Batman: Damned and Joker artist Lee Bermejo is returning to the Batman franchise for a new project, but there’s an interesting twist this time. It’s a story that Batman readers may have already experienced, even if they didn’t realize it at the time.
Bermejo’s latest Bat-tale is dubbed Batman: Dear Detective. Less a traditional comic book than an illustrated prose tale, Dear Detective is a new 56-page graphic that reuses many of Bermejo’s previous Batman covers to tell a new dark detective story. These familiar images are accompanied by text in the form of letters written to the Dark Knight himself.
First, check out the slideshow gallery below for a look at how Dear Detective reworks Bermejo’s already striking Batman imagery. So read on to learn more about this new project from Bermejo himself.
Batman: Dear Detective – Exclusive Art Preview
Many of the images featured in Dear Detective originated as variant covers for the monthly Detective Comics series. But lest anyone view the book as a quick cash grab or a way to repackage old content, Bermejo reveals he had the idea for Dear Detective in mind from the start. He always used those cover images to tell a cohesive story, just a story that wasn’t fully apparent until now.
“As soon as the variant cover editor at the time offered me the Detective Comics gig, I knew it was an opportunity to do something different with a cover,” Bermejo told IGN. . “Detective Comics is special. It really is THE comic book from DC. I wanted to push something with the covers that wouldn’t necessarily be sequential but that readers could interact with and follow as a sort of narrative. The nature of the book immediately brought to mind classic pulp imagery, the classic detective story about finding a taunting enemy.”
Bermejo continues, “I started reading old letters from Jack the Ripper and the Zodiac, and it seemed obvious that the way to go here was to keep the ideas big and wide and to make sure I had covers that did the job of being iconic Batman imagery, speaking to the character’s immense reach and mythology, as well as day-to-day or more street-level life I doodled my ideas after sending to my editor the initial cover ideas I wanted to do.
Although he had the basic idea in mind from the start, Bermejo notes that the story evolved a lot as his cover images slowly spread. Part of the challenge was finding ways to rearrange his images to best match the actual content of Detective Comics issues or add entirely new moments to his detective story. Bermejo revealed that while the last two images were still firm, the rest of the story grew and evolved over time.
“The problem with a book like Detective Comics, however, is that it’s a monthly title,” Bermejo says. “So there are also requirements that the book sometimes has to respect the story told inside. I knew the covers wouldn’t come out in the order I wanted them to be in my story, I so had a list of concepts that I needed to execute. Different writers joined in and suddenly new ideas appeared on the table, sometimes being the perfect opportunity to execute those ideas and others times offering something new and unexpected. It became an exciting challenge because I had to develop the original idea as the print went. I have a table in my studio where I stored the sleeves in order and at some point I rearranged the sequences and it took a life of its own. I was also very lucky to have a writing team that supported that idea. But it stayed that way. he was from the start: a window into Batman’s endless war on crime.
This isn’t Bermejo’s first time writing a Batman story and illustrating it, as he previously served double duty on 2011’s Batman: Noel. However, the fact that Dear Detective is a pair of segments in prose and splash imagery makes it quite unlike any of his previous Batman work. That in itself explains why Bermerjo wanted to tackle this unusual project.
“Whenever I do something new, I like to try to play with the format and the storytelling approach if I can,” Bermejo says. “I like the idea here that the focus is almost totally on imagery, writing playing a small supporting role. and a way to activate the reader’s imagination to fill in some of the blanks. I didn’t want to dominate that, so prose seemed like the way to go. It’s also not a traditional comic book story, so I didn’t want to approach it with dialogue at all. Batman: Noel was more of a story being told to you, whereas Dear Detective, you are being told the story to yourself with a slight push of prose.”
Finally, since Bermejo’s art had such a clear inspiration to the look and tone of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, we were curious to know how Bermejo felt about seeing a live-action Batsuit so closely. modeled after his own iconic design. Unsurprisingly, he’s flattered to see his work reflected on the big screen.
“I loved the movie. Really,” Bermejo says. “Everyone who knows me has heard me drumming up wanting to see a Seven-inspired version of the Batman for years, so I was thrilled with the approach they took to not just the story, but obviously for the visuals. I definitely saw a bit of my work in it. But like all movies, it’s a bit of a gulasch. You have a bit of [David] Mazzucchelli, a bit of the 60s TV show itself, and some clear The Crow vibes. But if people walk out of the theater seeing my influence there, that’s all the more reason for them to go out and buy more comics, right? I have the perfect book for them…it’s called Dear Detective.”
Batman: Dear Detective hits comic shops and bookstores on September 6, 2022.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by follow @jschedeen on Twitter.