As part of Future State, Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora gave us a look at how Bruce Wayne returned after being declared dead and set out to take down the Magistrate once and for all. Now Tamaki and Mora are jumping into the Batman to develop the present-day Gotham City alongside the other BatFamily creative teams as they lead Detective Comics. We know from other Batman Family comic books that Gotham City has been plunged into chaos as the impact of City of Bane and Joker War is still being felt as we begin DC Comics’ Infinite Frontier. How will things go for Bruce Wayne as he tries to pick himself up after losing a majority of his resources? Let’s find out with Detective Comics #1034.
Writers: Mariko Tamaki (The Neighborhood main story); Joshua Williamson (Robin: Demon or Detective? back-up story)
Artists: Dan Mora (The Neighborhood main story); Gleb Melnikov (Robin: Demon or Detective? back-up story)
Colorists: Jordie Bellaire (The Neighborhood main story)
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: In the City Hall District of Gotham City, Mayor Nakano hosts a gala where he unveils his vision for Gotham to all in attendance, including Bruce Wayne. As he gives his presentation on how he plans to stop vigilante justice in the city a gang named Party Crashers (remnants of Joker War) break into the gala. Bruce runs out of the gala and quickly changes into Batman.
After shutting off the lights to the hall Batman bursts in. As he takes out all of the Party Crashers, Batman wonders why the gang are attacking a gala. After a brief time Batman is able to defeat the Party Crashers and keeps everyone is safe by the time GCPD’s SWAT team arrive, much to Mayor Nakano’s annoyance.
Later, Bruce is working in the sewer system below Gotham City to continue work on his new micro-Batcaves network in order to diversify his current operations as Batman. He has chosen locations where work is no longer being done.
Eventually Bruce goes back to his home in the Fort Graye neighborhood. Before he gets into his place Bruce is hugged by one of his neighbors named Lydia Warren (daughter of Bryan Warren), thankful Bruce is safe. Lydia then invites Bruce to a neighborhood party.
After changing Bruce goes to the party where Sarah Worth (daughter of the person who built out Lower Gotham City), Sam Worth (a tech firm executive), and Deb Donovan (a Gotham City reporter) are all at. While having small talk with everyone Bruce gets some insight into the different opinions his neighbors have on Mayor Nakano.
At Gotham City Hall, Mayor Nakano is making sure his team is making taking down Party Crashers a priority.
Later that night, Batman has figured out that the Party Crashers attacked the gala to show off to an investor in their group. He tracks the Party Crashers down and quickly takes them all out.
Elsewhere a mysterious person knocks on Sara Worth’s door.
The next morning as Bruce gets back to his home he hears a scream. He follows the scream and finds Sam Worth freaking out as someone broke into his place and now Sarah is gone.
Underground we see an man who has blood covering his hands walking through the sewer system.
Elsewhere Talia Al Ghul has killed the League of Lazarus member that tried to hold her hostage after she noticed Robin (Damian Wayne) hesitate. Robin asks his mom who the League of Lazarus are. Talia reveals that long ago the Demon’s Head’s Empire had three classes: The League of Shadows, Assassins, and Lazarus. She goes on to say that the League of Lazarus rebelled early on in Ra’s Al Ghul’s reign and this attack was to send a message to her.
Robin wonders how this was kept a secret from even him and his father. Talia just tells her son to follow her even though he wants to know more about the League of Lazarus tournament.
In her helicopter Talia talks about how after Leviathan was stolen from her along with losing control of the League of Shadows and League of Assassins she has much bigger things to deal with than a fighting tournament. Talia tells Damian that she will no longer treat him as a son but only an assassin in her employ. She then asks Damian which legacy he will chose: The Demon or The Detective.
Damian jumps out of the helicopter and Talia can only say she should’ve known better than to try to lock her baby bird in a cage.
In parts unknown the organizers of the upcoming tournament remark on how the League of Lazarus have said they will not rejoin their ranks. They then talk about how Robin will be taking part in the tournament. The leader is fine with that since they have a secret weapon, someone who won’t hesitate to kill: Connor Hawke. End of issue.
The Good: Detective Comics #1034 is a very good start for this series in Infinite Frontier that continues to develop the current status quo in Gotham City. There is a clear vision for what everyone working on the Batman Family titles are all aiming for together. Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora get that over as they add to all what Bruce Wayne is now up against as Batman.
