The first of the annual issues released last week (that I bought), on account of it having been a five week month. It’s DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL #1.

Way back in issue nine, when all the Batman titles were embroiled in the Night of the Owls event, we were reintroduced to Jeremiah Arkham and Roman Sionis; one the vehement director of Arkham Asylum, the other a mob boss and recurring villain. Oh, and both have worn and gone by the identity of The Black Mask.

Yeah, what we have today is a Black Mask story.

The eponymous Black Mask allows its wearer a certain level of mind control powers. While I’m not too familiar with Arkham’s limited tenure as the villain (yes, this part of Batman’s continuity remains intact), I do know that Sionis led a group of people with masks made from the same psionic amplifying materials as his own mask. They were called the False Face Society, and they did their thing before being put under wraps with Black Mask’s capture. Since the events of issue nine when Arkham allowed Sionis to use the mask again to fight off the Talons, the latter has escaped, intent on reforming his society.

Except the other notable mind control themed villain in Gotham has other plans.

I liked DETECTIVE COMICS ANNUAL #1 better than the previous story arc by a great degree if only because I knew what was going on. Believe me when I gush about how good it is to understand the plot, more so given my usual penchant for keeping a complex story straight. I followed Inception’s plot on the first viewing almost the entire way through, for Kirby’s sake, and a filler plot in a comic book confounded me. It did take me two readings to figure out the ending to this annual, but I chalk it more to subtlety than convolution.

Also, there’s a psychic battle in this issue, and it’s pretty neat if only because mind battles are cool. If you know anything about the Batman mythos, you can guess who the other end of that battle was, though the book makes no effort to hide anything so long as you can recognize an obvious disguise. Honestly I don’t understand how Black Mask didn’t catch what was going on. Then again, he is insane.

It’s certainly not a bad annual, though I’m still growing weary of Detective Comics. Or rather grew weary and hold to the vain hope it gets better. At least we can look forward to the Joker coming back.

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