Anarky is back, and he isn’t tearing things down. In fact, he is trying to recruit Spoiler to the cause. The shadow of Tim Drake hangs heavy in Detective Comics #963.
Writer: James Tynion IV and Christopher Sebela
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Letter: Sal Cipriano
Colorist: Ulises Arredla and Kelly Fitzpatrick
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously in Detective Comics: Batman continues to build his team of heroes that will protect Gotham City. Even though it means the return of Jean Paul Valley, and a mess of confusion that comes with it, Batman did learn one valuable thing – Tim Drake is still alive.
THEY NEVER SHOULD HAVE CANCELLED TIM DRAKE
The opening pages of Detective Comics #963 show us exactly why Tim Drake is missed so much – he has a plan to make Gotham better, even if it means pushing those he cares about (Batman) away. Of course, we see this through the eyes of Stephanie Brown, who may be thinking of better times, but by seeing this conversation through her point of view, gives readers a better understanding of why Anarky’s plans attract her so much.
In issue #957, Stephanie Brown posits that the world really doesn’t need superheroes. It doesn’t really need vigilantes, and she is dead set (no pun intended) in proving her theory correct – even if it means she has to pull some very vigilante tactics to do it. It’s a flawed premise, and it is clear she is still stuck on the halcyon years when she and Tim were an item. This is probably why Anarky’s message in this issue totally lures her in. From the reader’s perspective, the end reveal has me wondering if Lonnie truly is trying to make the world a better place by having people rely on themselves, or if he is planning a Decon Blackfire level event where the homeless and lost become his private army.
It is kind of creepy that Anarky is able to draw Stephanie in like this, and with Batman following close behind, I have a feeling this arc is going to get a whole lot worse, before it gets better. Plus, there is that whole “Tim is still alive” moment from the last issue, that Stephanie and Batman will have to address.
The B-plot for this issue continues to follow Clayface’s pursuit to become a hero, instead of a morally corrupt monster that only wants to kill and destroy. While it takes up a chunk of the issue, it really feels like filler material to continue the through plot from the last major story arc.
IT CERTAINLY FEELS LIKE LATE ’90s ART
With the recent return of heroes and villains from the late ’90s and early 2000s, the art by Carmen Carnero evokes the look of the art from that period as well. Replace Monster Town with No Man’s Land, and it might take readers a moment to realize they aren’t reading a comic from last week. Yes, there is new technology in place, and a whole new look for Anarky, but it still felt like the good ol’ days to me.
Carnero’s layouts and composition are great, and the times when the art breaks or crosses the panel frame brings greater weight to the characters and situations. However, while the colors in this issue generally work, Clayface looks really weird. Instead of a texture that feels like it has ridges and lumps, it looks like we are seeing a inverted relief of the texture. It could just be me, but it is so odd, it throws me out of the story and what is being discussed every time Clayface is on the page.
BOTTOM LINE: THE SLOW RETURN OF TIM DRAKE
The big reveal at the end of the last issue, and the reappearance of Stephanie Brown in this issue along with her flashbacks to her time with Tim feels like we are getting a really slow burn to his eventual return. The weird part about this issue is why we haven’t seen Anarky or Spoiler since issue #957, and why it feels like we are about to turn to yet another arc before returning to this story line. This is a good issue, even though it creates a lot of questions. If you are fan of Anarky, Clayface, Spoiler, and Tim Drake, then this is an issue you should grab.