Detective Comics #979 review

Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong, The General, releases the entire might of Brother Eye and the Omacs against the recently shattered Batfamily.  Will they be able to put their past behind them and band together to save Gotham from this staggering threat, or will the citizens of Gotham City once again be collateral damage as the villain of the week sets their sites on city wide destruction.

Yep.  It’s another story where the entire city is in danger.  I can’t tell you how tired I am of these “city wide destruction” stories.  Or, stories where the entire city is in peril.  Or, stories where the entire world is in peril.  I mean, just look at this swarm of insanity:

I hate to say what a Batman story should and should not be, because, I guess it can be about whatever you want it to be about.  But, to me, Batman isn’t about fighting fleets of super soldiers infected by nanobots controlled by a computer program from the future.  It’s about stopping street level crime.  Whether that be preventing muggings, stopping bank robberies and convenience story holdups, tracking down kidnapped individuals held for ransom, solving murders, dealing with the occasional super villain, struggling against corrupt city officials, etc., etc., etc.  Two issues ago, Batman and Robin where chilling on a rooftop and about to jump through a skylight to beat up some mobsters…that is before The Colony guys showed up with chain guns and annihilated everyone.  I was far far far more interested in seeing Batman and Robin simply knock together some criminal craniums than I am in this whole Brother Eye/Omac nonsense.

But that’s just me griping about what I want over what is.  However, judging it for itself doesn’t really earn it any extra points.

It seems to me that writers have come to the conclusion that the only way to make stories bigger and more momentous is to literally make them BIG in scope.  And because writers seem to feel the need to one-up each other and raise the stakes from the last major story so that people will remember their story for all of time, these all encompassing disaster stories are what we keep getting.  Each one needs to be bigger and better than the last, which leads to stories simply getting more and more out of hand and unrealistic.  At this point, I’m actually desensitized to it.   Entire cities and worlds being threatened means less to me than if the culmination of an entire story arc were as simple as a resolution between two main characters.

In actuality, that may be the direction that Tynion is going.  I can see how the love that Tim and Steph have for one another could end up being the deciding factor that saves everyone and everything in the end.  In that sense, it will boil down to the interactions of two characters, with the city in peril merely being a backdrop.  But still…I don’t need the city to be in danger in order to raise my emotional investment in what happens to Tim and Steph.  I’m already invested in them because of what has already happened to them thus far in Tynion’s run.  To me, the threat of city wide destruction is merely a distraction to what really matters…the characters.

Although, I have to say, throwing Steph back into the mix in this way seems to undermine the growth her character was taking steps towards.  I understand that Tynion has run out of time to tell the story he wanted to tell, so he has to accelerate things, but that in turn makes them feel rushed, unearned, and abandoned.  So Tim is in trouble.  I understand that she cares for him, but where is her resolve to care for herself.  It also seems like a fairly blase response on her part.  “Tim is in trouble, huh.  Well, let me finish my grape soda first and then I’ll help you out.”  Doesn’t feel very urgent.  Or like she really even cares.  And that image of her drinking the soda, it just looks strange and unflattering.  I don’t know.  The whole scene just felt weird to me.

A large chunk of the story also features various members of the BatFamily engaged in fisticuffs with Omac troops.  It just felt very pointless.  I mean, it’s not like they are just going to stand there and let themselves get beat up, but defeating a couple of Omac troops really isn’t going to get them any closer to defeating the larger opposition.  Then again, maybe that was the point.  To show just how incapable they are of dealing with a threat of this level.

The one thing I did really enjoy about this issue was Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong.  I feel like he is really coming into his own and allowing the true evil beneath the surface to present itself.  He takes an immense pleasure in taunting Tim with the notion that his fellow team mates are weighing the evidence as to whether or not all this really is Tim’s doing.

But my favorite page is right here:

There is a lot of awesomeness happening on this page.  Since all this is in Tim’s head as a result of nanobots, it’s got this trippy vibe to it that I really dug.  And I really like how Ulysses seems like this devil on Tim’s shoulder whispering sweet nothings into his ear in order to seduce him to the dark side.  It’s just super creepy and adds this element of helplessness that makes the scene even more intense.  For me, the scenes between Tim and Ulysses and seeing their interactions with one another are what made this issue worth reading.  Aside from that, I wasn’t terrible impressed with the rest of it.

Recommended if…

  • You’re a fan of Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong.


I’m not really a fan of the whole “futuristic robots cause city wide peril” stories.  However, if you can look past that, there are some really great interactions at play here between Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong and Tim Drake.

SCORE: 6.5 / 10