DETECTIVE COMICS #962 By James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martinez, and Raul Fernandez
Art
Characterization
Story
Summary
James Tynion IV delivers a killer conclusion to his "Intelligence" arc in DETECTIVE COMICS #962. The issue fully pulls together the themes and storylines throughout this arc to deliver a satisfying conclusion where Azrael, Batman, and the rest of the Bat Family fight the robotic menace known as Ascalon!
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It’s a pretty good sign when your comic opens with a beautiful tribute to Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. DETECTIVE COMICS #962 does just that on its first page and then continues to stun readers with beautiful imagery, thrilling action, and philosophical themes. I have been among the harsher critics of James Tynion IV’s “Intelligence” run, but I am happy to say that he more than sticks the landing with this fantastic issue.

DETECTIVE COMICS #962
DETECTIVE COMICS #962 pg. 3. Image Courtesy of DC Comics

James Tynion delivers an epic conclusion to this story which discusses how humans deal with the unanswerable questions such as death, the laws of fate, and the afterlife. All of the plot threads including, Azrael’s inner conflict, as well as Batman’s relationship with Zatanna, are cleanly wrapped up in this impressive issue. Meanwhile, Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez’s art shines and elevates this work beyond the page. DETECTIVE COMICS #962 proves that James Tynion’s run continues to stand as one of the finest runs in DC Rebirth.

Confronting the Unknown

How do we deal with the questions that we can’t answer? What do we do with the mysteries that no one can solve? Do we ignore these questions and become content with incomprehension? Or do we let these questions drive us mad? Furthermore, what if you discovered a device that knew the answers to these questions? Would you use the device no matter the consequences?

READ: Catch up on this arc with our review of DETECTIVE COMICS #961!

These questions are exactly what the Bat-family is struggling with. Batman has found “the God Machine,” which holds all the knowledge in the universe. Bruce, still reeling from the demise of Tim Drake in “The Night of The Monster Men” arc, wants to use the God Machine to know if he could do more to protect the people he loves. Meanwhile, Zatanna is tempted to use the device to know whether a future for Bruce and her was ever possible. However, she is the guardian of the machine and has to ensure that nobody uses it.

DETECTIVE COMICS #962
DETECTIVE COMICS #962 pg. 17. Image Courtesy of DC Comics

In earlier issues, I felt like Tynion did not fully connect the God Machine thematically with the rest of “The Intelligence” storyline. On the other hand, In DETECTIVE COMICS #962 he expertly ties in the themes of the God Machine to the overall storyline for a satisfying conclusion. He shows the reader that there are some things that are simply beyond human understanding. We can never understand all the “what ifs” and “whys” in our life; only the God Machine has all the answers, and it is interesting to see Batman come to terms with this. As the “World’s Greatest Detective,” we expect that he can figure anything out. But in the end, he is only human, and there are things, like Zatanna’s magic, which are beyond him.

Ghost in the Shell

Ascalon, the large fanatical A.I., has not been my favorite villain that James Tynion IV has written. I did not think that it was as ruthless as Lady Shiva nor as clever, calm, and collected as Joseph Kane. However, to give credit where credit is due, Tynion totally makes the character of Ascalon work and flow with the rest of the story in DETECTIVE COMICS #962.

READ: What makes a great villain? Check out our thoughts on SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING’s awesome villain, The Vulture!

Ascalon is an artificial intelligence working for the Order of St. Dumas, an extremist religious cult. The Order programmed Ascalon to not question authority, to believe in the will and might of God, and to kill all those the Order deems heretical. Ascalon has existed like this without any misgivings. That is, until he meets Jean-Paul Valley, AKA Azrael.

The Order brainwashed Azrael by putting Ascalon’s intelligence into Azrael’s brain. This made him have the same faith and loyalty to the Order as Ascalon until finally, he broke partially free of the Order’s control with the help of Batman. In this arc, a mechanized version of Ascalon hunts down Jean-Paul Valley and tries to punish him for straying from the path of St. Dumas. But Valley begins to make Ascalon question whether the Order’s god can answer all the world’s questions. The A.I. wonders whether his own beliefs are correct. Ascalon starts to have a crisis of faith.

All villains should reflect an internal struggle that their heroes have. Ascalon’s dilemma beautifully connects to Zatanna’s God Machine. Even Ascalon, who is a seemingly omniscient intelligence that claims to have all of God’s knowledge turns out to be just as clueless as all humans. Only the God Machine possesses all of the insight into the universe. Ascalon is just a being trying to make peace with his own lack of understanding of the universe.

Art in DETECTIVE COMICS #962

Every time I open an issue of DETECTIVE COMICS, I am surprised and stunned by how beautiful the art is. I should really know by now that Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez truly do spectacular work all the time in this comic. The heroes are magnificently drawn with spectacular outfits and colors. In this issue, they bring back Azrael’s Batman suit from the classic “Knightfall” arc. I never really cared for the suit but thanks to the artists, when the suit appeared I nearly clapped. Martinez and Fernandez capture the unique blend of technical and armored splendor that is Azrael’s Batman suit. Furthermore, the way the light shines down on his suit with a unique twinkle makes the page stand out to amazing effect.

DETECTIVE COMICS #962
DETECTIVE COMICS #962 pg. 10. Image Courtesy of DC Comics

Martinez and Fernandez are also very talented at drawing captivating, awe-inspiring action that is fast paced but also gorgeous to look at. Each panel seems uniquely dynamic, whether it has dust flying up in the air or intense lines denoting motion. The result is that the reader can especially feel the weight and power of every punch, leap, or even step. This is a special gift that shows Martinez and Fernandez’s skill as artists in their field.

Final Thoughts

DETECTIVE COMICS #962 succeeds in nearly everything it set out to achieve. While Tynion’s “Intelligence” is far from perfect, this issue completes this arc in excellent fashion. Tynion further cements himself as not only a great Batman writer but also one of the best writers in DC today. His writing alongside Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez’s mesmerizing art creates an excellent chapter in the story of the Dark Knight and his friends.

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