Detective Comics #937
“Rise of the Batmen Part 4: The Great Escape”
Writer: James Tynion IV
Penciler: Alvaro Martinez
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Brad Anderson
I have hardly been subtle about my love of this book since its launch at the beginning of Rebirth, and though that continues with this issue there are a few cracks that concern me popping up. As you may recall from previous issues Batman has been captured by a paramilitary organization that uses him as their template, but they can’t quite match his tech or years of experience. We get a bit more of a glimpse into that this issue, and we also see that although they may have the tactics and machinery to emulate Batman to a degree there is no substitution for the real thing. Unlike previous issues this one focuses a bit more heavily on Batman with the Batwoman-led team of sidekicks only appearing intermittently. Given that this is still technically a Batman book and not a Bat-team book that is fair enough, and it does look like we will have more than enough sidekick action next issue to keep things interesting.
The cracks I mentioned above come from a different angle, with not one but two secret organizations introduced in this issue. We already knew about one thanks to the last couple of issues of this book, but we learn a lot more about them thanks to Batman’s capture and subsequent breakout from their base. The other group is only hinted at so far, but in true comic fashion I fully expect that the “myth” of the League of Shadows is fully legitimized within the year. Before continuing I will just point out that the League of Shadows may sound familiar to fans of the movies and television shows since that is what the League of Assassins got renamed to for those properties, but in the comics it has always been the League of Assassins. Now, though, it seems that the League of Shadows will be coming into the books as a separate entity from the League of Assassins — whether as a splinter group or as opponents it is too early to tell.
My issue with this is that there are just too many secret societies running around these days, and all of them seem to “control the world from the shadows”. I actually had this problem with the Court of Owls five years ago but I bit my tongue since it was a new continuity and all. Admittedly this is not a problem specific to Detective Comics since most writers want to have their own toy box of mysterious shadow villains to play with, but it is now at the point where I just role my eyes at new secret societies in either Marvel or DC books. There are more than enough to play with already, we don’t need more.
With that quirk aside, though, there is still a lot to like here. Batman roaming through the base is tense and entertaining, his encounter with the uber-geek who doesn’t realize just how close to getting broken limbs he is definitely had me laughing, and there are plenty of answers to questions that have been raised in the last few issues. Although there are only a few sections with the Bat-team of sidekicks in them they do at least introduce what will likely be their base of operations moving forward in this series, and I quite like the idea of it. There’s are many reasons Tim Drake is my favorite Robin, and his Bat-train transportation system is just one more to add on to the pile. The one thing I wish we would see more of is Clayface interacting with the team. He had a few lines and bits in early issues, but since then he has been shuffled to the background and largely has nothing to do. I am hoping that he will have a nice set-piece moment in the coming fight that justifies his addition to the book. He is, after all, potentially the most interesting member of the team as the reformed criminal.
The art continues to be a strong point of the book, and there is little to complain about. Alvaro Martinez and his teammates Raul Fernandez and Brad Anderson are doing stellar work on this title, and they are setting a high bar for future story arcs. I’m not sure how the twice monthly shipping is going to affect the consistency of the art on this book (and the others following the same shipping pattern), but hopefully it doesn’t cause too many rush jobs down the road.
I have said it a few times now, and I will continue to do so: Detective Comics is still my favorite book of Rebirth and it looks like it will remain unchallenged for a while. I have some qualms about this issue, but to be fair they are ones that I hold against Marvel and DC in general, with this issue simply being the most recent book to bring it up. I am eagerly looking forward to re-reading this story when the arc is over, and I wish DC would hurry up and announce the tradepaperback collection already.