DETECTIVE COMICS #995 / Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi / Penciller: Doug Mahnke / Inker: Jaime Mendoza / Colorist: David Baron / Letterer: Rob Leigh / Cover: Mahnke, Mendoza, Baron / Published January 2nd, 2019
It’s a race against time. Batman is trying to save Dr. Leslie Tompkins from an attack by a new villain in Gotham. She was poisoned by a mutated variation of Joker’s toxin and time is running short. Meanwhile, a second attack strikes at the heart of Wayne Manor.
This new unknown foe isn’t your average supervillain. They are attacking Batman through Bruce Wayne. It’s clear that they not only know who Batman is but also know a lot about Bruce Wayne. In the previous Detective Comics #994 they staged a murder to look just like Thomas and Martha Wayne. Here, they attack Alfred at Wayne Manor dressed like Zorro. This person has definitely done their homework on Bruce.
Killing a character like Leslie Tompkins feels pretty significant. Death in comics is almost never permanent and while this story is not yet complete, the death doesn’t feel like a cheap ploy and is handled with care.
Peter Tomasi is tearing down the Bat-mythos one piece at a time. The attack on Alfred shows that no piece of Batman’s life is safe and death will come for them all eventually. I do find it interesting that we have yet to get any clue about the identity of the villain. In the previous issue, a large monster attacked Dr. Tompkins, but it didn’t feel like a person, more like a monster set loose by the real mastermind.
Doug Mahnke’s pencils give every panel the action and tension needed. The race back to the Batcave has an intensity to it, and we can feel the emotion and pain in Alfred and Bruce. Jaime Mendoza’s inks highlight every pained line in Leslie’s and Bruce’s face. By the time of Alfred’s attack, we can see the deepening furrows and wrinkles. David Baron’s colors add to the pain in every panel. Leslie’s face looks twisted and infected, while the sepia tones in the flashback panels are among my favorites. The final pages have the whole team coming together to make a terrific finale of Batman exorcizing his pain and rage.
This arc is entitled “Mythology” and with the countdown to Detective Comics #1000, DC is simultaneously deconstructing Batman and building to something epic. While we watch Dr. Tompkins’s final breaths, we see Bruce’s past with her. It’s a heartbreaking moment as she struggles with her last words and Bruce struggles to save her. There are parallels to previous Batman stories like Hush or Death of the Family, and I am very excited to see what comes next.
VERDICT: 4 out of 5
Opinionated geek and writer born in the desert, raised on the beach, and now living in the mountains, Paul is a lifelong nerd who loves Star Wars, costuming, comic books, and all manner of geeky things.