Detective Comics #1017
Batman’s been trapped on a deserted island and fought Deadshot. He’s dealt with the fallout of his battles with Mr. and Mrs. Freeze and he’s had his final confrontations with Bane and his Father (in the future). He hasn’t even had time to process the death of Alfred, but his work never ceases, especially when it concerns the youth of Gotham.
This issue of Batman was definitely needed.
It’s very easy to forget that, despite all of his adventures, he’s still a street-level hero. He cares about his city and everything that goes on inside of it. However, he is still but one man that can’t solve everything, so he has to put things in order by priority. When a gang of Black Mask thugs are possibly talking about a powerful explosive, finding a runaway orphan is pretty low on the totem pole, but at Lucius Fox’s behest, it becomes priority #1, not only for Batman, but for Bruce Wayne.
Written by Tom Taylor, who seems to be a down-to-Earth mood following his final issue of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man this week, drawn by Fernando Blanco with colors by John Kalisz and lettered by Travis Lanham, this issue of Detective Comics was more withdrawn than previous issues.
This issue was more focused on weaving a single book narrative that sees Batman recognizing that sometimes the biggest crimes are the ones he pays little attention to as he and Robin go about searching or Miguel, an orphan that ran away from the Martha Wayne Orphanage out of fear of being “disappeared.” In the book’s final moments, Bruce sees that his inactivity in regards to his family’s legacy has put orphans much like himself in danger over who knows how many years.
Blanco’s art elevates this story as he and Kalisz begin the book with a bright and sepia-toned flashback to the opening of the orphanage with the smiling faces of the Waynes and immediately contrast that with the fear in Miguel’s eyes as he escapes into the cold, dark blues of Gotham. Blanco and Taylor also built off of the snowstorm that had been building during the Freeze arc to make this issue a race against time.
While Batman takes down former Black Mask thugs trying to make a bomb, he asks Damian to go on the search for Miguel and contrast between their missions is apparent as Batman breezes through his with ease while Damian puts in some serious legwork to finding the kid. Blanco and Kalisz increase the amount of snowfall and darkness in the issue as Batman and Robin look for Miguel, making things seem much more dire as the temperature continues to drop.
Upon finding Miguel, Bruce and Damian do their best to rush him to a hospital and the pair even have a heartfelt conversation about Superman being their favorite superhero before Miguel succumbs to sickness and hypothermia. As Bruce and Damian make it to the hospital, the have a somber moment as they wait together, knowing that Miguel is lost. All of it was so heartfelt thanks to the lack of dialogue and contrast between their costumes and the setting.
After a little bit more investigation into the disappeared kids, Bruce finds that the director of the orphanage has made some shady deals because of his lack of oversight and in his anger, punches him right in the face. With Damian and Lucius Fox at his side, Bruce Wayne cleans up the orphanage and begins to chart a brighter future for the youths of Gotham.
After an annual that posed him as an unstoppable being that can topple any threat and his current war with Flashpoint Thomas Wayne, it’s nice to see Batman come back to street level threats in a wholesome, but dramatic comic. It’s doubly nice to see him interacting Damian again given their lack of contact for the better part of a year or so. In an age where every conflict is near universal, it’s always refreshing to have something small-scale.
Detective Comics #1017: An Army of Potential Robins
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 8/108/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 8/108/10
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