This annual edition of ‘Detective Comics’ gives us an story set in the aftermath of the recently concluded ‘Night of the Owls’ storyline. During that storyline (in ‘Detective Comics’ #9 if you want to be specific), Batman paid a visit to the infamous Arkham Asylum. In that adventure, we were introduced to the Black Mask… or re-introduced… or… oh! This New 52 stuff bothers me sometimes! Either way, the Black Mask was a lot more insane than the previous incarnation and with this issue, we learn more about the villain… and boy has he changed!
In a creepy opening sequence, Dr. Arkham is talking to Roman Sionis about his treatment. The good doctor is proud of Sionis for how far he’s come in putting aside the alter ego of the Black Mask. What Dr. Arkham is unaware of is… Oh! Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for you. All you need to know for the review is that the Black Mask escapes Arkham Asylum and is running free somewhere in Gotham.
Cut to the Black Otter Carnival where Batman is smashing up the place taking down a new villain called Mad Bull. Bull seems like a generic strong-guy type villain who, true to his name, wears a bull mask.
While Batman is struggling against Mad Bull at the carnival, Commissioner Gordon and Harvey Bullock are interrogating Clayface to try and discover who Black Mask might have been working with. If they can find that out, they might have a lead on where the madman is hiding out and what he’s up to.
Right from that opening scene, this story has quite a few plot twists. Rather than spoil them all for you here, I’ll give you a few vague hints. The Mad Hatter is involved. The New 52 Black Mask might be much more dangerous than he was before. Oh! And the Black Mask might not be the only mask in Gotham! How’s that for teasing?
Tony Daniel delivers a pretty solid stand-alone Batman story but it doesn’t really stick out enough to be very memorable. It’s not bad by any stretch, but it’s not great either. It’s a square middle-of-the-road sort of story and earn’s a final score of…
DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL #1
Written by Tony S. Daniel
Art by Romano Molenaar and Sandu Florea
Cover by Tony S. Daniel and Sandu Florea