By James Tynion IV, Christian Duce & Alex Sinclair
After the milestone #950 anniversary issue which provided a brief, Cassandra Cain-centric prologue, writer James Tynion IV kicks things off properly with the first chapter of “League of Shadows” establishing a bold new arc for the characters. One thing that this book really benefits from is the fact that Batman is working with a team of unusual allies who haven’t necessarily faced the League of Shadows before. It’s great to see how characters like Batwoman, Orphan, and Clayface are incorporated into the book even if much of the attention was on The Dark Knight himself.
The addition of Lady Shiva is a very promising one, but at the moment we’re still largely in the set-up stage of this arc. Detective Comics #951 does its job of introducing the main players in the game, but beyond that there’s nothing really more that we get to see. There’s an interesting twist at the end, however, that does shake things up a bit. It ends things on a note that will no doubt leave readers waiting for what happens next. One thing that really works here is Tynion IV’s portrayal of the supporting cast; he’s turned Clayface into a likeable supporting character, and Batwoman and Orphan are getting plenty to do as well. It’s a really interesting mix that helps this book continue to stand out and prevents it from being yet another solo Batman series out there on the market. At the same time, Detective Comics manages to appeal to readers who aren’t necessarily fans of team comics and prefer more character-focused work, developing them effectively.
There is one thing that doesn’t quite work as well as everything else in this issue when it comes to the storyline approach and that’s Batman being blamed for somebody else’s criminal actions by the police. By now you’d think they’d know better when Batman shows up, but it just feels forced here as if more tension was needed (as if there wasn’t enough on already). But it’s only a minor issue as most of this issue of Detective Comics is excellent, and it continues to establish itself as one of the best books that make up DC’s Rebirth line.
The pencils by Christian Duce are on point and stand out well from the rest of the other Batman books, helping this book have its own unique visual style. All the characters (and there are a lot of them here) are handled with care and although it may not be the most detailed artwork ever, it does a very good job at fleshing out the scenes and giving them depth. The colors too, from Alex Sinclair, are in top form, giving the book a darker tone that meshes really well with the atmosphere needed to create a good and effective backdrop to the events that are playing out in Gotham City.
Despite a couple of minor issues, Detective Comics #951 is another great entry into this series that no Batman fan should be missing out on. It successfully reinvents characters such as Clayface, weaving an effective issue that does a good job at laying the foundations for the arc to come.