Review: DETECTIVE COMICS #940 Author: Bobby Barrett (Follow @BATBOBBY)
Date: September 25, 2016
SYNOPSIS: "Rise of the Batmen, Part 7!"
This epic concludes with a battle against the Colony that will change Batman’s world forever—and in a way you’d never expect! Whether they win or lose, they’ve already lost…
"Rise of the Batmen" reaches its conclusion in DETECTIVE #940, and the game has already been changed. As Batwoman confronts her father aboard the Colony's aircraft, Batman desperately tries to get himself and the rest of his allies back to the Belfry where Red Robin is facing off an army of strike drones alone. The Colony's plan to wipe out the mysterious League of Shadows has been thwarted, but that doesn't mean Team Batman comes out unscathed.
It's hard to discuss the details of this particular issue without diving too far into spoiler territory, but story wise, let's just say that this was a satisfactory ending to this team's introductory arc that neatly wraps up the crisis immediately at hand while still leaving plenty for the series to explore moving forward…not to mention a major twist that ties in with DC's "Rebirth" universe overall. For those that would like to get a deeper read on the particulars of this chapter, I will break from form and get into some spoilers after this paragraph. Those who wish to proceed, do so; and for those who choose to stop here, just take my advice and read the book. If you're a fan of the Batman Family, you will enjoy it.
For those unaware, this issue featured the apparent death of longtime Robin/current Red Robin Tim Drake. Of course, it turns out to be more of a FINAL CRISIS situation than a DEATH IN THE FAMILY one, so there is definitely more to come from this story than what we're being given at this time. My thoughts on this are mixed: at this point, EVERY Robin has had either a fake death or temporary real death. Comics' original sidekick has become the DC Comics version of Kenny from SOUTH PARK.
And it's not to say that characters shouldn't die, they should from time to time. That's what makes them "real,” The stakes are high in urban vigilante warfare, and the fatality rate for major characters rarely proves that. When it does, it hardly ever lasts. Fan-favorite characters are almost guaranteed a return at some point, and that's where things get ridiculous. At this stage, Batman has already had two Robins legitimately die and come back from the dead later. In more "fantastic" comics, this might be easier to swallow, but when you have a character like Batman who so many people love because some part of the mythos tells them, "this could actually happen…possibly." Constant death and resurrection make a joke out of the life-or-death escapades of The Dark Knight Detective.
Now, we know that there is more to come with this particular case, so it doesn't EXACTLY fall into that "death/rebirth" category, but having that particular fate chosen for that specific character just screams, well, "cliche" at this point.
What I can't fault the hands that dealt it for is not executing (no pun intended) their story with love and care. This issue does a sort of split with its tone, with an action-heavy first have, and a solemn finish. Memories of the terrific BATMAN AND ROBIN (vol. 2) #18 come to mind as the reality of this loss hits the cast of characters. Here we can see a tremendous example of a writer playing to their artist's strengths, as James Tynion IV uses dialogue sparingly, and allows Eddy Barrows to convey the information of several panels through sheer mastery of body language and facial expression.
This is quality comics, and this team has worked hard at making DETECTIVE one of the outstanding DC books of 2016. - Bobby Barrett