Batman: Detective Comics #970 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Joe Bennett, Penciller; Salvador Regla, Ricardo Jaime, Marcio Loerzer, Inkers; Jason Wright, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: Tim’s Clearly Traumatized
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!
Ray: Another near-perfect issue from James Tynion IV on what’s technically the second-tier Batman book right now, but delivers just as much emotional punch and high-octane action with the supporting cast as the main book.
There’s a lot going on this issue, but it’s Tim Drake and Stephanie Brown that make up the core of the story. Last issue, we saw their tearful reunion, but this issue shows some nasty fractures in that relationship. It’s very clear from the opening moments of the issue that Tim is not in a healthy place, and instead of dealing with his severe PTSD from his time in captivity, he’s embracing his “destiny” as Batman and working to perfect his plans to protect Gotham. Steph is increasingly worried about him but tries to be supportive – until Tim discovers her dealings with Anarky and possible betrayal of the Bat-family, and she discovers his abandoning their plan to go to college together. It ends with a nasty confrontation that puts their future in question.
While Tim and Steph’s story is the headliner this issue, the most powerful emotional scenes may go to Clayface, who is getting closer and closer to his dream of becoming human again – and is starting to worry that it might not fix him after all. This leads to some powerful moments with both Victoria October (who is incredibly articulate on issues of identity), Cassandra Cain (who is…not articulate, but manages to display her kindness and caring anyway), and much less positively, Mudface.
Mudface’s character has been interesting because it’s a strong depiction of what happens when a victim allows themselves to become a monster. She would rather they both suffer horribly than allow her former tormentor to make amends. There’s also some great fight scenes, an intriguing confrontation between Kate and her father, and some interesting teases for an upcoming tragic development teased in solicits. We get an A+ Bat-book every week now. We’re blessed.
Corrina: There are two kinds of trauma happening in this book and they’re mirror images of each other.
The first is Tim’s trauma and clear PTSD from captivity and about the type of person that he doesn’t want to become. The second is Clayface’s trauma about the monster he’s become and his fear that he doesn’t deserve redemption. In other words, Tim is on the road to be a monster and Clayface is on the road back, with all the wounds that he’s suffered.
There’s also a parallel between Mudface and Stephanie, the people who loved/helped Clayface and Tim. Mudface is done helping and wants to hurt. Stephanie is being hurt right now by Tim’s actions but wants to help, even though she’s still traumatized herself. At least, so far, but that may change as Tim begins to become the monster he fears.
But there’s hope for both of them right now because they do have support. The rest of the Bat-team has noticed Tim’s trauma. I would hope Batman and Kate would recognize and work to help Tim over his trauma. Oddly, I almost feel more hopeful for Clayface’s chances because he has Cassandra Cain and Dr. October who understand him and want to help.
It’s an intensely emotional issue because of these undercurrents. About the only thing that doesn’t work is the exterior plot, with the attacks by those aping the style of the Bat-Family because of recordings obtained. I don’t buy this type of imitation when Prometheus does it and less so here, especially when Batman or Tim Drake should be capable of creating jamming devices that prevent that kind of recordings. But it’s a small complaint.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.