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Review: Detective Comics #864

A chilling, and believable, look at Black Mask's madness.

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Jeremiah " Black Mask" Arkham journeys into the dark recesses of his psyche as he integrates into life as an inmate at his own Asylum.
This actually transcends a simple superhero book and serves as an involving psychological profile that would intrigue readers in any context. Hine crafts a multi-faceted personality in Arkham that's truly engaging. The scene where he psyches out the Mortician into swapping cafeteria trays with him (it makes sense in the comic, trust me) was chilling in just how convincing it was. Also, it was a fascinating stroke to show his ambivalent mix of pride and embarrassment in regard to the three inmates he's "saved." His desire to keep his mania hidden from them, as almost to protect them, pushes him from being a melodramatic supervillainous"psycho" and into a believable sociopath. The back-up story starring the new Question was well done, too - - both in script and art.  It capped off with a cliffhanger where I genuinely want to see what happens next. Will Huntress accept Cain/ Vandal Savage's offer? Or will the Question? What happens if they refuse an offer from this devil?
Haun's art was well-suited for the gritty drama happening within Arkham's wall, but his talents seem less suited to the surrounding superhero action. Nightwing, Catwoman and the rest of the Bat Family shown in the early double-spread looked a little stiff.
Along with Secret Warriors, this was one of the best comics I've read this week. Hine struck just the right balance between outlandish madness and believable psychosis. That is, Arkham's introspection felt real while still being interesting, and the theatrical flourishes of his insane hallucinations were colorful without being cartoonish. And, once again, kudos on the Question back-up.