James Tynion IV’s “Rise of the Batmen” arc continues in “Detective Comics” #935, where Batwoman trains the recently recruited Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan and Clayface to step up their game against Gotham’s latest threat. Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira chronicle this second chapter with rich texture and backgrounds enhanced by colorist Adriano Lucas, even as the new team questions intensity and necessity of this initiative, which sets up some interesting character dynamics for future issues. With the team assembled, Tynion examines the players and takes a bit of a breather, while escalating the threat within the city all the while.
Tynion runs with a standard, ambiguous apocalyptic intro, but this oft-used trope is remarkably effective here, as it’s a trick that has been rarely used in the “Batman” books. Where the Bat-titles usually explore street-level troubles, Barrows, Ferreira and Lucas render the eerie sight of a Gotham in ruins, an environment that begs for more page time, even before a surprising circumstance arises on the issue’s second page. As the dramatic opening is merely an attention-grabber and not the point of Tynion’s story, he quickly moves past this story device and reveals the nature of the dire-looking backdrop.
Tynion uses another device that should be familiar to comic fans, as this fledgling Bat-army trains in their very own answer to the Danger Room. Collectively, these elements are unusual to Batman readers, and they give the comic a flavor that it’s never had before: a team superhero book, like a Justice League Gotham. Like any worthy team book, Tynion ensures it’s as much about family as it is fisticuffs by exploring the relationship between Tim and Stephanie, as well as Kathy Kane and her father. There’s even enough room for Batman to have a significant role as well.
If there’s any kind of theme to the issue, it’s about secrets that could later cause some tension between the teammates; Tim faces a difficult decision that could remove him from the group, and Batman himself seems to have an agenda driving his desire to bring in certain members. Tynion balances the character drama with plenty of action, though, as Batman finds himself in some very real danger near the end of the issue. Bookending that, Tynion’s script has a story-so-far vibe deftly woven within the context of the dialogue.
Complementing Tynion’s balanced script is the wall-to-wall splendor and detail of Barrows and Ferreira’s art. Every page features rich composition, and the layouts and sequencing are beautifully filled with a variety of hues from Lucas. When the subject can’t quite fill the panel, the backgrounds do, making every page an attractive tapestry of sequential art. Smaller touches — like falling snow in the foreground of a wintertime backdrop — work to terrific effect. Barrows structures the story to run across two pages at a time in spots, adding some liveliness to otherwise quiet scenes.
The story contained within “Detective Comics” #935 may have been done before, but Tynion, Barrows, Ferreira and Lucas deftly craft it into one that will invite fans to reread it time and again, even if some parts seem a little familiar.