SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for “Detective Comics” #945, on sale now.
Things have not been easy for Stephanie Brown lately. The Bat-family superhero also known as Spoiler recently suffered the loss of Tim Drake and now has a whole new squad of villains (the Victim Syndicate) to deal with. In fact, the leader of that group — the mysterious First Victim — popped up in her hospital room as she recovered from the Syndicate’s attack.
“Detective Comics” #945, written by James Tynion IV and featuring art from Al Barrionuevo and Carmen Carnero, picks up where the previous issue left off, skipping the details of the First Victim’s secret chat with Stephanie. The issue starts at the Thompkins Free Clinic as Batman and Harper Row question Spoiler about her late night visitor.
Brown’s not exactly thrilled to wake up to an interrogation from her mentor and best friend. After some heated words, Stephanie says that the First Victim just wanted to apologize on behalf of the Syndicate for hospitalizing her. “They said they didn’t mean to hurt me, and that they wanted to make sure I was okay,” she says.
As Batman struggles to figure out who the First Victim could be, he tells Batwoman to bring in the entire team to the Belfry to prepare for the Syndicate’s next move. Stephanie suits up and heads to the HQ as Spoiler, pausing to mourn the loss of Tim Drake at the site of Red Robin’s last stand.
Upon arrival, though, Spoiler learns that Batman’s also brought in Leslie Tompkins to give the team a psych evaluation. During their session, Spoiler shares her theory about Batman’s new team: he didn’t bring them together because he didn’t want them to be better superheroes, he brought them together to control them. Both Orphan and Spoiler are the daughters of Bat-villains, and Batwoman’s own father attacked the team in the opening arc of this “Detective Comics” run.
Stephanie starts to question her life as a superhero, saying that the act is ultimately selfish and done to make yourself feel better. She asks, “Why else would you put on a costume rather than hand out cups of soup?” But when Dr. Tompkins asks if this is what the First Victim said to her, Spoiler catches on. She knows she’s being interrogated.
With the facade over, Spoiler calls out Batman for being selfish and only pretending to care about herself and Tim. After she says that the Victim Syndicate is right, that innocent people get hurt every time Batman suits up, news comes in that the villains have attacked the Tompkins Center. The team leaves — except for Spoiler.
Alone in the Belfry, Spoiler makes a desperate move. She steps into the Mudroom, the room that uses spare parts of Clayface to create training simulations, and programs it to give her someone to talk to:
Stephanie’s grieving process has escalated to the point where she’s willing to open up to a mud simulacrum of Tim Drake. Unbeknownst to Spoiler, though, Tim Drake is still alive. The coda to Tim Drake’s death issue revealed that he’s not actually dead, but being held prisoner by a mysterious figure. No member of the Bat-family knows this yet, especially not Stephanie Brown. And now readers have to wonder how much further she’ll sink into grief before Tim is rescued.
“Detective Comics” #946 arrives in stores on December 14.
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