Detective Comics #965
Review: Detective Comics 965
Detective Comics #965
Story by James Tynion IV
Art by Eddie Barrows - inks by Eber Ferreira
Color by Adriano Lucas
Tynion's stories in Detective Comics since DC's Rebirth cycle started (Detective Comics #934, Aug 2016) have been fairly complex, shifting around a lot of characters (the "Batman Family" is now a pretty large clubhouse) with overlaying stories centering on villains and their activities along with the ongoing personal plight of Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne, Kate Kane, et al.
The pseudo-death of Red Robin (Tim Drake) in Detective Comics #940 wasn't a phony death on the scale of "The Death of Superman" and other "death" event stories, as the last pages dénouement of Detective Comics #940 showed Drake in a strange new location, asking questions, instead of being a pile of ashes after getting blasted earlier. With this issue, the situation for Tim Drake is being more closely examined, establishing that this heroic Robin isn't in a weird afterlife purgatory but a bizarre prison.
My complaints about this run of issues on Detective boils down to two things: the storytelling isn't always clear and characters stand around too much examining themselves and each other in an analytical way instead of expressing themselves with emotion and humanity. The amount of dialogue isn't the problem, it's that the people become still-lifes visually, standing around holding up word balloons with their mouths. I can accept this is necessary part of the time just to keep the plot moving and for explanations for the mysterious events populating the story-line to be told, but too much and Detective Comics becomes Fumetti.
Eddie Barrows has been doing the illustration honors, and he has good moments in which he expresses facial movement and expression with a particular character, which helps a lot to get the dialogue to have a lift to it and to convey the attitude of someone. But in other ways Barrows' 'fight' panels can be simply bland due to their being small on a page compared to a large panel which has a carefully rendered portrait of the character before or after battle. This juxtaposition makes it seem like the violence is relatively unimportant and poses no threat to the heroes involved and that embellsihing is the point of the page.
Sometimes I just can't tell what's going on, for example:
Those two panels (above) are a flashback (I think) and a part of this page (below):
Is that Clayface saying "Two-face... chok, Where is he?" or is someone off panel saying it? Is the "suit" saying it (mentioned in the previous panel)? What's the flashback mean? (Is it a flashback?) Perhaps this makes better sense when the stories are collected together into a book, but that's irrelevant to someone buying the series and especially bad for someone picking up a single issue.
Tynion's story has a lot of ideas in it, but rushes ahead too fast (for me) at times without fully explaining what's happening and why it matters. This complaint puts me in the awkward spot of saying there's too much talk, but also complaining that there's not enough to get across all the information I need to understand the story in a satisfactory way. Frankly, I'd like to see a few old-fashioned narrative boxes with pertinent information dropped into the pages here and there to simplify panel or page transitions which can be jarring and disorienting at times. It's fair enough for a writer to make the reader work a little to understand the characters and why they do what they do, but it's unfair to make the reader untangle the story itself.