Review – Batman: Detective Comics #980: Strength In Batgirls

Detective Comics #980 variant cover
Blood on the Bat. Image via DC Comics

Batman: Detective Comics #980 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Scot Eaton, Penciller; Wayne Faucher, Inker; John Kalisz, Allen Passalaqua, Colorists

Ratings:

Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Steph & Cass Batgirls Together?

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

Ray: Detective Comics #980, the penultimate issue of James Tynion’s Detective Comics run brings a whole lot of OMAC action, but it’s also the spotlight Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown fans have been waiting for, with a jaw-dropping last act twist that completely upends the two characters’ status quo – hopefully not too late, given the creative team change. When we last left off, Tim Drake had been broken down and taken over by the deranged Ulysses Armstrong, turning him into a twisted OMAC version of Batman. He opens the issue by leading an invasion of the GCPD history, targeting his rival from the future, Renee Montoya. This naturally brings Kate Kane into the picture, as Tim and his future nemesis finally face off. Scot Eaton’s art, while new to this title, is a good fit for the action-heavy issue. Batman, Orphan, and Spoiler spend most of the issue breaking into Armstrong’s base, but Batman is waylaid by the arrival of the OMAC-ized Batwing and Azrael.

That allows the girls to take the lead for the first time in this run – not as players to Tim or Clayface’s story, but as their own heroes. I like that both Kate and Jacob seem to have firmly fallen back on the side of the angels after their flirtation with the dark – I guess Armstrong provided a stark counter-example. This issue, however, is most defined by the return of the alternate timelines that lurked in the background of this series. Tim showing Kate the horrific timeline that his alternate self experienced is interesting, but far more so is what Cass and Steph experience. In an attempt to break them, Brother Eye shows them what they could have been – not the associates of the Bat-family, but family members and future Batgirls. There’s even a cameo by Steph as Robin (which she was for fifteen minutes!). Steph’s response to this is easily one of the best moments she’s ever had, and I’m hoping this is just the start of these two fighting their way back to lead roles in Gotham City.

Detective Comics #980 page 4
Tim/Brother Eye versus Batwoman. Image via DC Comics

Corrina: Unlike Ray, I believe the opposite, that Steph and Cass are receiving the spotlight only because they won’t be used in the Bat-Books after this run. I hope I’m wrong but, if so, Tynion seems determined to make sure they’re well-remembered. I loved Cass and Steph’s runs as Batgirl. Their two series were different but each amazing in their own way. It’s always been baffling to me that Cassandra Cain, a character who held her own title for over 100 issues, would be sidelined for years. As for Steph, the lesson DC seemed to learn from her popular run is that they should make Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl more like her. (I know, people love the Batgirl of Burnside version of Babs. Just not my taste.)

I’m worried about all these characters after this run. What Kate did, kill someone, is going to be an excuse for writers for years to make her humorless and dark, and yet here was a person who opened up emotionally enough to want to marry the woman she loves. I hate that she’s regressed from the original Batwoman title, though I’m not sure how much of this was Tynion’s idea and how much was dictated by editorial. I also loved seeing Renee Montoya this issue but, again, I greatly wish for her to be back as The Question.

However, in the end, this run will be remembered as the best Bat-Family story in ages. We’ll see if the family is broken or knit back together by the end of the next issue.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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