Several story arcs ago, Batman’s team dealt with the victim syndicate. Calling them villains didn’t quite do them justice since they themselves were bystander victims from various points in Batman’s history. They still caused a lot of trouble, but they were far more sympathetic than most Batman villains. This story happened shortly after Spoiler (Stephanie Brown) apparently lost her boyfriend and co-crime fighter, Red Robin. She left Batman’s team at the end of the Victim Syndicate story arc and we haven’t seen much from her since, until now.
Detective Comics 957, written by James Tynion IV and Christopher Sebela, focuses purely on Spoiler. It shows her dealing with a new villain who is overly proud of himself, but he seems to be dangerous and very well prepared. His goal is to kill Batman on live television. While I’m sure that Batman could have dealt with this guy, watching Spoiler use her technical skills to her advantage is a lot of fun. To interact with this thug and fool him into thinking he’s fighting Batman, she also uses an audio recording of a training session, using Batman’s voice to taunt the villain. While fun, the comic also digs into Spoiler a bit from a dramatic standpoint and hints at her overall goals. Honestly there’s not much else to talk about here without spoiling the fun. No pun intended.
Carmen Carnero’s art is good. It’s mostly a simple, traditional look. The establishing panels show detailed backgrounds like burning cars outside of a building, Gotham City’s skyline, and a server room where Spoiler makes her first move. Since Spoiler and the villains spend almost the entire issue in masks, the facial expression are reserved for a couple cops and all the hostages. The fear drawn in their faces is clear, and the cop’s suspicious look after the fight ends really sells the conflict between Spoiler and the cops. The relieved smile on Stephanie’s face at the end of the issue is a nice way to close the comic out. Javier Mena’s colouring is also good. The comic is mostly dark, but that’s fine for an action issue taking place at night, and there’s a good variety of colours and the occasional shining lights to mix it up.
With so many intense story arcs in Detective Comics lately, it’s nice to catch a break and read a one-off story that’s fun, featuring a character we haven’t seen in a while. Spoiler’s goals are clear enough that we know what she’s up to, but vague enough that we’re not sure where she’s going from here. Anyone who’s been enjoying this series so far will most likely enjoy this one, and it’s worth checking out for Stephanie Brown fans as well.