I love Batman. I thought he was the coolest hero around along side Spider-man. I watched the original Batman: the Animated Series and would rush home to catch the latest episode. This routine continued through Batman Beyond and the various Batman animated/live-action/comic/video game stories that have come out since. Rarely ever did my interactions with his various counterparts include Batman as another star among his ever-growing family–he’s always the focus (it’s named Batman for a reason, I know). As I became absorbed in his world, I wanted more. I wanted to see Batman on equal footing with his co-stars–where we get equal panel and screen time from all.
That’s where DC Rebirth comes in. When it was released, I decided that instead of a Batman solo book, I’d look into Detective Comics which starred several characters I knew or wanted to know more about. The series features Batman (obviously), Batwoman/Kate Kane, Red Robin/Tim Drake (now in classic Robin colours), Spoiler/Stephanie Brown, Orphan/Cassandra Cain and Clayface/Basil Karlo faced with an antagonist team that is hunting them. It intrigued me for various reasons: it wasn’t another solo Batbook but included a team that has never come together (not that I can recall), and it seemed like each character would get equal panel time. Which is exactly what I wanted! I didn’t want a story focused on Batman, or Nightwing or Batgirl. I wanted a team that makes for interesting interactions, conflicts and storytelling.
I was lucky that my first experience with the Detective Comics rebirth line was just that–a team. In the first five issues, Batman has taken a considerable step back (not of his own choice) and Batwoman and Red Robin take over the team. They prove that they can hold their own and that Batman isn’t the only character with storytelling possibilities. We get to see Kate’s struggle with her military-based past, Tim’s struggle for his future and Clayface’s hopes for something more than a muddied present. It’s something of a treat. Batman brought them together, yet he’s not the focus.
Despite the numbering (as of this writing, it’s sitting at issue 939), it feels accessible for those of all levels. Sure you can go back and read the New 52 volumes of Batwoman to get an idea of what Kate has been up to, but it sure as hell isn’t necessary. Rather, it gives a tiny synopsis of what happened back in the New 52 and merely adds a little more to it. Think of it like a bottle of dishwasher soap with a “Now 15% more!” label stuck to it–you walked away from Teen Titans with a knowledge about Red Robin, but OH HEY LOOK! Detective Comics is giving you more for coming to hang out.
The writing is both fun and serious. I love the interactions between Tim and his girlfriend Stephanie–full of play with some moments of calmness. Bring in Bruce or Kate and the tone is shifted to a more serious one. They know what’s at stake and are hyper-focused on it. Occasional comedic moments from Clayface–such as his admission that hitting things and burying them has worked for him so far when Batwoman points out he could do more if he trained like the others–break everything up and make the series feel more full. This is all compared to current and past Batman books that I’ve read. In addition, not once did I feel that any of them were out of character.
The art is phenomenal. You get the classic crisp lines and when readers are transported to the past or feelings change, the tone of the art changes to reflect it featuring what looks like paintings or chalk colouring. It breaks everything up and notes to readers that the scene is changing from the main storyline. The scenery is gorgeous–you get a view of everything and not once does it feel boring.
If this trend continues, then I will happily keep my subscription to the series going. With a huge cast, artwork that treats your eyeballs and great writing, you can’t go wrong.