Detective Comics #957
Written by James Tynion IV, Christopher Sebela
Art by Carmen Carnero, Karl Story, Richard Friend and Javier Mena
Lettering by Sal Cipriano
Published by DC Comics
Review by Kat Calamia
‘Rama Rating: 5 out of 10
Stephanie Brown returns to the pages of Detective Comics with her own spotlight issue - where she quickly learns that she’s not the hero or villain of Gotham, but instead the Spoiler. Detective Comics #957 gives some much-needed panel time for Stephanie, but still doesn’t give her a strong enough motive for her new unique take on heroism.
After the loss of her boyfriend, Tim Drake, Stephanie has a new point of view on Batman’s role in Gotham. She believes the Bat-family’s brand of vigilantism is destructive, their symbol a target that supervillains rise up to destroy. Deciding that she doesn’t want to be a symbol like Batman, this issue showcases Stephanie’s new approach to saving the city, taking down the villainous Wrath from the shadows rather than as a larger-than-life caped crusader.
This story brings up a lot of interesting concepts about Batman and his team. Some might argue that the Bat-family brings more bad than good to Gotham, but sadly this intriguing concept is explored at the cost of Stephanie’s character. Spoiler becomes a plot device, creating a thorn in Batman’s side, as her motivations don’t line up with previous iterations of her character. Her dialogue throughout the issue doesn’t inject her personality, making it feel like her story could have been replaced with any other character.
Fans of Stephanie are going to find her rejection of heroism weird, since she’s a Bat-character who’s always fought to be a hero - particularly when people didn’t believe she was good enough. In that vein, it’s nice to see Stephanie fighting for something, but the issue doesn’t convincingly convey why the Bat-family member who believed in hope the most is dismantling Gotham’s greatest symbol of hope - Batman.
Detective Comics’ last arc, “League of Shadows,” created a darker look for the series with a heavily-inked palette, but I’m glad to see a brighter tone for “The Wrath of the Spoiler.” Carmen Carnero’s pencils and Javier Mena’s colors feel reminiscent to Tim Drake’s Robin series where Spoiler first debuted. The purple dialogue boxes by letterer Sal Cipriano is a nice touch also adding for a nostalgic feel. Carnero’s pencils give the issue some clean action as Spoiler tactfully takes down her enemy, it fits the tone of the story very well.
Detective Comics #957 puts an interesting twist on how vigilantes should approach heroism in Gotham City, but Stephanie’s characterization makes it hard to fully enjoy the issue. This spotlight story misses an opportunity to fully convey Stephanie’s motivations, which hurts the issue’s character moments.