Batman: Detective Comics Volume 1
Writer: Tony S. Daniel
Art: Tony S. Daniel
Publisher: DC Comics
Released: June 6th, 2012
“Faces of Death” is the first installation of the New 52 reboot for Batman: Detective Comics. Drawn and authored by Tony S. Daniel, this graphic novel is a fantastic opening for the re-launch of Batman. Immediately the book calls to Batman’s biggest villain, The Joker, and sets Batman on a detectives mission to figure out what is going on with Joker and what he is planning to do. After being captured, Joker meets with Dollmaker in his cell and ends up getting broken out of where he is being held. The cherry on top of all of this, is that The Joker undergoes a very specific surgery to have his face removed from his head. This is a secret that will loom with readers all the way into the New 52’s Batman: Death In The Family volume and is quite a big thing for this DC universe to deal with. With this story, Batman is then sent on a mission to figure things out such as what The Joker is planning that could require the absence of a face, and what the Dollmaker is up to and what his end game is in removing Joker’s face.
This volume has a very strong story lead that is shocking and highly memorable. The art is dark yet detailed as Gotham is typically presented. Lots of colour went into this story as you can see lots of dynamic colour differences from page to page, thus avoiding the grim darkness of typical Batman stories. The story is written in a vein of Sherlock Holmes as the reader discovers things when Batman discovers things, or slightly there after which makes for a compelling “solve the mystery” read.
Batman hunting down the Dollmaker to find the kidnapped Jim Gordon and figure out the mess going on was a great piece of the story. Dollmaker is doing really twisted things like forging his own personal army of demented “franken-people” to do his bidding as well as harvesting organs of a healthy person to put into a sick person to make them healthy. Of course this is all one big trap to capture Batman but you realize that there’s most certainly a bigger game being played, and Batman losing this game. I have to say, seeing Batman lose a battle amongst the war is a pretty great moment of “how’s he going to get out of THAT one?!”, followed by badass booty kicking in which Batman miraculously escapes. Dollmaker is really messing with Batman in this issue, but he isn’t the only villain with something big going on.
It turns out that Penguin is trying to buy Batman for some reason by sending a lackey to Dollmaker to make an offer on the captured Batman. Penguin is having a grand opening for his new casino, the Iceberg Casino, and concurrently holds a meeting with lesser villains to discuss using his casino vaults for storing their money and prized goods. As the night plays out, Penguin’s true nature shines in the darkness of it all and you end up figuring out that nothing is going right for Penguin in this whole scheme. The true beauty of how this all plays out lies in the fact that everyone trying to make big plays in this big ol’ game of mystery gets shut down, from Penguin to Jill Rivers who both get shut down at the same time by the bat. The other side to this beauty is how Dollmaker and Joker still have not been heard from and have seemingly escaped Batman’s clutches, making their scheming seem more grandiose in design.
I would recommend this graphic novel to anyone who is looking to break into reading Batman New 52 as a lot of stories that start in this volume branch out to both Batman New 52, as well as Detective Comics and other Bat-family series. Big moments in this first volume and spectacular art & writing from the multitasking genius of Tony S. Daniel. I started reading Batman New 52 and found myself at a loss of information from there on out (Volume 1 to 4) as this story would have made the Batman New 52 a more redeeming read with much more satisfaction from the Death In The Family story that was released. I would highly recommend this book to not only Batman fans but also to any comics fan or even fans of murder mystery novels. The writing is top notch along with the art, and the big bonus is that since the same creator did both art and writing the two flow together in a very special way. I would rate this graphic novel a mysterious number out of a potential 10…. (10/10)
~ Tyler Head
*this art is so damn good*