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Review: Detective Comics #948

tec48coverDetective Comics #948 starts out as possibly a new take on the early crime fighting days of Batwoman when she worked with her father, Jake Kane, to put a military twist on vigilantism after she resigned from West Point because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. However, it quickly becomes sort of a cleaning crew for the first arc of co-writer James Tynion‘s Detective Comics featuring the nefarious paramilitary organization The Colony as well as the “Monster Men” crossover. Tynion, Marguerite Bennett, and artist Ben Oliver give Batwoman plenty of panel time as her trainees Cassandra Cain, Clayface, and Spoiler are nowhere to be seen. But, in attempting to tie up threads from these storylines, there’s no time to tell a good Batwoman story and answer the question, “What can Batwoman do that Batman can’t.”

In the flashback scene, Tynion, Bennett, and Oliver construct the emotional center of the “Batwoman Begins” arc, which is the relationship between Batwoman and her dad, Jake Kane. Oliver’s art in the first pages looks like some super cool Batwoman mod of the Arkham video games with heads up displays and angles showing her pursuit of Batman. But, then he softens his art when the costumes come off, and Kate has a drink with her dad, who is proud that she is improving as a crime fighter even if Batman has evaded their trail. This warm cameraderie leads in nicely to Batwoman watching her dad in his cell, but then she gets caught up in a potentially interesting action storyline featuring secret organizations with the potential to transform into kaiju. And the emphasis is definitely on “potential” as Batwoman’s personal narrative plays third fiddle to monsters, mad scientists, and a Prometheus wannabe.

Even Oliver’s art kind of falls off when the story hits the present. The glorious skyline of Gotham with its skyscrapers is kind of just drab and boring when Batman and Batwoman hit Monster Town. The image of a monster/seagull did make me a shudder a little bit and sells the fact that these dead monsters’ blood could lead to some terrible consequences more than Dr. October’s exposition. She is a charming and high energy character, and even if his cityscapes aren’t as well defined, Oliver still has a knack for expressions.

With the exception of the poetic flashbacks, Detective Comics #948 lacks the interpersonal tension that has been the best part of James Tynion’s run on the title, especially when Spoiler confronted Batman in the last arc. This incident isn’t even mentioned in this comic as he, Marguerite Bennett, and Ben Oliver decide to play a juggling act with the repercussions of the Monster Men, the resurgence of the Colony, and try to do a backdoor pilot for Batwoman’s upcoming series. Hopefully, we learn more about what makes Kate tick as a person and crime fighter in the next issue of “Batwoman Begins” instead of just rehashing (Not so.) old storylines.

Story: James Tynion IV, Marguerite Bennett Art: Ben Oliver
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 6.7 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review