Detective Comics #939
Written by James Tynion IV
Art by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Adriano Lucas
Lettering by Marilyn Patrizio
Published by DC Comics
Review by Robert Reed
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
After some action-heavy issues, Detective Comics #939 sees a heightened emphasis on the characters as the team regroups and tries to strategize against Jacob Kane and the Colony. Artist Eddy Barrows returns to the series as James Tynion IV’s script puts Red Robin at the forefront, allowing the young man’s genius to play a crucial role in the fight.
Detective Comics #939 opens with a flashback to the funeral for Thomas and Martha Wayne. The flashback begins with Jacob Kane as he struggles with the loss of his sister, calling back to the losses revealed earlier in the series that this younger Jacob has yet to experience. James Tynion then shifts the focus over to Kate and Bruce, allowing for a tender moment between the cousins that foreshadows their scenes later in the issue.
However, the real focus of the issue is Tim Drake. As the team regroups at the Belfry, Drake’s intellect shines as the steps his contingency plans begin to come into play. At the same time, Tynion builds the image of a young man struggling with how he should proceed. The scenes between Steph and Tim from earlier issues have helped build up to this, and now Tim’s decision as to whether or not to retire from crimefighting and pursue more scientific endeavors comes to a head. The inventions that help the Belfry repair itself are remarkable, even Clayface asks, “Why the hell are you even in the superhero business?” It’s a question Tim has to answer for himself, and gives Detective Comics #939 something to build to as Tim tries to reroute the Colony’s Bat-Drones from attacking Gotham civilians.
This issue also sees artist Eddy Barrows return to the title, and the relatively quieter issue plays to his strengths. From the flashback of the funeral for Bruce’s parents to the scenes between Spoiler and Red Robin, Barrows’ pencils do a great job capturing the emotions each character is going through. This extends even to characters like Orphan and Clayface who make great impressions with their minor roles. Barrows also shows a penchant for cloaking Batman in shadows – a panel in which Batman condemns Jacob’s actions and motivations has him appear as a devil, with a burst of lightning behind him covering him in darkness. And yet, one of the best moments is when Batwoman confronts Batman in one of the well-lit areas of the Belfry. Barrows has Kate without her cowl on, symbolizing her openness within the scene and emphasizing the fact that she and Batman are cousins. Batman however never removes his cowl, creating the sense that he is still a bit removed and not as trusting as Kate would like.
Inker Eber Ferreira and colorist Adriano Lucas deserve immense credit for their contribution to the book. With the exception of the flashback, the issue takes place in a single night, and largely within the confines of the Belfry. Yet the art never feels stagnant or boring, in large part due to the fact that Lucas is able to use subtle colors to create variance within the setting. At the same time, Ferreira’s inks always seem to punch up the artwork in just the right way. Finer lines are used to emphasize the characters in the issue, while heavier inks help to stylize key moments.
Detective Comics #939 is proof that characters can go a long way to making a comic book great. James Tynion IV has found a groove in his writing, balancing the cast members as they go through this turbulent time. The emphasis on Red Robin is well timed; after having built up the young man’s indecision in previous chapters, his choices here are satisfying to read. Artist Eddy Barrows returns in top form, his expressive characters keeping the drama flowing even as the action slows for a moment. That won’t be the case for long however, as Tim Drake’s decisions look to have dangerous consequences.