The New 52 continues. After a very disappointing opening last week with Justice League #1, a huge torrent of first issues hit stores today, and the few that I have read so far are massive, huge improvements.
While I will always wish someone would take on Detective Comics as a platform for telling detection based Batman stories, I can’t quibble much with Tony Daniels’ first issue in the New 52. It’s an iconic feeling Bat-story, with bruising splash pages of Batman swinging high over Gotham, the Joker killing dozens, and a shocker of an ending.
What it doesn’t feel like is a reboot; while the Gotham City Police Department is hunting Batman in this story that could have been achieved in the regular continuity. This just feels like someone launching a new run of Batman, the most changeable superhero of all.
Daniels’ Batman is a little on the silly side, and I don’t know if I’m supposed to be laughing. “I OWN THE NIGHT!” he says to the Joker. And he says “I’VE ALWAYS BEEN IN GOTHAM. I AM GOTHAM,” to Commissioner (?) Gordon. I love these lines because they read like a high camp take on the gritty post-Frank Miller Batman. He’s so full of his own bullshit.
Where Justice League #1 introduced us to almost nothing, Detective Comics #1 has Batman, the Joker, the Bat Signal, Arkham Asylum, the Bat Cave, Alfred, Bruce Wayne as a playboy, the Batmobile and even a bat drone that Batman awesomely calls the Ro-Bat. This feels like the world is being properly established.
It also feels like a full story, if a prologue story. There’s a larger issue at hand, a new villain to be introduced, but Daniels does it well and leaves us with a splash page finale that guarantees purchasing issue 2. I finished Detective Comics #1 and felt like I had been told a tale, and while it’s a simple tale and one that leads into a larger story, it was a satisfying tale nonetheless.
But again, this isn’t much a reboot. This could have been Detective Comics #882 and no one would have noticed much. Is that so bad? Detective Comics #1 isn’t a great comic, but it firmly covers the iconic aspects of Batman and sets up an intriguing story. That’s what I care about, when it’s all said and done - the story, not the reboot or the reinvention or the new universe. Is the story any good? This one is.