Detective Comics #935
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Adriano Lucas
Letters by Marilyn Patrizio
Published by DC Comics
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Detective Comics #935 is another step in the right direction for the newly renumbered title. As Batman gets his new team of heroes ready for deployment, writer James Tynion IV hones in on the people behind the masks, slotting the Dark Detective firmly into a co-starring role and bringing each member into the well deserved limelight. Along with Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Adriano Lucas’ rounded pencils, thick inks and airbrush-inspired colors, Detective Comics #935 continues the title’s momentum by focusing on relationships and making the Bat-team truly feel like a family.
Building on the firm groundwork of the debut, Tynion, having already assembled the team, starts to bolster the team’s single personalities as well as their new base of operations. Tynion, with a quick bit of rising tension provides a narratively sound reason for Bruce’s reluctance to clear them for field duty which understandably frustrates them, especially their field leader, Batwoman. This coupled with his handle on the characters, the introduction of a Danger Room-style training simulator courtesy of Clayface, and their new base, the Belfry, in the heart of Gotham conjures kind comparisons to that of the X-Men, strengthened by stern but well-meaning headmasters in Bruce and Kate, copious amounts of teen romance, and the leads seeking purpose beyond their grandiose mission.
Pushing that further, Tynion allows the team ample time out of costume, providing this issue’s best moments. All too often Bat books present the heroes as just that, leaving the people underneath poorly developed. Detective Comics #935 doesn’t make that mistake and, thankfully, Tynion quickly makes you care about each member and their restlessness to do what they were recruited for. While Clayface admittedly gets only the briefest of page time, there’s a lot of great characterization here — from Tim Drake’s consideration of a life beyond Gotham to Kate Kane’s frustration at being kept at arm’s length by her cousin, Tynion keeps Detective Comics’ focus squarely on the people, not just their heroics.
Also great is the team of Barrows, Ferreira and Lucas who display a willingness to try new things. The leaping from rooftops and a bombastic car chase finale give Detective Comics #935 the kind of kinetic energy that fans want, but the art team find a new jolt in the character’s intimate moments. Adopting the double-page splash exposition pages that David Marquez and Sara Pichelli employ when they handle Brian Michael Bendis’ scripts, Barrows, Ferreira and Lucas bring that same trick to Gotham, spreading tight panel grids across the characters’ dialogue. The trio also break up the monotony of the exposition by occasionally muting their pencils, inks, and colors to deliver inspired profiles of characters, highlighting reactions and emotions. It may come across as occasionally cheesy to readers, but this art team shows that they aren’t afraid to portray the character’s hearts on their sleeves in unexpected ways.
Finally, we come to Batman's new role as co-star in this new issue. Though an unfamiliar one for both Bruce and the audience for sure, the Dark Knight settles into it gracefully, allowing his new team to shine through in his heavy shadow. Batman's hesitation to field test his new team reads as overly cautious, drawing more X-Men comparisons to a more conservative time in Scott Summers’ leadership, but Tynion frames it as a clear choice as Bruce begins to drop his walls the only way he knows how. (Heck, Bruce sanctioning and uniting an entire team of Gotham-based vigilantes is about as open as he’s ever been!) So, Batman’s caution is to be expected, and it allows Tynion to keep the focus on the team, while preparing them to truly prove their mettle as Gotham City vigilantes following this issue’s cliffhanger.
Detective Comics #935 succeeds thanks to inspired artistic choices and James Tynion IV’s well-rounded look at the characters he’s brought to the table. By building up the new team, new base, and not being afraid to use a lighter touch for Gotham’s main protector, the title allows the characters to gel into a realistic family unit, instead of paying lip service to the idea while Batman tears through the city as a lone hero. Detective Comics was one of the more promising debuts of "Rebirth" and with #935, the creative team shows that that promise was no mere fluke.