Review – DETECTIVE COMICS #974

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SYNOPSIS: “KNIGHT’S FALL”! Can Tim Drake piece his dreams back together after Batwoman’s fateful decision, or will the Gotham Knights go their separate ways?

James Tynion’s run on Detective Comics continues to build on strong characters going through emotional and sometimes painful moments.  The latest story “Knight’s Fall” has been gaining momentum since “A Lonley Place of Living.”  Bat-Drake was the introduction, The First Victim was the build up, Clayface was the climax and Batwoman is the conclusion. Yet everything has been manipulated from a far by a person you probably forgot about. Tynion, as he normally does, crafts an intriguing story riding the emotions of the Bat-Family.

There are several emotional scenes, starting with a gut punch on page one. We finally learn Batwoman’s faults causing her conflict with Red Robin.  Interestingly enough, Red Robin isn’t the one taking this to heart. Once again Cassandra Cain stole the show as she has done often in the run.  Tynion wasn’t finished, delivering a vintage Tim Drake/Stephanie Brown interaction that 90s fans will love. This incarnation of Stephanie Brown is refreshing and bold, she knows what she wants and she’s not sugar coating it.  It’s a real pleasure seeing her stand up for herself and putting her foot down. She is no longer the timid sidekick from years past. While Red Robin pours his heart out to Batman you can’t help but feel for a guy who can’t seem to prevent what he knows is coming. These powerful scenes are when Tynion is at his best. Using raw emotion to drive the story and the character, this book is heavy.

Philippe Briones provides the interior artwork for isuue #974. I believe this is Briones’ first go around on Detective; if I’m wrong please correct me in the comment section below.  The opening page was breathtaking; Cassandra’s emotions bleed through the pages selling her pain and rage. There is one panel in particular of Batwoman that screams BvS.  The rooftop exchange with the Bat-family is tremendous, the detail in the backgrounds adds depth that cannot go unnoticed. There are incredible skylines and architecture that enhance the scenes. What’s a Batbook with out great skyline imagery, correct?  The scene that captures the eye is Red Robin/Batman towards the end and Briones’ artwork compliments Tynion’s writing. The creative team doubles down on Red Robin and it pays off.

Tynion has returned to top form this issue and in the annual. Rebounding nicely from a so-so 973.  There are lots of questions arising, Batwoman’s future, Spoiler/Red Robin’s relationship, Tim Drake’s “PTSD”, Dr. Octobers role and the repercussions of Clayface. When Tynion pushes the emotion to the brink with Cassandra Cain it is always the most impactful, you really feel for her.  Continuing to deliver arguably the best interpretation of both Cassandra and Stephanie Brown.  Tynion is a master at allowing one story to flow into another.

Issue #975 goes on sale 2/28/18 and is a 30 page anniversary story, “The Trail of Batwoman”, until then BOFers! – Peter Verra

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Peter Verra
A lover of genre films from BATMAN to FRIDAY THE 13th. A producer of college sports at the world’s most famous arena, MSG. A fool for watching that SCOOBY DOO teaser trailer from 2002 and praying Batman is the one who turns around every time. Backyard BBQ enthusiast & sports fan Yankees, Pacers, Devils, who ever plays the NJ Giants!