What started out as an ensemble piece featuring world famous detectives doing what they do best eventually found itself focusing on one detective – the Dark Knight. Some 70 years later, DC has seen fit to relaunch/reboot the series, and Stephen and Matthew have been tasked with sorting out the pieces.

Writer: Tony Salvador Daniel
Artist: Tony Salvador Daniel
Inker: Ryan Winn
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover Artist: Tony Daniel
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Detective Comics: THOMAS AND MARTHA WAYNE KILLED! YOUNG WAYNE HEIR ORPHANED! What is wrong with the world today!? What will become of the young Bruce Wayne? Will he use his vast fortune for good, or waste it away like every other playboy in Gotham City?

STEPHEN: Well, we knew there were going to be some changes, but so far the only big change we see in this story is this is set during Batman’s early year’s as Gotham City’s protector. There’s an eerie similarity between the time this story takes place and the Dark Knight movie AND all the hubbub surrounding the costume change seems to align with the Christopher Nolan movie version of Batman, too.

MATTHEW: Yeah, gotta agree with you there, and I don’t believe for a second that it’s a coincidence. CORPORATE SYNERGY!! It’s your key to quality literature.

STEPHEN: That will be our new mantra!  You must repeat that 10 times before you sit down to write for this site from now on.

This story focuses on the first meeting between Batman and The Joker in this new universe, which is interesting because I thought that should have been a gimmick best saved for Batman #1…

MATTHEW: Historically speaking, it would be a pretty natural fit, yeah…

STEPHEN: In any case, The Joker has been going on a mad murder spree. Batman is using his detective skills to try and track down where he will appear next. One thing leads to another, and the two are doing a twisted tango above the rooftops. Blows are exchanged, and our hero even takes a stab or two to the torso thanks to The Joker’s fast hands. Overall, it is a pretty brutal issue. Some good detective work, and some good action, and Daniel brings it together really well.

MATTHEW: Well, let me start by saying this: SHORT-EARS BATMAN IS BACK! Other than that (and the ending page, which we’ll get to in a moment), there’s nothing new going on here. The Batman does his Batmanny thing, the Joker goes “Hoo HA HAAA!”, Jim Gordon is grim and surly, fighty-fighty and then… that scene.

STEPHEN: By the time we get to the end of the issue, the confusing opening sequence where The Joker and some reject from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre suddenly makes sense, as The Joker has orchestrated everything in order to land in Arkham Asylum, where the Doll Maker (will learn more about him soon), cuts off Joker’s face. HE CUTS OFF HIS FACE! HOLY GRUESOME CLIFFHANGER!

MATTHEW: They suckered us in with pages and pages of something familiar, then cracked us about the head and shoulders with seems to clealry point to a new and more gruesome version of the Joker, perhaps even one with the scars we recognize from the Heath Ledger version? Either way, it did get my attention after almost a whole issue of same ol’, same ol’.

STEPHEN: Once again, I read this issue as a digital day and date release on the iPad. Not because I’m some technogeek, but because I won’t get my print copy in the mail until sometime on Friday or Saturday. That being said, I really liked how the art looked in this issue. Gotham looks like the perfect dark city for this tale to be set – and not just because it takes place at night. While the black and yellow symbol is gone from Batman’s chest, I like how the Daniel and his art team worked in the purple theme into the Joker’s costume. And while it may have been a bit over the top in terms of the storyline and character, I got a little smile out of Joker’s grappling gun. Because of the seriousness of this story, the art was adequately disturbing, and fit perfectly with the story Tony Daniel is telling. The only thing that didn’t work perfectly in this digital version was the double page spread. Even when the iPad was rotated, the text blocks were too small to read without zooming in.

MATTHEW: As for me, I work in a comic shop, and get my stuff day-and-date by showing up early before Jim sells out, but I do agree with most of your sentiment. The double-page spread looks pretty awesome, and I’m liking the bulkier bodybuilding Batman with the more compact ears and heavier armor, excessive boot lines be damned. Tony Daniel’s Joker is creepy, but there’s something frenetic and off-putting for me about Daniel’s art style. Maybe it’s his origins as a Todd McFarlane imitator (yes, I’m aware that’s my bias talking) but I had problems assimilating everything going on on the page into a clear narrative. The last page had a nice solid kick to it, I will grant that, but there are some readability issues that aren’t just format related.

