Review: Detective Comics #934

Every arc, Gotham burns. It's what I use to describe what has made me tired of Batman comics in the post Scott Snyder DCU. Volume after volume of recent Batcomics have relied on utter devastation of Gotham to tell stories. In 'Zero Year' the Riddler 'No Man Land'ed Gotham, turning it into an overgrown post-apocalyptic landscape. In 'Endgame' the Joker made Joker zombies out of most of the citizens of Gotham. 'Batman Eternal' literally started with a crucified Bruce Wayne looking out over a city engulfed in flames. And most recently, a Mecha Batsuit had a kaiju fight with a skyscraper sized Mr. Bloom. While featuring moments I actually like (I'm the odd man out at 'Bastards' who thinks that 'Zero Year' was actually one of the best Batman stories in recent memory) the constant state of escalation and grandeur has grown wearisome, losing any sort of punch and tearing to shreds the suspension of disbelief that anyone would ever live in Gotham City. People live in New York despite an urban-center crime rate, but if 9-11 happened every other month, you'd get the fuck out of there. Not to mention, it misses the point of Batman. It emphasizes the Frank Miller Warrior Bat, the stoic cowled Spartan fighting to protect some abstract concept of a city that is constantly rubble-ized, ignoring the thousands of other stories that can exist when you don't only measure drama by how many buildings you can knock over.

Detective_Comics_934_coverWhich takes us to the premiere issue of 'Detective Comics' in the apparently Rebirthed DCU, retaining its pre-reboot numbering. We begin with Azrael getting buttkicked by a faux-Batman, seemingly as a message to the real deal when he shows up a moment later. Taking this as some portent of impending destruction, Batman recruits Batwoman to help him train a new Batsquad to survive and defeat this new threat: The Spoiler, Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain, and Clayface. While I won't spoil it, the threat is teased, and I can already smell the smoke of the Gotham skyline toasting.

I haven't read Detective Comics since Wolverine was still alive and reading this reminded me why. As tiresome as Snyder's Batman got from 'Endgame' on, it always stood as a title trying things out (for better or worse) with a definitive author's voice and distinctive art on deck. 'Detective Comics' feels like shelf filler, as paint-by-numbers as a Batman book can get, devoid of enthusiasm or risk. It's not unreadable or offensive, just Here To Go, with only this review to remind myself that I did in fact read this comic. There was one idea I did like, the rehabilitation of Clayface as a thug turned possible hero has nice narrative potential and isn't an unprecedented take on the character, but it's far than enough to bring me back, especially when our glimpse at things to come seems shockingly derivative of Rocksteady's 'Arkham Knight'.

The art is... there. It's consistent but stiff, with compositions that leave pages feeling dense, even cluttered. I might put some of the blame on the coloring however, very nice in some panels but in others doing a less than stellar job of sorting the information, making some pages feel blandly flat and others feel more claustrophobic than before. And hey, the writer gets credit for this too, featuring talking heads and team shots on the same page that must be difficult to parse for any art team. Again, like everything in the book, not awful, but I won't remember a line of it in the morning.

Gotham will burn again, but only in this book. Do you really think that the two main Bat-titles will cross over with this? No, because even DC, whose name is derived from the title of this comic, considers these books an afterthought. Scott Snyder's superstar title has kept their fingers clinging to the edge of the Best Seller list for months, letting his arcs dominate other books whenever the scale feels precedented (how many of you flipped through 'Red Hood and the Outlaws' for the first and only time because of 'Death of the Family'?) because it's Scott's Batworld, everyone else just writes in it. Gotham will burn, and not even DC is impressed by that anymore. Why should we?

[su_box title="Score: 2/5" style="glass" box_color="#8955ab" radius="6"]

Detective Comics #934
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Eddy Barrows
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99
Release Date: 6/8/16
Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital