Detective Comics #1 is quite a milestone among the New 52, as Detective Comics are the original words abbreviated by the company name “DC” and there has not been a new issue #1 since 1937, and never a #1 with Batman in it. Along with the renumbering of Action Comics, having a new Detective shows how dedicated DC is in doing this relaunch and just like Action, Detective Comics #1 delivers a great jumping on point for fans new and old with a great take on a classic character.
Batman himself hasn’t changed much, and is in hot pursuit of the Joker. Batman says something to the effect that the Joker has been around for six years, suggesting Batman may have been active a little bit before Superman popped up in the DCnU. However many years the Dark Detective has been operating in Gotham City, he is still considered an outlaw by the police. In fact, it’s worth mentioning that in nearly every New 52 title, the heroes in each book don’t exactly have the best relationships with police or the public, even five years after Justice League #1. Despite Batman’s tense relation with the cops, James Gordon still has his back and the two discuss the case.
The rest of the comic has Joker craziness, a visit with Alfred in the Batcave, Harvey Bullock up front and center with the GCPD and a mysterious plot afoot with a new villain. It all adds up to some pretty great Batman. It’s a fantastic introductory issue as well, as it doesn’t rely heavily on recent Bat-events to tell its story or weigh it down. From the get go is the classic Batman Joker rivalry and their struggle plays out throughout the issue. I also really liked that the issue hit the ground running, with Batman after Joker in a hurry. As soon as you pick up the book, you’re in the story, and you don’t need to know a thing about Batman to enjoy it, making it another perfect entry level book for new or lapsed readers.
Tony S. Daniel is no stranger to doing double duties on Batman, and he’s doing a phenomenal job here. It’s very well written and the art is incredible too. Not only is the art high quality, it is consistent. Daniel captures the sprawling gothic landscape of Gotham City and its inhabitants well, with night scenes looking especially great. Batman, Joker and other characters all look really detailed and expertly rendered. There is a great use of shadows that add the overall dark feel of the comic, and the inks of Ryan Winn work well with Daniel’s pencils. The color by Tomeu Morey is also popping.
Whereas I didn’t really get the sense Bats’ costume had changed much in Justice League #1, it looks much more revised and body armor like here, which I like a lot. There are some other cool touches such as the fact that Alfred has hair! Yes, it’s just a widow’s peak, but still cool. James Gordon’s hair isn’t white either, which is consistent with his look in Batgirl #1. It seems the de-aging of the DCnU was across the board for everybody.
As I said at the outset of this reviewing process, I haven’t been able to justify buying any Bat-books lately, but I definitely want to see the outcome here as it could change the status quo for one character forever (though it probably won’t knowing comic books). It’s also one of the best Bat-books to come out of the first two weeks of September, so I think I plan to add this to my pull list. If you like Batman at all, are interested in seeing why the character is so cool, a Bat-addict, or you’re a lapsed fan like me, Detective Comics #1 is a fantastic first issue that cements why Batman is one of the best fictional characters of all time.