STEPHEN: Bottom line for me – This is a fantastic way to kick off this book. It’s got all the right elements for a noir detective tale, and while it is grim, it doesn’t come off as the grim and gritty Batman we’ve known since Frank Miller gave him a facelift. The final page of the issue had my jaw hanging open, as the seriousness of what the Joker was planning became apparent, heightened only by the great art. This is a must buy book from me, and I’m giving Detective Comics #1 5 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★★★

MATTHEW: I’m of more mixed feelings on this. For the big open of (arguabley) the second biggest character, I felt like there was an awful lot of build-up to show how this story will be different from what has come before, all aimed towards the big last-page shockaroo, but in between is a lot of standard-issue Bat-antics. The Gordon/Batman exchange is straight ouf of the Frank Miller playbook, right down to gratuitous (albeit mild) swearing, and while I liked the bits where Batman was worried about the welfare of the young child left in the Joker’s wake of madness, it didn’t feel much like a relaunch as much as a continuation of what has gone before. Tony Daniel has come a long way since he used to play Artoo Deetoo, but he’s got a ways to go to fill the boots of a Denny O’Neil, a Doug Moench, or even a (heaven help me) Frank Miller. Detective Comics #1 suffers not from a lack of enthusiasm for me, but from a sense of sameness that even a thunderbolt reveal at the end can’t completely dispel, earning 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s good stuff, certainly, but I can’t help but chafe that it’ll be next issue (at least) before I can say for sure that there’s something truly new and different going on.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

New and different indeed, Dear Reader.  A quick poll of the @MajorSpoilers Twitter Feed showed many of those following also have mixed opinions on this first issue.  There’s a comment section below, and you know what to do with it!

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

The Author

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  1. Jimmy
    September 8, 2011 at 7:28 am — Reply

    My biggest problem is one of (shock, horror) continuity. On page one we are told The Joker has been in action 6 years. Now assuming that the Justice League series is set five years ago as we’ve been told, and that The Batman had been active for roughly a year prior to that, that means The Joker and Batman started around the same time, which is valid. However, in Batgirl we’re told that Barbara got shot… how many years ago? I think it was three. Which means that it’s been three years ago since that event, and Batman has still never encountered The Joker face to face. For a man as bent on (dark) vengeance as Bruce Wayne, I don’t think he’d let The Joker shooting Batgirl in the spine go for three years without spending every waking moment (which, for Batman, is a lot of moments) hunting down The Joker.

    I did really like the art. But I wish DC would give some sort of explanation of what time-frame each of these books are set in, and force the writers to stick to a coherent timeline.

    • Armaan
      September 8, 2011 at 8:10 am — Reply

      Okay, I’m reading through the comic, and I don’t see where it explicitly says that it’s the first time that Batman’s met the Joker, just that it’s the first time since this new crazy killing spree.
      Batman even knows enough to dump the Joker at Arkham instead of jail, and hey, I just realized that he didn’t even seem to CONSIDER that in the movies.

      • Choppa
        September 10, 2011 at 9:27 pm — Reply

        Batman even knows enough to dump the Joker at Arkham instead of jail, and hey, I just realized that he didn’t even seem to CONSIDER that in the movies.

        Is that a serious comment? In Batman Begins we see an entire scene in Arkham, and in TDK when he is confronting the Joker for the last time he tells him that he will be in a padded cell at Arkham.

      • Damascus
        September 13, 2011 at 3:50 am — Reply

        Yeah, I didn’t get the impression off the bat that it was his first interaction with the Joker. It seemed more like once he lost the trail of the Joker, he had a hell of a time finding him again because he just can’t get into his head and he doesn’t follow any kind of pattern. That and when the Joker told him on the train that he’s found him twice in 24 hours, that that was a new record made me think that it’s just that Batman has just found him after months of searching for him again. Also the very beginning has Batman saying that he can link 114 murders to The Joker, even if the courts can’t, which implys that he’s been caught and tried for murder at some point in the past. Which may be why Batman decides to drop him at Arkham this time too.

    • ~wyntermute~
      September 8, 2011 at 10:31 pm — Reply

      I can’t phrase it any better than Jimmy has: _when_ actually matters, if you want us to keep believing in these things as part of some sort of shared universe & Grand Flashpoint Reboot Concept. Otherwise, just put ’em all on “Earth” and each superhero is a unique entity in their own world, never the continuities shall meet.

    • September 9, 2011 at 11:26 am — Reply

      My biggest problem is one of (shock, horror) continuity.

