Detective Comics #981 review

The end is finally here!  Will the BatFamily be able to stop Tim and the Omacs from obliterating all crime in Gotham City as we know it, or, will we return to a nice little status quo with which the next writer will use to launch his story from?  I wonder…

Detective Comics #981 is split into two distinct pieces.  The wrap up of the Brother Eye arc, and then the wrap up of Tynion’s run as a whole.  Nicely enough, DC actually made this issue 22 pages long with no increase in the price, with the two sections of the story being evenly split coming in at 11 pages each.  I was happier with the epilogue to the run than I was with the conclusion to the Brother Eye plot, but we will get to that in due time.

Before we get to the content however, let’s do a quick role-call so we are all aware of where everyone is and what they are doing.  Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong is chilling in the Belfry where he has control of Brother Eye, the Omacs, Azrael, Batwing, and Red Robin.  Steph and Cassandra are confronting Ulysses, Batman is fighting with Azrael and Batwing, and Red Robin and Batwoman are on a rooftop nearby where Tim has just shown Kate her future.

As the story starts off, this is the very first thing we see.  In the last issue, I mentioned the fact that I was very much aware that the words the characters were speaking were Tynion’s words.  Typically when I read a story I like to get lost in it as if it were actually happening.  And while I was able to lose myself much more in this issue than in the last, there were a few moments when I thought about what was being said from a real world perspective.  This first line being one of those.

It actually made me want to rereading the arc bearing this in mind.  One of the greatest criticisms Tynion’s run faced was that it continually made Batman look bad.  And while this line doesn’t do anything to change that, it’s telling to see the creator put it front and center that his arc was never about Batman, but these two.  In a way, it almost makes me wish Batman wouldn’t have been around as much as he was.  With six other characters to fill the pages, we weren’t lacking on characters to follow.  Batman could have checked in from time to time, allowing Kate and Tim to run the show.  Which, incidentally, was what Batman had intended to do anyway.  Given that, it does make one wonder why he was around so much micro managing things instead of letting the team he put together run itself.  Oh wait, I know the answer to that.  Batman’s presence increases sales.

As I said, the Brother Eye section of this story wasn’t my favorite.  It basically boils down to the truth setting everyone free, jumps in the story to fit it all in, and completely rushed resolutions between characters being presented simply because it needed to happen.  Examples of this would be Batman fighting with Azrael and Bawing in a single panel, and then on the very next page fighting a bunch of Omacs.  I guess that panel was him knocking them both out?!?  Then Batman shares what would have been a touching moment with Cass if it hadn’t been in the middle of a brawl with dozens upon dozens of Omacs.  But the most rushed interaction is between Steph and Batman.

There was an entire arc dedicated to Steph’s indecisions in regards to Batman and his methods.  And even after it ended, there were still lingering doubts in Steph throughout the remainder of Tynion’s run.  As far as I am concerned, these two never had a true resolution, and this little monologue she delivered doesn’t really do much to shore up the divide that grew between them.  On top of that, both Steph and Cass come to terms with their problems because they saw that they had in another reality.  Look, preFlashpoint Cass and Steph may as well be different people, since they kind of are.  If you were mad or worried about something, and someone told you not to be because someone else was fine with whatever you had a problem with, it wouldn’t placate you.  It might actually make you more upset in some instances.  You can’t just change the way you feel about something just because you are told or shown that you should.  You need to work through that and come to terms with it on your own in a realistic way, and this just isn’t that.

In regards to Tim, Kate, and Bruce; we learn that the future we’ve been shown is a lie, orchestrated by Brother Eye and Ulysses to make Tim go nuts.  Personally, I never believed that Kate was going to go down the path we were shown.  Even after killing Clayface, there were several instances in the story where she openly acknowledged that in perfect situations she agreed with Batman’s stance on not killing and only would do so if no other option presented itself.  While that doesn’t wipe away the conflict between the two over killing Clayface, it does show me that there is no real reason that the conflicts would have escalated.

While Kate still kills Bruce in the future that Tynion presents to us, it’s a mercy killing since he is dying of radiation poisoning as opposed to it being over a conflict of ideologies.  Now I’m not going to complain too much about Kate killing Bruce, since it is some weird future that will never really happen, so no point in spending more time on it than it deserves.  But still, Bruce would never give up.  It’s simply not in his character to do so.  He would fight to the bitter end and die trying if need be.  So, seeing him sit there and just give up was insulting.  You know Bruce would have found a way to carry on.  Some cure that could only exist in a comic book or something like that. But like I said, it really doesn’t matte that much, so I’m going to move on.

While him giving up irked me, I did however like what he had to say right before submitting to his fate.

I really appreciate this perspective on the character.  While being Batman does do good for others, it’s by no means a blessing.  It’s basically the only way a broken man knows how to go on.  And if that helps people or inspires them to do good, then that is great.  But ultimately, being Batman started out as a kind of self preservation.  It’s like, he had no choice but to go down this path in order to live, but everyone else that follows him chose it.  Choosing to do good, but also choosing to live the horrible life that he sentenced himself to.  And why would you want that kind of life for the people you care about?  Being Batman is his burden to bear, and definitely not a gift or a reward for someone else to take up.

After seeing the truth, Tim comes out of his stupor, and Steph turns control of Brother Eye and the Omacs over to him.  At this point, all Tim has to do is shut stuff off or take over and fully embrace insanity (which makes this a pretty easy win for the good guys and nowhere near the threat it seemed).  On the one hand we have Steph urging him to make the right decision, and on the other we have Ulysses urging him to become the FutureTim we all know that Tim has been saying he doesn’t want to become.  Not really the best way to motivate someone there, now is it, Ulysses?  Regardless of how obvious the decision Tim was going to make was, I still got glassy eyed when Steph urged Tim to do the right thing.

