REVIEW: Detective Comics #10

Written by TONY S. DANIEL
Back-up Colors by JOHN KALISZ
Back-Up Letters by DEZI SIENTY

Detective Comics has been a series marred by cringeworthy dialogue from Tony S. Daniel. This issue is little exception. However, the strength of the series lies in its ability to tap into genuinely horrifying subjects. It might even be more appropriate to title this Horror Comics.

The cover of this comic is well-rendered and energetic. However, it falls into the trap of only being meaningful to those who have already read the contents of the book. The villain is referenced and one of the main visual motifs of the story appears, but this story absolutely cannot be judged by its cover. If a cover is meant to sell a book, this one does a poor job of it.

There are some instances of in-panel lettering that just look out of place. The art and coloring gives the impression of a dirty and faded Gotham, but the logos on the truck on the first page and the redundant “Gotham Memorial Hospital” on page five are so crisp and clean that they look out of place in the story.

Ed Benes does a great job of giving us close but distinguishable impostor Batmen. The hatching on the chest and the length and shape of the ears are the most obvious differences. Both changes, however, make the evil Batman appear more diabolical. The distinctions go missing a bit once the fight scene begins. These panels demonstrate why it is so important to include a character’s trademark features in every appearance. If Batman’s ears are cropped off, how can the reader tell the two apart? Tomeu Morey helps out Benes a bit here by giving some green and blue to the impostor Batmen, but it should not take the reader longer than a few seconds to figure out who is punching whom in a fight scene. It is fine to have a chaotic fight scene, but it should be obvious who is winning. And as the scene ends, the key moment where the villain gets what he wants is never shown.

Still, the villain himself is full of menace and threat. It is a little strange to see what looked like a minor chump a few issues ago giving Batman so much trouble now, but a visual redesign and some backstory has done the trick.

The main story serves as a decent entry point into the series. The back-up, on the other hand, while featuring art from Szymon Kudranski, feels like it is floating off in space. Many of the panels contain an excessive use of black. This gives the story the dark tone it needs, but the reader has very few points of reference for anything. This would be fine if this story was merely an examination of Two-Face, but there is in fact a plot outside of that, however superficial it may be. The best thing about this story is the clever construction of panel borders, providing sensory information and dynamics for each moment when appropriate. The art provides a much grittier feel than the lead story.

Detective Comics #10 is a good chunk of comics that yields some nice moments. There are some technical shortcomings, but readers should still find some enjoyment.

ART: 3/5
OVERALL: 2.5/5

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