Stephanie is back on the team, politics once again put Gotham against Batman, and the villains are amassing to counter Batman’s Gotham Knights. All this and more in this week’s chapter of Detective Comics.
As our story opens, we learn that Gotham has a new mayor. And, naturally, the first thing the press wants to know is his standpoint on Batman. My knee jerk reaction was, “Oh great, another story that’s going to pit the police against Batman.” These stories work great in Batman’s early career, but when he is an established hero that has done so much good and is part of an international team of do-gooders, it becomes harder and harder to see why people are untrusting of him. Fortunately, Tynion puts a slightly new spin on things that makes this rehash of sorts more feasible to revisit. It turns out that the new administration doesn’t have a problem with Batman proper, but isn’t keen on the idea that he is forming an entire army to protect Gotham. While it is only a minor shift from the normal formula, I think it’s different enough to warrant reexamining the on again off again tension between Batman and the police that has definitely become one of the hallmarks of the character.
Next up, we get a scene with Stephanie visiting Lonnie in Arkham Asylum. Personally, I don’t really understand why she went there. When you look at how their last interaction concluded, I would have thought she’d have wanted nothing to do with him. Admittedly, even she doesn’t know why she came to see him, so at least the fact that it’s an odd choice for her to make isn’t completely glossed over. And really, I guess it just stands as more evidence as to how confused Steph is right now.
bow chicka wow wow
In case it’s not clear from that picture, Steph and Tim have an intense reunion. While there are elements to the scene that I enjoyed, there are just as many that I found problematic. The biggest bonus was seeing Steph overcome with emotions. Her reaction builds and builds until she can no longer contain herself and finally just jumps on Tim. Juxtaposed to that is Tim initially trying to approach their reunion from a more intellectual standpoint. It just made me really happy to see how happy these two characters were.
My cons for the scene: In large part, it’s very much exposition to fill in the reader as to what has been going on. “Haven’t been reading Detective Comics, well, just listen to Tim and you’ll be all caught up!” It’s partially excusable because he is filling in someone that doesn’t know some of these things, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s still largely an exposition dump.
What’s more frustrating is that the culmination of the scene completely brushes everything under the rug and brings us back to the previous status quo. We don’t get to examine Steph’s unruly behavior, see a debate between the team members as to why it’s acceptable to allow her back on the team, or even her giving a heartfelt monologue to the team about how she felt and why she did what she did. We see no real remorse for her actions. No character arc that shows the journey she went on and what she learned. This is a huge problem. Partially because it’s unfulfilling as a reader to be given a character arc that doesn’t have a proper conclusion, and partially because we are missing out on the team dynamic that this book is supposed to be all about. And, by team dynamic, I mean the play by play that would have naturally resulted from a deserting member that attacked them all being re-instituted into their ranks. Although, I did really like what Batwoman had to say to Tim.
KILLER MOTH! Oh, Hell Yeah!
And the rest of that group ain’t too shabby either.
Well, Ratcatcher isn’t a big gun or anything, but he has his uses.
First off, I was just happy to see that Drury wasn’t this thing anymore:
And while it’s nice to see Drury back in the purple moth suit, the version of him Tynion has chosen to go with is the one that has no confidence. Personally, I’m all about the vicious and efficient Drury Walker that the character was initially conceived as. For those of you that don’t know, Walker was one of the first real anti-Batman characters. He was to the underworld what Batman was to law and order. The current version is kind of a joke, and while this is where he is coming from in this story, it looks like he may have found some of his old gusto.
So…the Victim Syndicate again. Two questions. Why is Mudface on the team? I really would have thought she’d have opted out. And two: Are these guys really a threat? In their first appearance, Batman’s team thrashed them entirely. I’m hoping their strategy is more about manipulating things from behind the scenes this time, as their physical threat level really didn’t work for me in their first story.
- As the story opens, we are introduced to the new mayor of Gotham. With him is deputy mayor Hamilton Hill. If that name seems familiar, it’s because that was the name of the mayor on Batman: The Animated Series. But Hill actually started off in the comics way before The Animated Series ever aired. While I don’t think it’s too surprising that this is the case since the series is based on the comic to begin with, I bring it up because I feel like most people know that name more from the animated series appearances than the comic. It’s also worth noting that this is actually Hamilton Hill’s son and not Hamilton Hill Senior.
- Michael Akins (the new mayor of Gotham) is also not a new character. After the events of “No Man’s Land”, Gordon was shot by a fellow officer (more to it than that, but that’s the short of it). His injuries forced him to retire and Akins became the new Commissioner of Police in Gordon’s absence.
- No way, no way, no way. It’s Echo and Query! The Riddler’s HenchWomen! Woo Hoo! I haven’t seen them in like…forever.
- You want to see a new take on the whole Batman versus the police formula.
- You’re just happy to see Steph and Tim back together again.
- You like wonderful villain cameos.
What I really liked about this issue was that it took many of the loose ends that had been introduced over the course of Tynion’s run and brought them all together in one place. That’s not to say that any of them were truly resolved within this issue. After all, it’s just part one of a larger story. But I get the impression that many of these plot points that Tynion has been weaving into his stories are about to come to some sort of a head within the current arc. And that’s fairly exciting for those of us that have been with the book since the beginning of Rebirth.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10