Detective Comics No. 996 review: Batman goes to Paris


After beating the inmates of Arkham Asylum bloody, there’s only a few other people that Batman thinks would come after him, the al Ghul’s and Henri Ducard. Travelling to Paris to search for Ducard though simply reveals another facet to this mystery.

Ever since Peter J. Tomasi and Doug Mahnke took over Detective Comics, thinks have been on the up and up for the series. With an engaging mystery and some incredible art it’s hard not enjoy all the happenings that have been going on here. And really, it makes sense to have Batman as a detective in a series called Detective Comics, so to have the detective story be one of the best that the character has had in recent years is fantastic and that quality continues in this issue.

On the surface with this issue, there really isn’t a lot to unpack here. It’s a well-written, engaging, and sometimes horrific mystery that only Batman can solve. That alone is really the selling point of the issue and the series in general. But this issue also shows that Tomasi is almost treating this issue like a pseudo-sequel to his Batman & Robin series that ran during the New 52. Bringing back Ducard and Damian, albeit in much more diminutive roles than the aforementioned series, really showcase this. While new readers will be perfectly fine understanding this encounter, long-term readers will get even more out of it, as it should be.

Other than that, though, the mystery here is fantastic. Everything introduced in the first issue of the arc is beginning to come back around and is introduced again here albeit with a twist on their first introductions. It really keeps you guessing on who it could be that is plotting this against Batman. Due to solicitations and announcements, it’ll be more than likely a certain character doing this, but that doesn’t take away from the actual mystery itself being presented in this arc.

Image by DC Comics/Art by Doug Mahnke

The only real problem present from a storytelling standpoint in this issue is the pacing in the back half. It’s near breakneck which contrasts drastically from the quick pace of the first half of the book. The first half is quick, but stays relatively in one location, while the back-half changes locations three times within the span of ten pages.

As for the art, what is there to say about Doug Mahnke that hasn’t already been said before, he’s absolutely magnificent. He absolutely nails the brutality of Batman while also bringing a softness to his faces when he needs to.

Most of the issue is absolute insanity and Mahnke delivers. His art is dramatic and dynamic, while also being horrific at several points throughout the issue. Simply put, Mahnke’s art makes your heart pump in anticipation, excitement, and fear. Mahnke is still one of the best Batman artists and one of the best artists in general working today.

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Detective Comics continues to be great with an intriguing mystery and some fantastic artwork.