I wasn’t really enjoying the DC Rebirth version of Detective Comics. I read two and was flatly underwhelmed. Why read another? Well, I was buying some DC trades at Barnes and Noble, and apparently there was a deal where I could get one more for free. I grabbed Volume 3 of Detective Comics so I wouldn’t delay the line too much. Plus, I knew I hadn’t read it yet.
So, how was this volume, subtitled League of Shadows? Was it as weak as the previous volumes?
Actually, no. This volume worked much better.
Writer James Tynion IV did something I truly appreciated: he addressed some of my concerns from the previous volumes. Batman seemed rather dumb by Batman standards. Cassandra “Orphan” Cain didn’t have a personality. And Batman didn’t seem to add anything to a book with his name in the title. Are there still problems? Yes. I don’t quite get why various antagonists seem to walk in and out of Batman’s various headquarters without any problems, and an awful lot of people seem to know Bruce Wayne is Batman. I don’t like that sort of stuff much.
But this volume went in a direction I like. For starters, the focus is largely on Orphan. Creators hadn’t always used the character well prior to the New 52. Tynion seems to be making up for that. Memories of an absent mother and abusive father haunt Cassandra. She can barely speak in words and yearns for the beauty of ballet over violence. She sees ways to kill people just by looking at them. Heck, Batman doesn’t think he can beat her if she were to go bad. Her strength comes in her refusal to use lethal force. Furthermore, other characters like Batman and Clayface believe in her for that reason.
As it is, we see why Orphan may be so messed up. It seems the League of Shadows, a group Batman insisted in past volumes wasn’t real, is not only very real, but they are coming to Gotham to destroy the city. Why? It’s complicated. Lady Shiva runs this League, and Ra’s al-Ghul is somewhat involved as well. Also, Shiva is Cassandra’s long-absent mother. And she isn’t a loving parent.
Plus, we get some explanations for why Batman has been somewhat dumb about this League. There is a very good reason for it.
So, as the League starts to capture Batman’s allies, it comes down to Orphan to save the day. Will she resort to lethal force this time?
By the by, Batman’s other allies get some nice time here. Batwoman may not have much to do, but Azrael and Batwing are bonding a bit. They even get a short story together at the end of the volume. Clayface has some nice lines, but I did wonder how the League captured him. It happened off-panel, and as he himself pointed out, he doesn’t bleed. How did a bunch of sword-welding ninjas knock him out?
Bottom line: this was a big improvement over the previous volumes. It addressed many of my concerns and set up something big down the road. True, there are still some issues, but it was a big improvement. I have long believed Tynion was better at concepts than executions. I am happy to see I may have been wrong. 8.5 out of 10 killer nanite swarms.