      I usually have that problem, but here I don’t, mostly because there are no real references to work with. I’m fine with unfolding the history of this all-new (except where it ain’t) universe as it goes, and in five or six months, I’m sure I’ll be howling that things aren’t making sense, but right now it’s like when I started reading comics: I don’t know what the hell is going on, so the only thing to do is read what I like and start piecing it together.

      • Jimmy
        September 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm — Reply

        Ah, but when I started reading comics (and I did dive right into things as you did), I had Wikipedia to explain the timelines to me. Now I have nothing, and each Wednesday won’t be able to come fast enough :)

  2. September 8, 2011 at 2:23 pm — Reply

    I can’t believe I forgot to make the “Defective Comics” joke. I’m so ashamed…

    • September 9, 2011 at 1:17 pm — Reply

      That’s a rookie mistake… hate to see that happen…

  3. ~wyntermute~
    September 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm — Reply

    When does this title get rebooted? I’m curious to see how they deal with the conversion of Playboy Bruce Wayne into the…. Oh, wait, this isn’t Batman: Year One? Wtf is it? Batman: Month 43? I was sort of afraid of this happening: The All New 52 — Except For The Stuff You Already Like, Which We’re Just Going To Tweak A Little (And Make Money From The Variant Covers).

  4. gilberto nieves
    September 9, 2011 at 1:02 am — Reply

    “spoiler alert” no one mentioned the shock ending with joker’s face.

    • September 9, 2011 at 11:21 am — Reply

      no one mentioned the shock ending with joker’s face.

      I mentioned it several times, actually. :) I believe Stephen mentioned it in big capital letters…

  5. brenton8090
    September 10, 2011 at 9:17 pm — Reply

    I was confused about the timeline too. There seem to be three time periods: “Year One”, as in Action comics, “Year Five” from Justice League, and “Modern DC” from JLI. Oh, and probably “Future” from Legion. This issue doesn’t give you any clues, except that from the cops reactions we can assume it’s not modern day. This is probably in that “Justice League-five years in” timeline, but it’s not clear. Batman seems too experienced for a “Year 1” take, but there’s no mention of Robin. We don’t know if this is his first time meeting the Joker (I’m guessing it’s not.) This would have been the perfect time for DC to get their S*** together and throw in a recap page, telling us all with some stock text at the start, so we know when stuff is happening. I would assume that Action and Detective are in the same timeline, and Batman#1 and Supes#1 will be in the same timeline, but this may not be true.

    That aside, as long as I keep my head down and plow forward, I really liked this issue. I haven’t bought a bat-book in a while, so it might be the novelty of it, but this felt good.

  6. Choppa
    September 10, 2011 at 9:27 pm — Reply

    By the way, Tony Daniels already confirmed that the issue takes place in the present day.

  7. Damascus
    September 13, 2011 at 3:57 am — Reply

    Alright, I’m going from review to review harping this stupid point, but nobody else is mentioning it and maybe I’ve lost my damn mind. I keep seeing the same cloaked figure in a bunch of these new books. I think it’s a female, so she(?) appears in Animal Man #1 on the page where Buddy’s eyes bleed, she’s on page 17 of Batwing, and now she’s in Detective Comics #1 as well (at least I think so) on page 22 in the bottom left panel in the crowd. There’s usually a pinkish hue around her and she’s wearing a cloak, what looks like either a domino style mask or just shadows around the eyes and a double breasted jacket/vest/whatever under the cloak. I couldn’t find her in Batgirl #1 though.

    • Damascus
      September 13, 2011 at 4:28 am — Reply

      Yeah, there’s a really good view of the hooded person in Action Comics #1 on page 35 in the train, she’s got a red hood with some kind of red fumes coming off of her head. (I keep saying her, but I don’t really know.) And now that I’ve checked, the same hooded person is also in Justice League of America #1 on page 20 at the football game that Victor is playing in. AND BOOM! (sorry) I looked through Batgirl #1 three times to make certain and I finally found the hooded person on page 20 in the reflection on the window as Mirror is about to push the bad guy through it.

      • brenton8090
        September 13, 2011 at 4:47 am — Reply

        It’s the hooded lady from Flashpoint #5, I think she’s teasing whatever DC’s big event will be. Hopefully it’ll be confined to Justice League, but she isn’t confined, so I can’t imagine the story will be.

        • Praion
          September 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm — Reply

          She is in ALL of the new 52 #1s

          • Damascus
            September 13, 2011 at 11:13 pm — Reply

            Yeah, I know now. Maybe if I’d read Flashpoint I’d be more in the loop. Nobody mentioned her in any of the reviews so I didn’t know what was going on.

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