By James Tynion IV, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Adriano Lucas, Marilyn Patrizio
DC has had a longstanding tradition of giving us numerous Batman titles. Let’s face it, Batman is super awesome and he sells a lot of books simply by having his name on a cover. That’s why it’s so great when DC occasionally gives each Batbook its own theme. It’s a nice way to diversify and tell different stories without having to lose sales numbers.
Right out of the gate, Tynion IV differentiates his book from Tom King’s Batman. While King obviously has more expansive plans for Batman and Duke Thomas, Tynion IV appears to be getting Batman’s supporting cast in order by building them up again. It’s an emphasis on the other characters that give us a more grounded look at Gotham.
The new lineup is quite interesting. They’re characters that have been around in numerous ways throughout the years and this is a more subtle attempt to create a more pre-Flashpoint Bat Family, while also coming up with something new. Tim Drake is still Red Robin, but is now wearing a suit that resembles his original pre-New 52 Robin costume. Spoiler and Cassandra Cain are largely unchanged from their recent New 52 stories, so it will be interesting to see if any changes are applied later on.
Batwoman is also on the team. This is where Tynion IV does his best work. She’s presented as a very strong and capable woman who is on equal footing with Batman himself. The dynamic between her and Bruce is already a strong part of this story. Unfortunately, the villain that the two are preparing their new team for comes off as a little dull and cliché. However, not a lot of information is given and we’re willing to give Tynion IV time to flesh everything out before declaring the new bad guys a bust.
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the story is the inclusion of Clayface. Instead of being a boring villain used as a glorified jobber, Batman has him join the new team, offering him a shot at redemption. This is a great touch to the story that makes Detective Comics worth following by default. It’s reminiscent of the time when Riddler switched sides and became a detective.
Visually, the new Detective Comics is looking promising. Any series with Batwoman in it has an uphill battle to climb with critics. In many ways, JH Williams’ art was the definitive take on the character. It’s hard to match that kind of consistent quality. Barrows has done a ton of work for DC and fearlessly adapts the Williams style when needed while incorporating his own strengths. Plenty of panels are framed to harken back to that Williams method, offering a taste of the past while ushering the character of Batwoman into a new era. Inker Eber Ferreira and colorist Adriano Lucas have also done some wonderful work. There’s a lot of trademark Gotham City shadows and blackness, but they weren’t afraid to let the brighter costume colors pop out of the page.
Detective Comics is off to a great start. Tynion IV has always had a knack for writing secondary Gotham characters, so this is obviously where he should be. With the current art team, this series has a lot going for it.