I’ve mentioned this a couple times before, but Action Comics is fast approaching its 1000th issue. With issue 970 releasing today, and two issues releasing every month, Detective Comics isn’t all that far behind.
Written by James Tynion IV, Detective Comics 970 starts off not too long after the last issue ended. For the most part this is a bit of a downtime issue, but one that still has a lot of story and tension build-up. Most of this comic focuses on character development and story, often fitting both into the same scene quite impressively. Tim Drake’s scenes show him making plans to expand the team’s reach and involvement in fighting crime, while Stephanie Brown questions his motives a bit. It’s hard not to question him yourself when he starts talking about hacking into the police dispatch network to send cops to less dangerous situations while Batman’s team takes on greater threats. It eventually leads to an argument that regular readers have seen coming, but it’s still an emotionally rough moment.
But the real character focus is mainly on Clayface and Batwoman, both of which get several great moments. Batwoman’s is a bit more story focused, but she also interacts with her father for a bit, showing that while she doesn’t trust him, she cares enough to at least take his warning seriously. Clayface’s scenes are mostly character focused. An apparent cure to his condition has been found, but he’s not entirely sure he wants to take it. He speaks with the scientist who found the cure about his insecurities, which is slightly heavy handed but it’s otherwise an effective moment. When he speaks with Cassandra Cain, she promises to keep in touch whether he takes the cure or not, showing how close they’ve grown over the course of the series. He then speaks with a member of the victim syndicate who suffered a less serious case of his condition. That conversation doesn’t go nearly as well for him, but I won’t spoil that. These are all great moments that delve into Clayface’s hopes, insecurities and his indecisive nature. Oh, and there’s also a building story about a group that’s working to directly counter Batman’s team, but I’ll let you read the comic to see that develop.
The art by Joe Bennett is good. The brief action scene pitting Batman, Batwoman, Azrael and Batwing against a bunch of cyber assassins flows well, with good use of motion blurs and just the right level of chaos. Facial expression do a good job at conveying emotions, especially with Clayface and Batwoman during their scenes. That said, there are a couple panels where Stephanie Brown look older than she should. Jason Wright’s colouring is also good.
Even though this is a downtime issue, it’s still a great comic that drives both the characters and the story forward. There’s also enough action and suspense to keep us readers on our toes. This arc is clearly building up to something big, and it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be some sort of consequences by the end of this arc. In other words, this is a Batman team book and you should be reading it. This may not be the best issue in the series, but it’s still a great issue overall.