Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Detective Comics #938: A Review


By Zak Edwards
August 18, 2016 - 10:06

I showed up late to the Detective Comics Party. Such tardiness left me with two major assumptions. First, that the bad guys didn’t have a name. I just called them “The Bat-militia.” It turns out that their name is “The League of Shadows.” Mine’s better.

Orphan, the muscle. Detective Comics #938 art by Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, and Brad Anderson.
The more important assumption is that Batman was taking a back seat in the book. It was an amazing assumption, one that let me get into the other amazing characters in the book. As someone who hasn't read much Batman outside the classics, meeting these characters was an absolute delight. But assuming Batman was a secondary, even absent character was also a little nerve-wracking. Somewhere inside, I knew Batman was going to come back. When he did, would  he assume the mantle of Brigadier-General-in-Charge-of-Bat-Teams once again? Would the other characters slowly fade into the background to make room for the Dark Knight? Well, not if Kate Kane has anything to do with it.

About a third of the way through the issue, Kane (aka. Batwoman) tells Batman to shut up. She’s in charge, she tells him, and it’s going to stay that way until the situation changes. It made me smile and it certainly made Kane smile, who takes charge of the situation and doles out the orders. Batman's lines are almost non-existent, and certainly of little consequence.

Kane's best order leads to this page on the right, my main highlight from the issue. She sends in "the muscle," and it's not the gigantic, creepy scab thing called Clayface. It's orphan, and she kicks the crap out of all the Bat-soldiers. It's amazing fun, especially when you see the aftermath near the issue's end.

Detective Comics has become a book about women characters taking charge, kicking the crap out of things, and saving a life or two. It’s important to note, not just because Bat-books usually assume Bruce Wayne is leader for really no reason, but because this story isn’t about Batman. It’s about Batwoman and her relationship to her father. Straight from the start of the issue, that's made abundantly clear, and rendered beautifully by the guest art team.

When DC announced bi-monthly books, I was worried about the art and art teams. Getting two full issues out a month seemed impossible, many struggle to do just one, but Alvaro Martinez and the rest of the art team have done an admirable job every time. Of course, this month they get a little help from Al Barrionuevo and co., whose beautiful, washed-out, painted flashback makes up the first four pages. Adriano Lucas’ colours are the true star here, with a simple red and white palette that adds to the swirly, faded feel of a memory.

Flashback sequence by Al Barrionuevo and Adriano Lucas.
The shift back to the regular art team is almost too jarring, but of course they’re accomplishing two different goals. For Barrionuevo, it's a searing memory, one that’s been distorted with time but never forgotten. For Martinez et al, the goal is an action-packed romp in an underground military facility. And it's exactly that: a ton of fun.

Detective Comics is the biggest surprise for me out of all the Rebirth titles, mostly because I was expecting something completely different. This reboot event, always about bringing things back to where they were, didn’t seem interested in shaking up the formula with the flagship titles, but here it is, thoroughly shaken. Detective Comics isn't about a brooding Bruce Wayne, it's a fun Bat-team book that puts the lady characters out front and is all the better for it.

tl;dr review: Orphan kicks the crap out of an entire room of Bat-soldiers. Batwoman tells Batman to shove it. Case closed.

Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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