Normally, James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics run is a Batman team book. The last two issues took a minor step back to focus mostly on Batman and Batwoman, the co-leaders of the team. It serves two purposes – to show both their similarities and their differences, and to build up to Marguerite Bennett’s upcoming Batwoman solo series. As such, Tynion IV and Bennett co-wrote these last two issues.
After a brief flashback into Batwoman’s early days, Detective Comics 949 kicks off right where the last issue ended. The flashback shows the first time that Kate Kane (Batwoman) met Batman face to face, while she’s in the middle of watching Batman footage. It’s a fun scene where Kate explains that she’s not hunting him so much as trying to learn from him. It also shows how she used to be very close to her father, contrasted brutally by how General Kane’s recent actions have completely split them apart.
The modern scene shows Batman and Batwoman fighting against one of the General’s former recruits, as he’s trying to steal a dangerous weapon for some sort of upcoming shadow war. It’s a fun action scene where both sides try to outfight and outwit the other. It shows the thief as a dangerous enemy, but one who’s out of his depth when he’s trying to fight Batman and Batwoman on their home turf. After the fight, there’s a very well written conversation between the crime fighting cousins where they briefly reminisce on their first meeting from the flashback, and how it helped Kate figure out what her personal mission would be as Batwoman. In a few short pages, it highlights the main difference between their crime fighting goals and methods, while still showing their similarities. Afterward, Batwoman talks to her father for the first time since they captured him, and it’s somewhere between a dramatically rough moment and a nice way to cap the issue off.
The art by Ben Oliver is great. It’s detailed, clean and there’s a touch of a painted feel. The action flows well from panel to panel, making great use of debris when the thief starts shooting expensive equipment and flowing capes and hair when characters are moving. Facial expressions do a great job at conveying emotion, like Kate’s surprise in the flashback when Batman shows up, the thief’s smug look when he thinks he’s got the upper hand, and the somewhat remorseful look when Kate’s father promises to tell her everything if she takes off the mask. Oliver is also credited with colouring, along with Gabe Eltreb and Hi-Fi. I’m not sure where one colourist ends and another begins, but the comic as a whole is bright and colourful, with good use of atmospheric lighting.
This 2-parter is a fantastic story that delves deep into its lead characters, what’s driving them, and what differentiates them from each other. It also serves as a fun little story that builds up to both Batwoman’s solo series and the upcoming League of Shadows arc. These two issues did pretty much everything right. Detective Comics regulars should pick this up, as should Batwoman fans looking forward to her solo series.