In case you weren’t aware, one of DC’s flagship titles is about to hit a milestone (after all, it’s where the name “DC” comes from). So, how can Detective Comics #999 setup such an important event?
The Price You Pay (not to be confused with the similarly-titled Batman/The Flash crossover), reveals the culprit behind the string of attacks on Bruce’s friends and family. It’s an unexpected twist, and one that could leave some readers feeling disappointed, even emotionally manipulated. But, what writer Peter J. Tomasi does here easily outweighs that complaint, providing a touching culmination to the story, and a brilliant setup to the milestone issue #1000.
This isn’t the first (or even the hundred-and-first) time we’ve seen a creator delve into what makes Batman tick. Trying to reduce the Dark Knight to his core components is basically part-for-the-course in comics over the last three decades. However, it’s rarely done with as much heart, or as much love for the character, as in Detective Comics #999.
Tomasi asks simple questions: what makes someone want to dress up like a bat and fight crime? Why does Bruce Wayne subject himself to the physical and psychological torture that comes with being Batman? Why pay the cost to wear the cowl?
Well, as Bruce himself explains, “that cost doesn’t weigh as heavily as it would if I didn’t wear the cowl.”
With Detective Comics #999, Tomasi expertly sums up everything that makes Batman a beloved, timeless character. It’s not the outfit, the cool gadgets, or the vehicles, nor the dark themes. It’s Bruce Wayne’s unconquerable drive to create a world where a child doesn’t find himself standing in an alley, alone, after his parents are murdered. Bruce’s mission isn’t a quest for revenge, but rather, a mission to ensure that no one else has to experience the trauma he’s endured.
It’s ultimately Bruce Wayne’s optimism that makes him great. And above all, that’s what comes through in Detective Comics #999.
Doug Mahnke’s artwork shines in this issue. He finds excellent ways to transition seamlessly from intense action to more meditative moments, giving the book a full, cohesive feel. He paces the work brilliantly, arraying action sequences in tight, dynamic, and fast-paced panels, while slower moments get more space.
There are great details throughout Detective Comics #999 that drive home the poignancy of the writing. The black void of a grave, objects flying through a room, the facial expressions…it’s a testament to the artist’s skill.
The colors on this issue are well-detailed, accentuating the quality of the line work. It’s a great-looking book all around.
Detective Comics #999 was a fantastic way to close-out this era in the character’s legacy. The book encapsulates the best of Batman’s 80-year history, while setting us up for what comes next. Highly recommended.