DETECTIVE COMICS #Ch
DETECTIVE COMICS #970 By James Tynion IV, Joe Bennett, Salvador Regla, Ricardo Jaime, Marcio Loerzer, and Jason Wright
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
DETECTIVE COMICS #970 should be another terrific issue of James Tynion IV's celebrated run. However, its lackluster art and uninteresting story make, what could have been a fantastic character piece, an incredibly disappointing issue.
70 %
Complicated, Yet Somehow Boring
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James Tynion IV’s DETECTIVE COMICS was one of the strongest books throughout DC Rebirth. It told an interesting ensemble story with fascinating characters, contained magnificent art, and had compelling storylines. Now that the DC Rebirth era is over, DETECTIVE COMICS #970 must prove once again that it’s one of the best books in the DC Comics Universe.

DETECTIVE COMICS #970, in theory, should be a phenomenal comic. In this “Fall of The Batmen” storyline, James Tynion is weaving together threads they have set up over thirty-seven issues. However, the story never really flows, and it fails to grip the attention of the reader as it slogs through a relatively boring plot. Then there’s the fact that the art team of Joe Bennett, Salvador Regla, Ricardo Jaime, Marcio Loerzer, and Jason Wright’s work pales in comparison to the dynamic art of Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez. Besides some interesting character moments, DETECTIVE COMICS #970 makes its mark as one of the more disappointing issues in Tynion’s run.

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The Batmen of Tomorrow

DETECTIVE COMICS has been following a fascinating story of Batman and his allies expanding, advancing, and nearly militarizing their team, the Gotham Knights. Tim Drake hopes to use the Gotham Knights to stop threats to his city faster than ever before with an advanced network of technology and vigilantes. Tim wants to take Bruce’s dream of protecting Gotham and spread it to every corner of the city. No longer will Batman simply be one vigilante fighting crime but now he’ll be an institution inseparable from Gotham.

DETECTIVE COMICS #970
DETECTIVE COMICS #970 page 8. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Many fans have already begun to label this as Fascist Batman since Tim’s ideas of expansion are already infringing on the authority of the government and freedoms of the people of Gotham. Because of Tim’s desire to protect Gotham, he may become a force of tyranny. The future Tim Drake who first appeared in DETECTIVE COMICS #965 was clearly a Red Robin that embraced authoritarian thought.

It looks like Tynion is setting up a conflict between Batwoman and Tim Drake. Batwoman may want to stop Tim from enforcing his fascistic reforms onto Gotham. This conflict will surely divide the Gotham Knights, and each member will probably have to decide on a side in their internal conflict.

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The storyline I just suggested is one that feels much more compelling than the one taking place in #970. Yes, some of the interpersonal character relationships are terrific, but they’re all things we’ve seen before. There’s nothing new in this comic. There should be an ominous feeling in DETECTIVE COMICS #970 since the arc is called “The Fall of The Batmen.” Instead, the reader is left with the feeling that this story should have a greater impact.

The Gotham Knights

DETECTIVE COMICS #970
DETECTIVE COMICS #970 page 13. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

While the story of DETECTIVE COMICS #970 feels quite mundane and unintriguing, the characters remain a highlight of this book. Clayface, Batwoman, and Tim Drake are incredibly well written in this issue. Basil Karlo (AKA Clayface) is probably my favorite character in this whole book. You truly understand the pain he feels for causing destruction as a criminal. He’s incredibly self-loathing at this point and doesn’t think he deserves to be a hero. Clayface is integral to the Gotham Knights because he shows that Batman has a forgiving side and that he believes in second chances. Batman is trying to prove with Clayface that criminals can be rehabilitated.

Batwoman doesn’t have a whole lot of focus in this comic. However, when she is in this book, she steals the show. It’s clear that Tynion really connects with this character. This is why she remains, in my opinion, the strongest member of the team. She’s the person that manages to motivate the people around her to fight. Meanwhile, she also serves as an important check on some of Batman’s authority.

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Tim Drake has been the real focus as of late in DETECTIVE COMICS. After returning from his imprisonment by Mr. Oz, he’s now more determined than ever to save Gotham. He declined his enrollment to Ivy University and has taken on his role as Red Robin full-time. There’s a clear anxiety within Tim, a feeling of being powerless to protect people. Tim is using the Gotham Knights so that he will never feel helpless again. He’s unable to accept his failures and his own vulnerability. This may come to backfire against Tim Drake in the near future.

Art in DETECTIVE COMICS #970

The art is by far the most disappointing part of DETECTIVE COMICS #970. This series has been marked by all-around stellar, lively, animated art. That is why it’s so frustrating that the visuals in this issue feel very arid and lifeless. Most of the characters look ghoulish and lack the personality that made them so likable in previous installments. The large art team of Joe Bennett on pencils, Salvador Regla, Ricardo Jaime, and Marcio Loerzer on inks, and Jason Wright on colors fail to capture the magic that made DETECTIVE COMICS stand above other DC titles. They don’t replicate the combination of gritty realism and bright, exciting action sequences.

DETECTIVE COMICS #970
DETECTIVE COMICS #970 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

On another note, I want to acknowledge an interesting drawing of older Tim Drake that appears in this comic. I might be increasingly delusional or just outright crazy, but this design looks a lot like actor Armie Hammer. I wouldn’t put it past DC to put Hammer’s likeness into an older Tim Drake to test the actor out as a future Batman. There were rumors that Armie Hammer was in talks with DC for some role, though said talks may have fallen apart. Personally, this comic further convinces me that Hammer could be a perfect actor for Dick Grayson (AKA Nightwing). However, including his likeness in this comic, if that was their intent, still distracted me from the rest of the art in this issue.

Final Thoughts

DETECTIVE COMICS #970 is one of the weaker issues of James Tynion IV’s post-Rebirth run. There is a still hope for an interesting storyline, yet this comic failed to entice me to read more. Hopefully, this “Fall of The Batmen” arc will pay off in a big way. Otherwise, I’m concerned about the future of this series.

I do have faith in Tynion to pull this story together since he’s been able to finish arcs fantastically in the past. I look forward, despite the mishaps in this book, to seeing where the next few issues will lead.

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