Review – Batman: Detective Comics #973: Character Destruction?

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Batman: Dectective Comics #973
That fateful shot. Image copyright DC Comics

Batman: Detective Comics #973 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Jesus Merino, Artist; Jason Wright, Colorist


Ray – 8/10

Corrina: Brutal


Ray: The final chapter of “Fall of the Batmen“, Batman: Detective Comics #973 brings with it some of the series’ best action, great star turns for several characters – and a potentially character-destroying moment that will turn many fans against one of DC’s best characters. So, a mixed bag.

When we last left off, Tim’s brilliant invention of the “Mud Room” (explained better in a flashback segment) has backfired horribly, as Clayface has been forced to absorb all his excess mass, driving him out of control and turning him into a clay Kaiju just in time to kill the mass of marchers supporting the First Victim – exactly what the masked villain wanted. With Tim out of commission and barely conscious, it falls on the rest of the Bat-family to try to rein in their wayward partner. What works here is that no one can really be said to be to blame for Clayface’s rampage – Tim created the technology, Bruce brought in a wild card, and of course, Clayface made a lot of mistakes himself.

I just wish that nuance extended to Batwoman. Her more ruthless approach to crimefighting isn’t necessarily something I disagree with, but she doesn’t seem to be taking it nearly as seriously as she should. She brings up the possibility of killing Clayface almost casually to Batman, and he shoots her down quickly. That’s not the end of it, of course. There are some great moments in this issue, from Anarky realizing that he’s sided with monsters and making a dramatic break for the light, and Cassandra Cain throwing herself literally into the maw of the beast to try one last attempt to reach the man who has become her closest friend. Tynion’s decision to make Clayface a central character in this arc was controversial, but it’s worked much better than it had any right to. But everything in this issue, of course, is leaning up to Kate taking that shot, and it doesn’t feel justified nearly as well as it needed to be. Lots of good and bad in this issue, but if it’s used to estrange Cass from the Batfam as was hinted in interviews, I’ll be deeply disappointed.

Corrina: I’m not sure how to take this issue.

Tynion is playing with an important theme here, about how appearances do not make a person a monster, actions do. Cass’s actions in this series clearly showed that she was unwilling to commit actions that she finds abhorrent, no matter what the stakes, because she cannot be a monster again.

Clayface has been fighting his literal monster for some time. Anarchy, too, is facing his internal demons and makes a choice to turn away from them. The First Victim, however, is more a monster than anyone else in this book, which suits, because he’s the villain.

And yet…there’s a parallel between his actions of putting innocents in the path of monster Clayface for “the greater good” and Kate Kane’s murder of Clayface. It’s not a clear parallel because the First Victim put innocents in the path while Kate Kane arguably killed someone who was guilty to protect innocents. But it’s a slippery slope there, isn’t it, because Clayface isn’t truly responsible for his actions.

I guess we’re meant to believe Kate just made a decision to be on the side of her father’s methods and not Batman’s and, if that’s the case, given how warped Jacob Kane’s justifications for endangering innocents have become, I’m truly disappointed and frustrated at this direction for Kate. I’ll note what I did over in the review of Nightwing: The New Order–it makes little sense for Kate to have serious fascist tendencies.

This is a case where the story is certainly well-written but it takes characters places I don’t believe they need to go.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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