DC’s “Rebirth” reaches the revered pages of “Detective Comics” in this week’s issue #934. Following the conclusion of its New 52 storylines, the title returns to its old numbering system and unleashes Gotham’s newest Bat-family lineup. “Detective Comics” has long been known as the book that teams Batman up with a host of heroes to solve Gotham-centric mysteries, and writer James Tynion IV restores that successful format in his first story arc.
Joined by artist Eddy Barrows, Tynion effectively establishes the storyline’s overarching mystery with an ominous and extremely tech-forward bad guy. To combat this newest threat to his city, Batman assembles a team of young heroes and lays down groundwork that’s full of potential. Batwoman becomes the book’s co-star, as Batman enlists Kate’s help to train the others. It appears that the mission of “Rebirth” will be to finally give purpose to the periphery characters that always made the A-listers so interesting, and Batwoman will have her chance in the pages of “Detective Comics.” Tim Drake as Red Robin was terrific in “Batman and Robin Eternal,” and he’s the perfect Batman-trained tech-expert to join this new team.
The remaining three selections represent the teammates whose morals generally come from the “other side of the tracks.” Stephanie Brown, a.k.a. Spoiler, is the daughter of Cluemaster and was trained by Catwoman. Cassandra Cain is Orphan, and her training definitely dictates violence first, sort the damage later. Both of these characters are good choices for this fledgling team, but the most interesting selection is Clayface. A formidable villain, Tynion turns the tables and offers former actor Basil Karlo a chance “to be more than what he’s made of his life.”
Reforming a villain is an excellent choice for the book’s new direction. Besides ensuring that the team will have physical and ethical challenges as they learn how to work together, Clayface offers artist Eddy Barrows infinite visual variety that will add texture to the panels. The Bat-family’s uniforms won’t change much, but Clayface changes constantly just to hold his form together, which provides Barrows with some fun opportunities.
The art in issue #934 is dark and delightful. Gotham is foreboding, and the characters are introduced via fights; Barrows shows off considerable action chops with these scenes, and Eber Ferreira’s inks elegantly balance the light and dark elements necessary to pull off a Bat book. Adriano Lucas’ lush colors bring the panels to life; just look at Clayface’s recruitment scene to understand the patience Lucas used to add humanity and hope in a darkened theater. Honestly, the scene was so good I was really hoping for another couple of panels depicting Batman and Batwoman watching the film.
Overall, Tynion IV and the creative team are off to a solid start. Tynion IV’s script follows a good formula for establishing a team title where all the members are strong individuals who will become teammates — eventually. The bad guy is already a challenge, and best of all, Batman is Batman; he only divulges part of his motivation for creating the team and he is definitely keeping secrets. However, if you were hoping for a solo Batman title or if you aren’t a fan of the team’s members, you may want to pass on the new “Detective Comics.”