Is Detective Comics “Shadows Of The Bat” Must-Read?

Detective Comics #1050 Shadows Of The Bat Banner

There’s been a lot of talk about what 2022 will hold for the DC Universe as we near the newly announced “Death of the Justice League” storyline. The storyline will be impacting all of the comic books DC Comics is currently publishing. That includes the Batman Family line as Bruce Wayne’s Batman is one of the characters on the danger list to die during the “Death of the Justice League” story.

Luckily for the Batman Family the possibility of Bruce Wayne not being around is not the end all for the franchise. As we see with the current Shadows Of The Bat event going on in Detective Comics we are getting a good idea of a Gotham City without Batman. Because of the nature of Shadows Of The Bat leading Detective Comics to become a weekly series until the event concludes I wanted to take a look at how the first month of this event has turned out.


In the post-Fear State world where the Magistrate have fallen and Gotham City in an even more chaotic state Arkham Asylum has taken on a new form as a new tall building has been constructed in its place known as Arkham Tower. Led by Dr. Tobias Wear, Arkham Tower seeks to help people reform, including Batman Family villains using different psychological and unknown medicine. To show his methods work Dr. Wear shows that Nero XIX, the person who tried to kill Mayor Nakano, has been reformed.

Kate Kane, with Oracle’s help, creates the identity of Dr. Lisa Frow to take a position at Arkham Tower to investigate the facility and look for Helena Bertinelli, who was admitted as a patient. Nightwing and the Batgirls work on investigating other ties to Arkham Tower, including a secret partnership Dr. Wear has with the Joker inspired Party Crashers group.

After some time working under the Dr. Frow identity Kate finds where Helena is at. She infiltrates Arkham Tower as Batwoman in order to talk with Helena. Helena says she is not leaving and Batwoman is forced to retreat when alarms are sounded. Hearing all this Nightwing does not believe Arkham Tower is secure and they can’t leave Helena there.

Detective Comics #1048 Shadows Of The Bat
Kate Kane infiltrates Arkham Tower and discovers Mr. Freeze is one of the patients being treated by the staff in Detective Comics #1048. Click for full page view.

Remembering how on edge Helena was after taking down Vile, leading her to kill one of the guys still infected by Vile, Nightwing decides to join Kate with infiltrating Arkham Tower under an alias as well.

Meanwhile, it is shown that Dr. Wear has formed partnership with Psycho-Pirate.

In a flash forward, 24 days after Arkham Tower opened its doors all of those being treated by Dr. Wear and his team revolt and set fire to the surrounding area. As the GCPD try to figure out how to best respond the Arkham Tower patients throw who appears to be Dr. Wear from the top of the building on to the streets below. As Batwoman and Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) figure out their next step Nightwing is already inside, having earlier infiltrated Arkham Tower, and Helena is shown bloody inside an elevator.


When I first heard about the concept of “Shadows Of The Bat” I was very intrigued. An event where the Batman Family deal with the post-Fear State status quo for Gotham City without Batman was very intriguing to me. The one thing that kept me from initially jumping onto this event was the fact that it was going to turn Detective Comics into a weekly series. Following a three month event that is weekly is a lot to ask which is why I waited to hear how it all started. I’m glad I did as I was able to take the perspective of friends and peers I trust to jump aboard after I heard enough good things about the “Shadows Of The Bat” event.

Now having read the first month’s worth of Detective Comics for this event I’m happy to report this is already shaping up to be an excellent Batman Family story. Given the structure of this event being weekly I will say it is best to trade wait it if you don’t have the room in your budget. Luckily because its over by March it won’t be that long until DC Comics releases it in trader paperback and hardcover format. But if you are a big Batman fan this is definitely an experience you don’t want to miss.

The reason I say “Shadows Of The Bat” is can’t miss is because it is a real look at what a Gotham City without Batman is like. There is a very simple explanation for Batman’s absence since he is currently dealing with the Batman Inc crisis, the upcoming war with, being part of the Justice League, and hundreds of other stories he is involved in. Mariko Tamaki does an excellent job with getting over the concept of Batman not being able to be in Gotham City during a crisis. It opens the door to show that the Batman Family are ready to deal with protecting Gotham City.

Which is why having the flash forward in Detective Comics #1047, the opening issue of the “Shadows Of The Bat” event, is so important. We see were everything is leading to without any answers as to how we got there. That’s left it up to all the issues of this event to show us why Arkham Tower is in the state it is in after just 24 days of being open. While some may argue that this takes away some of the suspense because we know who is still alive in the final stages of the story that really doesn’t matter.

