Batman: Detective Comics #978 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Javier Fernandez, Artist; John Kalisz, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: As James Tynion’s final act ramps up in Detective Comics #978, the Bat-family continues to fracture and the final adversary is revealed in a dramatic issue. Picking up with Batman and an injured Tim in the Batcave, the story flashes back to their pitched battle with an army of Colony soldiers sent to attack them by Armstrong. However, post-battle, investigation shows that the soldiers weren’t attacking – they were puppeted by remote control, With no way of figuring out the mystery on their own, Batman does the only thing he can – call his former allies in from the cold. This involves meeting at the Kane ancestral home, where Martha and her brother Jacob grew up. This cavernous old ruin is the opposite of bold, classy Wayne Manor, and makes a great setting for the confrontation between Bruce and Kate, with Jacob raising the tension even more. I do like that Tynion, since Kate’s fateful decision, has been making sure to drive home that this isn’t simple good vs. evil.
All the while, Armstrong is watching, spying on Tim and on Batman. He started out this arc as a C-list henchman and is ending it as one of the run’s best villains. This issue really drives the point that he’s essentially an alt-right corruption of the Colony’s actual mission, using the evil-fighting apparatus for his own twisted means. There are a lot of great moments in this issue, especially a segment between Tim and Cass. Javier Fernandez, last on Nightwing, is a master of character interaction and posing, and the way he draws some of the scenes this issue (especially Cass’ body language) are excellent. Then there’s the reveal at the end of the issue, of what Armstrong’s secret weapon is. This was in some ways inevitable, given the presence of Brother eye in this arc, but what wasn’t inevitable was the reveal of who this evil force has its hooks into. We’re heading towards an epic conclusion as all of Tynion’s plots come to a head.
Corrina: The Colony’s original mission was a black ops operation with no oversight and one that was willing to accept innocent civilian casualties to achieve its aims. I would say Armstrong’s actions and mindset is a natural consequence of that mission, taken to the extreme, not a corruption of it.
I’ve been vocal the last few issues about my objections to Colony’s revamping under Jacob Kane’s leadership, Kate’s actions in killing Clayface, and her decision that, to make up for killing someone (even if necessary), she joins a group that is okay with killing when necessary. I’m still baffled by that decision but this issue, there’s a hint that perhaps this may be leading to Kate realizing her Colony mission is hopelessly compromised. Maybe? In any case, this was better, and if it leads to overcoming all my objections about this plotline, I may at least enjoy the ending.
I did love the mood of the meeting in the old Kane manor. With all my comments about the plot, the art can get lost, when in fact, comics is an artist’s medium and none of this would work without Fernandez supplying the mood of that house, so symbolic of the crumbling relationship between Kate and Bruce, and with the facial expressions, especially Armstrong’s glee as he releases Brother Eye. Plus, look at the splash page above!
My hope is when Armstrong is defeated, the Colony disbands as it realizes what it truly stands for.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.