Best Shots Review: DETECTIVE COMICS #1000 - 'A Worthy Tribute' 9/10

Detective Comics #1000
Credit: Jim Lee/Scott Williams/Alex Sinclair (DC)
Credit: DC Comics

Detective Comics #1000

Written by Scott Snyder, Kevin Smith, Paul Dini, Warren Ellis, Denny O’Neil, Christopher Priest, Brian Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns, James Tynion IV, Tom King, and Peter J. Tomasi
Art by Greg Capullo, FCO Plascencia, Jonathan Glapion, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair, Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, John Kalisz, Becky Cloonan, Jordie Bellaire, Steve Epting, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Neal Adams, Dave Stewart, Alex Maleev, Kelley Jones, Michelle Madsen, Alvaro Martinez-Bueno, Raul Fernandez, Brad Anderson, Tony S. Daniel, Joelle Jones, Tomeu Morey, Doug Mahnke, Jamie Mendoza and David Baron
Lettering by Tom Napolitano, Todd Klein, Steve Wands, Simon Bowland, Andworld Design, Willie Schubert, Josh Reed, Rob Leigh, Sal Cipriano and Clayton Cowles
Published by DC Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

The Caped Crusader celebrates a mammoth 80th anniversary with the equally mammoth Detective Comics #1000. Positively chock-full of creatives from across Batman’s illustrious past, this landmark issue repeats the format of the previously released Action Comics #1000. Weaving together a set of short stories, culminating in the introduction of the new DCU Arkham Knight, this thousandth issue delves deeply into what makes Batman tick and what has made him resonate with audiences since his introduction. Armed to the teeth with clever, action-packed, and oftentimes emotionally resonant vignettes, Detective Comics #1000 is a worthy tribute to one of comics’ enduring icons.

Though it takes its format from the celebration Action Comics enjoyed last year, readers will be pleased to know that Detective’s 1000th issue is much more tonally sound than its sister title. Clocking in at a whopping eleven stories, the material found therein is laser-focused on all the best and sometimes worst parts of Batman — whether it be his inciting tragedy, his relentless drive, his propensity for violence, or his newfound Bat-Family, each story delivers the goods in one way or another. While some stories are of course better than others, Detective Comics #1000 reads like a more cohesive experience, one that understands the man behind the cape and cowl, warts and all.

Starting with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Batman’s Longest Case,” this 1000th issue sets the bar high early. Featuring the Dark Knight tracking down a decade-long case that brings him around the world, Snyder keeps the intrigue burning with increasingly intricate puzzle pieces, told in densely packed panels by Capullo. Snyder and Capullo have been a consistently entertaining team behind the Bat for years now, and this story here is no exception, as the twist for this story brings Batman into a larger world of mystery. But starting with this modern classic creative team and a straight-laced “detective story” lets the reader know that this isn’t just going to be just another Batman anthology, but that this book has a purpose and clear intention with its stories.

From there we are treated to several wonderful stories, exploring Batman’s vow, family, and tragedy. Kevin Smith and Jim Lee’s “Manufacture For Use,” for example, is a gut-wrenchingly beautiful yarn about Batman’s “superpower” of transforming tragedy into something positive. Meanwhile, Tom King and Tony S. Daniel’s “Batman’s Greatest Case,” while a touch too wordy for my taste, brings a nice focus on Batman’s family and how they pulled him from the darkness. It also stands as a heartwarming companion piece to James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martinez-Bueno, Raul Fernandez, Brad Anderson’s “The Precedent,” an emotive, engaging retelling of Dick Grayon’s induction as Robin. We even get a bit of wry comedy from Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen, Derek Fridolfs, John Kalisz in “The Legend of Knute Brody,” a hilarious tale about a bumbling henchman that has worked for the baddest Gotham has to offer.

But Detective Comics #1000 isn’t all Silver Age fun and heartfelt emotions. On the other side of the coin, certain stories go deeper into the darkness surrounding the Dark Knight, holding a clear mirror up to the hero for al the world to see. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Denny O’Neil, Steve Epting, and Elizabeth Breitweiser’s “Return to Crime Alley,” a nasty but gorgeously rendered one-act that explores Batman’s ferocity through the eyes of Leslie Thompkins. We’re also treated to a stunning display of his methodical way of quelling crime in “The Batman’s Design” from Warren Ellis, Becky Cloonan, and Jordie Bellaire, a bullet-train of a story that casts Batman into a stalking predator as he stands against a group of enhanced zealots of crime. Though it is Ellis’ (ahem) first time at Bat in over a decade, he turns in a thrilling piece here that will make you want him on an ongoing Dark Knight just series based on the strength of this short story.

Unfortunately, with anthology books like this, there is bound to be some chaff. Detective Comics #1000 is no exception. Though most of the stories impress in some way, some fall just short of the bar set by those around them. Stories like Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev’s “I Know,” a strangely underexplained far-future piece which amounts to little more than an extended set-up for a gag at the Penguin’s expense. Also Geoff Johns and Kelley Jones’ flash-forwarding “The Last Crime in Gotham” tries to do what the Tom King story does, just with classic artwork and a over-expository pace. Finally Christopher Priest and Neal Adams’ “Heretic,” though it lobs some choice examination of Bruce Wayne’s wealth at the audience, stops the moment it starts to become truly interesting, leaving it an unsatisfying experience. Perhaps the biggest letdown comes from Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke’s introduction of the Arkham Knight to the mainstream DC Universe, which feels like montage perched on some fairly flimsy story logic ground — the less I say about the final wordplay at the end, the better.

While the introduction of a fan-favorite video game character winds up a surprising fizzle — in that regard, this does have a lot in common with the introduction of Rogol Zaar in Action #1000 — the rest of Detective Comics #1000 is more than worth your time and money. Stocked with all manner of veteran creatives and packed with classic, emotional, and highly entertaining Batman stories, this feels like a fitting celebration to the Caped Crusader. Exploring both the darkness and light of Batman, Detective Comics #1000 has something for every kind of Batman fan.

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