I’m not a car person. If invited to admire a vehicle I’m likely to mutter, ‘that’s a nice blue’. Chassis, horsepower and the like represent a mystery I’ve never wanted to solve.
So the fact that I near-gasped with joy at seeing the latest Batmobile as illustrated by penciller Alvaro Martinez and inker Raul Fernandez is a testament to their talent. Just look at this thing, with its sharp lines, hood-bat callback to the Golden Age and windscreen that could be an open coffin. We know there’s a hero inside but a passer-by might think this is something out of a Hammer movie, come to take them to Castle Dracula.
And the rest of the art lives up to this image. Coloured by Tomeu Morey and Jean Francois Beaulieu, the compositions are as intelligent as they’re stylish. Batman, Batwoman, Clayface... the entire cast look marvellous amid a Gotham City that’s the perfect blend of steampunk and noir.
And yes, if you’ve not read the issue - and I highly recommend shelling out for this quality comic - that is Tim Drake with Batman. He’s escaped Mr Oz’s extra-dimensional prison and gathered the Batman Family to deliver a no-nonsense warning.
Future Tim does indeed show up, to be greeted by three rockin’ Robins.
And one dog.
As for how the subsequent fight goes and what surprise future Tim has up his sleeve, I’ll leave that for you to discover. Meanwhile, there are plenty of other things to discuss.
Such as the broadcast report placing this issue’s events concurrent with the current Action Comics storyline; the riddle of Alfred’s blue roses; and best of all, the prospect of Bette Kane joining the team.
And notice that’s ‘Flamebird’, not the awful recent codename someone dumped on her, Hawkfire, that came with a flamethrower... (my hope is that one reason the name’s gone is that DC plans to bring back Firestorm’s old pal Firehawk soon).
Writer James Tynion IV does a wonderful job with this issue, playing with DC Rebirth’s overall Mr Oz storyline while having huge fun with the dynamics of the Batman Family. Seeing our Tim actually use that term in-story had me grinning, but even better was learning what name he’s given the team.
Great stuff! Now, how about putting that on the cover?
Tynion also gets points for a whole issue without a ‘Hrm’ - we had at least three last time (yes, it’s a peculiar thing to obsess over, but it’s such a weird weird expression to become a commonplace).
And I’m most intrigued by the fact that Tim - heck, the whole world - looks to have forgotten Kon-El/Conner Kent... just how much of a threat is the kid clone to Mr Oz, or presumed puppet master Dr Manhattan?
The only real off-note in A Lonely Place of Living Chapter 3 is this sequence... worried or not, I can’t see Batman being so heavy-handed with doctors who really need to monitor Tim for awhile. And I can’t see the medics acceding, billionaire employer or not - they have a duty to their patient. It makes for a dramatic moment, and speaks to Batman’s passion, but I don’t buy it
I do buy the humour Tynion sprinkles throughout, such as the exchange around what Batwoman calls the Belfry gang.
The writer really is excellent at balancing drama with lighter moments, the gags punctuating the darkness before the intensity returns. And a tip of the blogging hat to Sal Cipriano for making a dense script look terrific.
Neither cover illustrates a scene within, but they’re thematically within the parameters of the story arc, and both are beauts. I prefer Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Josh Lucas’ mass market cover, but it’s a close call, Rafael Albuquerque’s well-composed, skilfully coloured variant also being a winner.
The book ends on a cliffhanger that had me rolling my eyes. It brings in one of the worst concepts pegged to Batman over the past 15 years, a bit of business hugely damaging to the character, but with Tynion at the writing helm, and the current batch of brilliant artists, I think I’m going to enjoy what’s coming regardless.
Detective Comics #967 review, James Tynion IV, Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Tomeu Morey, Jean Francois Beaulieu, Sal Cipriano, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Josh Lucas, Rafael Albuquerque