BATMAN: THE DETECTIVE #1/ Script by TOM TAYLOR/ Pencils and Inks by ANDY KUBERT/ Color Art by BRAD ANDERSON/ Letters by CLEM ROBINS/ Cover and Variant Cover by ANDY KUBERT & BRAD ANDERSON/ Variant Cover by RICCARDO FEDERICI/ Published by DC COMICS
It takes a lot to get Batman to leave Gotham City, but Bruce Wayne is left with little choice following a dramatic attack on a commercial fight where all of the terrorists wore white Batman masks. That, coupled with one of the victims being a long-time ally in the war on crime, prompts Batman to head to London and begin investigating things for himself. It will not be long before he finds opposition and a disturbing personal connection to the case beyond the costumes adopted by his new enemies.
I love it when obscure second-tier characters are thrust back into the spotlight after falling into comic book limbo for years. For that reason alone, I’d love Batman: The Detective for it’s revival of Beryl Hutchinson – the first hero in the modern era to play Squire to the British Batman Knight and, later, the new Knight. Beryl’s popped up in a number of specials since her first appearance in Grant Morrison’s JLA, but my personal favorite turn was in Paul Cornell’s Knight and Squire mini-series; one of the most underrated comics of the past decade, in my humble opinion.
This is a prime example of the sort of deep cut Tom Taylor effortlessly works into his scripts. New readers learn everything there is to know about Beryl and her backstory with a minimum of exposition. Yet even without a chance to briefly see the new Knight in action and the introduction of the new Squire, there is much to admire about this issue, which seems to stand outside the current continuity of Batman titles, despite a reference to Alfred’s death.
The artwork of Andy Kubert will be perhaps the biggest draw for general comic readers. Kubert is righty acknowledged as a master of his craft and a fantastic visual storyteller. It will surprise no one that Kubert proves himself an able partner, capturing the intense action and dry humor of Taylor’s script. The eye-catching colors of Brad Anderson and well-placed font-work of Clem Robins complete one fantastic first issue.
In short, if you’re looking for an excellent Batman story that is friendly to new readers, you can’t do better than Batman: The Detective #1.