Detective Comics #963

Detective Comics #963

Detective Comics #963

Pros

  • Great character development for Spoiler and Clayface
  • Reuse of Dr. October and Monstertown
  • A new take on Anarky

Cons

  • Lack of plot and direction
  • What is the point of this issue?
  • Is Anarky meant to be the villain? I can't tell
  • Batman and Clayface are the only two team members in this issue

"Utopia"

Writers: James Tynion IV and Christopher Sebela Artist: Carmen Carnero Colors: Ulises Arreola and Kelly Fitzpatrick Letters: Sal Cipriano

     As the dust settles from the events of Intelligence, a new storyline begins, bringing Spoiler and her new running buddy, Anarky, to the forefront. It’s part one of Utopia.

     Anarky, as a character, has always been a “second stringer”, never really posing enough of a threat to be considered a major villain. He’s really been positioned most of the time as more of a “gnat”, just sort of buzzing around being a nuisance, but never really much of a threat. He hasn’t been around for a while. That is, until last month when he made his first “Rebirth” appearance offering to help Spoiler find the “better way” of doing things she is looking for. Now, it seems that Anarky is ready to show Stephanie more of this “better way”, and that’s where our story begins.

    Well actually, it begins with better days, as we see a flashback of Stephanie and Tim (Red Robin) before…well, you know. (In case you don’t,  Red Robin was presumed dead after a massive drone strike in Detective #940 (WOW! 23 Issues ago, that’s almost a whole year!) Anyway, Tim, as we all know, but Batman didn’t at the time, was actually kidnapped by the mysterious Mr. Oz as part of the ongoing Rebirth mystery. The “death” of Tim caused Spoiler to have doubts about Batman’s methods and mission, and she left the team. Batman recently found out (in the last issue) that Tim is still alive. Anyway, Tim and Stephanie are talking about their plans to make Gotham better. Stephanis is having this flashback as she breaks into Monstertown (A section of Gotham quarantined by A.R.G.U.S. after the Attack of the Monster Men storyline). After a hilarious sequence involving a drone and some guards, she meets up with Anarky. Stephanie is angry at Anraky, because everything she has done with him up to this point is still using Batman’s methods. Meanwhile, A.R.G.U.S. soldiers have found them. A short battle ensues, during which it is discovered the Anarky has rigged the building with traps.

     Meanwhile, in another nearby part of Monstertown, (I know, WHAT are the odds?) Batman and Clayface are visiting Dr. October. Clayface is in the sewers making sure they are clear. He happens upon some of the parasitic creatures the “monster blood” has created. They are hostile and this gives him the opportunity to let loose aggressively. He traps the creatures in part of his clay body. When he returns to Dr. October’s lab, Batman is waiting with her. It is revealed that she has decided to take a look at Clayface’s condition to see if she can cure him. To that end, she has been asking him to stay in clay form for an extended period of time, but he is beginning to lose control. Batman is supporting him in his treatment, but is also there in case he loses control. But, apparently, he has the utmost confidence in Clayface, because an alert goes off on his wrist, and away he goes. (Hope nothing bad happens)

     Back with Stephanie and Anarky, he leads her into some old subway tunnels ( which she knows the complete history of thanks to Tim). Batman is in pursuit, unbeknownst to them. When the reach the end of the tunnels, Anarky taps on a brick, and shows Stephanie what he has been working on: a self sustaining “refugee-type” community.

    Suddenly…No, wait, THAT’S THE END OF THE ISSUE!

WHAT I LIKED: It’s nice to see Stephanie’s storyline pick back up. I like the “Rebirth” version of Spoiler. She has a lot more depth and emotion than previous versions, and she’s much stronger willed. This issue also sees the most character development for Clayface in quite some time. I also like that Dr. October has been brought back, and that Monstertown still exists and is not being ignored. Finally, it looks like James Tynion IV is about to weave his narrative magic and “rehab” Anarky. I like this new version so far, let’s see how he develops.

WHAT I DIDN’T: Usually, when a new arc begins, the first issue is largely a setup issue, that put s the pieces into place and sets the arc off on it’s way. It is usually devoid of major action or developments and features smaller roles for most of the supporting cast. In this case, that is taken to the extreme, as outside of Batman, whose contribution is minimal, and Clayface, who gets the spotlight to himself, the ENTIRE REST OF THE TEAM IS ABSENT! As such, this issue feels much smaller and emptier than it should. Again, I am sure this story is due to ramp up issue by issue, but this first part feels so unnecessary, which makes it a rare misstep for Mr. Tynion. Also, what is the point of this story? Is Anarky the villain? I can’t see anything that would lead me to that conclusion? What is the plot? I hope we find out next issue.

IN THE END: The lack of explanation of the plot and shortening of the cast make this issue almost skippable. I do like the character development for both Spoiler and Clayface and the new take on Anarky, but the lack of direction and sparse plot make this issue forgettable.

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