Saturday, September 10, 2011

The New 52 Review: DETECTIVE COMICS #1


WRITER: Tony Salvador Daniel
PENCILS: Tony Salvador Daniel
INKS: Ryan Winn
COLORIST: Tomeu Morey
LETTERS: Jared K. Fletcher
COVER: Tony Salvador Daniel
32pp, Color, $2.99

Detective Comics #1 debuted with a March 1937 cover date, and the series is best known for Detective Comics #27 (May 1939), which featured the debut of Batman (then billed as “The Bat-Man”). DC Comics is currently re-launching their superhero comic book line, so we have a brand new Detective Comics #1.

I’ll go back into the past again – the recent past. American comic book writer and artist Tony Daniel entered mainstream comic book publishing in the mid-1990s drawing X-Force for Marvel Comics. He eventually became one of the many young creators who jumped to Image Comics in the mid to late 90s to produce their own creator-owned comic book series. I read Daniel’s The Tenth for a few years, but I eventually quit the title. Daniel obviously had the talent to create comic books, but The Tenth often showed the signs of being produced by a young, relatively inexperienced, and creatively immature writer/artist – both in terms of storytelling and art.

Daniel’s career moved forward when he began drawing the Geoff Johns-written Teen Titans, but Daniel’s professional status surged when he became the artist on Grant Morrison’s Batman. He drew the highly-popular Batman R.I.P. storyline and wrote and drew Batman: Battle for the Cowl, the primary miniseries that dealt with the aftermath of Batman R.I.P.

Now, Tony Daniel is the writer and pencil artist on the new Detective Comics #1. I can honestly say that I have not felt this excited and thrilled after reading a Batman comic book since I read Book One of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns all those years ago.

Grant Morrison’s Batman has nothing on Daniel’s Detective Comics #1

The plot is straightforward. Batman is hunting The Joker, one of the most violent and brutal interpretations of the character, one who has over 100 murders to his credit over a six year period. However, someone other than the Batman seems to be hunting the Joker, and despite Commissioner Gordon best efforts, Mayor Hady is encouraging the Gotham City Police Department to kill Batman.

Daniel does not copy The Dark Night Returns, but like Frank Miller’s seminal Batman graphic novel, Detective Comics #1 is a lean and clean interpretation of Batman and his world. Daniel composes a story that moves briskly, with sequences of violence that are both blunt and smooth, and all the action set pieces are composed with polish that belies the experience of this creator. As for the art, pieces of it resemble The Dark Night Returns – some compositions, quite a bit of the page design, and some stylistic flourishes. But I must emphasize that this is Daniel’s own thing – his Batman comic book.

Of course, this is just the first issue. Can Daniel maintain this high level for a sustained run on the series? If he can, this Detective Comics will leap over many Bat-comics and be the best ongoing Batman of the new century.


August 31st


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