If the DC Comics New 52 reboot hadn’t happened, Detective Comics would have reached its 900th issue this month. That wasn’t lost on DC, which celebrated the milestone this week with the release of an 80-page, $7.99 anniversary issue. The issue sports the New 52 debut of an old favorite, and a tribute to the number 900 in a story that ties into the larger ‘Emperor Penguin’ arc running through the comic. It also features back-up tales starring Bane, Man-Bat and the Gotham City Police Department, as well as a gallery of art by various artists.
So does this oversized issue do justice to its 900-issue legacy? Here are a few opinions from around the web …
Greg McElhatton, Comic Book Resources: “Featuring the return of Man-Bat to the re-launched DC universe (despite them already appearing in Batman Incorporated, a fact that Layman works into the story), Detective Comics #19’s lead story is exactly the sort of comic I’ve quickly grown to expect from Layman and Fabok. It uses classic Batman villains in a story that can be read as a one-off, but at the same time integrates it into their larger ‘Emperor Penguin’ story arc. It’s a clever way to keep building up a big story, but at the same time keep it from feeling overly long or drawn out.” (4/5)
Andrew Asberry, Batman News: “The first of the short stories, ‘Birth of a Family’ feels like the typical back-up we see at the end of any issue of Detective Comics. It’s a quieter, more villain-centric short written again by John Layman and drawn by Andy Clarke, who is an amazing artist (except when it comes to drawing open-mouth smiles, they always look creepy) that I would like to see on a bat-title full time. Here we see how Langstrom’s research began, how he met his wife, and how she is dealing with the aftermath of what occurred in “The 900.” Clarke got to draw some rather disturbing imagery in this one and it looks great. The nasty monsters you see will really stick with you for a while.” (8.5/10)
Brett Schenker, Graphic Policy: “Bane is the next focus, in the story War Council, that sees him training a bunch of juiced up freaks as he talks about how his latest plot was foiled and connects Bane with the Court of Owls. It feels a bit of a stretch, but it clearly is there to set up what comes next. While a nice teaser story, his army seems unnecessary and almost diminishes Bane as a character. It’s a little out of place. James Tynion IV is the writer with art by Mikel Jamin.”
Zach Wilkerson, Multiversity Comics: “‘Through a Blue Lens’ is perhaps the most unique of the stories featured. In the fallout of ‘The 900,’ a GCPD cop recovers from his Man-Bat transformation in the company of his fellow servicemen. The crux of the story revolves around the perception of the Batman among the GCPD. Layman handles this well-worn concept with care, and while it may be wishful thing, the writer perfectly sets the stage for a new Gotham Central series. This would be a fantastic use of Layman’s talents, should DC choose to pursue something of the sort. Jason Masters, who has recently filled in for Chris Burnham in Batman Incorporated, is the weakest artistic link of the issue.” (2.5/10)
Aaron Long, Comicosity: “Readers of Layman & Fabok’s Detective Comics will find some solid content in this 80 page issue, but other than the references to the 900 block of Gotham this issue has little in the way of Batman fanfare for people who aren’t looking for content related to the current storyline. There may be some interesting storylines that come from this comic and the Layman/Fabok story is of extremely high quality, but sadly the rest of the issue left much to be desired.” (6.5/10)
Wayne, Hall, Major Spoilers: This was a good celebration of 900 issues of Detective Comics! Of course, it would have been nice to see that numbering restored, but I’m okay with this kind of recognition. It literally drives me batty to see a comic go on for 10-20 issues, then get renumbered when a company thinks they can sell more copies by leaping back to the numbering they just left a few months back! Other than that, it’s a powerful issue with connections to previous ones and to other events taking place in the Batman universe. Hey, this comic had to celebrate 900 issues, be part of ‘WTF’ and also move us forward in other stories. I think ya done good, folks!” (8/10)