Tag Archives: cassandra cain

Review: Detective Comics #981

James Tynion concludes his run on Detective Comics with smiling, hugs, and the simple refrain that maybe one should take things one day at a time instead of coming up with complex algorithms and plans for the future. His first artistic collaborators on the series, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, and Adriano Lucas, return for Detective #981 and provide chilling double page spreads of possible futures and more solid ones of the present of the Bat-family. The Brother Eye/Ulysses Armstrong/future Tim Drake plot is resolved fairly quickly so that Tynion, Barrows, and Ferreira can dig deeper into the characters’ emotions and relationships and tease out the different paths that the members of Batman and Batwoman’s hero training squad follows.

Probably the most unexpected hug is the first one between Tim Drake, who has been possessed by Brother Eye technology, and Batwoman as they realize that finding a perfect algorithm to fight crime involves pushing away friends and family and giving into one’s darker nature. It’s not punching or gadgets that brings Tim back to his real self (I love how Sal Cipriano gradually “de-Brothers” his word balloons.), but Stephanie Brown’s voice on the other end telling him she loves him no matter if he’s Red Robin, a future autocratic Batman, or just Tim Drake the college student. The split screens between her and ruthlessly manipulative and pragmatic Ulysses Armstrong represents the warring side of his psyche as Tim wants to efficiently prevent crime in Gotham City and elsewhere, but the human cost is too great. Batwoman experiences almost the same thing in a potent vision of the future where she is hunting down Batman for the government and is content to let him go, but because Bruce is dying of radiation from Brother Eye, she executes a mercy killing. Even if it’s a potential future timeline, Lucas uses a full color palette and Barrows uses tighter knit panels to show the tears on Kate’s face as she puts down an aging Bruce, who has realized that Bat-symbol is a powerful force for good, but it’s not one that needs to be eternal. It’s a direct refutation to the machine set up by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy back in 2014’s Detective Comics #27 where Batman set up a way for a Batman (and Alfred) to exist in every era perpetually.

Detective Comics #981 is all about being able to love your family members, but also knowing when they need to go down their own path. Especially in the early part of Tynion’s run, Batman, Batwoman, and Red Robin have all been about control with strict training protocols and focus on efficiency and results at the expense of emotions, which caused Stephanie Brown to leave the team, poor Cassandra Cain to be estranged, and Clayface to die. The second half of this comic sets this all to rights with honest conversations, smiling, hugs, and yes, breaking up the proverbial band. Kate and Bruce share drinks at a fancy restaurant where their parents used to “parley”, and Bruce admits that the fact that she’s one of his only living relatives is why their relationship is so frustrating. Also, Kate talks about starting to figure out where she fits in this world of vigilantes and high tech paramilitarism as more of a solo act like she was back when J.H. Williams was writing her comics. But everything isn’t all sunshine and rainbows because this is a book predominantly set in Gotham City so, of course, Jake Kane is listening on their entire conversation. Kate might wear the Batman symbol and have respect for Batman and her other cousin Bruce, but she doesn’t answer to him.

Even if she isn’t technically the “star” of Detective Comics #981, the short scene with Cassandra Cain and Barbara Gordon is definitely the most heartfelt as Cass moves from Wayne Manor to a room in Leslie Thompkins’ clinic where she can be a student and young woman and not just a crime fighter. In contrast with her completely face and form obscuring Orphan costume, Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira draw Cass and her surroundings as open and dynamic before slowly pivoting to this issue’s saddest moment. At the clinic, she isn’t her codename, and Barbara Gordon is “Babs”, not Batgirl. Even though the glimpse of Cassandra picking up her pre-Flashpoint mantle as Batgirl in the previous issue was glorious, it is good to see her learning how to speak and function in society as a human being and not just as a human weapon and nicely caps off the arc that James Tynion has set up for her throughout Batman and Robin Eternal and Detective Comics.

Although it features alternate timelines, crazy future tech, and of course, masked vigilantes who wear a flying rodent on their costumes, Detective Comics #981, and by extension James Tynion’s whole 47 issue run on Detective Comics, has been a family drama with Batwoman playing the badass aunt and Tim Drake as the son, who wants to please his father and also wants to do his own thing. It ends with Batman going into action alone while his surrogate family members forge a path of their own. Sure, Tim and Stephanie are investigating alternate timelines and not going to college, but Batman trusts and loves them enough to let them strike out on their own. Batman fighting crime in Gotham City is a constant, but there is room for change in that constant.

Story: James Tynion IV Pencils: Eddy Barrows
Inks: Eber Ferreira Colors: Adriano Lucas Letters: Sal Cipriano
Story: 9.5 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Batman and Robin Eternal #3

BMRBET-03-300-001-HD-1-cad48“While the Bat’s away”

So we enter into week three of the half-year epic Batman & Robin Eternal, and while I appreciate that it must be quite a daunting task for any creative team to sustain interest and high level of creativity, it’s important to me as a reader that they don’t simply phone it in.