What I appreciate most about the story that Tamaki and Mora present to us in Detective Comics #1034 is that they show us how there are many things going on in Gotham City all at once. Things aren’t as simple as the Magistrate rising up or the events in A-Day as we are seeing over in Tynion’s Batman. Gotham City is a living and breathing place that has many different types of people living in it that all have lives. That is what Detective Comics #1034 shows us.
It’s all a refreshing take because we are getting to explore Gotham City beyond the Batman Family bubble. Tamaki accomplishes that by expanding on how Bruce Wayne’s new living situation has made him more part of a community inside Gotham City. Bruce no longer can lock himself up in his mansion with only one or two people to interact with. He has actual neighbors like Lydia Warren that will talk to him when he shows up. This type of interaction helps ground the story around Batman as Tamaki builds on how everything going impacts all the communities in Gotham City.
The interactions between Bruce and his neighbors also help to further establish how Mayor Nakano is still trying to get everyone to buy into his vision for Gotham City. Winning the mayoral election was just one step in his character arc. There are still people that haven’t fully bought in. Which helps to give further depth into why Mayor Nakano does not take the Party Crashers attack lightly as it does show weakness in his administration. It makes Mayor Nakano’s response to everything going on in all the Batman Family comic books something readers will want to keep an eye out for.
This all builds well into the narrative of Bruce having to rebuild everything about Batman. Even though he is still operating as Batman and stopping criminals like the Party Crashers we once again see that he is doing so with limited resources. The Joker War really took a lot from him and has pushed Bruce to rethink his strategy as Batman.
One of the things that Joker and Bane were able to take advantage of was how blinded by the big picture Bruce became as time moved on. He lost sight of smaller details that allowed two of his greatest villains to exploit this fact. He needed to reconnect with Gotham City itself and that is what we see being done with the Batcave network he is building out. Creating small Batcaves all around Gotham City is a great way to build out how Bruce is both being resourceful and moving forward with how he is evolving himself as Batman.
That said there is a lot to still uncover as even more things are being done from the shadows. We see that with how the Party Crashers’ gala attack was all to impress some potential investors. That possibly clues us into how Tamaki is likely to explore how there will be many new powerful and rich people rising in Gotham City. That is something that Tamaki teased with the companies who helped the Magistrate in Future State: Dark Detective #2. The neighbors that Bruce now has points to that direction which makes the mysterious person who attacked and kidnapped Sara Worth something that could play into that.
Dan Mora’s artwork was excellent throughout the main story in Detective Comics #1034. The thing that stuck out from Future State: Dark Detective was the futuristic tone that Mora nailed. He does that once again here as he gives off a feeling that Gotham City is on unstable ground. All the while he gets over how there are many different sides of Gotham City. Which is where Jordie Bellaire’s coloring helps a ton because she and Mora nail how differently each part of the city look and feel through the artwork. That helps get over how dynamic scenes are whenever we get Batman suddenly appearing to stop the Party Crashers.
The back-up story by Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov accomplishes what they were striving for in selling the upcoming Robin series that is going to star Damian Wayne. They give us enough information through Talia Al Ghul’s dialogue to understand how important the upcoming tournament that Damian will be taking part in will be. This worked in well with how Talia shows she has no time to play the good mother to Damian. She makes it clear that Damian needs to catch up as she believes he has fallen backwards after spending so much time with his dad.
It all helps to tell the story of how Damian is still struggling with the two legacies that he is carrying on. Even as he tries to get back to how he was while being raised by Talia and Ra’s Al Ghul in the League of Assassins he is no longer that person. Spending time with Bruce, Dick Grayson, and the rest of the Batman Family has created more of a superhero sense of morals that are now part of him. How he combats that as he gets involved in the upcoming martial arts tournament will be interesting to see play out.
All of that said, what Detective Comics #1034 will be most remembered for is the final page that featured the return of Connor Hawke. Connor Hawke is a character that was basically erased by the events of Flashpoint and New 52 since Oliver Queen, like many heroes, was deaged. But now that we are in a DC Universe where everything happened Connor Hawke is back in continuity. How Williamson ends up developing Connor Hawke after we haven’t seen him in over a decade will be interesting to see. As of now it looks like he will be one of the martial artists tapped to take part in the tournament by its mysterious organizers.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora have a strong start as the new creative team for Detective Comics. They set all of the groundwork for how they plan to add their mark in how Bruce Wayne will be addressing the present and future of Gotham City post-Joker War and -A-Day. Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov add further quality content as they build excitement for the upcoming Robin series starring Damian Wayne. The final page with the surprise return of one of the DC Universe’s top fighters and fan favorite was an double exclamation point to end Detective Comics #1034 on.
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