Batman has partnered with Batwoman to put together a Bat-Team to take on an army of Batmen who are targeting said Bat-Team. It’s batter up as Major Spoilers reviews Detective Comics #935.
Previously in Detective Comics: Someone is targeting the vigilantes of Gotham City and Batman doesn’t think they’re equipped to handle the situation on their own. He puts his faith in Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, to prepare a team consisting of Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, Stephanie Brown, aka Spoiler, Cassandra Cain, aka Orphan, and Basil Karlo, aka Clayface to fight back against Gotham’s newest threat.
THE DREAM TEAM
This issue begins with Batwoman pushing her and her Bat-cousin’s newly formed team to their absolute limits. Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan and a surprisingly humanized Clayface are taking on an army of Jokers while Batwoman plays the role of commanding officer, barking out orders. Once again, James Tynion IV does a stellar job at allowing Kate Kane’s military background to shine through. The flock of Jokers, of course, was visual click bait as it was merely a training exercise which gets cut short by Red Robin. Tynion could have very easily gone the contrived route where we see the team training with Bruce in the Bat Cave but having Red Robin use Clayface’s abilities to create a Danger Room pastiche inside a brand new base of operations helps to further solidify the fact that this book is very much focused on its team dynamic and that Batman, for once, isn’t the star player.
The majority of this book focuses on relationships between the characters, both in and out of costume. There is a great moment between Batman and Red Robin that treats us to one of those rare instances of sentimentality from the impassive Dark Knight. From there, we get a peek into the relationship between Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown, as Stephanie provides support to her boyfriend while he contemplates whether or not he belongs in capes and tights, or classrooms and textbooks. It’s strong character development that really makes you care for the faces behind the masks, another great change of pace compared to bat-books of the past. Cassandra Cain doesn’t get a whole lot of page time but through Stephanie’s dialogue, Tynion adds an aura of intrigue to the character while also adding more layers to her and Stephanie’s connection.
The interaction between Kate Kane and her father also provides some real standout moments. They have a complex relationship and every instance of positivity between the two is backhanded. It’s clear that the strained dynamic between them will serve as a large part of Batwoman’s individual storyline as the series progresses. There is also a one-off line from Kate’s father about her going out to find the next Mrs. Kane which serves to remind us that she is, in fact, a lesbian, something that was also done in the previous issue. That book was meant to introduce us to the characters so it was understandable, and while having LGBT representation is great, the impact is going to be cheapened if Tynion feels the need to point it out to us in each issue. I did enjoy Kate’s father discussing the history between the Wayne and Kane families. It felt reminiscent of something you would read in the early volumes of Snyder and Capullo’s Batman run that introduced us to the Court of Owls.
By the end of the issue, we don’t get much more insight as to who the true big bad is than we had at the end of the last book. There’s an action-packed sequence that gives us a better look at the army of Batmen but it’s still not clear as to who is providing their marching orders. The slow build is enticing and Tynion leaves us with a cliffhanger that serves as the perfect incentive to pick up the next issue.
IF LOOKS COULD KILL
The art in this issue comes to us in the form of pencils by Eddy Barrows, inks by Eber Ferreira and colors by Adriano Lucas and much like the last issue, the three of them really knock this one out of the park. Barrows provides masterfully clean lines and for the most part, everything is incredibly well balanced so it doesn’t feel like there’s too much noise weighing down one section of the page. The only exception to this is in the dialogue-heavy two-page spreads, where things tend to get a little busy in some panels, a common hurdle that artists who work with Brian Michael Bendis are all too familiar with. However, this doesn’t take away from the effectiveness of the sequential art as every page has a great flow and I never found myself getting lost. The panel layout works very well for the story being told and the bat-shaped panels are a nice touch, but I’m hoping they don’t become over-utilized as I feel like they would be most effective if they’re reserved for truly climactic moments. The muted, airbrush-style that we see on the close-up profiles of characters at several points in the book do a great job of adding some emotional depth in the moments that call for it. I really appreciate that sort of differentiation to invoke the feelings Tynion is aiming for with his writing. The inks are solid and add just the right amount of contrast, and I’m falling more and more in love with Lucas’ palette selection as this series continues. Collectively, the art team depicts a beautiful, snow-speckled version of Gotham that almost makes you forget just how dangerous a city it is, but they’re able to adjust accordingly once the action begins to pick up.
BOTTOM LINE: ANOTHER CASE CLOSED, DETECTIVE
The previous issue of Detective Comics was one of the best things to come out of DC Rebirth and this book hammers home the fact that it wasn’t just a flash in the pan. Tynion is breathing new life into one of the longest-running comic book series of all time and coupled with the beautiful art from Barrows, Ferreira and Lucas, this is a creative team that really packs a punch. If you haven’t hopped on the Rebirth wagon yet, I highly recommend starting with this series.