Detective Comics #934 review

Bat facts… Batman confronts villain turned vigilante Azrael atop a Gotham building. Things blow up. Batwoman’s dad is trying to convince her to let him help shape her war on crime. Batman sneaks into the apartment Batwoman keeps as Kate Kane and offers her a new role – general to a unit of young crimefighters comprising Spoiler Stephanie Brown, Orphan Cassandra Cain and Red Robin Tim Drake, who’s to be her lieutenant.

Oh, and one more – Clayface, who’s tried to maim (at least) members of the Batman Family uncountable times, but Batman reckons he just needs a break and some tough guidance. Batwoman is understandably dubious but agrees to take him on.  

Why set up this unit now? Because Batman has detected tiny drones, spying on his crimefighting colleagues – someone’s plan involves them all, and ties into Azrael’s talk of a great conspiracy, so why not use the situation as a training mission? The issue ends with a mysterious figure tasking an army of costumed henchmen with destroying Batman’s plans.

I’ve never liked Azrael. I hated him in the Nineties when Batman anointed the gaudy, lank-haired cultist nobody his successor and when he reappeared recently in some Bat-weekly or other, I jumped ship. And here he is in the opening pages of the Rebirthed Detective Comics – back to its heritage numbering after five years – hogging pages. Happily, he’s soon gone, making way for better characters. 

Like Kate Kane, whose stardom fell with a muddled New 52 series. And Tim Drake, whose likeable character vanished with the 2011 changes, now back, still with the rubbish Red Robin name, but in an outfit recalling his classic – bye bye Wings of Idiocy. I’m hardly a Cassandra Cain fan as I’m not one for assassin types, and hated the gimpy way she used to be drawn, but it’s time to give her another chance (shame about the new hero name, though). Spoiler has long had a place in my heart, for being so darn plucky and starring in the best Batgirl series ever.  

Clayface is the wild card, a villain anointed a member of the Batman Family for a paper-thin reason (see also the above-mentioned Azrael and the ludicrous one-year later Two-Face storyline). I should hate his inclusion, but James Tynion IV gifts him the single best scene in the book. 

The big mudball breaks my heart. And there’s another moment, towards the end of this issue, that’s funny but also touching. So, while I don’t know what he’s doing in Bat Boot Camp, I’m rather glad Clayface is there. Who knows what interesting dynamic a reforming supervillain who used to be a rather delicious Hollywood star could bring. I have to assume he’s sincere in his desire to be good, because Tim is sharp as a tack, Steph has great instincts, Kate knows when a troop member ain’t committed and Cassie can literally read body language – he’s not going to be able to lie for long, no matter how good an actor he is. 

It’s the character mix that will see me giving this book a chance, because heaven knows, I don’t need another Gotham conspiracy. Tynion gets off to a good start, with those Clayface moments and Bruce finally coming out to Kate as her cousin (obviously, she already knew). 

There’s a nice scene between Steph and Tim and I’m intrigued by what he means by ‘I got the letter’… college, maybe?

The art of Eddy Barrows is also a big draw, being bold while pulsing with humanity – heck, he manages to sell the sadness of Clayface, who’s basically an amorphous blob with unfortunate teeth (throw money at ’em, Bruce!). Inked by Eber Ferreira, all the characters look superb, and they’re set in some beautifully composed panels, with the colours of Adriano Lucas the brilliant finishing touch – the contrasts of light and shade are exemplary, and when splashes of brightness are needed, the panels pop like crazy. Marilyn Patrizio contributes the pleasingly neat letters. 

That cover, with its snowglobe feel, is the perfect tease for the gorgeousness within – how I love a chiselled logo. Let’s just hope that Barrows, for once, sticks around awhile. The alternate, by Rafael Alburquerqe, is very traditional but rather fine too. 

Detective Comics #934 gets the new direction off to a great start, so let’s see how this latest incarnation of the Batman Family shapes up. 

11 thoughts on “Detective Comics #934 review

  1. So if I have this right, Batwoman is going to “train” three superheroes who have been superheroing for twice as long as she has. Why is Batman still being such a dick to those kids?


  2. I think what he wants is to give them more focus and more military style precision and teamwork. I think he knows Tim is an excellent fighter and strategist, but maybe needs focus.


  3. If you look at Kate's origin, she came into this with top notch military training she excelled at but her father created a costumed adventurer boot camp specially targeted to the goals she had set. She was supremely well trained before she put on a cowl and performed miracles on her cousin. She could be her generation's Wildcat!
    And Clayface has been tipping towards redemption in that putrid Gotham Academy series for a bit so this development isn't out of left field for me…


  4. Hi Brigonos, I was wondering the same thing, but OK to go along with it given we're still on a NEW 52-ish work, so who knows how the relative experience tallies.

    Steve, that makes some kind of sense, thank you.


  5. I have the weirdest feeling that the leader of the batmen or as they are properly call the colony (as in Bat colony) led by Kates dad please don't be true also maybe other Gotham heroes will appear like Calvin Rose the talon Ragman or even Jason Blood an Etrigan


  6. When Rebirth was announced I eagerly selected which books I was going to add to my pull list, and unfortunately Detective was not on there.

    Your reviews, and the generally positive buzz the title has been receiving, persuaded me to give it a go. And I loved it!

    I'd go so far as to say that its the best of Rebirth books that I've read so far. The cast is great, and the storyline has me hooked. So much so that I've just bought the rest of the series and all digitally, which is a first for me with new books (again that's your influence).

    I've read two issues so far and my favourite moment is the smile on Orphan's face when Steph asks if she can have the appartment to herself and Tim. That image instantly made Cassandra my favourite member of the team.

    I haven't been this excited to read a Batbook since Snyder & Capullo took over Batman. Despite buying every issue of their run, I found their long story arcs dragged and I really struggled to read them (i've still got the best part of a year unread). I know that's not going to be the case with this run on Detective.


  7. I'm really chuffed you've found a Gotham City worth coming home to – James Tynion IV has really found his form, while Eddy Barrow's Bat-cycle is firing on all cylinders. Here's to a long pairing.


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