Detective Comics #934
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Adriano Lucas
Lettering by Marilyn Patrizio
Published by DC Comics
Review by Robert Reed
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Detective Comics #934 would likely have sold even if it was just 36 pages of ads. There’s a large enough base of Batman fans and readers excited by the return to the original numbering (and the potential issue #1000 that lays in wait) that the title doesn’t need a good premise to succeed. Fortunately, the title is not content to simply rest. Recognizing that this may be the starting point for new and returning readers alike, writer James Tynion IV and artist Eddy Barrows craft a wonderful introduction to the new status quo — as well as a team of Gotham City’s best and brightest vigilantes — in Detective Comics.
What will immediately jump out at readers is the incredibly beautiful artwork. Eddy Barrows handles the penciling, and his artwork has set a new bar even above his recent work in Martian Manhunter. From the opening pages of Azrael fighting off a mysterious pursuer to the quiet of Kathy Kane’s apartment, Barrows displays an impressive amount of detail in his illustration. The action he presents is staged brilliantly; a criminal thrown by Orphan seems to crash into the page with the same violence that he hits the wall behind him. Barrows’ layouts vary in design throughout the book, never distracting the reader, but always providing a dynamic view for the story. From the haggard slash marks of the violent opening pages, to the slanted panels that appear almost like the opening crawl to Star Wars, Barrows keeps his pages visually interesting even beyond his illustration.
Barrows is joined by inker Eber Ferreira, who makes great use of Gotham’s aesthetics to provide deep shadows and a film noir feel to the book. In doing so, Ferreira is also careful not to lose the detailing in Eddy Barrows’ art, so even while Batwoman’s face is draped in shadow, her fist appears in dangerous detail. Adriano Lucas handles the color art this issue, and the choices he makes here really pop. A particular highlight of the issue is Batwoman's debut. Barrows illustrates her in a gloriously heroic pose, grappling from building to building with the snowfallen cityscape behind her, and Lucas makes the image even more spectacular with his scarlet and crimson reds of Batwoman's costume, perfectly contrasted against the dark blues of the city itself. Lucas’ color choices all work well within the story, and giving Detective Comics #934 a tone that feels reminiscent of Batman: The Animated Series or the Arkham games.
All of this artwork brings to life a script by James Tynion IV that is aware of the fact that Detective Comics #934 may be someone’s first time reading a Batman title, or a return after a long hiatus. The issue opens with an explosive conflict between the vigilante Azrael and a mysterious foe who appears as a second Batman. When the true Dark Knight arrives on the scene, he quickly realizes the danger before him and begins to seek out the other heroes in Gotham. The structure of the story has a distinct rhythm to it, as Batman and Batwoman recruit various characters into their makeshift team, with each hero getting a brief history relayed to the audience as Batman introduces Batwoman to them. It’s what you’d expect out of a first issue and never really tries to break out of those tropes, instead relying on the actual scenes to leave an impact on the reader. From the recruitment of Clayface to Batman asking Batwoman for help, Tynion provides some great character beats that also move the comic forward. The recruitment process also shows the differences between the thought processes of Batman and Batwoman. The contrast between their approaches is subtle but noticeable, and may prove to be a fruitful source of stories down the road.
Detective Comics #934 is a solid debut that works to fold disparate members of Batman’s extended family into one book. With another shuffle in the form of "Rebirth," James Tynion IV’s simplified structure provides an excellent base for readers to hop onboard, while still providing some excellent bits of character. The real draw here though is the top-notch artwork. Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, and Adriano Lucas have done a superb job bringing both Gotham and the heroes that protect it to life. With dynamic illustrations, heavy inks worthy of the Dark Knight, and colors that pop off the page, Detective Comics #934 is a great premiere for the Rebirth brand.