Detective Comics No. 995 review: And the mystery runs deeper


With Leslie Thompkins dying in his arms from Joker Venom, Batman rushes back to the Batcave in an attempt to save her life, but will it be in time? Spoilers for Detective Comics no. 995 follow.

After a really good opening issue with this new creative team, Detective Comics is running full steam ahead and pulling no stops. There’s a lot to say about comics that fall into tropes, predictability, and safety for the mainstay characters in these books, and usually when something major, like a death, does happen, there is massive lead-up to it. Batman books have been hit-or-miss on lead-ups to big events, so thankfully that isn’t the case here because (spoilers, last warning) Leslie Thompkins dies. And, it feels like a genuine shock with a fistful of emotion packed around the death, and Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke do an excellent job portraying that.

What Tomasi does extremely well in this issue is piggyback immediately from the ending of the last issue and use that as the inciting incident for this issue. So many single-issue comics don’t begin immediately after the last issue ended, and so immediately starting there throws the reader into an extremely tense, nerve-racking situation that is immediately enthralling. There’s a visceral feeling to starting at this point that doesn’t give the reader any time to breathe because the action has already begun.

Image by DC Comics/Art by Doug Mahnke

Honestly, the structure of this issue feels very much the opposite of most stories that are told in every medium. The beginning of the issue feels like the third act, while the end feels like a first act. It’s not a one-to-one comparison, but it’s an intriguing structural idea that could’ve fallen flat but works extremely well. Also, because of this structure, the issue is able to continue the interesting mystery that is developing while also having great character moments.

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The dialogue in this issue is near perfect as well. Batman comforting Leslie as she’s dying is heart-breaking, while it also shows a side of Batman that is rarely, if ever, seen. The hurt keeps coming though when Alfred is stabbed and Bruce is trying to think out loud. It’s a rarity to see Batman like this, and yet, it’s done so well here.

The art throughout the issue is spectacular, as well. Doug Mahnke continues to be one of the best Batman artists working in comics, and he proves it again here. There’s an intensity present throughout the issue that makes every page enthralling to look at while also wanting to look away because of what the characters are going through. This is a book that is very dark in tone and the art captures that perfectly.

There is also very much a horror vibe to Mahnke’s art here, which is nice to see again in a Batman book. There’s a grotesqueness during the scenes with Leslie and her Joker-grin that is very unsettling, but hard to look away from and the way that he draws Batman in this issue, constantly shrouded by darkness and feels more like Michael Myers than Batman.

Next. Detective Comics 994: A cold case returns. dark


Detective Comics continues its upward swing with a shocking death, great character beats, great art and an intriguing mystery that keeps on developing.