Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke had a very good start to their run as they begin the march to Detective Comics #1000. The introduction of a demonic-type creature was something very different from what we are getting in other Batman comics. At the same time, Tomasi found a way to still make things personal as Bruce Wayne, not Batman, was directly targeted by the latest threat in Gotham City. The ending puts a lot of questions in the air with how things could develop as we get to the big anniversary issue for Detective Comics. Let’s see how things go with Detective Comics #995.
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Inker: Jaime Mendoza
Colorist: David Baron
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Batman rushes to the Batcave with Leslie Thompkins, who has been infected with the Joker toxin, in his arms. Batman contacts Alfred to get things ready as Leslie says she doesn’t want to die today.
Batman finally arrives at the Batcave and Alfred immediately injects Leslie with the antitoxin. The antitoxin has no effect as it is a mutated variation of the Joker toxin they are aware of. Leslie talks to Bruce about how he has saved so many lives and saw she could help as well. She warns Bruce to be careful because as he is trying to keep Gotham City alive there is a war raging against him. She then tells Alfred to look after Bruce and says she is proud of Bruce.
Leslie then passes away.
Bruce does not accept this and attempts to defibrillators to bring Leslie back. As he does this Bruce thinks back to all the times she has helped him, from his childhood to adulthood.
Alfred tells Bruce that Leslie is gone. Bruce reflects on the couple killed that were surgically altered to look like his parents and Leslie, who always ran towards people in trouble with open hands and an open heart. After closing Leslie’s eyes Bruce asks Alfred to give him a minute.
In the kitchen Alfred tries to hold back tears as he is filling a tea kettle. The doorbell rings and the security system recognizes the person as Commissioner Gordon.
Alfred goes to greet Commissioner Gordon. A masked person is shown in Commissioner Gordon’s place. The person suddenly stabs Alfred with a sword. The person walks away, leaving Alfred to collapse and bleed out.
In the Batcave Bruce hears a bell constantly ring. He rushes to check out what is going on.
Bruce finds Alfred bleeding in the library. Bruce quickly works to patch Alfred up. Alfred tells Bruce that the person who stabbed him looked like Zorro.
Bruce takes Alfred to the Batcave to surgically repair the lung tissue damage. Alfred tells Bruce to contact Damian as he is experienced in that type of surgery. He goes on to say once Damian arrives he’ll put the mansion on lockdown while Bruce goes out as Batman.
Sometime later at Arkham Asylum Batman finds Dr. Jeremiah Arkham in his office. He demands to conduct some interviews, making it clear it was not a request or question.
Batman then enters the part of Arkham Asylum housing all of his villains. Batman tells all his villains that his job is to hold the line, keeping as many innocent people in Gotham City from harm as possible. Batman reveals that line has been crossed in the worst way. He goes on to state that cooperation and information are their watchwords for the evening, with anything less being problematic. Batman then states they should all think of this place as a funhouse tonight with the only monster there being him. End of issue.
The Good: Detective Comics #995 was an issue I was not expecting to get at all. It is truly a comic that came out of left field due to everything going on in the Batman books and other places in the DC Universe. That sense of being unexpected made everything that Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke did in Detective Comics #995.
Right away when Detective Comics #994 ended there was an expectation that Batman would somehow save Leslie Thompkins. She is one of those characters you don’t expect that would be killed off without a bigger hint of it happening. In that way Tomasi was able to add an even greater emotional punch to Detective Comics #995 story developments.
What worked well was how Tomasi got across the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Leslie Thompkins. Outside of Alfred, Leslie has been the most consistent presence in Bruce’s life. Like Alfred, Leslie has known Bruce since before his parents died and saw how he evolved into Batman and beyond. That is something Tomasi does a good job at getting across to the reader, especially for newer readers who aren’t aware of how important Leslie is to the Batman Family.
Flashing back to all those moments made the emotional impact of Leslie’s passing to both Bruce and Alfred be felt harder. It was one of those moments that felt like time was standing still for these characters. Adding in how much Bruce has gone through in the last few months this is just another blow to him as a person. It now puts into question if Bruce can even get out of the hole that others are burying for him as everything that provided him light within the darkness is slowly being taken from him.
With this major event happening Tomasi does a good job reminding readers that there is a big threat that is directly targeting Bruce Wayne still on the loose. He does that with now having a person dressed as Zorro almost killing Alfred. This reminder was able to help push Bruce to push through losing Leslie and focusing on stopping whoever is responsible before more people are hurt.
That all led to a phenomenal scene at Arkham Asylum that reminded readers how a focused Batman is possibly the scariest thing in Gotham City. With how many people have been hurt around him there is now nothing left to stop Batman from doing everything in his power to find and punish those responsible. It was one of those “I’m not stuck in here with you…you’re stuck in here with me” moments that actually made you afraid for the villains in Arkham Asylum. Which is saying something given the villains we see that will go through whatever interrogation Batman is going to put them through.
Tomasi also does a good job with smaller moments in this issue, mostly to do with Alfred. Even though he was more of a support Tomasi did was able to show the impact of Leslie’s death and Bruce’s emotional state was having on Alfred. Seeing him trying his best to hold back his tears was heartbreaking. It made him getting stabbed by the Zorro-like figure an even bigger surprise since we were more focused on where Alfred is emotionally.
Doug Mahnke delivered artwork helped drive the emotional impact Leslie Thompkins’ death had on Bruce and Alfred. He made you feel all the pain that was going through Bruce’ head from how he drew the way Bruce reacted. The gut-wrenching truth that he couldn’t bring Leslie back to life had the impact that is expected from this type of moment.
Mahnke does a great job transitioning from this emotional scene to Batman being the most intimidating figure in a room of the deadliest villains in Gotham City. It made you more afraid of Batman than any of the villains in Arkham Asylum.
The Bad: As emotionally impactful as Leslie Thompkins death was it did not hit the home run it should have. That has nothing to do with how Tomasi delivered on the impact of her death. It has more to do how over the last decade Leslie’s importance within the Batman Family has been de-emphasized. She has been put into a position as a background character for a good while now, only popping up on occasions her assistance is required. Those times have been few and far in-between. Due to that it wouldn’t surprise me if the impact of Leslie death isn’t felt as hard with newer fans since there haven’t been many stories with her interacting with the Batman Family in recent years.
Because of that it also does make Leslie’s death come across as one of those deaths that won’t have a bigger impact on the Batman Family titles. It’s a disappointing thing to state because of how long Leslie has been an important character to Bruce’s life. But the reality is her death feels more like one of those where you can have a major death happen without impacting the greater narrative going on within the Batman Family. I hope I am wrong about this because I have always been a fan of Leslie Thompkins character and enjoyed her interactions with the Batman Family.
Overall: Detective Comics #995 is an emotionally impactful issue featuring a gut-wrenching loss. Peter Tomasi does a fantastic job emphasizing how important Leslie Thompkins was in Bruce Wayne’s life. This story was all wonderfully brought to life by Doug Mahnke’s artwork as he hit on all the emotions Bruce was feeling and how intimidating Batman was at the end of Detective Comics #995.