Batman Detective Comics Vol. 1: Rise of the Batmen
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Eddy Barrows, Alvaro Martinez, Al Barrionuevo, Raúl Fernández, Eber Ferreira
Publisher: DC Comics
A review by Stephanie Cooke
Batman Detective Comics is a little bit of a deceiving title as it isn’t really focused on Batman at all, but rather (like the Vol. 1 title says) the BatMEN (and women!) within Gotham City. The main character of this series is Kate Kane (aka Batwoman) as she takes on a role as a Batleader alongside Batman to recruit and train the other vigilantes of their city.
Batwoman and Batman very literally take Tim Drake (Red Robin), Stephanie Brown (Spoiler), Cassandra Cain (Orphan), and Basil Karlo (Clayface) under their wing, helping to refine their skills and make them even better at what they do. Batman, of course, has ulterior motives for putting together this merry band of Batfolk though and very quickly the team realizes what’s at stake.
James Tynion IV has been working with Scott Snyder and co. on Batman for a while now on a few different books over the last couple of years. Everything I’ve read from Tynion’s Batverse has been great, but his writing on Detective Comics is definitely his best work to date within this world. You can tell that Tynion likes these characters a lot and is having fun shaking things up and figuring out how they would all function together. The dynamic is definitely interesting to watch unfold as Batwoman takes the lead in place of Batman and how the “trainees” respond to her decisions and commands.
The story takes twists and turns that I genuinely didn’t expect and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride from the beginning to end of this arc.
We’ve seen some really crappy books come out of having a woman take the lead for a team book (Brian Wood’s X-Men, I’m totally looking at you…) but thankfully the focus here isn’t on any drama within the ranks. The story revolves around exactly that: the story. There’s no needless antics contributing to what’s happening and I love that.
The one thing I craved was more Stephanie Brown-esque shenanigans within the story… the character is prone to sarcasm and the tone of the book is generally pretty serious so I GET IT. I’ll always have Bryan Q. Miller’s run for that and right now while DC is tentatively letting her out in the world, I’ll take whatever I can get. It’s just great that DC has decided to use her and while I loved her as Batgirl, I think it’s amazing that she gets to be Spoiler again, giving her a chance to not just be “the other Batgirl”.
Stephanie Brown’s relationship with Tim Drake is all I want in this world too. They’re so adorable together and it’s kind of silly to be like THEY HAVE SUCH GREAT CHEMISTRY when they’re deliberately written that way but I really enjoy how they interact with one another and how they have each other’s backs.
Batwoman is perfect. She has so many conflicted feelings that come out over the course of the book but she never lets that change how she behaves when people are relying on her. She is always ready to kick ass and make sure that she’s doing the right thing for her. I LOVE seeing her in a more prominent role within the Batverse, and I hope that this ultimately leads to more and more Batwoman stuff.
The art on the book from Eddy Barrows, Alvaro Martinez, Al Barrionuevo, Raúl Fernández, and Eber Ferreira is consistently great. There are swap outs here and there like you occasionally see so I won’t get into who did what but the styles really mesh well together and you don’t notice any drastic changes throughout the storyline. There were a few really interesting page layouts within the book too. I don’t know where it took place in terms of the issues, but there’s one panel that’s shaped like a pint glass and has a beer-coloured tone layered on top of the art and it was really neat. Interesting layouts and panel work have followed Batwoman from book to book since J.H. Williams III’s work on Elegy several years ago now. I’m sure there was more before that but Elegy was my first proper introduction to the character so it stands out to me for a number of different reasons (with #1 being that it’s freaking fantastic).
Buy it! Batman Detective Comics is easily my favourite of the titles coming out from DC Comics right now. Rebirth surprised me with how good it’s been for the most part, but Tynion knocks it out of the park with this series and brings us numerous fan favourites all in one great book. It’s a nice distraction from bigger storylines going on in the DC Universe and with characters that DC is ultimately too concerned with (Batman obviously excluded), Tynion really seems to have a lot of places he can go with the stories. It’s a fun change of pace and you can jump into the book and enjoy it even if you have no previous experience with ANY of the characters within it, Batman included.