This is the best the issue of Dark Detective, but that’s been a very low hurdle to clear. The strongest factor that helps this issue to soar above the others is that Mariko Tamaki doesn’t have much story to tell or inane inner monologues to annoy us with. Instead, we get final showdown between Batman and Peacekeeper-01 with a bunch of punching, kicking, and explosions. Sure, we still get a lot of dumb thought balloons like: “What I know.” “There is no end.” “Only endings.” “Clean cuts.” “Rarely.” “Mostly frayed edges.” “Collateral damage…” “The cost…” “…of my mistakes.” Blargh.
At least Dan Mora and Jordie Bellaire really outdo themselves on this one. The battle scenes are beautiful, and the explosions are gorgeous. Watching this horrible version of Gotham City go up in smoke is sight to behold and every page looks fantastic. Again, I just wish these pages weren’t in a comic that was so terrible to read.
The back-up story featuring Read Hood and Ravager wasn’t quite as great as I had hoped it would be, but it was still a lot of fun and certainly better than the main story again. My main problem with the story is that it didn’t actually wrap up. It ended this particular tale, but it didn’t feel like there was any closure to the saga of Red Hood and Ravager in the Future State of Gotham City. Unlike the Grifter story in the odd numbered issues, Joshua Williamson’s story seems to be the precursor to more stories set in dystopian Gotham City. I don’t want that.
Giannis Milonogiannis returns for the art duties with Jordie Bellaire providing colors, and the manga influences are very strong again. Red Hood on his cycle invokes so much Akira imagery, I’m almost surprised that Ravager doesn’t call him Kaneda. Once again, many of the backgrounds look sketchy and unfinished and might not attract everyone, but they do add to the overall kinetic energy and flow of the action.
Future State: Dark Detective as a series has been better than The Next Batman in the fact that the back-up stories are all good, even though the features are just as bad. Perhaps AT&T is to blame for these terrible comics. Maybe it was the move from New York City to Burbank or the pandemic and the scramble away from Diamond Comics or maybe the comic book industry as a whole is getting the same screwed over treatment that the TV and movie industry have gone through in previous years. But whatever the case may be, the days of reading good stories from front-to-back appear to be over, and no one in these corporate offices seem to care.