One of Batman’s allies was once his worst, most malleable enemy.  Wait, did I say once?  I meant “giant mass of sentient, murderous clay.”  Your Major Spoilers review of Detective Comics #973 awaits!

Detective Comics #973DETECTIVE COMICS #973

Writer: James Tynion IV
Penciler: Jesus Merino
Colorist: Jason Wright
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Detective Comics: “With the team in disarray and facing their most powerful adversary yet, Batwoman must make a critical battlefield choice – one with the power to shatter everything Batman has built!”

‘FALL OF THE BATMEN’ SOUNDS TRULY OMINOUS

When the announcement of the new status quo for Detective Comics was announced, with Batman and Batwoman leading a team of Bat-folk through Gotham, I was really intrigued.  After all, a Batman who works as a leader and team member is something that we never get enough of, the book would feature a number of Bat-Family members that I felt got shafted by various reboots and there was also the Clayface issue.  That last one has come to a head this time around, as Clayface has bonded with a mass of additional clay that Tim Drake had kept in the Belfry, and has gone on a rampage across Gotham.  The Bat-Family has mobilized to stop him, while Anarky has a change of heart, and Batwing teams up with Azrael to engage the giant clay creature with a mechanical army.  Where they all failed, Cassandra Cain succeeds, however, injecting Dr. October’s serum into Clayface’s skull and reverting him to his human form as Basil Karlo…

And then, Batwoman tells her to close her eyes…

NOW *THAT’S* A SHOCKING ENDING

I hadn’t realized how big this cast had gotten, and I wish I had been paying attention all along, because it’s basically a super-team of Gotham’s finest.  I was even happy to see Anarky in these pages, and the art is really impressive throughout the issue.  Clayface’s rampage has a scale that many giant monster attacks lack, and the final page (which I’m not actually going to spoiler because it’s a real shocker) is visceral, tragic and terrifying all at once.  Tynion’s script balances all the various players well, and there’s a real sense of consequence and character at play, especially with the opening flashback of Batman and Red Robin discussing the plan to assemble this team and also plant the seeds of this issue’s destruction.  I *like* the Batman I read about in these pages and feel like we’re seeing the hero that I remember liking from those Denny O’Neil stories of my youth.

BOTTOM LINE: A LOT OF PLAYERS, BUT STILL A CLEAR NARRATIVE

In short, this is a good issue that balances a lot of plates and keeps them all spinning effectively, leaving Detective Comics #973 with a better than average 4 out of 5 stars overall.   It’s a shame that we seem to be on the downward side of this team story, but the strength of this issue is going to send me off on a quest for the previous parts of this run.  You have to appreciate a story that makes you feel empathy for one of the oldest and murderiest villains in Batman’s asylum of rogues…

[taq_review]

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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