Now that DC has taken a twice-monthly approach to many of the publisher's key titles, the "Rebirth" is barely six-months0old and already has almost 12 issues of story behind most of their characters.
For Batman (written by Tom King) and Detective Comics (written by James Tynion IV), which are two of the company's flagship titles, the focus has shifted a bit since the "New 52," putting the spotlight on a different set of allies for the Dark Knight.
As the "Rebirth" era of the DC universe reaches its twelfth issue in several DC titles, Newsarama takes a look at what changes have come with the new launch and what stories have emerged, beginning with Batman (which hits #12 this week) and Detective Comics (which just reached its twelth issue with November's #945).
Batman In Charge
One of the key questions posed by Batman in the earliest issue of its "Rebirth" run was whether Batman was truly the best hero to serve Gotham City. With the introduction of superpowered siblings Gotham and Gotham Girl, the book began to explore the idea of a different, maybe-even-better hero (or in their case, heroes) cleaning up the streets of Gotham.
But what the story ended up proving instead was that Batman is still the best-qualified person to protect his city, and in fact, he schools even the most superpowered hero in how to best serve Gothamites. In fact, only a few issues into the relaunched Batman, Bruce has not only had to teach them how to fight a villain like Solomon Grundy, but readers found out the only reason the two became heroes in the first place is because they were inspired by Batman.
And in Detective Comics, Bruce is showing his leadership skills again by forming a team of characters - a group he wants to train. He enlists Batwoman to help him whip the team into shape, then recruits Spoiler, Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain, and Clayface. (And what's cool about the latter is that the team can practice against imaginary threats in what they call the "Mud Room," made from Clayface himself.)
Back in Batman, more recently, Bruce has also formed a team of villains - his own version of the Suicide Squad 0 whom he's leading into Santa Prisca to attack Bane (and retrieve Psycho Pirate — more on that later).
The establishment of Batman as not only a team player, but a leader serves as a nice set-up for his eventual leadership of the Justice League of America in 2017.
Stories of Death
Detective Comics' early issues showed the team fighting a group that called itself the Colony, although they found out later that Jacob Kane, Batwoman's father, was behind the group.
Eventually, Jacob orders the launch of super powerful Bat Drones to take down suspected criminal targets (although some of them might be innocent). The Bat-team isn't too happy with potential innocents being killed, so Tim Drake reprograms the drones to aim their missiles at him instead.
As the missiles impact at Tim's location, he was apparently whisked away by Mr. Oz, the recurring character who's been shown watching DC characters since even before "Rebirth" began.
The Bat-characters believe Tim has died. But Tim is now imprisoned by Mr. Oz, and it doesn't look like he's the only one there. According to Oz, Tim was "reconnecting threads that could not be reconnected" so he was taken "off the field."
Although this event has ramifications throughout the DCU, the main effect within the pages of Detective Comics was disorientation among team members, particularly Stephanie Brown, with whom Tim had developed a relationship. (And it hasn't exactly been easy for Batman, who has to handle another death of a former Robin, complete with an encased costume in the Batcave.)
In Batman, Psycho Pirate used his emotion-manipulating powers to control Gotham and Gotham Girl. Because the Pirate made Gotham angry, he wants to destroy Batman and Gotham City itself, and because the Pirate made Gotham Girl afraid, she's not exactly helping the situation.
And by the end of the first Batman story arc, Gotham Girl (with help from Duke Thomas) had overcome her fear to instead temporarily tap into bravery, and she ended up having to kill her brother to stop him.
Batman #5 ends with Gotham dead, and readers find out through Gotham Girl's narration-from-the-future that she is destined to marry Duke Thomas and Batman's going to end up dead.
Villains and Victims
Despite all the talk of death in these "Rebirth" comic books, there are still lots of heroes around to fight bad guys within the pages of Batman and Detective Comics.
In fact, through a crossover with Nightwing, the two series become part of the "Night of the Monster Men" storyline that features giant kaijus attacking Gotham City. Hugo Strange is behind the attack - as well as the previously mentioned attack from Psycho Pirate - and Batman and friends have to take him and his monsters down.
But the end of the "Monster Men" crossover doesn't fix everything, as Gotham Girl is still dealing with the after-effects of her manipulation by Psycho Pirate. Batman realizes he needs the help of Psycho Pirate to cure her, but the villain has escaped to Santa Prisca, where he's protected by Bane.
This motivates Batman to form the aforementioned personal Suicide Squad, and the team is currently in the midst of Santa Prisca, trying to gain access to the Pirate. Among the team members is Catwoman, who's in prison because she allegedly took part in an event that caused mass casualties.
At the end of Batman #11, Catwoman had betrayed Batman, but in this week's issue #12, the Caped Crusader fights his way out of the trap. And through issue #12's narration (told in the form of a letter to Selina Kyle), readers find out that, before he became Batman, young Bruce Wayne came close to committing suicide. But before he slit his own wrists, he decided to instead fight crime, something he now considers to be a sort of long-form suicide.
By the end of this week's issue, Batman has reached Catwoman, Bane, and Psycho-Pirate, ready to fight to take possession of the latter.
The current "Victim Syndicate" story in Detective Comics (which has featured appearances by Batwing, Azrael, and Harper Row) is dealing with a group of ticked-off innocents who were previously caught in the Batman crossfire - angry at the hero for the destruction he and his villains leave in their wake. Characters called the First Victim and Mudface capitalize on some negativity being directed at Batman and his allies these days - something that hits particularly hard in the aftermath of Tim Drake's (fake) death.
By the end of November's Detective Comics #945, Stephanie was upset enough by the victim-singed events to program the Mud Room to supply her with a friend - a replica of Tim Drake.
The Batman and Detective Comics titles are also dabbling in concepts connected to the aftermath of DC Universe: Rebirth #1, the one-shot that launched the "Rebirth" era and revealed the shocking involvement of the Watchmen characters in the DCU.
Detective Comics has shown that Tim Drake is now located in a prison controlled by Mr. Oz - a character that many believe is actually Watchmen's Ozymandias. Whatever Oz's identity, it seems clear that he's connected somehow to the manipulation of time that was hinted about in Rebirth. After all, his capture of Tim Drake in Detective Comics was accompanied by the disappearance of the older, future Tim Drake in Batman Beyond.
In Batman, readers have also seen Saturn Girl, the Legion character who was shown to be trapped in the present in DC Universe: Rebirth #1. In Batman #9, Batman is walking through Arkham Asylum with Jim Gordon and Jeremiah Arkham when readers are shown a young woman labeled only as "Doe, Jane," who is seen trying to use her Legion ring to send a message (the Legion symbol). It is the same woman (now identified as Saturn Girl) who was seen in DC Universe: Rebirth #1.
And there will surely be more connections, if the cliffhanger in this week's Batman results in the capture of Psycho-Pirate, who not only has the ability to project emotions onto other people, but in previous timelines, he could remember DC's continuity changes.
According to Batman writer Tom King, Psycho Pirate retains the continuity-remembering abilities in this "Rebirth" era. As King told Newsarama, "the Pirate remembers continuity that no longer exists," and that's "one of the appeals of having him in this book, and tying him into the story spine of the greater DCU."