After the last issue's cliffhanger ending, the latest installment of Detective Comics raises the stakes before dialing things back down to heighten the mystery behind the identity of the new Arkham Knight. In doing so, Peter J. Tomasi and Brad Walker craft a thrilling rollercoaster of an issue, as the battle against Gotham City's latest masked antagonist takes a very personal turn for Bruce Wayne.
Issue #1001 put Batman and the Arkham Knight literally at each others' throats, drawing the full attention of the Gotham City Police Department as the Dark Knight fought his new foe. More calculating and grandiose than his video game counterpart, the first comics canonical Arkham Knight leads his own legion of fanatical followers, threatening to plunge the entire city into bloody violence. And as the scope of the Arkham Knight's crusade expands, Robin finds himself on a collision course with the mysterious figure, the Knight's true identity still an enigma.
Under Tomasi's tenure as writer, the series has leaned more into high adventure while retaining the crime-solving edict of its title and a personal exploration into Bruce Wayne's psyche. The previous story arc had Batman traveling the globe as those that had trained him to become the ultimate crimefighter found themselves targeted by a new mysterious enemy. Here, Tomasi doubles down on the action even while keeping the action to Gotham this time around, instead changing up the settings within the city and the type of action to keep the proceedings both interesting and moving at a fair clip.
This is paralleled by Tomasi's grasp on Bruce Wayne and his supporting cast; more specifically, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth and Damian. Tomasi has always had a natural understanding of the iconic DC characters, writing Batman and Robin for much of the New 52 era to critical acclaim. His Batman comes off as more gruff and stubborn than, say, Scott Snyder and Tom King's takes on the character, making this Dark Knight wholly Tomasi's while keeping in line with Batman's overall modern day characterization. The opportunity to see Bruce play off his son in a nod to the writer's previous Bat-series is a particularly welcome treat for longtime readers of Tomasi's work as Damian involves himself in the investigation despite his father's reservations.
Brad Walker collaborates with Tomasi here, serving as penciller while joined by Andrew Hennessy on inks and Rob Leigh on colors. The team's work is reminiscent of Yanick Paquette while still immediately recognizable as their own, from a tense standoff that quickly turns bloody, to an extended underwater search with its own set of perils. There are moments when the action can come off as a bit uneven, but as a whole, the art team more than succeeds especially with the sheer number of moving parts present that continue to propel the story.
The latest issue of Detective Comics leans much heavier on the action than its predecessor, especially in comparison to the more cerebral story arc that served as Tomasi's debut on the title. First blood is spilled in no short supply in this initial confrontation and the Dark Knight Detective is faced with more questions than answers when he finally gets time to regroup. Tomasi continues to prove he has an excellent handle on the characters present while Walker and the rest of the art team provide popcorn blockbuster action that put the Dynamic Duo in genuine danger while raising the stakes of the story. Immediately recognizable as the Arkham Knight, Tomasi and Walker are crafting their own scheming, fanatical figure, one that is definitely original while calling back to other classic members of Batman's rogues gallery, with a last page guaranteeing readers will want to see what happens next in two weeks' time.
Detective Comics #1002 is written by Peter J. Tomasi and illustrated by Brad Walker. It is on sale now from DC Comics.