Detective Comics #965 is essentially a love letter to Tim Drake and I’m completely, absolutely, and utterly on board with that.
I sat down and opened this issue to the very first page, and going no further than that, I already felt in my gut that I was holding something special. Something that hand been painstakingly crafted with love and an attention to detail that was not to be underestimated or underappreciated. And so, our journey begins.
What you see here is a set of photos that was taken by Tim Drake in Batman #440 (1989). Here are the original shots from 440 spliced together:
And here is the page they are paying homage to from The New Titans #60:
How awesome would it have been if they’d have kept that editor note.
And it would still have been relevant too.
But the homage to the past doesn’t stop there. The first 7 pages of this comic are all scenes pulled from, and spliced together from, older comics. I’m not going to give you a side by side comparison for all of these, because then I’d just be sharing the first 7 pages of this comic with you, and that seems a little excessive to me. So, if you are reading along at home, just open up 965 and you can make the comparisons yourself with these scans I’m providing:
From The New Titans #60
Anyone else find it odd that The New Titans was printed on better paper-stock than Batman?
Batman was only a dollar and The New Titans was $1.75. So, you were paying for it.
But I’m still surprised Batman wasn’t being given the same treatment.
From Batman #441.
From The New Titans #61
From Batman #442
From Batman #457
As you can see, most of these are basically word for word recreations of the original scenes. Now, some of you might be thinking, “Well, that’s just copying”. And while you are right, it’s far more than that. In 7 short pages, Tynion has managed to present all the major beats that were originally presented in a story that was over 100 pages long. He took the time to go back through everything and piece together the most quintessential elements of the story so you could get a sense of it even if you hadn’t ever read the original. Now that’s impressive. Also, in the sections where Tim is standing in the present and being interrogated, a lot of what he is saying is a compiled and paraphrased version of the overall story as opposed to the spots where scenes are just being acted out in their entirety. I imagine that took quite a bit of fine tuning in order to make it work so seamlessly. As someone who has probably read “A Lonely Place of Dying” more than any other Batman story published, I can honestly say that Tynion has done a tremendous job here. This is truly a great synopsis.
The other thing this shows is the level to which Tynion respects the source material. Far too often writers want to put their own spin on things. Shake things up. Change the status quo. But that’s not what I look for in a good story. I don’t want the character to be portrayed differently from one writer to another. I want the character to stay the same. What I want is new adventures and experiences. And I want to see the way the character I have come to know and love reacts to those new experiences. I mean, think about yourself. You’re pretty much the same person you’ve always been (unless you’ve had a major life altering event). As you go through your life, your experiences change, but your pretty much still you. And that’s what I want to see in comics. It is, after all, a serial adventure. When it comes to Tim Drake, Tynion gets this. And I respect him for that.
Personally, I’ve never really understood why writers feel the need to change everything anyway. If you are an older reader, seeing things enacted differently than you remember can be quite jarring and unpleasant. But whether a writer chooses to go with a new take or an original one, new readers won’t know the difference. So, really, the only people they are hurting by changing things up are the loyal readers who have been around long enough to know that the new take is off. Consequently, if a story was amazing to audiences in 1989, chances are it’s still just as awesome and would be equally received by a new audience. So, yeah. I wish writers would stop trying to be so clever and just give us new stories instead of re-imagined characters. They’ve stood the test of time for a reason, so don’t mess with perfection.
I don’t feel too bad about going into hyper detail about the first half of the book since it’s basically a recap of a 28 year old story. So, if you haven’t read it by now, that’s really your own fault. But the second half has plenty of surprises that I don’t really want to openly divulge, so I’ll be ducking behind a spoiler tag in a second here. But before I do, I wanted to comment on a few specific parts of the conversation between Oz and Tim.
I’ve always known that this was an aspect of Tim’s character, but I never really made the connection between this standpoint and what he was doing with the Belfry. So, it’s nice to have that moment of clarification within this story. Tim also mentions that he never really wanted this path for himself (which has been a part of the character since his inception). And that being Batman was never the endgame for him. But to be honest, of all the Robins, I always thought he would be the best at it. Dick is his own man, and Jason and Damian are far too off-kilter to handle the job. Tim is really the only one that would be willing and able to sacrifice his own persona for the long haul in order to take on the cowl and personality that a Batman needs to exude. Of the Robins, he’s also the most gifted detective. So, that stands tall on his resume.
Ok. Time for spoilers:
Holy Moley! I never would have guessed this in a million years. I’m not reading Superman or Action Comics (but I might have to grab some trades now), so for all I know it’s already been revealed or hinted at over there, but I was taken completely by surprise by this turn of events. From what Jor-El says, it seems that he isn’t the badguy we’ve all been assuming he was (or at least the one I was assuming he was). If anything, he’s a hero, or at the very least, another victim and not some evil mastermind.
I thought the biggest surprise this issue was going to dish out was that Jor-El reveal, but then Batman shows up, and it’s actually a grown up Tim Drake in the suit. I was already hooked on this story from page one, but now I simply have to know what is going on. If there is one thing that Tynion has always been consistently good at, it’s hooking the reader with a mystery to get them coming back for more.
Oh yeah…Doomsday also comes smashing through a wall on the very last page. With that awesome Tim Drake opening and that ending, this comic has early 90s all over it. And I absolutely approve.
- The pose that Tim is in on the cover of this issue was inspired by Batman #441. That’s Dick Grayson in the foreground and Tim in the background to the right.
- Well, you can’t go wrong with some Richard Donner Superman.
- You love Tim Drake. This story is basically a giant homage to the character.
- You’ve been following all the Oz sightings since the beginning of Rebirth
Now this is how you write a comic book! Once the mindbogglingly awesome recap of Tim’s life comes to a conclusion, we are left with him…and Oz…and an opening to a story arc that will leave you begging for more. I know that the closing paragraph is supposed to sum up the review, but there’s no way to minimize just how awesome this issue was. Seriously. Do yourself a favor and read this comic. What more can I say to convince you? Oh, look. I gave it a 9.5. How often do I do that? Once in a blue moon! Now go read the comic already.
SCORE: 9.5 / 10