By Alex Batts — Detective Comics #1008 sees the return of artist Doug Mahnke, accompanied by inker Jamie Mendoza and colorist Dave Baron. This isn’t the only return seen in the issue though, because for the first time in a while The Joker makes his way back to Gotham. This time with a devious plan to terrorize pedestrians at the local amusement park (named Bolland Park after Brian Bolland, artist of The Killing Joke, which has its own iconic amusement park scenes).
This issue sees Bruce being awoken by Alfred at dusk, with news of the Joker’s invitation to the park, and a threat that all police must steer clear. Bruce uses the Bat-pole (yes!) to hurry to the Batcave below. We then see a phenomenally creepy splash of the Joker’s face, as we begin a series of pages that showcase him encouraging everyone at the amusement park to have a great time. He’s going around the park making sure everyone is playing games, eating well, and most of all, having a laugh with a smile on their faces.
Upon close inspection it’s apparent that he’s outfitted everyone at the park with device collars around their necks, presumably that either blow up or release laughing gas, and so everyone is bending to Joker’s will. There’s one sequence of a food vendor standing up to the Clown Prince of Crime, and, unsurprisingly, it doesn’t end well for the vendor.
This merry chain of events is brought to a halt with the arrival of the Caped Crusader. The issue then turns into a series of Batman begrudgingly being dragged across the theme park by the Joker, partaking in all the usual fanfare you would find at an amusement park, with the Joker quipping all the way. Seeing a grumpy Batman going through the motions in a theme park side-by-side with the Joker is nothing short of hilarious.
The book also does a great job at placing itself firmly in the current timeline, with Joker making mention of his time with the Legion of Doom and what Lex has been up to. We even get a verbal reference to the events of The Killing Joke with Joker noting that the park looks a lot better than the last time they were there. Little world building and connections like this that go a long way.
The issue is full of little moments that come together to make a great whole. Everything is rendered excellently by Mahnke, with Mendoza’s inks providing deep blacks and Baron’s colors popping off the page. The colors are especially eye-catching when blurred as the background lights of the park. This art team works incredibly together, and it shows throughout the book. Not to mention the fact that it’s always a pleasure seeing Mahnke draw Batman and Joker.
This one-shot issue comes to a close with Batman inevitably thwarting the Joker’s maniacal plans, by biding his time and striking at just the right moment. Batman’s even able to almost catch the Joker at the end by throwing a Bat homing device on him and having the Clown Prince of Crime swarmed in the air by bats, but Joker falls into the bay and Gordon resigns himself to not even bother sweeping for his body.
While this isn’t the most bombastic issue of Tomasi’s run, it holds up as another great entry in his catalog of Bat-work. The interplay between Joker and Batman is spot on, and the Joker’s monologues are as entertaining as ever. We’re presented with a trap by the Joker that allows for a trip down memory lane in a fresh way. Tomasi’s deep understanding of these characters shows through in every issue. Between his writing and the amazing artists he’s paired with, Detective Comics is a consistently fantastic book.
The last few pages of the issue are dedicated to Lex’s offer to Mr. Freeze, with the Year of the Villain subplot that’s running through DC’s superhero universe now in full swing, Lex’s offers to the DCU’s most infamous villains are all being received, and Mr. Freeze is on that list. The ending is a prologue of sorts for what’s to come. With Lex’s offer to grant Freeze his most cherished wish—the return of his wife Nora to consciousness—and the solicits that we’ve seen, I couldn’t be more excited about what’s ahead in the upcoming issues of Detective Comics.
Overall: Another solid issue of Tomasi’s top-notch run. This one-shot highlights a fun and creepy reunion between Batman and Joker, with stellar art and an exciting epilogue of what’s in the near future. 8.0/10
Detective Comics #1008
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artists: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Jamie Mendoza
Colorist: Dave Baron
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
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Alex Batts is from Texas. A lifelong comic book enthusiast and movie lover, if he’s not talking about comics, he’s probably not talking. You can find him on Twitter by following @BatmanFiles