Review – Detective Comics #955 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: James Tynion IV
Art: Marcio Takara
Colours: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Release Date: 26th April 2017

At the end of issue 954, the Bat Family were not in a good place with only Orphan managing to escape the clutches of the League of Shadows.  The outlook was seemingly bleak.  I mean, we all know just how brutal Cassandra Cain can be, but will it enough to win the night?

James Tynion IV uses this issue to flesh out Cassandra’s character and bring some humanity to her that has been absent since the book relaunched.  We get to see both sides of her soul; the ruthless and unequaled fighter and the innocent child who is struggling to make herself heard.  There are a few very touching moments like when she makes a new friend outside of the Bat Family, and I think her character benefits from the spotlight giving her a clear motivation for being in Batman’s team going forward.  In lesser hands these moments could have felt very ham-fisted but Tynion takes the time to add weight to the events currently in motion.

Marcio Takara really outdoes himself this issue, pencilling some of the most epic and visceral battle sequences in the series to date.  There is arterial spray all over the majority of the panels, bodies literally falling all over the place, and the centre pages are worthy of being made into a print or poster of some sort.  It carries a sort of grotesque beauty, displaying the sheer beauty of the violence as Cassandra controls every move into a hideous yet hypnotic dance.  That isn’t to say the emotional panels with Cassandra and her new friend are any less majestic, in fact even more than the action we get to see a lonely girl with a deep sadness in her eyes struggling to be the thing that is expected from her.

Marcelo Maiolo really brings the whole symphony of death to life in vibrant reds and deep blacks, giving every battle a hellish visage.  Every droplet of blood adds to the ocean of death rising around her feet whilst the very sky itself shines a majestic crimson, as if infected by the aura of the fighters below.

Issue 954 was a strong lead into this fight but this latest chapter surpasses it in epic fashion.  The book hammers home seemingly contradictory messages before reaching its only logical conclusion.  As we have already witnessed, this series is very much a team book and that team was chosen to support Batman when he needs to lean on someone.  The book succeeds on both a narrative and visual level, weaving a compelling narrative with striking visual prowess that is a credit to the creative team and DC comics as a whole.

I’d still very much recommend anyone looking to pick this up do so only after reading from issue 950 onwards, as it provides much of the context to the current events.  The series is well paced and it shouldn’t take anyone long to catch up, but I definitely feel it’s a worthwhile in the end.

Detective Comics continues to be a fantastic team book and isn’t afraid to put the spotlight on its cast of characters who never feel second rate, even when compared to Batman himself.  Definitely a series fans of Batman should be reading, but this is equally accessible to those still cutting their teeth on the post-Rebirth continuity.

Rating: 5/5.

[Click to Enlarge]

The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
John Tweets from @ShinKagato

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