Art by: Al Barrionuevo, Carmen Carnero, Scott Hanna, Adriano Lucas and Marilyn Patrizio
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: November 23, 2016
Detective Comics has been one of the most consistently good reads since Rebirth started and while the Victim Syndicate story kind of pales in comparison to what came before it (Tim Drake's death), it does make sense. While the issue of Batman creating his own villains and trouble is almost as old as the character himself, James Tynion is dealing with innocents caught in the Batman crossfire...and it goes further than that. We already began seeing cracks in the Dark Knight armour last issue and I expect that to continue all while the Detective Team (Luke is right, we need a better name!) figure out how to stop the Syndicate. So, does this issue keep the Detective Comics coolness train rolling or is this story another victim to add to the list? Let's find out...
The issue starts off with Batman asking Stephanie what the First Victim said at the end of last issue. It makes sense, but after the big cliffhanger, I expected to actually see what happened instead of being told. However, when Steph tells Batman that all they said was "sorry", I kind of understood what we are getting here...a continuation of the Batman smear campaign.
Listen, I understand everything behind this arc and truthfully, while it's not entirely new, I do like it. However, I am a little thrown off by the forced nature of it all. The people of Gotham turning on Batman just doesn't ring entirely true from what we've seen so far.
Batman leaves Steph and tells Batwoman to gather the team and also get Leslie Tompkins in to give psych evaluations. Yea, that's going to go well! Meanwhile, Batman is wracking his brain about who the First Victim might be, but even with Alfred's help, he can't figure it out...yet.
The issue continues with Steph meeting Luke Fox and finding out about the psych evaluations and while she is not too thrilled, we first get to see Leslie deal with Clayface. We get a more detailed origin story for Mudface and find out that she wanted to remind Clayface of all of his victims. You know, that is the Victim Syndicate's thing. The scene continues the concept of innocent people caught in the crossfire, but also the fact that Clayface (like Batman) can't remember everyone who got hurt.
After a quick bit showing that Jacob has some "friends" in the holding cells with him, we see more of Batwoman's anger at having Luke on the team. I get that she doesn't think he has paid his dues, but she is way over the top with it. If you were one of the few that read the New 52 Batwing book (and they decide to keep it all in continuity), you already know what Luke is fighting for. We will have to wait and see.
While this is going on, Harper visits Jean Paul Valley in the Free Clinic to figure out how to help Stephanie through her grief. Before anything can be resolved, however, the Victim Syndicate busts in, but they may not have fully anticipated how kick ass Jean Paul really is.
The issue ends with Stephanie telling Leslie what she thinks the real reason the Detective Team was put together and it doesn't paint a great picture of Batman. That continues with Steph undressing Batman to the point that I thought he was either going to break down of punch her in the face. He doesn't do either because they are interrupted with news of the Syndicate at the Clinic. It's all pretty heavy and then there is the cliffhanger that may excite and/or confuse people and while it's cool, it isn't as big as it seems.
I said earlier that the whole anti-Batman stuff felt forced, but Tynion has made a believer out of me by making it close and personal. While I was mad at the protesters, I can fully understand Stephanie's anger and am pretty much on her side with everything she said. If you were looking to see and find out more about the Victim Syndicate, you will go away disappointed. Instead, Tynion shows us that the Syndicate isn't as extreme as they may seem and that some of Batman's closest associates share their feelings. While we need to see more of the Syndicate, I would be happy to see more issue like this as well.
There are a lot of artists on this book and while I was not thrown out of it because of drastic art changes, I didn't love it either. It's not really on par with what we've gotten in this book previously (especially Barrow's awesome art last issue) and the best I can say about it is that it is not distractingly bad.
Bits and Pieces:
James Tynion continues his Victim Syndicate story by showing the Detective Team instead of the new villains. Why that seems an odd choice, Tynion does a good job showing us that those weird costumed freaks (sorry if that's insensitive) aren't the only ones caught in the crossfire. This is a more personal issue and while the art wasn't great, it does set up the story going forward.