Friday, May 18, 2012

Comic Review -- Detective Comics #9 / Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea, and Szymon Kudranski

I like this cover a lot.  Batman is taking on three Talons and holding his own, when just a few issues ago in his self-titled series, he was having a hard time with just one.  The colors and composition make for an intense, dynamic action sequence that strongly ties in with the Night of the Owls event for this issue.

In this installment of the Night of the Owls, Batman has taken the fight to the Talons, specifically the ones that have come after Jeremiah Arkham in his own Arkham Asylum.  When the doctor realizes his facility really is under attack, he makes a deal with one of his patients--Roman Sionis, the Black Mask--to protect the asylum.  Black Mask does so, but Batman realizes what he's doing and shuts him down quickly.  Realizing Arkham had been in league with Black Mask, Batman knocks him out and takes him off the island, intent on dropping him somewhere he'll be safe on his way to the next target.

This being my first foray into Detective Comics since the New 52 relaunch, there's probably a lot of details I'm missing in this review.  One of the first things I noticed was how very much the look and details of this Arkham Asylum are modeled after the awesome video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, from the look of the facility to the inclusion of security guard Aaron Cash, a character I knew from the game.  I could have my details mixed up, of course, but my first intro to that character was from that video game, and he will forever be associated with it in my eyes.

While this is obviously one chapter in the wide-ranging and fast-paced Night of the Owls storyline, it carries the feeling of a task without any real weight.  Daniel does a fine job of writing it, to be sure, but it seems Batman is making one stop on the way to another--which, to be fair, he is.  Arkham, to my thinking, would be a fairly low-priority target for many reasons, not the least of which is that he's always been portrayed as a naive or corrupted, if not outright insane administrator.  Frankly, I'd be more focused on saving the mayor, the police commissioner, the city comptroller... many others would take priority over Arkham.  But that's just me, and obviously Batman is a better man than I am. :)

Artistically, I have to admit, Daniel has quite a bit of talent, handling both storytelling and penciling duties with a delightful aplomb.  His illustrations are wonderfully detailed, and about as realistic as you can get in comics while still maintaining a hand in the grotesquely fantastic.  Arkham's designation as a mental institution is played up in its dinginess and desolation, from the orange uniforms of its patients to the bare, almost decaying appearance of various rooms.  Great work.

Overall, this is a good read in the Night of the Owls saga, though its necessity to the rest of the story won't be determined until the whole thing is said and done.  The artwork is great, and the telling of it from Arkham's perspective makes for an interesting narrative device.  Batman fans will definitely enjoy it.  Recommended.

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