Part of that might be because Tim is, indeed, my favorite Robin.  But I still go the feels.

This is the last shot from the Brother Eye portion of the story, and maybe it’s because I was already choked up over Steph’s dialogue about Tim, but this one hit me hard too.  If you aren’t aware, Kate’s book has been canceled, and I don’t see Tim in anything in the foreseeable future either.  So, it may be that this is goodbye to these two for awhile.  And that makes me sad.

Ok…onto the epilogue.

Bruce and Kate

Much like the stuff between Bruce and Steph and Cassandra, the resolution to the conflict between Bruce and Kate doesn’t really get worked out.  It ultimately boils down to them being family, and you can’t stay made at family.  And while I agree with that to some extent, it would have been nice to see them actually discuss it over just sweeping it under the rug.

Another thing that was unacceptable as far as I am concerned is that the fate of The Colony is entirely too wishy-washy.  Bruce says that the president assured him that it was disbanded.  Now, I didn’t go back and look, but as I recall, something similar happened at the conclusion to the first story arc of Tynion’s run.  If the president was mistaken then, what is to say he isn’t mistaken this time as well.

The Batwoman story gets wrapped up with her swinging off into the night to continue to fight the good fight against crime and the forces of evil.  First, I’ve never been a fan of those types of endings.  Second, as I already mentioned, we know her book was cancelled.  So, even if she is fighting the good fight somewhere, I guess it will have to happen off panel.  But, in a way, I’m fine with that.  She was always off on her own fighting the weird supernatural stuff in the dark anyway.  Let her continue to do that.

Batwing and Azrael

They were never key characters in Tynion’s run, so I wasn’t too upset at the fact that their send-off amounted to nothing more than a quick commentary by Kate as to what the two of them were up to.

Cassandra Cain

Cass moves into Leslie Thompkin’s clinic and ends up getting a new tutor who is going to teach her how to speak and become a better person: Barbara Gordon!  That is totally tugging on my nostalgia strings since Barbara was Cassandra’s mentor preFlashpoint.  But it also makes sense.  In the issue where the inner circle of the BatFamily met to discuss Kate, Barbara did bring up Cass and her situation.  So, it only makes sense to follow through on this.  It’s also easier to accept Cassandra’s ending since we know that it isn’t really and end for her as she is going to be featured in the upcoming Detective Comics issues presented by writer Bryan Hill.


That’s right!  Basil Karlo lives!!!!  My god, I love Tynion’s work on Basil.  I so hope that DC doesn’t sweep the advancements made with the character under the rug.  I really really really want to see these two reunited.  And the fact that he lives Cass a note stuck to her door using clay means she will be aware of the fact that he actually lived.  So, if she does nothing to seek him out, I’ll be perturbed.

But…but I thought he died?!?  Well, it isn’t explained how he lived, but Doctor Victoria October was with him, so I think it is safe to assume she had something to so with his reanimation.

Tim and Stephanie

They drive off into the sunset and live happily ever after.  Well, the “happily ever after” part is just my wishful thinking.  But they really do drive off into the sunset.  See:

However, instead of giving up Robin and going off to school, Tim and Steph decide to go track down leads and find out more information concerning these other diverging timelines Brother Eye exposed them too (how one goes about doing that…I have no clue).  And while that is cool and all, it’s very unlikely that we will ever get back to preFlashpoint anyway.  So, to tease us with it is just cruel.  I would have preferred he just go off to school and have a normal life.  I mean, that is the whole purpose of being Robin anyway.  To help them get over grief and rage and to eventually have normal lives.  In Tim’s case, he did seek out being Robin, but still.  If we aren’t going to have Tim around anymore, let us know that he embraced that normal life we are always getting teased with.  Besides, if I want to read Tim Drake stories, I have hundreds upon hundreds of them I can still dive into.  I don’t really need new adventures when I have so many good ones from the past.  And hey, some people out there need things to be new to enjoy them.  Well, if you’ve never read them, technically, they are still new to you.  So, I urge you to go read the adventures of Tim Drake that unfolded from 1989 to 2011.  It’s a really great ride!


He swinging off into the night to continue to fight the good fight against crime and the forces of evil.  Seriously?  Two of these in the same comic.  And that’s basically the last two pages.  So even though those pages are free, they don’t amount to anything, so what was the point in giving them to us?  We know he isn’t going to stop being Batman, do we really need two pages to remind us of that….

Art for this issue is handled by Eddy Barrows.  He and Alvaro Martinez were the main artists for most of Tynion’s run, so it’s nice to see one of them come back for the finale.  Leading up to the finale we were plagued with fill-in artists that didn’t really come anywhere near to the skill these two have.  Personally I preferred Alvaro Martinez to Eddy Barrows.  But having at least one of them on the finale was eagerly welcomed.

Recommended if…

  • You want to see how Tynion finishes his run on Detective Comics.


The finale to Tynion’s run on Detective Comics isn’t anywhere near being a home run.  It skips far too much stuff in order to fit it all in, has far too many conveniences, and rushes or straight up ignores some of the character resolutions.  Given all that, when you do hit the good parts, and there are a few, it’s pretty great.  This one does end up being a real mixed bag, filled with greatness right alongside severely lacking moments.  Unfortunately, those lacking moments do edge out the good stuff a little too much to call this a worthwhile conclusion.  It’s passable, but hardly ideal.

SCORE: 6 / 10