REVIEW: Detective Comics #947

Ah, the festive period.  A chance to catch up on comic books and re-watch movies that may deserve a second chance.  Case in point, this week I sat through Captain America; (should be called Avengers) Civil War, mainly due to the fact that Mrs Hughes had the good sense to miss this the first time around.  During the airport scene Mrs Hughes turns to me and says “It’s true, they pretty much make a mess wherever they go.”  Couple of days later and its Batman Begins and again, lots of stuff gets destroyed, “Still not as bad as the Avengers, sorry Captain America”, I quip.  The point of this little insight into Christmas in the Hughes house is that the very same observations about destruction and the impact of heroes have been made in Detective Comics #947.

Following the battle with the Victim Syndicate  and the subsequent visit whilst recuperating, Stephanie Brown comes up with a third way to deal with the problems posed by the Bat Squad and the Syndicate who hold the lives of the people of Gotham, whom both teams seek to protect, in the balance.  In doing so, we get to see Steph live up to her Spoiler moniker as she takes down members of both teams with subsequent ease, with the exception of you-know-who.  Still in this battle, perhaps all parties end up losing.

James Tynion IV has been working with Batman and his cast for quite some time.  In Detective Comics, he has been able to plot and plan with only the abysmal Monster Men crossover the only interruption.  The strength of this book isn’t really Batman, it’s the people who he interacts with, who he inspires.  Each character has their own relationship with Batman with Tynion allowing each team member to have their moment to shine.  This issue there is heart to hearts with Batwoman (soon to get her own series) and between Clayface and his own personal victim.  Still as good as those parts are, Steph seals the show with her heartfelt plea to Batman.  People thought the inclusion of Clayface on the team was odd, but way back in Batman Eternal Steph wasn’t a big bat fan, before proving her worth in Batman and Robin Eternal.   Having her included in the team made a modicum of sense, even if the romance between her and Tim seemed to happen real quick.  I feel a little bit sorry for Steph;  she is the erstwhile plot device.  Need someone to cause a problem between Bruce and Tim? Steph will do; need someone to die in a gang war? Steph will do.  The only time the character felt like her own person was in her own Batgirl book.  Still, that being said, Tynion tries hard to give her a different voice, even if the “we will be fighting together again” epitaph seems this division is only temporary.   As an aside, this month seems to be Watchman Easter Egg month, so we get a brief catch up with Red Robin.

Alvaro Martinez provides the pencils which during his eight issues has been consistently good.  When this book went through its “Rebirth” Ed Barrows was on point, giving the book a different feel to the main Batman book.  Martinez seems to come from a similar vein, dare I say “house style”; although there may be Fabok elements thrown into the mix.  Here the panels are full of tension as dictated by the script.  Camera angles are well used to create a level of action even through the conversational heavy elements.  There is true emotion on show, no more prevalent at both Cassandra’s and Steph’s unmasking.  The only fly in the ointment is Steph’s eyes when in full Spoiler mode.  With a mask that covers her lower face, there is no reason for her eyes to look like Spoiler circa 1992.  The look of the book is further cemented with inks from Raul Fernandez and  Brad Anderson on colors.  They both help emphasise the emotions on show through complimenting Martinez’ art.

I have said for sometime, that I am enjoying Detective way more than the main Batman book.  To me, there is a lack of pretension and there is a sense of logic that flows.  Very rarely do you get something that works just because “I’m Batman”.  Others will say that Detective suffers because there is no seemingly importance or impact to Batman, the recent letters to Catwoman being an obvious example.  I would argue that Detective’s strength is the relationships between the characters, how Batman interacts with them.  In many ways it is a more genuine interaction than the one shown between Batman and the Justice League.  Amongst the DC Rebirth titles, this book remains one of the most consistently enjoyable.

Writing – 5 Stars
Art – 5 stars
Colors – 5 Stars

(W) James TynionIV (A) Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez (CA) Jason Fabok


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