Author: Peter Verra (Follow @PETER ILLUSTRATED)
Date: February 12, 2017

SYNOPSIS: “League of Shadows” prologue! Celebrate 950 issues of the original Batman series with this extra-sized extravaganza! Cassandra Cain has stayed out of the spotlight on Batman’s team as she slowly comes to terms with the civilized world she was kept away from all her life…but the time for her to step up is fast approaching! Will she ever learn how to fit in among the masses, or will she always be more weapon than woman? Plus: a primer on the history of the League of Assassins, and an adventure with the team’s newest recruit: Azrael, the Avenging Angel!

Detective Comics #950 is an extra sized issue; and like the last issue with Batwoman, we get involved in the backstories of the REBIRTH versions of two long time members of the Bat-Family: Cassandra Cain/Orphan and Jean-Paul Valley/Azreal. We also get a nice Batman/Red Robin confrontation at the end.

Our first adventure LEAGUE OF SHADOWS PROLOUGE: SHADOW OF A TEAR takes us to Orphan (I will never get used to calling her that name) and shows us how she spends her nights, at the ballet. This is really creepy and very horror film-esque, I loved it! Then watching Orphan swing through Gotham with the narration behind her is incredible. Tynion again makes you really feel for the other characters, her pain, ghosts, social issues, constant tactical thinking. We learn that she tries to incorporate her time at the ballet into her fighting making it graceful.

One of the most interesting parts of this story is the relationship of Clayface and Batwing, as we view the scene through Orphans eyes it resembles Reed Richards/The Thing. I am excited to see what develops. Throughout the issue we see the relationships and admiration that Orphan has for her teammates, past and present. She just can’t find a way to express herself, always keeping her distance. As our story unfolds we learn our narrator has an eye on Orphan for a while. I was extremely pleased to find out who the narrator was.

In HIGHER POWERS we focus on Jean-Paul Valley/Azreal and to be honest this character has never sat well with me. I wasn’t a huge fan of him in KNIGHTFALL; the character just falls flat on me. This is just more of the same Order of St. Dumas, sword of death and funny dialogue from Jean-Peal Valley. I did enjoy the back and forth between Jean-Paul and Luke Fox. They are total different sides of the track and agree to disagree; even while training Luke brings in the humor. As we have seen in KNIGHTFALL, Jean-Paul is pretty handy in the workshop and has developed a new toy.

THE BIG PICTURE is the final story in our extra-sized extravaganza. This flashback is the shortest story of our issue and it covers a lot of ground in only three pages. This issue is all about Red Robin letting Batman have it. I haven’t seen a Robin be this vocal or displeased with Batman since Grayson quit in BTAS episode “OLD WOUNDS”. Tim lays it on thick, covering everything from what’s going on in the Belfry, Nightwing, Red Hood, Robin, Duke and a very nice plug for a new title, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. The coolest part of this story for me was seeing the Red Bird back in action. Growing up with Tim Drake off at school using the Red Bird was always a cherished piece of my child hood.

Overall two out of three isn’t bad. The Orphan story is a real treat to those Cassandra Cain fans. The Red Robin/Batman confrontation was extremely interesting. Tynion is at his best when it comes to these ensembles, he juggles everything and nothing is rushed. I just don’t care for Azreal. The writing is top notch throughout the issue and Takara/Martinez and Barrows draw the hell out of the book. I say this is a must read for those who like the Bat-Family. - Peter Verra


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