This week in the pages of Detective Comics: Batman seeks the answers to all questions, Luke Fox plays Doctor Frankenstein, and Azrael goes nuts.
***Right up front, I’d like to inform everyone coming here to read this review that it doesn’t follow the standard format that I usually adhere to. On rare occasions, I end up talking more about what a comic makes me think about more than the comic itself. And this is one of those occasions. I’ll point out some specifics from the comic, but the random train of thought I had while reading definitely takes precedent in this particular review.***
A lot of stuff happens in this issue, and I should probably be focusing on the actual story from the comic, but at the end of the day, this is what stuck with me the most:
*it* actually is. I believe that’s what you meant to say?
That’s just hilarious. Not only is it pertinent to what is happening in the scene at hand, but it’s also a commentary on storytelling in general. Seriously thought, how many times have you seen this in comics, movies, video games, and books? Where a mystery is kept from the reader, but not because it makes sense for us to be kept in the dark, but merely because the author needs us to keep reading. Often times, it’s super easy to explain whatever the mystery is in a simple sentence, but then we wouldn’t be coming back for more (and sometimes we wouldn’t even have a story). It’s also a way to stretch out a story or idea. And it’s a way to hook people into coming back for those people that simply need to know. Other times, conflicts could have been easily avoided by the simple act of characters talking to one another.
Using “the pronoun game” is also an easy way to incite an exposition dump, monologue, or storytelling time. “We’ve got to find it!” “Find what?” Cue lengthy exposition.
This isn’t the first time I’ve seen one of Tynion’s characters speak negatively about something that’s being implemented in the very story they are a part of either. Two weeks ago, characters were talking about how stupid giant robots were in a comic about giant robots (and before that I recall something else, but didn’t take the time to backtrack and find what it was). Granted, most people that don’t like giant robots aren’t going to need a reminder that they hate them, but why go out of your way to call attention to something that parts of the audience might not have considered. The same holds true with Batwoman’s commentary from up above.
Another thing this comic called to mind was Scott Snyder’s recent work on “The Forge” and “The Casting”. Both of these stories feature robots and withheld information. I’m not sure what this really says, but I couldn’t help but notice it. Sure, Tynion has these things too, but is he trying to say he doesn’t like having to do these things? Is the character commentary actually his own, and he is trying to clue us in on the fact that he is merely following his mentor’s lead or the tropes of the genre? Or is this some kind of friendly ribbing between the two?
When I first sat down to write this review, I wasn’t really sure how much I had to say. It’s a very chatty issue, and really, not a lot of stuff “happens”. That’s one of the reasons I didn’t post it yesterday. I was still mulling it over in my head. But then I read “The Casting”, and I realized, Tec 960 isn’t chatty at all! My initial gripe that I was going to post about ended up becoming insignificant in comparison. And while I am on the subject of Snyder, this story also has a reference to “Metal” within it. And that brings up another thing I’ve noticed about Detective Comic since Tynion has taken over. It doesn’t do it in a major way that’s beyond distracting to the story he is trying to tell, but you will often find teasers for other stories peppered throughout Tec. It’s kind of like Detective Comics has become a nexus of sorts to fill you in on the rest of the DC Universe or to act a s a springboard/advertisement for other things. In one sense, it helps to give you a sense that the entire DC Universe really is one big place that they all share together. But at the same time, it could also be seen as what I already said, a mere advertisement for more products for you to buy.
Part of me really wishes they would maintain focus when trying to tell a story. If in 20 years time (or even today) someone is only reading Tynion’s run, I expect they will get the answers they seek in regards to stories like the follow up to Ra’s Al Ghul. And maybe even the Tim Drake one (Although that might show up in the Geoff John story). But do you really think you’re going to end up getting the Metal followup in this book? Nope. So while one part of me commends it for making it more inclusive, the other part scolds it for introducing plot lines it never intends to explore.
Jumping back real quick to Batwoman complaining about people keeping secrets. It’s kind of ironic that she would refer to what is in the box as some big secret, because I don’t really think it is a big secret. At least not to the readers anyway. I mean, does anyone out there think it’s something other than a version of the AzBat suit in that box? It’s things like this that I also find annoying in stories. If our characters are presented with a mystery, but we know the answer, then we are just waiting for them to catch up with us. And to me, that’s no fun. I prefer discovering things and experiencing things right along side the characters.
Ok. I went off on quite a bit of a tangent there, but I still think it was relevant enough. And maybe even something some of you have been thinking about. So, all in all, worth putting out there and opening up for discussion. Now, onto some story specifics.
In my opinion, the main focus of this particular issue is the debate that takes place between Batman and Zatanna as to whether or not she should allow him to use magic to answer certain questions he is seeking the answers to. Zatanna makes a really compelling argument. It remotely stems form the same concept that, “once you see/know something, it cannot be unseen/unlearned.” Basically that, because she views the world from a magical perspective, she sees how unimportant the concerns that most people busy themselves with really are. And it’s not enjoyable. In fact, it’s insanely frustrating to be surrounded by people but still be alone and separated from them because you can’t truly connect with anyone because your understanding of reality is so superior to everyone else.
I say it’s a really compelling argument, but I think it’s only applicable for truly normal people. Someone like Batman, who is already somewhat dissociated from society and the world around him isn’t going to sustain as much of a loss from the new perspective as you or I might. Also, considering he has always been willing to put his own happiness second to the well-being of others, it’s not really something that’s going to successfully dissuade him. Even when she remarks on the fact that it could kill him, that’s really not something that would dissuade him either, since he is a man that is perfectly willing to sacrifice his own life for the good of others.
The conversation between the two of them really highlights some unshakable truths about Batman. I know that some of the readers here at Batman-News have expressed some displeasure at Tynion’s treatment of Batman. And while this conversation doesn’t stand as evidence to the contrary of those criticisms, I think we can at least agree that Tynion understands Batman’s motivations and drive.
This story also contains a scene with Ascalon that I feel is more than just a little telling. What we know so far is that Ascalon was created to eliminate the flaws of the previous Azraels. But it seems to me he was imprinted with some sort of amalgamation of the minds of the previous Azraels. In that sense, wouldn’t it mean that those same flaws would have been somewhat transferred to him? It just seems to me that this might be the way they beat Ascalon. And not that they would beat him, but that he would beat himself since he won’t be able to rectify the human feelings within him.
Beyond that, there is a somewhat humorous scene between Luke Fox and Batwoman, along with a brief scene depicting Jean-Paul’s continued descent into madness. With the cliffhanger from last issue, I fully expected that to be the primary focus for this issue, but it’s hardly touched upon at all.
- You want to read an interlude that’s hopefully the calm before the storm.
This is a very dialogue heavy issue in which not much really happens action wise that moves the story forward. And while not every issue needs to be some action blockbuster blowout, even the arguments/debates that take place are left hanging in the air. So really, everything feels very unresolved. Now maybe that means we will get a double whammy next time, but for now, I feel like I’m just kind of going along with the story. Nothing here is anything at all that I would even remotely refer to as bad, I’m just not all that engaged at the moment.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10