Detective Comics #1 — Daniel — Nov. ’11/DC Comics

Honored with the job of rebooting DC’s titular title after its run of about three hundred years, a lot was riding on artist/writer/bon vivant Tony Daniel’s head. After Justice League #1 failed to garner the wiz-bang reaction everyone expected of the venerable comic house’s opening gambit, this was to be the make or break book. If Detective sucked, it was going to be a slow, sad slog through the remaining 50 books coming out this month.

Not to worry. As someone who enjoyed Daniel’s various runs on Batman, I was glad to see him back penciling his own story. The opening splash gives us all we need to know: Batman’s on the move and he’s friggin’ pissed off. Who’s got him pissed off? The Joker. Boom.

The book opens six years into their dangerous dance and Daniel’s Joker is off the rails and stab happy from the jump. The writing is tight throughout and Daniel’s pacing is relentless. There’s a nice bit of internal dialogue where we get to get inside of Batman playing the detective and running The Joker to ground.

Not one to go down easy, however, The Joker gets his shots in. While in a temporary position to deliver the killing stroke, he nicely sets up the new run by warning of there’s a bigger problem than himself in Gotham City and scolds Batman for not making out the big picture. Batman, of course, then throws him off a building.

Back in the care of Dr. Arkham, we learn that it was all part and parcel of The Joker’s plan. The final page of Detective Comics #1 delivers the much-needed jolt that signals DC’s shake up just might end up being the fun-filled ride we had hoped for.

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