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Review – Detective Comics #976 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artwork: Javier Fernandez, John Kalisz (colours)
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Release Date: 14th March 2018


 

The Gotham Knights are completely splintered following the events of Batwoman’s trial, with only Red Robin and Batgirl remaining at Batman’s side. Amidst all this friction, Batwoman takes control of her new team and a sinister figure approaches Tim Drake with a proposition.

James Tynion has really given the Bat family a hellish time of late. We watched as the Gotham Knights were formed, tested and succeeded together, working hard to combat the forces against them. We witnessed Clayface’s rehabilitation and training to become a valuable member of the team, forming a close bond with Orphan before slowly, painfully, watching it all being torn down in the face of tragedy. This issue helps underline the damage and mistrust done by the last few issues and the scars that the battles have left are evident on Bruce more than anyone else.

With Kate’s father seemingly wishing to make amends, Batwoman now has resources rivalling Bruce Wayne and the will to lead. Tim still wants to fight his future to prevent his slide into darkness but finds Batman utterly defeated and unwilling to pick up the pieces. It is difficult to see now how things could ever be restored but it will be very interesting to watch how Tynion crafts the rest of this tale over the coming months.

Javier Fernandez is on both pencils and inks this issue, and as is often the case, the artwork is far better for it. The art is bold and the character poses during the action sequences stand out beautifully. Indeed, the panel before the fight with the Talons is pretty much poster worthy! Body language is once again a huge part of this story with everyone being highly emotive as they speak. Every discussion feels believable and, unlike so many other books, we don’t just have talking heads, with everyone conveying their emotions in a realistic fashion.

John Kalisz drapes the entire tale with an oppressive dark palette which matches the narrative perfectly. Most of the book takes place in the dark but more so than usual we feel the weight of the world that weighs on Bruce weighing on the entire book!

It is sad to see the team that weathered so much finally break apart but it is testament to Tynion and his creative team that we feel anything for them at all. We spent so long with these characters getting to know them, watch them develop bonds and really begin to understand and respect each other and given that one of those characters is Clayface just staggers me how sad I was when he was taken out of the picture.

Detective Comics continues to be one of the best books DC is putting out there and this is in no small part due to the time and dedication to the writing that Tynion brings. All of the characters are fleshed out and their motivations are laid bare for us all to see, and it really brings the reader on bored and gives them reason to care about the events as they unfold. As always this continues to be at the top of my pile each month and I am excited to see what happens next.

Rating: 5/5.


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


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