DETECTIVE COMICS #959 BY JAMES TYNION IV, ALVARO MARTINEZ, AND RAUL FERNANDEZ
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
DETECTIVE COMICS #959 is a strong addition to a terrific run by James Tynion IV. It reintroduces strong, new characters while developing returning ones. The art by Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez continues to be a hallmark for DC in general. Tynion is simply planting seeds for the future but so far "Intelligence" is an exciting arc for DETECTIVE COMICS.
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James Tynion IV has done a fantastic job of putting ancillary members of the Bat-family into the forefront of his stories. DETECTIVE COMICS #959 is no exception. This second part of the new “Intelligence” arc focuses on Jean-Paul Valley (AKA Azrael)’s mysterious past and the formal introduction of Zatanna into DC Rebirth. Meanwhile, a threat from the Order of St. Dumas forces the Bat-family to defend Gotham from “divine justice.” DETECTIVE COMICS continues to deliver on the team dynamic of protecting the city. The characters are well written and compelling, even if some of them have little to do in this issue. All in all, Tynion continues to expand Batman’s lore while writing interesting stories and action.

Detective Comics #959
DETECTIVE COMICS #959 page 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Divine Justice

Part of what makes Tynion’s run on DETECTIVE COMICS so good is its focus on bigger and more mysterious menaces to Gotham. ALL-STAR BATMAN and BATMAN have covered classic villains such as Bane, Catwoman, Joker, Hugo Strange, and Mr. Freeze. Tynion has done a great job writing about larger, yet stranger. forces such as General Kane’s militant Colony and Lady Shiva’s group of ninja’s known as the League of Shadows. Now the focus is on the Order of St. Dumas.

READ: Want to see more of Batman’s classic villains? Here’s our review of BATMAN #25!

The Order of St. Dumas was a part of Batman’s lore that I never truly understood. Whenever I thought of St. Dumas, my mind would naturally gravitate to Jean-Paul Valley and his role in BATMAN: KNIGHTFALL. In this classic story, he took over the role of Batman before being taken down by the Bat himself. Besides this character, the Order of St. Dumas meant very little to me. As far as secret societies go, it seemed less compelling than the League of Assassins or the Court of Owls.

Because of this, I was excited when I heard that Valley was returning for Tynion’s DETECTIVE COMICS as a member of Batman’s team. I think Rebirth is the perfect opportunity for a great writer to make their mark on Azrael, the former acolyte of the Order of St. Dumas. The Order is basically a bunch of technologically-savvy crusaders running through Gotham boasting about enforcing “God’s justice”. It’s a really fun addition to Batman’s world, so I hope that Tynion will be able to stick the landing with this “Intelligence” arc.

Characters in this Issue

This issue did a fantastic job of peering into the past of Azrael. I can’t wait for this arc to continue to dissect his character. I believe he adds a really interesting element into the Bat-family. We have quite a few members wearing tights and cowls so it’s interesting to see somewhere brandishing a hood, armor, and swords.

On the other hand, I wasn’t as keen on Ascalon, the Order’s robotic assassin. I hope it isn’t the main villain of this arc. While Ascalon makes for a threatening villain, it’s not an extremely compelling one. Tynion already hints at more problems up ahead for Batman and his team by the end of this issue; hopefully, these new threats will be more interesting.

The Detective and The Magician

One of the highlights of this newest issue was witnessing the return of Zatanna. In this iteration of her character, she has a long history with Bruce. It is telegraphed that the two had a relationship but that their two life paths didn’t intersect. Despite one focusing in magic and the other in vigilantism, the two have great chemistry between them.

DETECTIVE COMICS #959
DETECTIVE COMICS #959 page 17. Image Courtesy of DC Entertainment.

This series has done a great job of playing Bruce’s character off of others, such as Katherine Kane and Stephanie Brown. Zatanna illuminates another side of Bruce; a younger and more unsure one. He adorably refers to her as “Zee” and lets down his guard next to her, which is great to see from this character. It will be interesting to see how their relationship evolves through the next few issues.

READ: Love all things Batman? Here’s an article on Batman: Mask of The Phantasm!

Perfect Batman Art

I haven’t spoken about the art yet because it is, as is usual for this series, great. The art just makes me think of DC and everything I like about this franchise. When I think of DC, I think of how it balances its self-serious themes and larger than life characters with a sense of joy and excitement. The mix of dark shading with a collection of bright flares (especially with Zatanna) makes it a uniquely DC comic, meaning it has a perfect balance of darkness with color. Martinez and Fernandez have made some of the most consistently great artwork for this run of DETECTIVE COMICS.

Final Thoughts on Detective Comics #959

DETECTIVE COMICS #959 introduces fascinating new elements into this comic book series while hinting at exciting things to come in its future. The great characters and writing are the bedrock of this story. I wish we could see a bit more of Batwoman, Orphan, and Clayface but I understand that Tynion is trying to develop other characters. The introduction of Zatanna cements her place as a major player with upcoming storylines hopefully coming soon. For those who’ve loved this series as much as I have, this issue won’t disappoint!

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