There have been a number of story arcs in James Tynion IV’s Detective Comics run so far. There was the opening arc where Batman’s team took on an army based on Batman’s vigilante style, led by Batwoman’s father. There was the Victim Syndicate, a group of people who suffered as innocent bystanders in Batman’s various fights, and they want revenge on both sides of the conflict. Recently, a future version of Tim Drake showed up to kill Batwoman terminator style to prevent his future.
Now, all of that seems to be coming together.
The Victim Syndicate is working behind the scenes to try and tear apart everything Batman’s been building not only over the course of this series, but over the course of his career. As part of the plan, Clayface was tortured in the last issue to release the monster he is capable of being, and that monster is going all-out in this issue. Batwoman is given a special gun by her father that can kill Clayface, which could potentially lead to the very act that future Tim Drake says she’ll commit. Meanwhile, the still mysterious leader of the Victim Syndicate gets ready to watch Team Batman’s tower fall.
Even though this is a very action heavy issue, there’s still time for story development and drama. There’s a short but very well written philosophical debate between Spoiler and Tim Drake, where Spoiler makes a great point that no matter what happens, civilians have a right to be afraid of Clayface after the attacks he’s made over the years. There’s a touching moment where Cassandra Cain convinces Clayface to calm down. While it doesn’t last long, it shows how close they’ve become, and how in touch Cassandra has grown with her own emotions. And although the meeting between Batwoman and her father is still tense, it’s clear that between the lines, they do care about each other and Batwoman’s father trusts her instincts.
Miguel Mendonco’s art is fantastic. It’s a deceptively simple look with a lot of detail in the backgrounds and Clayface’s design. The mutations constantly showing themselves on a maddened Clayface is often intimidating, like having multiple layers of teeth, random faces appearing and disappearing on his arms, and turning himself into a variety of medieval weapons. There’s one background shot where a bunch of equipment from Batman’s rogues gallery is hanging on shelving behind Batman and Clayface while they battle, some of which Batman utilizes in the fight. Even with all the masks in the comic, facial expressions and eyes do a great job at conveying emotion, like Azrael’s eyes shifting from determined to terrified when Clayface attacks from the shadows. But the best moment for facial expression is during the Cassandra Cain/ Clayface moment, where she pulls off her mask and shows a stern compassion in her eyes. After Clayface briefly calms down, the despair on his face is clear. Jason Wright’s colouring enhances the art with brilliant use of shadows to enhance the comic’s dark mood and to make Clayface look all the more terrifying.
This is my favourite comic of the week. The action is really intense. Now that Clayface has been trained how to fight, he’s a terrifying villain capable of holding off an entire team of Batman characters. Beyond that, there’s some great drama and storytelling in this comic. This story arc is putting everything from this series all together for an epic struggle. The ending teaser looks like it could be the end for Batman’s team, and it makes the wait for the next issue all the more exciting. In short, this is a Batman team book and you should be reading it.