Ahead of the release in March of DC's Detective Comics #1000, superstar artist Jim Lee has debuted a sneak peek at his contribution to the milestone issue.
Lee, DC's co-publisher and chief creative officer, shared the rough pencils late Thursday, depicting Batman in action.
Although the art is in the early stages, we can glean that the Dark Knight is going toe to toe with an opponent that appears to be Bane. Batman holds Bane’s Venom tubes in hands.
We can determine a rough time period for the story as well. Batman's utility belt design matches the one he wore during DC's New 52 era. Fittingly, Lee designed the costumes for Batman and the Justice League as part of the 2011 reboot, although most of those have been phased out.
It’s worth noting that Bane’s mask also backs up time period, based on the stitching of his mask. That element was part of Bane’s look in the New 52, notably in stories from Detective Comics and Batman: The Dark Knight. Recent stories have removed the stitching, replacing it with a simple seam.
Bane was a regular foe throughout Batman's New 52 stories, although they temporarily teamed up to shut down the Joker during "Endgame." Bane and Batman are rivals once more in DC Rebirth.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the piece could be a flashback to a classic story or moment. Notably, the iconic showdown in which Bane broke Batman's back has yet to be shown in the reworked history of the New 52 or DC Rebirth, only alluded to. However, Batman has recently wornd an older costume to reflect his mental state following Catwoman leaving him at the altar. It’s just as likely that both men are wearing older attire for one final showdown.
Lee is no stranger to Batman, having collaborated with writer Jeph Loeb on the 2003-2004 storyline "Hush." He has remained in Batman’s periphery ever since.
He joins a stacked deck of fan-favorite Batman writers and artists for Detective Comics' milestone issue, including such big names as Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis, Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and Neal Adams.
Detective Comics #1000 arrives March 27 from DC.