Detective Comics #1047 Shadows Of The Bat
In a flash forward we see that the patients of Arkham Tower have gone rogue and taken over the facility, forcing the GCPD to respond in Detective Comics #1047. Click for full page view.

We aren’t necessarily worried about the lives the Batman Family. Rather the interest in the “Shadows Of The Bat” on the Batman Family side is how they deal with the current state of Gotham City. Establishing Kate Kane’s Batwoman as the lead of the story to start is a smart play. She is the one that could be said most available to do a long term mission such as infiltrating Arkham Tower under an alias that Oracle helped her make. It immediately catapults Kate as the key character of the series while letting the story escalate to the point the rest of the Batman Family need to get involved.

This makes the emphasis of the “Shadows Of The Bat” event showcasing the Batman Family working together for this case on Arkham Tower even better. There is a lot of stress when it comes to investigating Arkham Tower, especially with Helena being one of its patients. The tension between Batwoman and Nightwing is played well to both show concern for Helena and emphasize that not Dr. Wear and Arkham Tower aren’t a benevolent force that rose up post-Fear State.

And as we see with Detective Comics #1050, what Kate has discovered is leading Dick Grayson and others to investigate Arkham Tower from different angles. The pacing of the story makes it so how Dick Grayson and Cassandra Cain get more involved with helping Kate spotlight how the story is escalating. The Batman Family are going to have to tackle this new crisis developing from multiple angles, which works well into the flash forward showing us a chaotic situation at Arkham Tower with the patients taking over.

That flash forward especially creates greater concern for Helena Bertinelli as she is not working undercover but an actual patient staying at Arkham Tower. She is the character were you are left really concerned for her life. Detective Comics #1050 gave us a greater idea of why Helena choosing to go to Arkham Tower for help so interesting. Adding in Huntress history with what she experienced in the No Mans Land event to Helena’s current arc was a great use of continuity. It all works into the greater narrative that Tamaki has been developing around Huntress since she began her run on Detective Comics.

All of this works into how there is a lot to question about Arkham Tower and Dr. Wear as the leader of the initiative for the facility. We see that Dr. Wear is not only working with the Joker-tied Party Crashers but also Psycho-Pirate. Not hiding the fact that Dr. Wear has a lot of shady business going on as he works to establish Arkham Tower in Gotham City works really well into the greater mystery. With Psycho-Pirate’s appearance at the end of Detective Comics #1050 in particular you are left questioning what is going on even more. Especially as we saw in the flash forward that it appears that Dr. Wear is killed by the patients, we could see Psycho-Pirate become the true villain of the story that the Batman Family must deal with.

Detective Comics #1049 Shadows Of The Bat
Batwoman confronts Helena Bertinelli to find out why she became a patient at Arkham Tower in Detective Comics #1049. Click for full page view.

The artwork by Ivan Reis throughout the main story in Detective Comics 1047 to Detective Comics #1050 was excellent. I am very impressed with the high quality artwork Reis has provided for “Shadows Of The Bat,” especially considering this is a weekly event. Its clear that DC Comics gave Reis enough of a lead time so that he can draw all four issues without another artist drawing the story to help out. It really adds to how “Shadows Of The Bat” is this intense event that you are experiencing weekly. Hopefully the style Reis has established is continued for the rest of the event.

The back-up “House Of Gotham” story by Matthew Rosenberg and Fernando Blanco carries its own dark tone that separates itself from the main story. It being a flashback story that takes place around the time of the original Dynamic Duo adds a lot to framing the story around that era for Batman. Batman has a good balance of young but experienced by this point. And the story use of children for the narrative really gives an intensity that is different from what is going on in the present day with the main story in Detective Comics.


“Shadows Of The Bat” is exactly the Batman Family event that I’ve been hoping we get. Mariko Tamaki and Ivan Reis have done an excellent job taking the opportunity of a Gotham City without Batman to tell a story that elevates Batwoman, the Batgirls, Nightwing, Oracle, and the other Batman Family members. The use of how Fear State changed so much of the status quo for Gotham City further adds to the tension felt with each passing chapter of “Shadows Of Thvente Bat” event. That tension makes reading Detective Comics weekly a great experience. Whether its getting it as its released weekly or when it comes out trade paperback format, “Shadows Of The Bat” is a story that Batman fans should not miss out on reading.