The Justice League pays a visit to Gotham specifically to see Batman in “Detective Comics” #45. While the hook is that they end up visiting both Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon, Peter J. Tomasi and Marcio Takara’s story feels like a tired retread.
This is a story that has to point-blank admit its ground has been covered previously. Following Superman’s visit to the amnesiac Bruce Wayne, the entire League pops in to verify what they already knew: their Batman is no longer available. So, while as a reader you can appreciate how Alfred notes they’ve already gone through this process, it doesn’t change the fact the book feels almost like it’s stalling on its way to having the League meet the new Batman. Someone, editorially, should have nipped this part of the comic in the bud on account of the readers having seen it play out before.
Even once that part of the story gets moving, there’s no real energy to this script. Tomasi’s work on “Batman and Robin” was a lot of fun, but this feels vaguely cold as the team takes down some remote-controlled fighter jets. There’s nothing dynamic or eye-catching about the sequence. In many ways, the only parts of the story that stand out are the two-page opening horror sequence set in India and a cliffhanger final page in a snowy tundra. There are no real character hooks, no crazy ideas to otherwise grab your attention.
Part of the problem may also be that Takara’s art doesn’t look quite up
to the challenge just yet. Characters as well as a few little touches are blocky and awkward, like what appears to be a shadow under Superman’s jawline, which comes across as patchy stubble instead. An attempt to have Batman’s hands come in to grab the Mad Hatter is a strange blob of lines that never quite comes together. Even little moments seem a little off-kilter. Shazam’s cape and hood look like they’re being pulled up into the air as his zooms towards the ground, while his posture indicates he’s actually hovering in place. Backgrounds regularly drop out of scenes, but — when they’re present — often make the panels look too cluttered to follow.
There are a few nice moments here and there, though. When Wonder Woman tells Batman, “We’ll handle these planes,” she looks great with the way her hair trails through the air and how her armor looks genuinely formidable. Likewise, the scene set in Bruce’s study is warm and inviting, both in how Takara draws it as well as the appropriate colors from Chris Sotomayor. I think Takara has some promise, but this isn’t at the level it needs to be, especially on one of DC’s higher-profile comics.
“Detective Comics” #45 tries hard to stand out but doesn’t do so, and the issue is a bit forgettable. Maybe, now that the actual storyline is kicking in on the last page, future chapters will step up to the plate a bit more, but — for the moment — this is a comic that’s well-intentioned but forgettable.