Each issue should be constructed almost like an episode of a season of a tv show with individual events but a long reaching overall story arc. While the first week was a big splash right out the gate and last weeks was lackluster, this one was somewhere right in the middle.

The theme that all of Batman’s former young proteges are being targeted from a secret menace from his past is very intriguing. The new villain “Mother” could have lots of promise if handled properly. I have been thoroughly impressed with the “Bat books” since the rebirth of the New 52 a few years ago. So many concepts were revamped and updated with great achievement. Sure it’s a bit wacky that we are to believe in the new condensed continuity that Batman has had four Robins (Dick, Jason, Tim and Damian) in just 5 years (Talk about not longstanding job security) but hey that’s comics.

So on to the issue. The skinny here, is that Mother has a list, and all the Robins and former teenage sidekicks and even one current one (Harper Row) are on it. It’s not a good list, like the Dean’s list. This is bad news indeed.

Last issue we were treated to a yawn of a slugfest with a new villain named The Orphan, kicking our heroes collective butts, with no real explanation. This week we open up with the resident hothead of the Robin’s: Jason Todd, now known as Red Hood about to execute the ninja newbie Cassandra Cain. To Jason’s surprise she is more than ready for him. As Jason gets the upper hand though, big brother Robin, Dick Grayson aka Nightwing aka Agent 37 (Seriously Dick, pick one) steps in with words of peace to calm this kill fest down.

Red Robin (These guys sure love colors in their names) suggests if they are going to try to solve a mystery like the old days, there’s only one place to go: The Batcave. When they arrive in an effort of complete transparency (guess we are not in Congress) Dick plays Bruce’s secret message for his team. Team Robin tries to make heads or tails of it but with no real results. All they know is that “Mother” is some kind of teen agent human trafficker with deadly intentions and very vast resources.

Like the TV show Arrow, This story makes common use of flashbacks to give us crumbs to follow to piece the mystery together. (At this point though, you can yank my junior detective badge because I got squat) 

What we are shown in the flashback is more details of a case that Bruce and Dick worked on very early in their crime fighting careers as Batman and Robin. This one particular tidbit comes from the Dynamic Duo’s legendary first tussle with Dr. Jonathan Crane aka The Scarecrow. Robin (Dick) has been exposed to The Scarecrow’s “fear toxin” and nothing is seeming to shake the effects. In an effort to restore his partner to sanity, Bruce removes his Batman cowl and ask Dick what he’s seeing. In short Dick explained to him that the toxin makes him see his greatest fears and his fear of being a failure to Batman. Basically a failure that could resonate in any loving father-son relationship.

Just as Robin pours his heart out, Batman slips the cowl back on and heads out on the case.(wow a bit harsh in my view, but he is Batman after all) 

Here’s where it gets dicey. Batman was exposed to the fear toxin, the same as Robin, however he tells him that he was not effected at all. Hmm, I’m sure this will come into play later but for now I’m stumped. Perhaps at this stage in The Scarecrow’s career the “toxin” only effects adolescents? I’m not quite sure but they put bait on the hook because the writers got me here.

As for the rest of the issue we are treated a look at the non Bat- Bruce Wayne and left with yet another cliffhanger. I really wish the creative team would get us back the the great cliffhanger bomb they dropped on us back in issue one but I guess a modicum of patience is required.

Overall: As I pointed out this is a weekly story and takes time to build. However a weekly saga needn’t be a “weak” saga. I like the flashback scenes so far and that issue one cliffhanger was killer. I’m just not properly feeling it yet. At least the writers have another 23 weeks to turn me around. On the plus side, the art by Paul Pelletier and Scot Eaton was very polished and dynamic. I feel they have a terrific handle on the look of these characters without making them look juvenile. I particularly love the revamped design of Dick Grayson’s Robin costume for this era. It invokes a lot of the original Tim Drake costume design from the early 1990’s (One of my personal favorites) and there is nothing wrong with that. While I’m not floored yet at this juncture, like a loyal fan I will see how this plays out. So for the foreseeable future you can catch my weekly review here. Press the tights and check the utility belts, till next week same Bat .. err bird time, same bird channel!

Story: James Tynion IV, Tim Seeley, and Scott Snyder  Art: Paul Pelletier, Scott Eaton
Story: 6 Art: 8 Overall 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Around the Tubes

The weekend is almost here. What’s everyone have on their schedule?

Around the Blogs

Comics Bulletin – We Hear You – So Shut Up Already!Solid article on the Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown DC Comics issue.

Bleeding Cool – Hastings Puts Its Comics Online – Including The VariantsThere goes that market.

Kotaku – Stan Lee’s Latest Superhero Creation Has the Power to Fall From the Sky. Hey, Me Too!Okay then.

Around the Tubes Reviews

Talking Comics – Avengers Assemble #9

Talking Comics – Batgirl #14

Examiner – Fantastic Four #1

Talking Comics – Fantastic Four #1

CBR – Where is Jake Ellis? #1

Comics Alliance – ‘Scene of the Crime’ and ‘Rock Bottom’ Find New Homes At Image

Paste Magazine – Comic Book & Graphic Novel Round-up 11/14/12