Detective Comics #981 cover

Review – Batman: Detective Comics #981: A Happy Bat-Family?

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Detective Comics #981 variant cover
Image via DC Comics

Batman: Detective Comics #981 – James Tynion IV, Writer; Eddy Barrows, Penciller; Eber Ferreira, Inker; Adriano Lucas, Colorist


Ray – 10/10

Corrina: Great Conclusion


Ray: James Tynion’s run on Detective has had many twists and turns – some positive, some massively divisive – but it all ends here in Detective Comics #981. This final issue, divided between the conclusion of the showdown with the OMACs and a powerful epilogue that wraps up the character arcs of the entire team, is probably the best issue of the series. It’s a celebration of the Bats, of Gotham, and of the best in everything Batman represents.

But that’s not how it starts, with Tim Drake possessed by the OMACs and Ulysses Armstrong planning to take Batman’s network from him. He intends to overwhelm Batman’s forces with his hundreds of OMAC soldiers, but Cass is able to hold them off while Steph hacks his systems and is finally able to show Tim the truth of the timeline he comes from. Kate killed Bruce, yes – but on his orders, while Bruce was dying of radiation poisoning. Brother Eye edited the footage, and everything evil future Tim based his crusade on was a lie. Tim is freed, Armstrong is taken down, and Batwoman and Red Robin are finally able to find peace with each other.

Weeks later, Tynion drops the retcon bomb on quite a few of his most controversial developments. Jacob Kane gets a full pardon for his efforts in taking down the Colony and returns to the military while Kate prepares to return to her own mission. In the issue’s sweetest segment, Cassandra Cain decides to pursue a normal life, moving in with Leslie Thompkins at the clinic, preparing to enroll in high school, and getting some tutoring from Barbara Gordon – beginning to restore the close relationship they had before the New 52. The reveal about Clayface sort of came out of nowhere, but I do like that he and Doctor October are out there together, ready to be used in whatever Tynion chooses next. Tim and Bruce’s goodbye as Tim heads off on his own adventure with Steph, seeking the answers in the multiverse – and the location of his lost friends – is an excellent tribute to the versions of the characters from the 90s. In this slightly oversized final issue, everything Tynion set up comes together in a truly spectacular close, and I can’t wait to see where characters and creators go next.

Detective Comics #981 page 4
Cassandra has your back, Steph! Image via DC Comics

Corrina: So who wants an interdimensional road trip comic with Steph & Tim?

::raises hand::

I’ve been tougher on this run than Ray. That’s due to my disliking some elements intensely, such as the reveal of Jacob Kane and his role in the Colony (and Tim Drake’s near murder), the future Evil Tim Drake, and Batwoman’s killing of Clayface instead of trying to find another way.

Naturally, Tynion reconfigured all of those elements in this finale. (Probably he did not do it for me but, hey, I’m happy about it anyway!)

This issue is saturated with hope after numerous dark storylines which culminated in Clayface’s supposed murder. I’d really like Kate to know she didn’t kill Basil but, hey, I’m pleased that he’s alive and out there with Doctor October. The way the team pulled together to defeat Armstrong was terrific, with Cass drawing strength from her other self that became a hero, Stephanie’s hacking of Armstrong’s Brother Eye, and, most of all, with the reveal of the true nature of the death of Bruce Wayne in EvilFutureTim’s timeline. Bruce and Kate never had much of a relationship before Tynion’s run so he’s built that up from nothing and made them equals. Job well done.

The work on Batman by Snyder and then Tom King has received more acclaim but Tynion’s Detective has been the more enjoyable run. Take a bow, sir.

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

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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