Batman: Detective Comics #972 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Miguel Mendonca, Penciller; Diana Egea, Inker; Jason Wright, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Cassandra & Clayface Break My Heart
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The collapse of the Bat-family unfolds in widescreen fashion in Batman: Detective Comics #972, as Batman’s mistakes come back to haunt him and Batwoman potentially makes a deal with the devil. Miguel Mendonca, who has done an amazing job on art so far, has his finest hour as he proves himself potentially one of the best horror artists in the business with his take on the man of the hour – Clayface.
The last issue saw Basil tortured and brainwashed by his former victim, causing him to revert back to the monster he was before Batman’s help. The issue opens with a dramatic fight with an increasingly insane Clayface until Batman is able to freeze him and transport him back to the Belfry. But before that, he has a tense confrontation with Mayor Akins, setting up the coming fall from grace for Batman we saw teased in Doomsday Clock. I’m skeptical about Anarky’s heel-turn in this arc, but I do like that we see he has some issues with the First Victim’s sadism. Maybe there’s hope for him yet.
Speaking of hope, my favorite part of this issue was probably the Bat-family rallying to save Clayface. Cass’ love for him is sweet, and I hope it doesn’t come back to hurt her. But Victoria October steals the issue with a powerful speech that shows why she’s one of the best new characters in the Bat-verse in years. But two characters take some turns that I’m a bit iffy on. Tim Drake’s increasing militancy is worrying, and makes sense as PTSD from his time in captivity – but I’m really hoping they’re not trying to sell us on him going rogue a la Titans of Tomorrow Tim. And Batwoman meets with her father, obtaining a gun that can kill Clayface and setting into effect the likely tragic events that people have been predicting for a while. But the issue ends with a fantastic series of pages that show just how powerful and deadly Clayface can be when truly unleashed, as this arc rockets towards a likely devastating conclusion. This book doesn’t get the attention of King’s book, but it’s one of the best Bat-runs in years.
Corrina: Cass’s worry about Clayface’s monstrous intentions is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in all of Tynion’s terrific run on Detective Comics.
Tynion’s strength in this Bat-Family title is showcasing what these people mean to each other. There are crosscurrents between of all them. Kate and Bruce, both controlling people, with slightly different methods who have to learn to work in concert. Tim and Stephanie, where Tim leads with logic (or so he thinks) and Stephanie leads with her heart (or so she thinks.) Clayface, a monster on the outside, and Cassandra, who feels she’s a monster on the inside. (I could do more of this but you get the point.)
That’s why it hurts so much to see Basil fail because this run has me so invested in his success. But I also hate to see Gotham lose hope in Batman and to see Kate lose hope in her connection to the Bat Family and turn toward her father, once again.
This is a completely different style of story than Tom King’s Batman but, in some ways, I enjoy it more because it’s always about the relationships.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.