SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for “Detective Comics” #940, on sale now.
The seventh and final chapter of James Tynion IV’s “Rise of the Batmen” arc features not the rise, but fall of one of the Bat-family in “Detective Comics” #940. Reader speculation and Tynion’s story itself all point towards the identity of the unfortunate victim, as the entire team of Batmen take down Jacob Kane send his rogue covert military operation, The Colony, into full retreat. Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira’s final cover to this very issue, altered from the version shown in initial solicitations, all but reveals the character’s identity. The rest of the team deals with their loss in the aftermath of their victory, but one large surprise remains.
Last issue ended with Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, facing down a fleet of weaponized drones that he had reprogrammed to target himself rather than innocent Gotham citizens. This issue begins aboard Colony Airship Alpha, with Kane and his tech whiz Ulysses learning of Tim’s clever and heroic trick. After Ulysses tells Kane he can’t turn off the drones, Kate Kane, aka Batwoman, arrives to confront her father, and immediately thereafter, so does a fleet of A.R.G.U.S. craft demanding Kane’s surrender. As Kane orders the Alpha to be teleported to a remote location in an effort to make a last ditch retreat, Kate pushes herself and her father out of the ship and onto a rooftop below as the craft disappears. Off panel, Kate dispatches her father, leaving him unconscious.
Meanwhile, a badly injured Tim is shown to have survived the strike, only to discover that a second wave of drones is already approaching. Tim says his goodbyes via their communications link; first to Batman, and then to Stephanie, aka Spoiler, before he is seemingly obliterated moments before Batman and Batwoman arrive. The devastation is so violent and explosive, all that remains of Tim on the scene is his staff.
Later, Stephanie returns to her apartment, where Batman awaits her. Bruce tries to comfort her regarding the loss of Tim, stating that this was the life he chose for himself. Stephanie then shows Bruce Tim’s acceptance letter to Ivy University, and upon learning that Tim was on the verge of leaving behind his costumed adventures, a distraught Batman and Stephanie embrace.
There’s a surprise in store on the remaining pages, however, as Tim himself appears, still injured, but also still alive, having been transported to a cell at an unknown location. Tim is confronted by none other than a hooded stranger with his telltale staff; the same robed entity seen behind the scenes in the “Rebirth” one-shot, among other corners of the DCU including recent issues of “Action Comics” where he played a critical role in Superman’s battle with Doomsday. The stranger cryptically tells Tim that the young hero had been “reconnecting threads that could not be reconnected,” and needed to be “taken off the field.” The stranger then turns away, leaving Tim in his cell, as Tim swears that his allies will find him.
Tim’s threats are seemingly empty, as Batman and company believe the hero to be dead. The appearance of the mysterious hooded figure, though, implies a larger but still-unknown role in DC Comics’ Rebirth universe, and the promise that Tim will be seen again at some point, perhaps in larger event-type story. That will have to wait, however, with Tim firmly imprisoned outside the DCU-proper, as the final page of the issue directs readers to pick up “Batman” #7 and “Nightwing” #5 for the first two parts of “Night of the Monster Men,” which then continues in “Detective Comics” #941, on sale September 28.
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