Earlier this year, the weekly “Batman and Robin Eternal” series concluded with the coming together of many of Batman‘s allies, fighting as a team to stop the villainess known as Mother. What readers probably hadn’t realized is that co-plotter James Tynion IV was using that series to set up his and artist Eddy Barrows‘ tenure on “Detective Comics.” Now, in the newly-renumbered series, several of those allies reunite — along with one new face — as part of a new Batman Boot Camp that also segues nicely from “Batman: Rebirth” #1.
This first issue quickly establishes the book’s cast. Batman may be the dean of the proverbial school, but that makes Batwoman the headmaster with Red Robin as her assistant, with Spoiler, Orphan, and Clayface as the initial students. It’s an interesting collection of characters with a wide range of experience.
BATWOMAN & RED ROBIN
Batwoman and Red Robin have been around as soon as the New 52 launched, with Red Robin the leader of “Teen Titans” and Batwoman starring in her own series that ran for 40 issues, plus a “Batwoman” #0 special.
Tynion plays off of Batwoman’s military experience to justify her position as the leader of this team, doubly so with a conversation Kate Kane has with her father to remind readers of her commanding nature. Considering the continual issues that the Titans had under his leadership, Red Robin serving more as a lieutenant is probably not a bad idea, even as Tynion sets up some changes for Tim Drake in his personal life that could limit his involvement with the team.
Spoiler and Orphan were each re-introduced as part of DC’s New 52 continuity during different Batman weekly series, with both having also served as Batgirl prior to the “Flashpoint” reboot. Spoiler is Stephanie Brown, who in “Batman Eternal” discovered that her father was the B-grade supervillain known as the Cluemaster, and her mother was complicit in helping him when Stephanie tried to stop his plans. Aside from initial training from Catwoman, though, she had little more than a minor appearance or two before entering the fold again in “Batman and Robin Eternal,” as the former Robins pulled in everyone they could in Batman’s absence to try and stop Mother. Stephanie’s been portrayed as someone exceptionally bright, but whose eagerness can get her in over her head; in other words, the perfect young hero to provide some additional training and guidance to become more successful.
Orphan is Cassandra Cain, who in the new continuity was one of the assassins trained by Mother and directly responsible for the death of Batman ally Harper Row’s mother. Like in prior continuity, Cassandra is an expert fighter, but barely speaks and has little experience with the outside world aside from having been sent to hurt and kill people in the past. Normally, she would be the obvious character being set up as the most dangerous trainee. But of course, there’s still one more character.
Clayface in recent years was given a slightly more sympathetic story, as a character who has lost himself in his shapeshifting abilities and is no longer able to regain his original form. His introduction here is that of a pathetic person who’s heading towards rock bottom, breaking into movie theatres in order to see old films starring himself before becoming Clayface. Clayface’s addition to the trainees fits in with everything we’ve seen up until now; this is someone who’s so lost that he could be molded into a hero, or at least someone no longer a danger to the citizens of Gotham City. As such, he’s the real wild card in “Detective Comics,” and the character that readers and trainees alike will be keeping an eye upon.
“Detective Comics” brings back the Batman Family in all but name, with a boot camp structure holding big possibilities for future. More characters could easily be added to the cast (especially considering there’s an Azrael guest appearance in this issue), and for fans scouring the DC Universe for characters that could possibly refugees from “Watchmen” there’s even a mysterious figure whose identity is hidden. Batman may normally work alone, but between his recruitment of Duke Thomas in “Batman: Rebirth” #1 and now this new group of trainees, this is a much more giving and welcoming Batman for the other heroes of Gotham. Is it the right move? We’ll have to wait and see. Until then, it’s a good time for fans of the Batman supporting cast.
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