REVIEW: Detective Comics #1
Comic noobs are saying this is the best Batman the New 52 has to offer.
Hey everyone! This is born4this from the Sprite This Down column (one of the few video game blogs currently on this site.) I officially started following "traditional" comics for the first time with DC's New 52. I've followed comic book superheroes through movies, cartoons, and video games in the past, but I've never followed them in their original form until now. When my friends and I heard about the New 52, we got excited because it was the perfect opportunity to start buying comics. Many of us had always wanted to, but we didn't know where to start. Brilliant strategy, DC Comics; this was just the thing we needed to jump in. So here I am, a comics noob... writing comic book reviews for Crimson Monkey from a newcomer's perspective. Enjoy.
Batman... hands down, my favorite fictional character from any medium. When I was a kid, I watched the 1960s TV show with my dad; when I was in late elementary, I watched Batman: The Animated Series after school; sometime after it came out, I watched the 1989 Batman movie; and sometime in high school, I saw Batman & Robin (like everyone else, I didn't enjoy that one.) The Caped Crusader was definitely a memorable part of my life when I was growing up.
Batman has always been cool to me, but in 2005, I started liking him in a completely new way when I saw the movie, Batman Begins. Not only did I start seeing him as a deep character, I started seeing him as a lone crime fighter that I seemed to like a lot more without Robin. In 2008, my interest in Batman became an obsession when I saw the critically acclaimed and commercially successful sequel, The Dark Knight (again, no Robin.) And finally, in 2009, I played the critically acclaimed video game, Batman: Arkham Asylum, which is considered to be the first successful Batman game ever made and a great video game in general (and again, no Robin.) Without Robin, Batman just seems a lot more intimidating - a lone, shadowy figure who strikes fear into the criminals in Gotham City.
Batman: Arkham Asylum and The Dark Knight didn't just change my view of Batman, they changed my view of The Joker too, and both contributed to him becoming my favorite comic book villain. The Joker is such a compelling character, someone you just can't get enough of, despite the fact that he's a bad guy. Mark Hamill truly is the voice of The Joker - I just can't imagine anyone else doing voice acting for this mad man any better than him. Though I initially scoffed when I heard that Heath Ledger was going to play The Joker in The Dark Knight, he ended up delivering one of my favorite movie performances. Because of him, I've watched that movie more times than any other "serious" movie I can think of - it's currently my favorite movie of all time.
Detective Comics #1 has the Batman I'm most interested in, the Batman that took me from interest to obsession. In the opening pages, we see the dark, psychotic Joker that The Dark Knight introduced me to. Like the movie, the crazy clown leaves Batman feeling puzzled with his unpredictable behavior. "I've tried and always failed to get into the Joker's mind." There are no henchmen here - the Joker literally gets his hands dirty through brutal murder (definitely not the way things played out in the 1960s TV show or the cartoon.) As I mentioned above, I've gotten used to Batman without Robin, and though I'm not sure if he's coming in later issues, I'm pleased to see that he's at least not around right now. Even one of my friends, who's a huge fan of Robin, said he enjoyed reading a Batman that didn't include The Boy Wonder, since he appears in a few of the other new Batman books.
The content in Detective Comics #1 is very mature compared to the other Batman comics in the New 52. Though it's not T+ like Swamp Thing and Animal Man, it has a very dark tone and is quite bloody. The story was very intense, and the final page was really shocking! To avoid spoiling it, I'll just say this: it takes The Joker's insanity to a whole new level. I thought he was crazy in The Dark Knight, but what takes place in the final pages makes me think, "I guess I don't know just how crazy The Joker can be!" This is just the first book, and as hardcore as the last page is, it appears that he's just getting started!
Five of my friends have gotten into comics for the first time through DC's New 52. When asked to rank the #1 books they've read so far, every single one of them put Detective Comics at the top of their list. It's at the top of my list, too. I'll admit, Batman has better art and better writing, but Detective Comics has a more interesting story (so far.) I finally subscribed this past weekend, and I am REALLY excited for Detective Comics #2, which was just released yesterday (10/05.)
The Bottom Line: Justice League made me laugh and Aquaman surprised me, but Detective Comics is the #1 that grabbed me the most. After the impact of The Dark Knight and Batman: Arkham Asylum, this is the Batman that I see other newcomers enjoying the most as well. I was going to give this an A+, but I forgot that there's an A++.