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Best Shots review: Detective Comics #1035 is the strongest Bat-book currently on the rack

Detective Comics #1035
(Image credit: Dan Mora/Jordie Bellaire/Aditya Bidikar (DC))

Following the death of one of Gotham's most prominent young elites, the mayor's office and Batman race to find the perpetrator. But with no motive and all evidence quickly swept away, Sarah Worth's grisly end remains an enigma to Gotham's peacekeepers. Dan Mora and Mariko Tamaki build an effective and timely modern horror tale in Detective Comics #1035, while introducing a bold new villain with an arresting design. Writer Tamaki builds the main event and its Clayton Cowles-drawn Huntress back-up story around that simple truth: It is never safe outside after dark.

Detective Comics #1035 credits

Written by Mariko Tamaki
Art by Dan Mora, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles
Lettering by Aditya Bidikar
Published by DC
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

Writer Mariko Tamaki knows how to build an effective mystery. She's constantly changing the parameters of our understanding, layering in new elements to the conspiracy with every new page. There's nothing particularly original here, though the plot's central abduction and mysterious intoxications are made compelling through a deep understanding of plotting and character that emphasizes surprise and genuine emotion. Between the horror of Sarah's body in the sewers and the fungal nature of the spreading psychosis, Tamaki keeps things scary and makes a powerful statement. It cannot be ignored that the two people who seem to have this newfound thirst for violence are the two people who should have been keeping Sarah Worth safe: her husband and the chief of police.

(Image credit: Dan Mora/Jordie Bellaire (DC))

Although the actions of new villain Mr. Worth don't exactly fulfill the action-packed promises made by the issue's cover, his sheer physical presence steals every scene he's in. Tamaki impresses his villainy upon us from the off, even without him doing anything classically evil. Mr. Worth speaks strictly of his deceased daughter in terms of ownership, shedding no tears at her funeral. HIS daughter is GONE. TAKEN. There's no sentiment. No sadness. Just anger and intimidation. In one powerful page, Mr. Worth sits silently across from Mayor Nakano, his imposing build enough to communicate the threat.

Artist Dan Mora has a real flair for costume design. Mr. Worth's monogrammed suit and coat is the kind of stuff Arkham A-listers are made of, enhanced further by Jordie Bellaire's classically luxurious gold, green and leather hues. Mr. Worth's permanently bloodshot eyes are a thoughtful extra touch, finishing the look of a man on the edge. Mora again tells Tamaki's story through the eyes of his characters, expressing their inner thoughts in an exaggerated manner well suited to the medium.

Tamaki continues the themes of vulnerability on the streets with 'Huntress: Mary Knox Part 1'. A tragic character study, Tamaki chronicles a fledgling friendship between Huntress and Mary, a woman who walks her cat at night to calm her stress and anxiety. When Mary meets her inevitable fate, Tamaki sets the stage for a classic revenge tale that sometimes hews uncomfortably close to reality. Tamaki also uses these pages to ruminate on the struggles of supporting friends. Not everyone wants to hear good advice and one person's risk is another person's perceived safety, as Helena grimly finds out.

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Detectice Comics #1035

(Image credit: Dan Mora/Jordie Bellaire (DC))

Detective Comics #1035 preview

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Detectice Comics #1035

(Image credit: Dan Mora/Jordie Bellaire (DC))
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Detectice Comics #1035

(Image credit: Dan Mora/Jordie Bellaire (DC))
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Detectice Comics #1035

(Image credit: Dan Mora/Jordie Bellaire (DC))

Clayton Cowles' bold linework and Bellaire's vivid palette fill the page with color, adding humor and life to Mary and Helena's often antagonistic friendship. Cowles illustrates in extremes – his Huntress is sharp and impossibly lithe, the wild look of her costume a sharp contrast to Mary's ordinary wardrobe.

Aditya Bidikar letters throughout, giving character to narration boxes by customizing them tightly to their owners and adding flair to shouts and groans with a variety of aesthetically unique word balloons and sound effects. A strong showing from an accomplished letterer.

Detective Comics #1035 is a memorable new character introduction with a timely theme, supported by a strong and thematically similar back-up story. Mariko Tamaki, Dan Mora and Clayton Cowles achieve their goals with maximum clarity, making this the strongest Bat-book currently on the rack.

Keep abreast of all of the Dark Knight's stories with our list of the new Batman comics, graphic novels, and collections in 2021 and beyond.

Oscar Maltby has been writing about comics since 2015. He has also written comic book scripts for the British small press and short fiction for Ahoy Comics. He resides on the South Coast of England but lives in the longbox.