Detective Comics #936
“Rise of the Batman Part 3: Army of Shadows”
Writer: James Tynion IV
Penciler: Alvaro Martinez
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Of all the titles that have come out of Rebirth so far Detective Comics is the leading the way as my favorite of the bunch. It features a number of characters that I am rather fond of (Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown), and it is the first time since Birds of Prey that we have gotten anything resembling a proper Bat-team book. That is fairly surprising when you consider just how many bat characters are running around these days, but then most of the Bat-family are defined by their lone wolf attitudes so maybe it is to be expected.
In any event this book focuses on a team put together by Batman to be run by Batwoman to take some of the workload off of Batman himself. For the past two issues I have been wondering about why Batman feels the need to press this team so hard and re-train them so thoroughly, despite the years of experience some of them have. This issue finally answers that as a message left to Kane (Batwoman) tells the team that they have all been targeted by a mysterious organization and he brought them together for their own protection. That self-same organization seems to have not taken too kindly to this and decided to take Batman himself out of the picture, and surprisingly they have succeeded. It is not often that Batman is so thoroughly beaten, so that does add some weight to the book.
I won’t talk much more about the plot of the book since going into more depth would necessitate a rather hefty spoiler being tossed out there, but suffice to say the story thus far has been satisfying in a way that Batman stories have not been in some time. Not only is Batman viewing his allies more as equals than as tools, but he is also being shown to be fallible — granted it took an army of well-armed and -trained bad guys to do it. That trend is also being followed in Batman, and I have to say I approve.
The book continues to focus heavily on the characters involved in it, which sometimes comes at the expense of pacing. That would be my main concern with the title at the moment, but it is not as bad as it sounds. If this were a monthly book the slower pace of the storytelling would be a problem, but since we are looking at a twice-monthly schedule it can afford to go a little slower. As a result the book gets a chance to breathe a bit and spend some time lingering on character points it might otherwise have to gloss over. The trade-off for less plot in favor of stronger character arcs is a good one on the whole, but may not be to everyone’s tastes.
There are still a large number of Rebirth titles we have not seen yet, but this one is setting the bar high for quality. I am not sure if any can topple it is my favorite of the relaunch, but there are several on the horizon which have a shot at it. Until then, though, this book reigns supreme for me in this latest relaunch.