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Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 1: Faces of Death (The New 52) Hardcover – June 12, 2012

4 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Q&A with Tony S. Daniel

Q: What's it like working on a huge initiative like The New 52?

Tony S. Daniel: It was certainly a huge undertaking for me. Detective Comics has never had a relaunch before and it was DC's longest running book. Luckily, Batman is one of the world's most iconic and recognized superheroes ever created. So there wasn't going to be much tinkering on my end. My job was to reacquaint long time readers and new readers alike, using the familiar in a way that it seems fresh. 

Q: How are you balancing making these stories and characters feel fresh and new while still respecting what came before?

TSD: Batman is a character who relies on technology. So luckily, he's a character who has always changed with the times. There's nothing about Batman that is ever outdated because his technology is always more advanced. I chose to introduce new villains for Batman, such as The Dollmaker, and mixing in some old favorites like The Joker and The Penguin.

Q: What would you say defines the character you are working on?

TSD: Batman is defined by his never ending quest for bringing justice to Gotham City. It's an undertaking that is impossible to achieve, but his will to press on and make Gotham City safer no matter the personal sacrifices he must make keeps Batman, and Bruce Wayne, relatable and admirable.

Q: What stories or creators inspire you most when working on your character?

TSD: For me, my love of the character started with Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. Until then, I had only really experienced Batman through the 60s television show. So seeing Batman gritty, forceful and dark while at the same time contrasting with his personal side made him so much more human, or real, to me. Since then I've been inspired or influenced by all the great artists and writers who have come along these past few decades.

Q: So what do you consider to be your character's definitive stories?

TSD: As mentioned, The Dark Knight Returns, as well classics like The Long Halloween, Hush, and most recently, Grant Morrison's The Black Glove and R.I.P.

Q: What have you thought about the response so far for The New 52 and your title as whole?

TSD: I am overwhelmed with the positive reaction. It was a big undertaking, and I thought a big risk, too. But you have to push the envelope with comics. You have to take chances to keep relevant. Growing and evolving is absolutely necessary in the arts.

Q: Do you keep up with any of the other New 52 books? Which ones and why?

TSD: I keep up with all the Batman titles. I have to since it's part of my job to understand what the other writers are doing. I also have been keeping up with all the other big books like Action Comics, Justice League, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, The Flash and Aquaman. There are too many to list actually, and with my busy schedule, not enough time.

Q: Has social media and increased direct interaction with DC Comics' fans changed your writing/drawing approach at all in regards to The New 52?

TSD: I use Facebook primarily to connect with readers. I honestly try not to be influenced by outside sources and look mainly to editorial for that. There are so many fans and so many opinions on what they like or don't like. To a degree, I have cut myself off from reading reviews and forums. I think as a creator, you have to work inward--out, not outward--in

Q: What creators have influenced the new direction you've taken with your book?

TSD: Easily people like Grant Morrison, Frank Miller, Jim Lee, Jeff Loeb, Scott Snyder, Neal Adams, just to name a few. There are so many influences. But beyond comic book authors or artists, my take is influenced by noir and authors like Jim Thompson, one of the early pioneers of the noir style.

Q: So many classic characters have had their looks changed. What has been your favorite character redesign, even if it isn't in your own book?

TSD: I really like the Wonder Woman redesign. I think it's modern but still has heavy DNA to her roots. I think the redesigns that pay homage to their origins are always the best.

Q: The New 52 was a huge success for DC, but how to you think it affected the comic book industry as a whole?

TSD: I think it gave it a sorely needed shot in the arm. It certainly sparked a lot of interest and I think that credit needs to be given to Dan Didio, Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, and Bob Harras, to name just a few, for the success of The New 52. I am very happy with how this was handled from day one and I'm proud to be a part of it.

Q: With over 75 years of stories, is it difficult discovering new ideas and places for these characters to go that haven't already been done?

TSD: Well, as a writer, you can't worry so much about what has been done already. Everything has been done already, in every form of storytelling, not just comics. It's how you make it new, your own, and told in a way that it's brand new again, is what's important. With iconic characters such as we're dealing with here, you can't really change them, but you can certainly add a new layer to them. Or accentuate something about them that hasn't been really brought out before. It's a fine line you have to walk because although we're modernizing decades old characters, they still need to be recognizable to both long time readers and new readers alike.

Q: What's it like being a writer and artist on a title? Do you find it easier than working in collaboration with someone else?

TSD: I'm definitely more in my element when I'm writing for myself. The drafts of the stories I turn in to editorial for approval are what I consider first drafts. Really, it takes about three drafts to get a story right. That's just the natural process for many writers. But this being a time restrictive business, I have to create those second and third drafts in my head while I'm doing the art. When I write for another artist, I don't really get the same opportunity to labor over the ideas. When I turn the script in, it's out of my hands for the most part. So it's a bit harder to bring in a better idea in that case, or to "call an audible" that will improve the story. My preference will always be to write for myself. But I also would like to just be the artist again at some point. I also really enjoy being the visual collaborator for a great story. So at some point I will return to that because it will allow me to focus just on the artwork.


