Detective Comics #970 primarily focuses on Tim Drake overcompensating for his prolonged absence, Clayface trying to cure his “condition”, and…a truckload of Cyber Assassins?!?
Tim’s story revolves around him basically trying to do everything. Almost as if his most recent ordeal has turned him into an obsessive-compulsive mirco-manager. While it’s nice to see Tim happy about coming up with awesome ideas and mulling over which ones to implement, it’s hard not to notice that in doing all of this he is becoming the very thing he doesn’t want to be.
In the last arc, it was revealed that Tim becomes Batman in one possible future. FutureTim revealed to PresentTim that being Batman sucks. So, PresentTim is wary and conscious about the fact that he doesn’t want that future to come to pass. But when you look at what is going on, you can already see him becoming Batman.
When is the last time you slept in a bed Tim?
Hmm??? Taking micronaps in a chair in front of a computer. Sound like anyone else we all know? Later on in the story, Steph even calls Tim “mister ten-steps-ahead.” If that isn’t a sentence that’s been used to describe Batman before, then I’m losing my mind. But seriously though. Tim is a smart guy. Is he honestly not picking up on the signs that what he is doing might actually cause the future that needs to be prevented? I can understand doing something that you think is the right way to proceed and then be blindsided by the fact that it’s exactly what you shouldn’t have been doing all along. But when you’re getting signs while doing it, it’s time to reevaluate things.
While not really the focus of Tim’s mini arc for this issue, I really did love a lot of the ideas he was spit-balling. For instance, bringing Batgirl into the team along with the rest of the Bat-Family sounds great to me. I realize that with too many members things can get crowded. And, admittedly, balancing out stuff for everybody to do already seems like a task that Tynion isn’t always up to. But I’m looking at it more as swapping out the players. There is no need for the team Tynion started with back in #934 to be the team he keeps throughout his entire run. Swapping out one character for another every so often could be a nice way to keep things fresh and allow new team dynamics and interactions to occur.
Tim also brings up re-routing Police to less dangerous calls and implementing a free medical service. While not preventative, it would minimize casualties and help those effected by villains running amok to recuperate.
Batman is hardly in this issue at all. In fact, he only appears in one scene. But it only took that one scene for him to drop a line of dialogue that I found peculiar.
Someone is trying to weaponize your team? I’m sorry, but isn’t your team already a weapon? I don’t want to over analyze this too much, but it just seems like a peculiar thing to say. I understand that when people usually think of a weapon, they think of it in terms of how it can be used to hurt someone else. And since Batman is all about helping people, he really doesn’t fall in line with what a weapon is. At the same time, he helps people by hurting other people. Sure, they are the ones doing the hurting to begin with. But it leads us to the whole fighting fire with fire idea. Violence begets violence and all that. In a perfect scenario, you’d stop fighting and your enemy would stop fighting and then nobody would get hurt. But the problem is, it’s almost always never simultaneously bilateral. What if you are in a standoff but you decide to lower your gun and the other person isn’t liked minded. Aren’t you just opening yourself up to get shot. It’s definitely a quandary.
Victoria October also makes an appearance in this issue! In case you aren’t aware or don’t recall, I’ve basically loved every appearance this character has made in Tec. Her personality, way of talking, sense of humor, and word choices just really vibe with me. She is a delight. I really liked that little aside she delivered in the middle of the first word bubble up above. At first I thought it was a very peculiar and clunky way to deliver exposition, but then I remembered the way she talks, and ended up finding it quirky and eccentric.
For those of you not aware, Victoria October is transgender/transsexual (my apologies, I don’t know what the proper terminology is to use. Not meaning to offend anyone.) From my understanding, Victoria identifies as the opposite sex that she was born as and has had the reassignment surgery to properly align her body with her mental identity. This is something I never picked up on in the comics themselves, but learned about it through an interview or something. What I found interesting was that her character has been around for a year and this is the first time (to my knowledge/recollection) that this info has been presented directly in the comic. I find it refreshing that she wasn’t introduced as a token character. Meaning, who she is as a person is more important than what she is. I dare say there is a lesson in that we could all learn from.
Moving on to Clayface.
While I find Clayface’s struggle very compelling, it seems to me that he has already come to terms with certain things enough to be able to live a normal life. The simple fact that he has lucid moments like this means he isn’t a monster. I don’t think a really monster would feel guilt or remorse. But he does. While turning back into a person might not make him perfect, I doubt he’d have the same capacity for evil as a regular man that he had as Clayface. If he does screw up his life, it will be normal screw ups.
