Review: Detective Comics #996

“Mythology: See Paris And DIE!”
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: Doug Mahnke & Jaime Mendoza
Color Artist: David Baron
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Review by Steve J. Ray

Batman’s secrets have been exposed. First a mystery assailant murders a couple made-up to look like Bruce’s parents, now Leslie Thompkins lies dead from exposure to Joker toxin. Even Alfred isn’t safe; Bruce’s oldest friend is recuperating after being stabbed with a rapier… by someone dressed as Zorro!  This leads the Dark Knight on a quest to track down the enemies that know his secret, to see if one of them could be behind these attacks.
Peter J. Tomasi is digging deep into the Batman mythos, and this particular fan could not be happier. I’m not spoiling anything, that this issue’s cover hasn’t already, by stating that the notorious Manhunter, Henri Ducard, appears in this issue.
If your only memory of Ducard is from Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins or Dark Knight Rises, you must unlearn what you have learned. In the comics the character was first introduced in the classic “Blind Justice” storyline, which ran through Detective Comics 598-600 and celebrated Batman’s 50th anniversary. What some fans may not know is that it was written by Sam Hamm, one of the writers on Tim Burton’s first Batman movie, from the same year.
In comics canon Henri Ducard and Ra’s Al Ghul are not the same person. Get it? Got it? Good.
Tomasi does a fantastic job of re-introducing the character to a new audience, while simultaneously tying this storyline with his Batman & Robin series from DC’s New 52 (issues 1-7: Nov 2011 – May 2012).

Batman’s Secrets Revealed

This issue is a pulse pounding thriller and a race against time. The characters Batman encounters lead to shocking revelations about his new foe. On a lighter note, we also meet a classic character from Batman: TAS who is now comics canon, thanks to this issue. Kudos, Mr. Tomasi!
It’s also really great seeing Robin back in these pages. I sincerely hope that Bruce and Damian can mend fences, though knowing what Damian has been up to in recent issues of Teen Titans, any reconciliation may be short lived.
Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza deliver some great art in this issue. They and colorist David Baron do a fantastic job in delivering action, character moments and atmosphere. Batman’s confrontation with Ducard, and what their meeting leads to, are awesome. Page 9 is almost a better fit for an issue of Justice League Dark than Detective Comics, as it’s pretty messed up!
Rob Leigh, the hardest working man in flow business, is kept really busy in this issue. Back when James Tynion IV was writing this book, sound effects were few and far between. Here, Rob’s Whooms, Skrakks and Kroooshes leap off the page with the art. They’re noisetastic!

Conclusion

Comics are great entertainment, but this series has gone back to being way more than just 20 pages of bullets, bombshells and biceps. I am genuinely concerned, not just for Batman, but for everyone around him. Someone out there wants to destroy him, and everyone that made him. I’m eagerly anticipating issue #997, and Mister Miracle!
Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment
(This review was originally published on the Dark Knight News website on January 16th 2019)

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