“This is your go-to book.”—Entertainment Weekly 

Detective Comics is head-spinningly spectacular from top to bottom.”—MTV Geek

“An exciting take on Bats and Joker as they play cat and mouse through the streets of Gotham City, and a haunting last page that is extremely killer. That alone will have most readers coming back next month.”—USA Today

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Product Details

  • Series: Batman Detective Comics (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: DC Comics; First Edition edition (June 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401234666
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401234669
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 0.6 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,004 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I see some bad reviews for this book but I want this review to get attention because every one has their own tastes. I would have never picked this book up if I listened to the reviews but after reading it I can say two things. 1) I can understand the complaints from many readers about the pacing of the story. I am not a fan of introducing a new villain and then moving on to something new as soon as things start to heat up, which is what happened in this book. I am left wondering "well what about Dollmaker" and "why did they just start talking about Penguin, what does he have to do with this?". But with any good detective mystery I am hopoing these pieces of the puzzle will eventually fit and we will get to see the big picture. I am hoping that this will get better in Vol 2. 2) I thought this was a fun read and I enjoyed it. At times the inner monologue batman has with himself can be a little bit cliche? Not sure that is the right word but I found some of his lines cheesy. If you are a batman fan like myself you will still love this book and I can't wait to pick up the next one.
1 Comment 23 of 26 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I never write reviews, but this run on Detective Comics is so horrendous that I felt compelled to write a few words.

Starting with the (somewhat) good, the artwork is decent. Dark and gritty, with some interesting layouts, it is well-suited to the subject matter. People can be divided on how good Tony Daniel's art is (his James Gordon is pretty bad), but, by and large, the guy can draw well.

Now to the bad. The writing is some of the worst you will find. I'm not expecting the literary prowess of Alan Moore, but generally the standard of writing is extremely poor, and there really is some cringe-worthy stuff ("Looks like someone was taking a bath.... a bloodbath." Really?) The plots however are far worse than the writing. There is no cohesion or direction to the plot and as a reader there is no incentive to care about what is going on. There doesn't seem to be a point to anything and many revelatory incidences are never resolved. Essentially, the book comprises random, nonsensical events barely linked together.

This edition collects issues 1-7. Issues 1-4 cover the Dollmaker arc, which is pretty terrible. Issues 5-7 cover the Penguin arc (if you can call it that), and is honestly one of the worst comic book arcs I have ever read. Beyond these issues, the series subsequently gets worse. The Two-Face back-up stories later on are laughably bad in both premise and writing (Two-Face supposedly has a legitimate chance at getting his DA job back, gets kidnapped by ninjas etc. I wish I was making this up).

In summary, this has decent art, but truly abysmal writing and plotting.
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11 Comments 63 of 80 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover

The book is about as close to cookie-cutter Batman as you can get. It opens with Batman running across the Gotham skyline in pursuit of Joker. Cut to Arkham Asylum and Joker's in a straitjacket talking menacingly to doctors and then inevitably he escapes. Then Batman is after Penguin who's opened a new Iceberg Casino floating in Gotham Bay which leads to Penguin's arrest. The book's over. Ho hum.

Despite the inclusion of these stalwarts of Batman's rogues gallery, there are some more interesting villains thrown into the mix: Dollmaker is creepy with his collection of disfigured human dolls and the side story involving him removing Joker's face was intriguing but didn't go anywhere (probably to be explored in later volumes). There's also a weird kid called Olivia whose dead eyes were unnerving as she played on peoples' perceptions of what a pre-pubescent girl should behave like and came across as a psychopath in the early stages of development. But that's pretty much where the good parts of the book end.

The Joker storyline doesn't really go anywhere, it leads to the Dollmaker and then just peters out - presumably we'll find out what happens to Joker after his face was removed in another volume but it's still an unsatisfying plot thread. The Penguin storyline turns into a dull heist involving Snakeskin and Mayor Hady's foxy daughters. There's even a strange scene involving protestors doing a kind of Occupy Movement demonstration supporting the Joker(!).

I've read a few Tony Daniels Batman books he's scripted and drawn - "Battle for the Cowl", "Life After Death", "Eyes of the Beholder" - and like those books "Faces of Death" shows that his artistry far exceeds his writing ability.
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Format: Hardcover
Make no mistake, Tony Daniel's skills as an artist have grown in leaps and bounds over the years; even compared to the beginning of his run on Batman a few years ago, his art is exponentially improved, as this collection amply displays. There are pages where Daniel is clearly doing his best to channel Miller or Adams, among other Bat-masters, and his visual work truly shines.
Unfortunately, he's not a very good writer. I honestly sympathize with him, as he is clearly trying so very hard; even if you have never read an interview with Daniel, you can sense it as you read these pages. But in the end, good intentions don't make the story any better. The plot is interesting enough at the beginning, but grows less so with each issue, and the dialogue and narrative captions are often downright painful. Simply having someone else script Daniel's plots would improve the book significantly.
Overall, this is a barely-adequate read if you're looking for a halfway decent superhero comic. However, there are many far superior options out there. If you're jonesing for Batman New 52 stories, pick up Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo's excellent Batman volume 1: The Court of Owls collection, or the forthcoming collection of Thomasi & Gleason's Batman and Robin. B & R, in particular, is a very good series that is overlooked among the Bat-titles. Tony Daniel's Detective Comics, despite his best intentions and hard work, never gets any better than just "okay."
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