The last couple of issues delved into Azrael’s past, while also introducing his successor of sorts. I won’t go into too much detail, partly because I still don’t fully understand it myself, but this issue is mostly downtime to focus on story building and character development.
The main character development in this issue focuses on Batman and Zatanna. The comic begins with a flashback into when they met at a much younger age. Zatanna is just showing off some of her abilities and possessions to impress Bruce Wayne. In the present, Zatanna is regretting some of her actions from back then, and trying to explain how much wielding magic can permanently alter someone’s mind. Still, Batman is determined to use a specific artifact in her possession that she wiped from his memory years ago – an artifact that can answer pretty much any question you have. In the events of this story leading to this point, Bruce regained all the memories Zatanna took away, and she seemed to have good reasons to. No matter how much Zatanna tries to scare him away from it, Batman won’t budge. It’s a great scene that shows two old friends who care about each other, but see the world quite differently.
The rest of Detective Comics 960, written by James Tynion IV, focuses on Azrael and his successor. Again I won’t go into too much detail here because I still don’t know too much about Azrael, but there’s some intense character work here. The issue ends with the promise of a big action scene. The only question is, whose side is Azrael on? Right now, I have no idea what the answer is, and that’s part of what makes the cliffhanger so exciting.
The art by Alvaro Martinez is great. There are a lot of dark environments in this comic, whether it’s an unlit apartment, Batman and Zatanna speaking outside at night during a rainstorm or the team base, where the only lighting comes from monitor glows. Despite that, everything is well detailed and easy to see. Zatanna looks weary the entire time she’s talking to Batman, not out of fatigue but out of clear concern. The hidden apartments are very well detailed with massive bookshelves and all sorts of artifacts on display. Brad Anderson’s colouring is fantastic. The use of shadows throughout the dark environments is brilliant, adding to the comic’s mysterious feel. It’s balanced out with realistic looking reflections and glowing light from various forms of energy illuminating nearby people and things.
It’s not very often when an issue of Detective Comics releases and it’s not at least one of my favourite comics of the week. Today is no exception. There’s a lot of character focus in this issue on Batman, Zatanna and Azrael. Some of it is very dramatic, while the rest builds up tension. This isn’t as exciting as normal for this series, but it makes up for that with some deep concepts and good build-up. In general, this is a Batman team book. If that sounds interesting, you should be reading Detective Comics.