Review: Detective Comics #19
In a special oversized celebratory issue, Batman is challenged by the “Mystery of the 900!”
This week DC pays tribute to what is the 900th issue of Detective Comics with their 80-page special with a gatefold cover. The book features the main story, called “The 900,” from John Layman with art from Jason Fabok. Jeromy Cox provides colors with Jared Fletcher tackling letters. There are also four expanded back-up stories from various creators as well as numerous single and double-page pinups from some big time artists. I’d list them all, but that would leave little room for a review. I’m going to talk openly about the main story, so you might not want to read the next paragraph if you haven’t finished it yet.
The story opens as a countless horde of Bat-Men, women, and children have taken to the skies of Gotham. The Bat-signal is lit and it’s up to Batman to stop the mysterious infestation. The outbreak is tracked down to the 900 block of Gotham (900, because it’s supposed to be the 900th issue. Get it?). Batman tries to put the call out to the Bat Family, but nobody will answer him. We’re still seeing the big fallout from Snyder’s Death of the Family arc. Through no small amount of detective work by both Batman and Alfred, the outbreak is tracked all the way back to an apartment in the 900 block. Batman has put his hunt for Zsasz on the backburner, but he will soon find the two cases are interwoven. Of course with a Man-Bat story you’re going to have Dr. Kirk Langstrom involved. He is trying to set things right, but it’s only with Batman legwork that it becomes possible. The story has the feeling of the classic Batman: The Animated Series episode On Leather Wings. As can probably guess, there are no happy endings with Dr. Langstrom.
Layman writes a solid issue. It doesn’t have quite the spectacle and fanfare you’d expect for the 900th issue, but taken as just a story it’s good. There are no real nods to the landmark achievement other than the 900 block, which comes off a little weak to be perfectly honest. The backup stories are very strong. You get four stories that look at the book’s events as well as set up things to come with the Emperor Penguin and Bane, who will be appearing in the upcoming Talons arc. Fabok’s art is fantastic. He gets the chance to make a creepy little bat-kid, which you get more of in the first back-up story, that is a little unsettling. Cox’s colors help elevate the whole deal. He does a great job with the electric blue bat eyes.
Bottom Line: Detective Comics #19 offers enough bang to warrant the $7.99 price tag. While it doesn’t feel as grand as you’d expect a 900th issue to feel, it offers more than enough extras to make it a worthy addition to your buy pile. There’s a lot set up for the future of the Bat related books, so it will be interesting to see how it unfolds 4/5