Jul 26 2011 4:00pm

Reader’s Guide to the New DC Universe: Detective Comics

Detective ComicsEach weekday, Tim will take a look at what we know about each of the upcoming 52 new comics from the September DC relaunch, one series at a time. Today: DETECTIVE COMICS!

The Concept and Characters: This September, Batman will star in four ongoing series, not including his participation in the Justice League or his likely appearances in the rest of the “Batman Family” comics like Batwing or Batgirl or Batwoman or Catwoman. But let’s say you were counting all of those, even tangentially, as “Bat-books.” That means that nearly 20% of DC’s entire output will revolve around Batman this fall, which sounds about right, considering the popularity of the character. But Detective Comics, the series that not only launched Batman but also became the very name of the company itself, looks to be the worst of that 20%.

And the creative team is where this book suffers.

It’s Batman. Gotham City. You know the score. This isn’t the first Batman comic I’ve written about this summer. And what we know about the opening story arc sounds run-of-the-mill. It’s Batman vs. a serial killer (someone calling himself or herself “The Gotham Ripper”). And Bruce Wayne possibly involved with a new love interest. It’s boilerplate Batman. Batman 101.

The concept and characters of this series aren’t likely to be surprising. The series may end up focusing a bit more on the “detective” aspect of its title than its other Bat-centric peers. And that’s all well and good, but the one thing Detective Comics has that the other Batman books are lacking is the participation of writer/artist Tony Daniel.

The Creative Team: Tony Daniel writes and draws. Unlike most of the DC relaunches, which feature new combinations of creators on new series (with the notable exception of the Green Lantern comics, evidently sticking to the status quo as much as possible with their creators), this new version of Detective Comics is written and drawn by the same guy who has been writing and drawing the regular Batman series for the past year or two (and drawing it, from Grant Morrison’s scripts, long before that).

If you want to see what a Tony Daniel Batman comic looks like, what it reads like, you can pick something from a pretty large stack. He’s got experience with the character, and the world of Gotham City.

But none of the comics he has written and drawn are very good.

They can be entertaining, in a sleazy, cheap late-nite movie kind of way. And maybe that’s the kind of Batman comic you’re looking for. But reading multiple issues of a series written by Daniel don’t engender a lot of love. While I don’t disdain his writing and art as much as some vocal readers, I do think he’s a less interesting artist than everyone else drawing a Batman comic this fall, and he’s one of the weakest writers working at DC.

Recommendation: It’s easy to say Skip It, and that’s what I’ll do, but I do realize that this series will have its fans. Because, like all of Daniel’s work, it will aim low and hit the mark. It’s the Hawaii Five-O of comics. The Two and a Half Men. Some readers will be comforted by the clearly defined conflicts and the methodically unfolding story.

It’s not going to be a crime against humanity. It’s just a Batman series that’s not as good as the other ones. But it will still feature a guy in a cape and a cowl, fighting crime amidst urban decay. For some, that’s enough. For everyone else, there are better choices than this.

Tim Callahan writes about comics for Tor.com, Comic Book Resources, Back Issue magazine, and his own Geniusboy Firemelon blog.

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Fake Name
1. ThePendragon
WTF? This totally defeats the purpose of a reboot. I thought the idea was to simplify for new readers? 4 batman comics? That doesn't help at all. I may just decide to never start reading comics after all. WAY too much time and effort involved.
Adam Miller
2. AdamM
+1 to Pendragon's comment.

I read some comics as a kid, but was thinking about getting back into it with a relaunch as major as this. But part of the thing I never really liked about comics was multiple stories running on the same character. Why not just pick one story per character and do it right. If you want to do a different story, find a different character.
Ryan Britt
3. ryancbritt
Hey Tim, I wonder how come this title couldn't have just been about detectives? Like regular detectives? And maybe Batman could just guess star?
Ryan Britt
4. ryancbritt
Hey Tim, I wonder how come this title couldn't have just been about detectives? Like regular detectives? And maybe Batman could just guess star?
Nick Eden
5. NickPheas
Two different Justice Leagues.
One thing the DCnU is not lacking is places to find Batman.
Kevin Maroney
6. womzilla
I hear that Batman is going to be leading one of the two teams of X-Men starting after the winter 2012 X-event, More Mutant Union.
(Psst. That's a lie.)
7. jonmwilson1979
lol@womzilla 6. And maybe start up a new Dark Avengers, too, right?

Well, I have not really pursued much info about this book. The cover is delightfully creepy, and I'm trying to be as open-minded as possible with the new 52. Your point re: Batman's ominpresence is well taken though. In September, the Batman family of books numbers eleven. In October, it will number fifteen. That's what we in the industry call a metric fuck ton of titles for one character and his buddies each month. Compare to Superman, the first and always greatest hero, whose family of books numbers .... four. There will be more Batman-feature titles in October than all the books featuring someone with an S on their chest. It bothers me.

But I do plan to read them all. Cuz I'm a sucker.
8. Russell Duckett
@jon Marvel is actually cranking out a new "Dark Avengers". I for one will be buying this comic. I love the art, and will give Tony a chance.
9. Alger Newberry
This review makes big talk, and yes right off the "bat" I will throw in my lot with Tony Daniel. I love his Batmans. If you are an actual fan of Batman and his mythos its hard to not like him. He brings out some of the best and most interesting points of Batman's history, from I-Ching and the Sensei out of the 70's, Gilda Dent from Loeb's "Long Halloween" to name only a few for brevity's sake, while at the same time building upon them coming up with Katrina Falcone being Catgirl and adding to the Asian canon of superheroes the intriguing Peacock character. He has his finger on the pulse of the noir aspect of Batman which is rarely ever done with any skill. Perhaps this is what you categorize as "entertaining, in a sleazy, cheap late-nite movie kind of way," but really isn't that what film noir is? A sleazy, cheap, late night look at the underbelly of society, which last I checked was where Batman operated and sought to root out, a la his parent's murder before his eyes in crime alley. You're opinions are you own and you are entitled to them, but the harshness in which you condemn Daniel as an artist and a writer I think reflect more the worse on you than him. Perhaps his art isn't to your taste, but his stories are quintessentially Batman. Again you talk big, and more power to you, but pray tell who are these better Batman writers and artists and which are the better choices for people to read. I am DYING to know . . .

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