Published on February 6th, 2021 | by Matt Fischer
Detective Comics #1 (2011) – Retro Review
Summary: Batman gives chase, Joker loses his face. Also, naked Joker!
It begins again!
Detective Comics 1 review
SPOILERS INHERENT IN REVIEW!
The Story: Even though we see a totally different version of the Joker personality wise from Scott Snyder, we get our first look The Joker in the rebooted DC Universe.
Background: The universe rebooted. Batman chases the Joker. Some things never change.
We open in year six of Bruce’s war on crime. We find out that the Joker’s killed 114 civilians during that time frame, most through various means. As Bruce runs the rooftops of the city, we find the Joker in a vicious fight with a fellow who wears a upper facemask that is most definitely made out of human skin. The fellow says he should have been expected as the Joker and him continue to draw blood.
Just as he murders the fellow, he is interrupted by a Bat drone as Bruce flies through the window in a customary entrance… except the Joker was ready for him and throws a bag of bombs (at least I think they’re bombs) and Bruce goes flying.
The Joker leaps out the window as Bruce spouts corny one-liners, but before Bruce can follow him, a little girl cries out for help (Why she was in the building, much less the same room is unknown.) THEN the GCPD run into the room and try to take Batman down (we find out the mayor ordered them to open fire) and Batman escapes while a hand we soon find out belongs to Jim Gordon takes the girl by the shoulder and leads her out. Goodness that was a lot of stuff that happened in the span of 3 pages. Oh did I mention that the Joker has been naked through this entire scenario? Because he is.
Batman arrives back at the Batcave in a SWEET looking Batmobile that I honestly don’t recall seeing ever again and drives through holograms that are built into the mountain. Alfred appears as a hologram (much more on this later) and converses with Bruce. They exchange the various pleasantries as Bruce laments that he still can’t catch the Joker.
After a short scene of Gordon and Batman conversing near the bat-signal, we see that the cops have somehow managed to track the Joker down. Except that it’s a bobby trap, because of course it is. Batman saves the cops and realizes that the Joker is watching from the gathered crowd. Batman gives chase.
Joker departs the seen and boards a train. He thinks he’s home free until a little girl says that she sees a giant Bat-monster. Batman enters the train as the Joker declares himself impressed. Joker tries to poison everybody on the train as he escapes and Batman vents the train long enough for the passengers to get out. He tackles Joker off the train and we finally get to see their fight. Bats gets stabbed in the collarbone and the ribcage. The Joker gets a few knees to the gut and a couple of forearms to the face. Batman throws him into a wall and gets shocked by the Joker’s buzzer. In a last ditch effort, Batman ducks a Joker leap and throws him off the roof. The Joker hits 3 fire escapes on the way down and lands in an alley.
We end the issue with the Joker locked up in Arkham Asylum… until a figure walks into Joker’s cell. Apparently Joker planned to get caught and brought to the asylum, where this figure (who we find out is named Dollmaker) CUTS THE JOKER’S FACE OFF. We end the issue with the Joker’s face nailed to a wall.
Gordon: “Gotham is a hell hole, always has been, always will be”.
Bruce: “I am Gotham”.
Oh god, when this issue came out, I was super excited. I had always read comics and had read 52 and Countdown all the way through for 2 straight years but had decided to duck out of most comics a quarter of the way through that godawful Trinity weekly. The New 52 officially got me back into all comics, not just Justice League, Green Lantern Spider-man and the Avengers permanently. I picked up every single first issue except I, Vampire, which I regret, but I digress…
Anyways, the first time I read this issue, I loved it. I loved the action beats, the story beats. Just everything about it was good, satisfying Batman. 9 years later and as a way more experienced reader though, this issue has some extremely glaring issues.
- Tony S. Daniels dialogue is so corny I might as well get some corn holders. Bruce runs around saying “I am the night” to himself. Why is he saying that to himself? That is something he is supposed to say to criminals he is trying to put the fear of god into. When he says it to himself, he sounds emo and like a five-year old playing superhero. It’s not in this issue, but starting in the fifth issue, the dialogue becomes full-fledged David Caruso type dialogue straight out of CSI: Miami. The one truly satisfying piece of dialogue comes when Bruce is trying to figure out why the Joker was naked through half the book. I’m wondering that to Bruce. Me too.
- The coloring in this book is odd. On some level it reminds me of the Sin City movies where moments of color punctuate black and white, but here everything looks very bled out. In one panel the Joker’s got a bright purple coat and in the next panel it’s entirely black. In another panel, Bruce’s suit looks blue…and in yet another panel its grey. Mistakes like this really take away from the experience.
- If it wasn’t for Scott Snyder’s Batman coming out soon after this, I would have thought that they made Alfred Pennyworth a hologram with the reboot. The conversation between he and Bruce is stilted and robotic and it lacks any type of fatherly compassion these two are known for. It’s an odd way to introduce Alfred, especially at the beginning of Batman’s career. Not a single line of worry or concern for “Master Bruce.”
If you are just starting out reading Batman, this book is OK, but go pick up the first volume of Snyder’s Batman run for essential Bat-reading.
2.5 out of 5 stars.