible. They’re both part four of Lord knows how many chapters. Neither makes any attempt to bring newcomers up to speed – if you’re not already following the Huntess serial or the House of Gotham story, forget it.
The main story seems to be part of a weekly Detective Comics serial centred on the new Arkham Tower replacement for Arkham Asylum. Huntress has been going mad due to visions, and I think Nightwing has sent her undercover as a patient while hoping she actually gets some help along the way because she’s too stubborn to submit to psychiatry. Or something. But some man connected to the tower is keeping Helena drugged for some reason. And Mr Freeze puts a hoodoo on Dick when he also goes undercover. Mariko Tamaki’s feature jumps around in time – starting years ago and showing events at various points within the past month, it’s confusing as hell. There are intense action moments, intense emotional moments, and so much swearing I wanted to send Tamaki a thesaurus. The only thing about the story I didn’t hate was the in-joke for old time readers that the Huntress is oddly like Batman. The art by penciller Ivan Reis, inker Danny Miki and colourist Brad Anderson is slick, the letters of Arisna Maher are terrific – I just wish all this craft were in the service of something less grim.
House of Gotham is better, if approached as a self-contained Robin flashback tale. The original Boy Wonder fends off an attack on Wayne Manor by Scarecrow-controlled kids. One ‘victim’ seems to be a Trojan Horse, someone who’s allied to the Scarecrow in the present day. Matthew Rosenberg’s story is readable, but he doesn’t quite capture young Dick’s punning ways. Fernando Blanco’s art, coloured by Jordie Bellaire, is pretty delightful, and Rob Leigh’s letters are, as ever, excellent. It’s a shame, though, that no context is given for the tale, we’re not even informed as to what the ‘House of Gotham’ is.
Finally, the main event, a preview of the upcoming World’s Finest revival which, because it’s starring both Batman and Superman is appearing in… a Batman book only.
The story is a joy, an extremely approachable opening chapter. Gotham gal Poison Ivy is on a day trip to Metropolis to protest at urbanisation.
She’s not the only adversary around, though.
Someone’s had a redesign, but this new-look – or perhaps old look, as the story is set some years ago – Metallo is refreshingly menacing as drawn by Dan Mora. And writer Mark Waid gives the Man With The Kryptonite Heart a fantastically fiendish plan that look set to launch the upcoming World’s Finest series in fine style.
I enjoyed this ten-page teaser hugely; Waid never disappoints, he knows the denizens of DC Universe like few others, while Mora’s dynamic stylings wring out all the drama from the script. Tamra Bonvillain’s colours are lovely, if leaning a little too far into the green part of the spectrum, with aqua skies aplenty. Rob Leigh’s letters are as elegant as ever. I can’t wait for the real launch of the new series – maybe we’ll see if I’m right about the identity of the shadowy villain at the end.
I hate the cover by Irvin Rodriguez. It looks to be a photo collage, and it’s very jarring. I don’t want to pretend I’m looking at a film still, comics are comics and films are films, and a Robin/Nightwing’s/I dunno who seems to be wearing a lady’s wig because he’s set into Batman’s shoulders is weird.
All in all, this is a frustrating comic, with one good-looking mess, one readable curiosity and one great story that doesn’t really have much business being in this book. Unless you’re a regular reader of this comic or, like me, desperate to read the World’s Finest preview, I wouldn’t bother.
9 thoughts on “Detective Comics #1050 review”
Thanks for the review, Mart! Like you, the only reason I’d be buying this would be the World’s Finest story… but I think I’ll wait till it shows up on DCU Infinite. I’m *thrilled* it’s so good, though! I’m really looking forward to the main series.
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Oh, DC Infinite, you’re making me sad now!
I’m so sorry. If it makes you feel any better, I imagine you’ve got shows on your version of netflix that I’m dying to see!
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I’m not sure, I think Netflix is less local than some platforms, such as Britbox.
I’ve been reading Detective and found the time jumps in this issue harder to keep track of than usual. The story arc started at the end, and now has been jumping back to show events leading up to that end. It’s weekly and definitely not new-reader friendly. You’re either all in for 12 weeks, or out, I think.
This wasn’t much of an anniversary issue. The only difference was the Worlds Finest preview. But then again, what kind of anniversary is 1050? Usually they make a big deal over 25th issue and 50th issue, but those milestones make sense. But what is another 50 on top of 1000? Not a memorable number.
As for the backups, I have found most of the 8 to 10 page serialized backups of the last year hard to follow. Whether the often-awful Tales of Metropolis, or the Martian Manhunter story now in Action. My biggest disappointment has been Justice League Dark, which was among my favorites when it was a solo book.
It’s a strange length for a serial – too short to make an impression, and it requires a combination of writing styles. Compressed in order to have any meaningful progression in 8 or 10 pages, and to hit a cliffhanger awkwardly by page 8 or 10; yet, uncompressed so it can last 6 or 7 months. The result is a story that should probably be read in one sitting, after it’s done.
And given the short length, certainly no room to bring new readers up to speed.
The Young Diana backups now ended in Wonder Woman were pretty good, and the new Maps Mizoguchi (Gotham Academy) backup in Batman is promising.
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Aw, you don’t like the Martian Manhunter back-ups? I may have a higher tolerance of elderly reader continuity porn, just seeing a little orange person calling themselves Zook thrills me to but. Tales of Metropolis, though, was pants.
I’ve been having a look around and various reviewers seem to love the weekly Detective Comics serial; I’m assuming they’re not paying for the things.
I was hoping for a better backup in Detective that would justify moving Fernando Blanco from Catwoman, where his work was stellar, to this. I don’t care for the story. Maybe people like it because of the speculation that the unnamed boy grows up to be one of the characters in the main story who at one point attacked the Gotham mayor, and is now locked up in Arkham Tower. So to the extent that it ties in, it may be at least justified, but that doesn’t make it good.
I had been predicting and hoping the backups in Action would spotlight what the other members of the Authority are up to. For instance, I doubt Enchantress is dead – we saw her kind of smashed underground, but nothing more. Midnighter and Apollo showed up at the end of the main feature in Action, but that could be a whole backup tale. I was not hoping for an unrelated Martian Manhunter story, and giving us more of the Warworld story would make it, for me, a worthwhile $1.00. (I wouldn’t be buying a Martian Manhunter book – but I am buying Action for Superman on Warworld, after all, so another $1.00 for 10 more pages of a story I am actually invested in would be fine, even actually good!) The Manhunter series finale will be in April, so there are 3 more parts.
Detective had a Huntress story that tied in to Detective. But there have been few backups worth the buck.
I looked up Zook since I didn’t remember – this is a little girl whose nickname was the name of a silver age imp? That’s cute, I guess. Zook has been rebooted in Infinite Frontier. Sounds good to me.
Also bought this just for the World’s Finest preview. Can I just say here how wonderful it is to have Mark Waid back on a regular DC title!?!?!? Yes, he has done some decent stuff for Marvel over the past decade or so, but, I’m sorry, Waid and DC just go together. He was there when I became a more serious collector in the mid-to-late 1990s, so knowing he is again writing for the company is just such a happy thing.
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I’m with you, Brian, as great as Waid’s work has been elsewhere – Empyre and Daredevil, for example – DC is where he belongs. They should give him a Geoff Johns/Joshua Williamson ‘showrunner’ role.
I wonder if he’d like to write Supergirl.