Batman: Detective Comics #969 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Joe Bennett, Penciller; Sal Regla, Inker; Jason Wright, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: The Reunion Happens!
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!!
Ray: After the emotionally charged, mythology-packed “A Lonely Place of Dying” storyline, Detective Comics takes a break and – Naaaaaaaah. Instead, they throw us right into the beginning of “Fall of the Batmen”, teased in Batwoman previously, and it’s an arc that brings with it several major status quo changes. Chief among them is a new Mayor and a familiar face – Michael Akins, the by-the-book former Police Commissioner from the “Officer Down” storyline. Talk about a deep cut from Batman history. And his deputy mayor is the shady Hamilton Hill Jr., hinting at a devil’s bargain made to get the office. While Akins isn’t actively hostile to Batman, he is concerned about the growing paramilitary Bat-force that’s essentially shut down crime in Gotham. That’s something that’s made very clear with this issue. For the first time in his nearly two-decades-long battle, Batman is winning.
And that turns out to be a double-edged sword.
The vigilantes of the Bat-family are more effective than ever, but the villains are getting more ambitious as well, as we see even wannabe Killer Moth getting into the act. However, the emotional heart of this issue is Stephanie Brown. Between her complex relationship with Anarky, her powerful reunion with Tim Drake, and the fact that the two of them seem to be on very different paths (Steph still wants to get out of the game, Tim is resigning himself to being Batman one day). She’s been in the background since leaving the team, but the Batfamily’s most troubled protege is once again one of its most fascinating. (And a reference to how close she is to Cass, eeeeee!) I’m not sure where this story is going yet, but with the return of a more powerful Victim’s Syndicate backed up by Anarky’s genius mind, and great dialogue and spotlights for almost everyone (especially Batwoman and Clayface), this remains one of DC’s best books.
Corrina: This has been, as a whole, one of the most enjoyable runs on Detective in recent memory. I’m not knocking those who came before but I love the sense of family and community that Tynion’s writing has brought to this work. I sensed a Chuck Dixon influence at first but instead, what I’m seeing lately reminds me of Doug Moench‘s underrated writing on the Batman comics.
Overall, I’ve had some niggles here and there in this current run and I wasn’t thrilled with the whole “Evil Tim from the future” storyline but all the character moments more than compensate for my qualms.
And there is no better character moment than the two pages devoted to Stephanie Brown’s reunion with Tim Drake. Reading that, it’s hard to remember that Steph was once considered so toxic by DC Comics that she was abruptly killed off after torture, and that Tim Drake was the Robin the most ill-served by the new 52 reboot. DC Rebirth, on the other hand, has been kind to them, no more so than this issue.
Steph’s portrayal is as someone who is competent but also complicated, as a teenager who was basically betrayed by both parents would be. She’s drawn to Lonnie because he’s so sure of himself and one wonders if that was also her attraction to Tim. Or was it that he offered a normal life? We’ll see, as the foreshadowing has been that Tim himself will go over the top, and I hope that’s not the case, as my heart would break for these two.
Meanwhile, whoa, Michael Akins is back, this time as Mayor. For those who don’t remember, once upon a time, Gordon quit the force, bowed down by the death of his wife (who may/may not be in continuity any longer), and was replaced by Akins, who had no love for vigilantes. I would guess this Akins is a rebooted character but I have hopes he’s a three-dimensional foe, more like Anarky, and less like the Victim Syndicate, who remain mostly uninteresting to me.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.