Detective Comics #980 review

With the release of Detective Comics #980, we are only one issue away from the conclusion of James Tynion’s stint on Detective Comics.  Will he be able to pull off a memorable finale, or will his work fade into obscurity, only to be remember by hardcore Tynion fans and Batman historians?

We’ve still got two weeks to go till we find out the final outcome, but #980 goes a long way to setting up what we can expect to see from the conclusion, and I was happy to see it’s not just going to be a bunch of the BatFamily mindlessly fighting a bunch of automatons.  Sure, we’ve got some of that here, but it’s really kept to the background, allowing more of the story to be told with character moments than through fist fighting.

In my last review for Detective Comics, I mentioned the fact that I was tired of seeing ever escalating threats befalling Gotham City.  Interestingly enough, Tynion has Tim briefly commenting on this fact.  And what he has to say about it essentially boils down to people being desensitized to it all.  Which is pretty much what I was getting at before.  In theory, these ever evolving threats are meant to raise the bar, but they end up feeling forced and far removed from the character’s roots.  It kind of makes me wonder if Tynion might actually share a similar viewpoint and is merely putting forth what is “expected and safe” as opposed to really pushing any boundaries.  This comment could be taken as a dig against the current trend in storytelling, and if it were the only somewhat negative thing he proposed I’d have probably overlooked it, but he actually has something further to add towards the end of the story that’s kind of an even bigger insult to the last 7 years of storytelling than that little jab about escalating threats.  But we will get to that later.

As I said, this story puts most of the fighting in the background (wisely so in my opinion).  We are briefly teased with the notion that this is going to end up being a giant war between two opposing robot factions when Batman and Kane discuss utilizing Batwing’s suits to take on the Omacs.  On my first read through, I sighed when I came to this conversation, but was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t come to fruition.  Likewise, it seemed quite clear at the time that the Batwoman segment of this story was going to be her versus Tim and a bunch of Omacs.  And while I was happy to see that it got weeded down to just her versus Tim, I was kind of perplexed as to where all the other Omacs disappeared to that were serving as Tim’s honor guard.  So yes, puzzling, but I was still happy to see them minimized within the story.

As their fight rages on, this exchange of banter takes place.  If you aren’t familiar with the reference, it’s from Star Trek/ The Next Generation.  On the show, their was a race of robot cyborgs called the Borg that assimilated people into their hive mind in order to enlarge their forces and take over the galaxy.  “Resistance is Futile” was essentially their tag phrase.  So, it’s a very apt thing to say given the situation of what is going on in this story.  I also found it interesting that Tim mentions embracing the tropes.

When I read Batman stories, I usually like to immerse myself in the experience and forget it’s just a story and try to think of it as actually happening.  But with this issue, time and again I found myself thinking about the fact that these words were all coming from the mind of Tynion.  When Tim says, “embrace the tropes”, I kept thinking back on how certain elements of Tynion’s run were very much stereotypical or archetypal blueprints for the way we expect certain characters to act.  They stopped being dynamic individuals and fell prey to actions and sentiments that would hopefully reverberate with the broadest of audience.  The simple fact that Tynion is being relieved of his Detective Comic duties should definitely be taken as an indication that this approach didn’t gel well with a majority of the readership, and when I see a statement like this, it makes me wonder if this was indeed his approach to character depictions.

Now, let’s jump back to that thing I mentioned earlier about Tynion potentially insulting the last 7 years of storytelling.

Brother Eye ends up showing Steph and Cassandra who they were before Flashpoint and The New52.  I can’t help but read this and think that Tynion is saying that what DC has done since 2011 doesn’t measure up to the pre-2011 continuity.  Now, I may be applying some of my own personal bias in this regard, but if you’ve ever met Tynion, you know he is a huge fan of that era of comics as well.  It’s the reason why he brought back so many of the staples that existed during that time.  So while this scene is specific to Steph and Cassandra, I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that his feelings in regards to Steph and Cass shouldn’t be extended to the rest of the cast.

Granted, we end up finding out that they are capable, but basically because they realized that their other selves were awesome, and if their other selves were that awesome, it means they have the potential to be likewise as awesome.  But still, this has all been second-rate to their better selves.  Now go read some older comics!

Odds and Ends:

Halfway through the story, Steph gets pissy with Batman because he asks her if her plan is holding up.  Which I thought was a bit of an overreaction on her part, because I didn’t think he was doubting her abilities, just checking in and getting an update on how their plan was unfolding and if everything was going ok.  It struck me even more so when later on Cassandra asks Steph if there was a problem, and Steph didn’t blow up in her face.  Now, I’m not saying this is out of character or a mistake.  It’s actually in character for her to butt heads with Batman and get along with Cassandra.  I just thought it was interesting to see the juxtaposition of the two so close together and see how she reacted almost completely different to a very similar set of circumstance.

I Love this Cover!

The rain.  The gloom.  The up-lighting.  It all screams Batman, and I find it offhandedly reminiscent of the classic “Batman with Robin in a spotlight” covers.

I know it’s nowhere near as complete an homage as all the other covers I just shared, but I totally get a similar vibe from looking at it.  And you have to love the fact that Steph and Cassandra’s shadows are that of their Batgirl personas, which is something this issue elaborates on.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve read the last 46 issues of Tynion’s run.  What?  It’s not like you’re going to stop now with only two issues to go.


Usually I like to immerse myself in the story, but for some reason, the real enjoyment I got out of this particular issue was in trying to theorize on the potential meta commentary Tynion may have been incorporating into this piece.  Although, as the story goes, I was happy to see it focus more on the characters than the fighting because I can’t really drum up too much enthusiasm for unstoppable robot armies.  One more issue to go!

SCORE: 7 / 10