“Detective Comics” #26 clocks in at a whopping twenty-two pages of story, but almost four bucks in price for a tale from John Layman illustrated by Aaron Lopresti. While there is a stinger teasing the next storyline, this comic book is a firm done in one story with plotlines and details stretching throughout this volume of “Detective Comics.”
As seems to be the case more than not, Layman doesn’t miss a chance to have Batman do some detective work in “Detective Comics” #26. Batman spends time analyzing clues and evidence, mining data and searching for connections. Not everyone favors the “detective” aspect of the Dark Knight Detective, but Layman proves once more than he has a solid handle on how to enable “Detective Comics” to live up to its titular billing. Furthermore, Layman’s choice to have Batman narrate the images of the story with accompanying caption boxes gives the comic a journal-like feel. Jared K. Fletcher enhances that vibe by employing mixed case text into those caption boxes, sparking an almost hand-written appearance.
In the comic book, Layman gives artist Aaron Lopresti a chance to draw a wide array of settings, characters and interactions. Lopresti is a natural fit to draw a Batman/Man-Bat tilt, as he has a firm handle on enhancing the grotesque. There is more to the story than just Man-Bat, as Batman’s deductive reasoning concludes. Lopresti, with a substantial assist from inker Art Thibert, keeps mystery and darkness flowing throughout “Detective Comics” #26. The art is clean and lean, with tints of Kelley Jones materializing in the shadows and edges. Although he is very adept at filling his work with details, Lopresti also knows when to remove all detail, spotlighting characters against white space. My biggest gripe about the art is that Blond seems to be the perpetrator of some overzealous coloring: why do Man-Bat’s eyes glow? In one scene, I could understand, but whenever Man-Bat or (the mysterious Bat-Queen) appear, their eyes glow a bright, electric blue. Otherwise, the visuals on this comic play nicely to the story of Kirk Langstrom and his quest to salve his guilty conscience.
With Man-Bat featured so prominently in “Detective Comics” #26, it could have been a more appropriate Halloween comic had it not been timed to release between Thanksgiving and the end of the year holidays. All the same, any chance to see Man-Bat in action is a comic book worth enjoying. Layman and Lopresti do a fine job of balancing the dark and the light, the hope and the grief throughout this comic book. I’m not so sure Man-Bat could support his own series, but so long as Layman and Lopresti are working on “Detective Comics,” Man-Bat is welcome to return.