It all comes down to this! Can Batman stop Equilibrium before it’s too late? Find out, in Batman: The Detective #6.
Too much time, too little time
Two months is a long time to wait between issues in any comic series, but with my interest in The Detective waning over the last few installments, two months is practically fatal. There wasn’t all that much that I enjoyed in #5, so carving time out of a busy schedule to reread it proved impossible—if not practically, then psychologically.
What light through yonder window breaks?
As if to answer my concerns, the final issue begins with a scene that would work just fine as the start of a story; with no prior knowledge of the series, a reader would nevertheless find character threads to invest in, a philosophical enemy for Batman, and, of course, great action and visual storytelling. For a series that has lately seemed to be spinning its wheels, this is a welcome change of pace, and my interest is renewed.
And if that’s not enough, the next scene provides some subtly-masked comic relief. You could just as easily read it as rather grim, but I suspect Taylor knows what he’s doing here, and I would be curious to know if he is deliberately channeling the 60s Batman film, or if I’m just reading it in. Regardless, I’m entertained.
But then Taylor went present-day Taylor
There were hints of Taylor’s social interests earlier in the series, but I believe #6 is the first time he makes an actual argument. Sometimes, Taylor makes these sorts of arguments well—Jean Grey’s explanation for why mutants need a nation, in X-Men: Red, for example. But here, the argument doesn’t make as much sense. He tries to pull at your heart strings—suggesting, through Beryl, that Batman has “ended a family”—but he leaves the tough questions off the table, as though his surface-level emotional appeal is an iron-clad critique. I haven’t even spent much time thinking about this, but here’s a really good question: what kind of life would a child have if her mother was caught up in the sort of business that leads to warehouse fires?
Pardon the interruption
While Social Taylor does come back before the book is over, what remains is largely an extended action sequence closing out the story. There’s a fantastic, very-Batman moment where our hero goes to bat (intended, not sorry) for his enemy, some crazy Kubert pain-making, and even a surprise appearance from some heretofore-absent allies. It’s fun.
It’s fun, that is, until Taylor completely bails himself out of having to come up with a way for Batman to beat Equilibrium. I won’t spoil it here—you’ll know it when it happens—but it was an incredibly disappointing, boring shortcut. In the space of one page, we’re introduced to a seemingly insurmountable threat, which is immediately explained away by Batman (with a little help from some friends).
The real problem here is that Taylor paced the story poorly, and we shouldn’t be introduced to this threat with less than half an issue to go, but regardless, it’s such a cheap-feeling moment, and it drags things down from what was largely a high-point in the series overall.
Even so, this is one of The Detective’s better issues, and while I can’t imagine I’ll be taking this trip again in the future, I can at least appreciate an uptick in quality for the final act.
- You like action in your Batman stories
- Your sense of humor is capable of going beneath the surface
Batman: The Detective #6 is a fitting end to a series that never quite lived up to its potential. There’s much to like, but it suffers from shallow thinking, poor planning, and a self-sabotaged climax. If you’ve been trade-waiting this book, I suggest you find it at your local library before investing the money.