Detective Comics #950
Detective Comics #950
- Impressive unification of three different stories
- Great character development for everyone
- Azrael in an active role again
- Concise explanations of character history that bring people up to speed
- Tantalizing teases for the future
- The return of LASY SHIVA
- Perfect set-up for the next arc
- Hanging threads that may take some time to resolve
- Different art styles may throw some readers
It is a huge achievement when a comic book reaches 950 issues, and that it what we celebrate this week in Detective Comics. As you might expect, this is not your standard issue. This is a sort of “annual-type” collection of different smaller stories. But, it does some very intriguing “stage setting.”
STORY SUMMARY: As I mentioned, the issue is comprised of three shorter stories, each with it’s own plot and character development. I will summarize each one seperately.
The first story “Shadow of a Tear”, is the prelude to the title’s next arc, League of Shadows. It centers on Orphan, and begins with her watching a ballerina dance at the ballet hall. Unfortunately, the ballerina turns and sees her before she vanishes in a puff of smoke. Orphan returns to her apartment where Harper, her roommate tries to understand what is going on. She says that she was seen and then leaves through the window. There are flashback scenes to Cassandra early life and daydream scenes about the childhood she might have had. She is snapped out of her daydream by the appearance of the Bat-Signal in the sky. As Batman meets Gordon on the rooftop, he is surprised to hear that the Mayor has requested the meeting. Seems he is self-conscious about his legacy, and wants to help Batman make Gotham better any way he can. Before the meeting can progress though, Gordon is spooked by an apparent shadowy figure. Next we see Orphan surprising and putting a serious hurt on a group of child traffickers. Batman steps in before Cassandra goes too far. He compliments her on tracking down the trafficking ring and says she just has to know her own strength and when to stop. Batman turns to speak to her again, but she is gone. Later, we see her questioning what Batman saw in her, after their first meeting. Back in the Belfry, Batwing has created a new, smaller stabilizer bracelet for Clayface, but he still has to balance his transformations very carefully. But, Batwing wants to give him hope. Cassandra wanders through the Belfry, wishing she could share her thoughts and emotions with her teammates. She also reveals that she wants to learn from Batwoman, but doesn’t know how to approach her. Cassandra goes back to her apartment and perfectly replicates the ballet routine from the beginning of the story. As she looks out her window despondently, a figure watches from several rooftops away. It is LADY SHIVA!
The second story, Higher Powers, stars Batwing and Azrael, who has joined the team. It is essentially a philosophical discussion between the two, playing out as the two use a training program in the Belfry featuring giant Bat-hunting robots. Along the way, Azrael’s past history is re-introduced to us, as the Order of St. Dumas is discussed. Azrael tells Batwing he puts his faith in a higher power. Batwing wonders what the Order is up to now. Suddenly, we are shown an armored individual suspended from cables in the air, accompanied by the message “Ascalon is online.”
The final story, is a tale from before Red Robin’s death, called The Big Picture. In it, Red Robin picks up Batman after a particularly vicious battle against something with reinforced teeth, and takes him to the Robin’s Nest, his secure room inside the Belfry. He tells Batman he realizes he has been positioning his allies for maximum defense. He talks especially about the forming of the team and asks Batman why he is preparing for war? We are left with the ominous message that Dark Days are coming in 2017.
MY TAKE: I have to say, I usually think these “Annual-type” issues are hit and miss. But, having James Tynion IV write all three of the stories gives this issue a continuity that most annuals don’t have. That being said, let’s take the stories as the were presented.
Shadow of a Tear: This is the most important story, as it sets the stage for the next arc, which begins next issue. That aside, I love this story. It is a great character study of a very complex character, and it really shows how well James Tynion IV knows these characters. It does a great job of mixing Cassandra’s back story with her internal monologue in the present to build a complete profile of this fascinating and complicated character. The ballet scenes are a great way of inserting some lightness into Cassandra’s often dark and serious story. Another interesting point in this story is the meeting between Mayor Hady and Batman. I hope this is explored further. Of course, the big moment in this issue is the first appearance, in the Rebirth continuity, of Lady Shiva. It would appear she is to play a large part in the arc to come. This is a great setup to the event, and it speaks to how big this arc has the potential to be.
Higher Powers: This is a philosophical masterpiece. One of the best Science vs. Religion debates I have ever seen in comics. The fact that it plays out between Batwing and Azrael makes it all the more engaging. Again, it does a great job of bringing everyone up to speed on Azrael’s story without getting too bogged down with the details. It is important to have this exposition, as it allows him to join the team and hit the ground running as the next arc begins. I also love the tantalizing ending with the mysterious “Ascalon.” Does this signal the return of the Order of St. Dumas? Only time will tell.
The Big Picture: The final, and shortest story, is a meeting between Red Robin and Batman meant to set the stage for an event later this year. Could this be the event that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo are reuniting for? Again only time will tell. I just have to say though, while we are on the subject, Tim Drake must be close to the record for most appearances by a dead character in comic book history. He just can’t seem to stop appearing, whether in flashback or dream sequence or holographic simulation. It does not seem like they want to let him go, which, in retrospect, is probably a good thing, considering he is not dead. I have to wonder if Tim’s reappearance will coincide with these “Dark Days?” Again, it seems only time will tell.
IN THE END: This issue sets the stage for the arc to come, while dropping some tantalizing hints for the future. Some great character development for Orphan and Batwing, in addition to the introduction of Azrael pave the way forward for the team.