By: Matthew Rapier

I want to get this out there first; I’ve just concluded a brief period of “Batman” hatred. Every reason a person could come up with for why they liked the caped crusader seemed to be the exact reason I began to despise the character. I’m not sure why it happened or when exactly, but I started feeling bad for old Bats. I said to myself, “Hey Matt, this isn’t a Marvel character so that exempts him from hatred automatically.” I kid again with the Marvel statement because both companies have rich characters and histories, so back on topic.

The one thing that did keep me from completely dropping all my Batman comics was Grant Morrison’s interesting ideas for a character that began to bore me. Morrison worked closely with Tony Daniel, the writer/artist of Detective Comics #1,  during the set up and release of Batman R.I.P. and also had duties on Battle for the Cowl, which was a process of elimination story of who would take over the mantle of The Batman with Bruce gone.

Daniel’s work wasn’t awful during his run by any means, but often times the art felt very rushed while the story accompanying it was another bland adventure for the character. With the announcement of his return to the Bat-world this time on Detective Comics instead of the Batman title, I was very skeptical if it would be worth my time. Scott Snyder’s recent stories in the closing issues of Detective were fantastic reads and eventually led to my hate wall for Batman being destroyed.

I am proud to let you know that Tony Salvador Daniel has proved me completely wrong in all areas of his work by giving us a story that feels like a classic Batman tale with a freshness that is much welcomed. The scene opens in a fisticuffs (and knives!) struggle with an un-named thug who was given orders to find Joker. As you can probably guess the Joker does some pretty sadistic things to this man. Batman crashes into the fight to subdue Joker, but not before he ends the other guys life. Joker flees and the police arrive deciding to open fire on Batman, not seeing that he was in pursuit of the real threat.

Without giving too much of the story away Batman catches up to the Clown Prince of Crime near the issues end, captures and drops him off at Arkham Asylum. Joker gets a visitor from a new villain named the Dollmaker and it’s revealed that the man killed earlier is his son. The final page gives us a very gruesome picture which I believe you should pick the book up and see it for yourself. (Or browse around some forums and see if there is a scan of it anywhere, I’d hate to ruin the moment here.)

Tony’s art and writing abilities have vastly improved since I last read an issue by him. The story moved along with a steady pace and built up to a really nice cliffhanger for the next issue. His dialogue between all the characters is strong, well on point and never feels forced or awkward.

The real gem of this book is the art. The clarity and attention to detail is a great improvement on some of his other sloppy art. Very early on there is a two page splash of Batman dashing over the rooftops with fog billowing between the buildings as the moon sits big and bright showing actual bats flying all around him. It’s such an iconic representation of the character and I wouldn’t be surprised if it starts popping up as one of the new definitive pieces of Bat-art. He never lets up, even until that last page with great details on the freshly removed skin from a characters face. (Bit of a spoiler but hopefully your interest is piqued enough to go out and grab a copy) It’s such a beautiful page even as it evokes such horror.

I’m glad that whatever Bat-hate I had is gone now because that phase could have caused me to skip out on this issue. It is a great first issue with solid writing and solid art. That’s all I want out of my comics. Hopefully Tony Daniel can continue putting out work like this. I know every issue won’t be quite to this level, but it feels like he has given extra effort in being handed the relaunch (and renumbering) of one of the longest running comics in history. Check this one out for sure, it should really please long time fans of Batman and hook the new readers as well.

Overall Grade: 7.5/10