This review contains minor spoilers.
The tricky thing about assembling a milestone issue is that it must satisfy both casual fans and Wednesday Warriors. In other words, not only must it pay tribute to a character’s rich history, but it must also stay true to said icon’s contemporary sensibilities and, hopefully, inspire everyone who’s laid down their hard-earned money to keep reading whenever the next installment hits stands.
Seeing as how DC did a fine job of pulling off this balancing act one year ago with Action Comics #1000, they’re now following suit with Detective Comics #1000. As it turns out, the decades-old title hits quadruple digits during the very year Batman celebrates his 80th anniversary. And believe me, you won’t find many better love letters to the Dark Knight than this baby.
To my amazement, DC decided to save the “main story” for last (so I’ll talk about that later) and instead jump right into the anthology aspect of this tome. Kicking things off with the fan favorite duo of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo was indeed a wise choice; it’s kind of like opening an episode of Monday Night Raw with a world title match. Still, it was Kevin Smith and Jim Lee who probably astonished me most with their beautiful salute to the World’s Greatest Detective.
Rest assured that many other creative teams get to bring their talent to the table, such as Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen, Christopher Priest and Neal Adams, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, as well as Geoff Johns and Kelley Jones, who show us a possible future for Batman and Catwoman as they raise a superhero family of their own. It’s somewhat familiar territory, sure, but these gents managed to put a new spin on it.
I imagine those who’ve been walking this Earth a bit longer than others will dig reading Dennis O’Neil’s sequel to the classic “There is No Hope In Crime Alley,” in the aptly titled “Return to Crime Alley.” Illustrated by Steve Epting, it reunites Batsy with a more classic iteration of Leslie Thompkins and is a decent read, though I was admittedly taken aback when she blurts out Bruce’s real name in front of a street gang. If our hero didn’t stick to the shadows so much, I’m pretty sure this would be the moment we see his face turn as red as Robin’s costume.
One other contribution I’d like to specifically mention is that of the one put in by Tom King, Tony S. Daniel and Joelle Jones. One could say that it caps off with a pivotal personal revelation for Bruce Wayne himself, but it put a smile on my face because it played to one of King’s greatest strengths, that being his ability to write for the Bat-Family better than most others these days. If you enjoyed the scene shared between Bruce and his pupils in the burger joint during I am Bane, then you’ll love this.
Like I said, the main story actually closes this celebration of all things Batman by smartly serving as a prelude to the next major story arc, and introduces the Arkham Knight into DC Comics canon. Though he looks similar to his video game counterpart, it’s obvious this isn’t Jason Todd. I get the feeling he doesn’t know Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, but has intensely studied his crimefighting career. Furthermore, he intends to usurp the Masked Manhunter and be a greater servant to Gotham.
Make no mistake, the Arkham Knight’s narration is masterfully written by Peter J. Tomasi, while Doug Mahnke’s corresponding illustrations are some of his best work on the Caped Crusader to date. If anything, this arc will be every bit the page-turner as an issue of Tom King’s Batman. To me, it’s important that both books maintain relevance, and I think that’s something Tomasi and Mahnke are now guaranteeing.
In case you hadn’t gotten the message by now, Detective Comics #1000 is worth every penny, and is a must-buy for any Batman fan walking. Here’s to 80 more, dear Dark Knight. Maybe with the help of a Lazarus Pit, I can be there to enjoy them with you.
Detective Comics #1000 is about as perfect of a tribute to Batman and his 80-year history as you can get. In fact, it's so good that I may have to double dip and buy the commemorative hardcover this summer.