Detective Comics #934 by James Tynion IV, Eddy Barows, Eber Ferriera, & Adriano Lucas
YES. So much yes. Who would have thought another reboot of DC’s universe would turn the tables for the better? After the disaster that the Batwoman series ended in (a hard fall from such a spectacular beginning), I was worried Kate Kane would be overlooked in DC’s Rebirth. When I found out she’d be featured in Detective Comics as a major player, I didn’t get my hopes up. Odds were the writer they ended up choosing wouldn’t be able to handle her well.
I should’ve paid more attention. I had no idea James Tynion IV would be writing this run! I’m very intentional about which comics I read. Usually, they feature a female protagonist and/or one or more queer characters. Tynion’s work has impressed me more than once, with series like Constantine: The Hellblazer and Cognetic, with leads who are openly rainbowtastic but not solely defined by their sexual or gender identity. A quick scroll through his Wikipedia page says he’s “openly bisexual” (isn’t it glorious?!), which is great to see queer creators making queer comics (because double levels of inclusion!). But enjoying a writer’s previous work doesn’t guarantee you’ll enjoy their work in a different context.
So I flipped open the issue and started reading.
I’ve never cared for Azrael, but there he is on the first page. I still didn’t care about him at the end of his scene, but I did care about what I’d learned by the end of that exchange…
And now for some minor spoilers (that you can somewhat infer from the cover anyway).
Batman asks Batwoman for help to train a new generation of superheroes and prepare them for some big-bad that’s going to come after them in the future. Here’s the important part: he admits she’d be better at it than he would because she knows how to work in a team, and he wants them to be equal partners.
*arms raised victoriously over my head* THANK YOU, JAMES TYNION IV!!! Thank you for acknowledging how valuable and capable a character Kate Kane is, and for presenting it in such a badass way. Thank you for explicitly having Batman acknowledge it. There’s plenty more to the whole “equality” between our lead Bats here, but I’ll save the surprise. Let me just say, it’s amusing and Tynion really shows off how cool Kate is. She’s also kinda sassy! I love me a sassy, out-and-proud Kate Kane!
Another delightful surprise? Batman isn’t just dark, broody, serious, and emotionally closed off. He’s accessible. He smiles, shows genuine emotion, accepts being teased, and knows when to ask for help. He also believes in redemption. The reason I became interested in Batman as a character in the first place was when I read Gail Simone’s version of him in her Batgirl run. We know he’s tough, but he also has a heart. A lot of writers forget that. But it’s the heart that makes Batman interesting. It’s the heart that makes Batman human. I’m thrilled Tynion hasn’t forgotten that.
Then our beloved Bat-bosses start recruiting their new babies:
Tim Drake as “Red Robin”. I haven’t read Tim before, but I’m curious.
“The Spoiler” aka. Stephanie Brown. I’ve also never read her but I’ve always wanted to (I have a soft spot for Batgirls). It’s hard to find any of her run of Batgirl in hardcopy though, and I insist on reading it on paper. Thankfully, this series is going to give me a chance to get to know her!
Speaking of Batgirls, Cassandra Cain’s here! As “Orphan”… Not so sure about the name but I guess it matches her… darker roots? Though her redesigned uniform looks pretty cool, I’m really missing the bat ears. There’s probably a good reason for it (like maybe they want to distance her from the Bat Family associations – specifically Batgirl), but… Look, I just miss the ears, okay?!
And Clayface. I didn’t expect to sympathize with him, but Tynion makes it happen. I love a well-written bad-to-good transformation, and I’m very interested in how he’ll develop as a character.
All in all, I’m very impressed with this first issue. I tend to shy away from team series due to their general lack of individual character development. Only one writer comes to mind who pulls off individual and group development with consistently high quality: Gail Simone. Tom Taylor does a fantastic job with Injustice, but I haven’t read enough team books by him to gauge his consistency. Tynion seems intent on building a solid team of distinct characters who’ll have their own development as the series progresses. I am so excited for this series.