Review: DETECTIVE COMICS #964
Author: Peter Verra (Follow @PETER ILLUSTRATED)
Date: September 14, 2017

SYNOPSIS: “DYSTOPIA” Anarky has shown Spoiler the world he’s built beneath Gotham City, which he plans to bring into the light…but she needs to know who helped him build it! And what’s more, this alliance has put Steph back on Batman’s radar…and now the two are on a collision course!

James Tynion has been a man on a mission since he began his run on DETECTIVE COMIS. That mission is to assemble a Bat-Family unlike any we have seen while creating dramatic and definitive character moments for those who might have not been given their due in the New 52. “Dystopia” delivers for two characters particularly, Clayface and Spoiler. Christopher Sebela again joins Tynion as they craft their way between two stories about those two rejuvenated characters.

While I grew up on comics from the 90’s and loving that interpretation of Spoiler, Sebela finally gives her an edge. This is unlike any Spoiler I remember in the past. She is no longer the weak link, the one rushing into action to gain approval from Batman. She stands her ground. She is the first to tell others “slow down” and it's very refreshing. In this issue alone I have seen Spoiler do things I don't think I have seen before, taking charge with confidence, questioning what is hard to believe and taking a back seat to no one including the Batman. Anarky has set up an unground community straight out of “the Walking Dead” while promising what he always does taking in those who are oppressed and forgotten while taking on “the whole sick system,” but who is he really working for? He has even recruited some of Batman’s former allies. One of which comes as a real shocker to me. By the end of the issue Spoiler comes to terms with the fact that she does not want to be a part of either team and fights her way out before Batman can tell her the truth about Red Robin.

Last issue Sebela delivered some fantastic Clayface moments and here he delivers again. We learned previously that the longer Basil stays in his Clayface form the more that persona takes over. He is starting to remind me somewhat of Two-Face with an off switch. Taking that analysis even further Clayface is almost a hybrid of Two-Face and the Thing. Sebela delivers a tremendous amount of backstory about Clayface, going back to his acting days, his relationship with the Victim Syndicate’s Mudface and how he is trying to clean his conscience and guilt for his illegal acts. The interactions Clayface has with Mudface and Orphan are influential and emotional; they are his defining moments. I keep saying this and it is so worth repeating, this take on Clayface is incredible and now rivals BTAS as my favorite interpretation of this character.

Carmen Carnero and Ulises Arreola provide the interior art and colors of the book respectively. I normally love a dark and gloomy Batman/Gotham but there is something about this bright knight look that his team has created. Arreola really gives the book a fall look and it’s just perfect for the emotional impact of the book. The background colors can almost act like the score to a film. Carnero’s art is really beautiful and vibrant and should be seen, not hidden by shadows. As I flip through the book for a second time the Clayface/Basil artworks really stands out to me. The flashback scene to his movie days look like classic Hollywood, instantly giving me vibes of “The Godfather” and Jack Woltz. The splash page when Clayface finally loses it is breathtaking bringing me back to Donald Gennaro facing off vs. the T-Rex in “Jurassic Park”. One little thing that stood out to me was Canero’s Parker Row I love her look in this book. I’ve always had a soft spot for Parker; it’s always interesting when she is around. The action and emotional expression in this book is top notch as well, we get great panel placement throughout and two entertaining fights.

Yamine Putri provides the art for the main cover of the book and this might be the most beautiful cover I have seen in a very long time. Batman impersonating Shakespeare’s Yorick, bold and stoic yet somber while holding the melting skull of Clayface. This cover is total poster material. Rafael Albuquerque’s variant cover shows us a beaten and battered Batman in a pool of mud. For as much as I love seeing Batman save the day, covers and splash pages of him on his last wind in the trenches really catch my eye.

I just saw the movie IT, and so seeing people getting beat in sewer-like settings is on my mind. (You should totally see IT, btw.)

DETECTIVE COMICS # is one of the better issues in this run and that is saying something. Sebela and Tynion have written a really entertaining story and set up some really epic adventures to come. Carnero and Arreola give us framed poster quality art on every page. This book is an emotional roller coaster with blockbuster action sprinkled in between. You should 100% add it to your pull list this week.

Next is the issue we have all been waiting for: #965, “A Lonely Place of Living.” - Peter Verra

GRADE: A

A lover of genre films from BATMAN
to FRIDAY THE 13th.

A producer of college sports at the world’s
most famous arena, MSG.

A fool for watching that SCOOBY DOO
teaser trailer from 2002 and preying Batman is
the one who turns around and every time.

Follow Peter on Twitter @PETEILLUSTRATED.


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