SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Detective Comics #978, by James Tynion IV, Javier Fernandez, John Kalisz and Sal Cipriano, on sale now.
Ever since he returned from the grave (or, more accurately, Mister Oz’s extra-dimensional prison) in “A Lonely Place of Living,” Tim Drake has been on somewhat of a downward spiral. Seeing what could possibly become of him in the future left a harrowing imprint on his psyche, forcing the young hero to work night and day to try to prevent himself from traveling down that treacherous road.
However, in doing so, many of Tim’s allies began to notice his ambition had suddenly taken a backseat to his dangerous new obsession with turning the Gotham Knights into all-encompassing emergency response unit. In fact, when Batman went as far as to pull the plug on his entire operation, it nearly drove Tim into an uneasy alliance with the team’s longtime thorn-in-the-side, Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong.
Now, in Detective Comics #978, Tim’s recent actions have finally managed to catch up with him in a big way -- but not in the way any of us were expecting.
In the previous issue, Batman and Tim were preparing to take down a group of armed thugs when they were suddenly interrupted by the arrival of two Colony soldiers, who proceeded to turn the crime scene into a full-scale massacre. This wasn’t by their own volition, though, but rather a result of Ulysses apparently using Brother Eye to hack into the soldier’s armored suits and force them to comply.
Of course, the Dynamic Duo wasn’t aware of this at the time, so Issue #978 sees the pair bring the Colony soldiers back to the Batcave so Tim can run diagnostics on their suits while Batman searches for answers from Batwoman and Col. Kane. In the meantime, all Ulysses has to do is sit back and watch as these unknowing pawns move into position, setting the stage for him to put both The Colony and the now-defunct Gotham Knights in check.
Before long, Tim’s investigation leads him to a horrifying discovery: the Colony soldiers’ blood has been infected by a dangerous nanovirus, which – upon being activated by Ulysses – transforms not just the two men in Tim’s custody, but all of The Colony’s troops into one-man army corps, aka OMACs. It isn’t just the soldiers whose blood contains the nanovirus though; Tim’s does, as well, and as the issue comes to a close, we’re left with one last look at Tim as he undergoes the painful transformation into one of Ulysses’ “foot soldiers of a new tomorrow.”
Most modern readers will likely recall the OMAC concept from the Infinite Crisis-era DC Universe in the mid-to-late 2000s. When Batman felt he could no longer trust his fellow heroes, he created the Brother Eye satellite to keep tabs on them, but the technology was eventually hijacked by Maxwell Lord, who instead used it to turn civilians into OMACs to help rid the world of superheroes altogether.
Judging by Ulysses’ promise to use the OMACs to “erase those stupid enough to stand in the way [his] progress,” it sounds as though history could soon repeat itself. However, even if it were to be contained to just Gotham, the elimination of the Bat-family would surely have widespread ramifications throughout the entire DCU, and whether he wants to or not, Tim Drake is poised to go along for the entire ride.