Batman: The Detective

The Goggler Pull List #24: Batman: The Detective and The Me You Love in the Dark

Dept. of Comic Book Compulsions

On this week’s edition of The Goggler Pull List, we review and recommend Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert’s Batman: The Detective and Skottie Young’s The Me You Love in the Dark.

Let’s check it out.

Batman: The Detective (Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert)

If you haven’t been reading Batman comics for awhile, eight pages into the new limited series, Batman: The Detective by Tom Taylor/Andy Kubert will throw you off a little. Alfred, Bruce’s unofficial surrogate father, is dead. And Batman is facing a crisis of confidence – a crisis of worth.

Batman: The Detective starts off on a plane, flying from Gotham City to London, when hijackers, wearing white capes and cowls, blow up a bomb, and jump out. Equilibrium has struck, and the thought of its mission is chilling. By killing everyone the Batman has ever saved, it hopes to bring balance back to the world.

There’s a thing that comic book writers do when they do a thing like Batman: The Detective. There’s an understanding with the reader that there will be some people, like some people here at Goggler (ahem), who would have read everything, and then there will be readers like me, who are, let’s say, just a little bit more than the casual fan.

Tom Taylor does it here. He introduces characters like Knight, and Squire, and Henri Ducard, and challenges the reader to accept them. These characters are canon to the Batman universe by the way. They haven’t been created out of thin air. But here, they are dropped in because Bruce goes to London, and then to Paris.

These characters don’t play a part in the current iterations of the Batman or the Detective Comics series. But they are characters from his past.

Batman: The Detective

Batman: The Detective asks you to trust it because you trust the character. Of course Batman will have a car stashed away in London (and most major cities around the world), and a mobile cave in Brussels (it’s the capital of the European Union after all). It all feels like a flight of fancy until you think about who you’re talking about. This is Batman, the guy that has a plan on how to take down each and every member of the Justice League – just in case. And Superman still trusts him.

Batman: The Detective is only six issues long, and with four already out, and the body count steadily rising, Batman is on a Eurotrip of his own trying to stop Equilibrium as soon as possible. It isn’t the best Batman story that can be told, but it is an intriguing idea. What if Batman had his own network of agents around the world? What if a villain is out there thinking that Batman has his foot on the scales of fate and tipping it to his favour?

Batman: The Detective won’t go down as a classic Batman adventure, not the way The Killing Joke, or The Long Halloween, or Batman Noël has, but it is certainly worth a six issue jaunt across the Atlantic.

The Me You Love in the Dark (Skottie Young and Jorge Corona)

The Me You Love in the Dark

I am always looking for the next great horror comic. Good scares are notoriously difficult to pull off in literature and it takes a really deft storyteller to get inside your head, haunt you, and then continue to do so long after the last page is turned. Cullen Bunn’s Harrow County and Pornsak Pichetshote’s Infidel are some of my favourites, both great examples of comics that use all the tools offered by the medium in order to craft stories that are visually striking, rooted in a rich mythology, and creepy as shit.

I’ve only read the first two issues of Skottie Young’s The Me You Love in the Dark and it is already so deeply unsettling that I predict it will likely end up on my list of favourite horror reads by the time it’s done.

The Me You Love in the Dark

The premise is a familiar one. Unhappy and uninspired, professional artist Ro Meadows moves away from the city in order to regain her creative spark. She winds up finding an old house to call home, and even though she’s warned that the house might be haunted, she moves in with the bizarre hope that maybe its ghosts will give her the inspiration she so desperately seeks. Weeks pass, and Ro, surrounded by cobwebs and rotting wood, and shrouded in darkness, makes no progress whatsoever. She tries and fails to paint. All the while half-jokingly calling out to the ghost of the house to help her. To make itself useful.

And then… the house replies…

The Me You Love in the Dark

Skottie Young and Jorge Corona are well aware that the secret to every great haunted house story is to have the house itself be a compelling character (see: The Haunting of Hill House). There is something beautifully elemental about the way they’ve conceptualized this house and the ghost within it. The angles, the shadows, the interplay between light and darkness, all of it immediately creates an atmosphere that will send chills up your spine. Every page is so carefully crafted, with this gorgeous, creaky, turn-of-the-century house slowly developing a personality of its own as the story progresses.

The writing is also remarkably well observed. I love how Young channels the reality of artistic solitude. There are a series of frazzled, one-sided monologues, the same way you would talk to yourself, and the inanimate objects around you, whenever you’ve been alone in a place for any given length of time. (Something we are all intimately familiar with after almost two years of this pandemic.) There are also long stretches of beautifully rendered quietude. Pages and pages of time passing slowly as Ro stares at a blank canvas just waiting for inspiration to strike.

These long silences throughout the comic create a wonderfully ominous tension, one that doesn’t just capture Ro’s frustration, but also adds to the general spookiness of what’s happening.

The Me You Love in the Dark

Young is very clearly inspired by the likes of Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, and while he definitely homages their work in the way he traverses fantasy and horror, The Me You Love in the Dark still feels like something different. While there are elements here that are familiar, they are presented in a unique and confident voice, as well as from a wonderfully skewed perspective.

I realize that this an odd way to describe a horror story, but The Me You Love in the Dark works so well because it is incredibly charming. Ro and the ghost that is haunting her are irresistible in their own way, with both characters working as a cunning counterbalance to the oppressive darkness that drives this story.

The best horror stories aren’t just scary. They are a combination things. They tap into our collective need to explore the darker sides of this world. They build on nostalgia. And they take our notions of love, loneliness, desolation, and discovery, and twist them in order to reveal some deeper truth. Now I don’t know where The Me You Love in the Dark is going, but I feel it heading in the right direction. And that excites me.

We get our comics either from our local comic book store, The Last Comic Shop, or on Comixology. Are you interested in checking out Batman: The Detective or The Me You Love in the Dark? Have you already read these comics? Let us know by getting in touch with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Check out our previous installments of The Goggler Pull List here.

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