Of all the scenes in the comic, I felt that the one between Kate and Jacob was the most unusual. It’s kind of weird how he just saunters in. I guess I just see him as a villain now, so the fact that they are so nonchalantly chatting it up seemed really off to me.
Anyway, Jacob drops this little warning, and it felt weird to me too. Like, seriously, this is hardly the first thing Batman has ever done that would invite government intervention. While that’s up for debate, all this stuff that’s happening with people getting footage of the team seems like an excellent counter as to why Batman is an entity that works best in the shadows. Not only would more discrete actions negate this unwanted problem, but I’ve always preferred the notion that the average joe thinks Batman is nothing more than an urban legend. When Batman maintains this standing, normal citizens aren’t burdened with the secrets of scary people, but the criminal element is still fully effected by it since they actually have to deal with him.
Art for this issue is handled by Joe Bennett. Bennett’s work is the kind of thing that doesn’t really strike me as good or bad. It’s there, and it serves the purpose of telling the story, but it’s not going to be anything I would expect people to spend too much time discussing around the water cooler. If I had to pick a favorite image it would probably be this motion blur we see as Batman and Batwoman are chasing the truckload of Cyber Assassins:
On the flip side would be the renderings of Mudface that appear in the issue:
I mean, that’s not what she looks like at all. What we see here is a mild case of elephant man syndrome, which is a far cry from the way Alvaro Martinez depicted her in the first Victim Syndicate storyline.
- Don’t forget about the fact that Batman is also working with the wanted criminal Catwoman.
- I can see how this could get people riled up. I mean, they do see Clayface as a monster. But him helping Batman is kind of like community service/reform work. Lots of prisoners end up doing stuff to give back to the community as part of their rehabilitation before release. Sure, this is an extreme example of that, but one could argue that it is highly more humane than what the government is doing with the Suicide Squad. At least Clayface is being treated as a person as opposed to an expendable assets. I guess the real issue here is that Batman isn’t in any kind of position of power to make this kind of decision about Clayface. Then again, Batman isn’t in any position of power to make any of the decisions he makes. This may be the very thread the Victim Syndicate is hoping to pull at. Make the public question one of Batman’s decisions, and all of a sudden, people will start questioning other things about Batman.
- If I understand everything correctly, Anarky used Steph to spy on the team so that they could make cyborg assassins programmed with the teams moves (and to discredit them in the media). I don’t really have a problem with the whole hacking thing everyone keeps bringing up in and of itself, but the fact that so many of Tynion’s stories rely on hacking and computers and robotics is starting to become very evident. Throwing it in every once in a while was fine, because then it’s still unique and fresh, but now it’s starting to seem like his go to answer for everything. Well, that and secret societies.
- Really? I mean, I understand her not wanting to forgive Clayface, but at the detriment of her own future. On top of that, how many people really get to see her? Like, I think all the Arkham guards are already familiar with the kind of monster Clayface is. Other than them, who is she really spreading her story to? I hadn’t intended this to come back around, but this situation kinda reminds me of the stuff I was talking about earlier with weapons. In this instance, Clayface has lowered his guard and actually wants to help, but his adversary is still poised and ready to strike.
Odds and Ends:
- During the course of the story, stun batons are used effectively against Clayface. I was always under the impression that electricity had a negligible to nonexistent effect against him. Am I remembering this incorrectly, or is this a flub on Tynion’s part?
- Batman refers to Killer Moth and his NEW gang of misfits. The original Misfit team can be found in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #7-9 (1992/93):
- Incidentally, this is a really great story. And if you are so inclined, I highly recommend checking it out.
- You like stories that make you think.
- You’ve been enjoying Clayface’s story under Tynion’s helm. Looks like this arc might be his.
This is one of those stories that isn’t solely good based on the contents alone, but because of everything it made me think about while and after reading it. Contemplating Tim’s slow march towards Batmanism, the brainstorming he presents that actually sound like really cool future story ideas, the notion of opposing someone without violence, and relating Clayface’s internal dilemma about who he is as a person to the challenges that befall people in the real world. All of this was really enjoyable to think about and made the story feel like more than just the sum of its parts. I’d say the weakest element was probably the art, but not in a way that truly detracted from the story. More in the sense that it just felt kinda flat and standard. Everything considered, I’d recommend this one for the sheer fact that so many different ides about so many different things were broached in a very brief window. Leaves plenty of stuff on the table for you to find something to enjoy and cling to.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10