When it comes to DC Comics, the one thing that it is never short on is Batman titles. It seems like every week we’re getting the announcement that a new Bat-centric title is on the way and just about everyone is getting their turn at the wheel. So, it’s unsurprising that a Batman solo title would eventually find his way to Tom Taylor, one of DC’s best minds and now an exclusive writer with the publisher. While Taylor’s Batman: The Detective is a fun read that lives up to its name, throwing you into the mind of the world’s greatest detective, its plot can’t help but feel a bit weak.
Batman: The Detective finds the caped crusader leaving his life in Gotham City behind and making his way to Europe, Why you ask? well because some folks overseas are dressing as bats and killing people. Its quickly revealed that they aren’t killing just anyone, but people who have been saved by Batman himself. The biggest mystery of the series is why; why are these people in white bat costumes brutally murdering people who’ve been saved by Bruce Wayne? The story here works, and it’s interesting at times, but it didn’t really sink its claws into me like any other mystery.
One of the strongest parts of the story is the bits that seem to come from within the mind of the bat. He’s breaking down happenings in his head and really digging into the world’s greatest detective angle of the character that’s been absent from a lot of recent interpretations. For a few glimmering moments, the story feels engaging, but ultimately, the story itself is too weak for anything special to come of it.
Perhaps the weakest part of this story is the villains themselves, they aren’t compelling and there is really nothing special about them. It’s pretty ironic that they wear white batman costumes because they feel lackluster. They’re what you’d expect if you took all the fun out of the characters from Gotham City Imposters and threw them into a European setting. The story here feels like it should be interesting and feels like a unique scenario but it just doesn’t really tie together well in the end, with the reveal being nothing jaw-dropping and kind of generic.
Perhaps one of the brighter aspects of the story is its reintroduction of the newest Knight and Squire, UK equivalents of Batman and Robin. Here we see the original Squire, Beryl Hutchinson, pick up the mantle of Knight alongside the newest Squire, Amina Eluko working alongside Batman. Their story is something interesting and the two of them could really shine in their own book. Detective Mentee of the Bat, Henri Ducard plays a prominent role where at times it feels like he’s more useful as a punching bag than he does integral to the unfolding story. Thankfully, though, the character does get better as the story progresses but a moment that could’ve been crucial and emotional falls flat.
Despite its story issues, this book is something great to look at, with some stellar artwork from Andy Kubert. Batman gets a stellar redesign here, fitting in with his new European terrain, sporting a trench coat and goggles. Kubert really shines here with his environments and bringing Europe to life. The panels here are truly dynamic and admittedly are the best parts of this book.
While Batman: The Detective ultimately was not the Batman story I was looking for when it comes to Tom Taylor, it is an interesting premise that features a below-average story with some above-average art.