Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Detective Comics #972 Review

Riding Dirty

Written by: James Tynion IV
Art by: Miguel Mendonca, Diana Egan, Jason Wright and Sal Cipriano
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: January 10, 2017

I guess it's time for everyone who jumped on this book to see the redemption of Clayface to prepare for the worst.  Last issue's cliffhanger, while looking cool, may have been the beginning of the end of good guy Clayface and while that breaks my heart a bit, it could lead to some pretty cool plot points and that's something this book is in desperate need of right now.  I have not kept it secret that I am not interested in the Victim Syndicate in the least and most of the guys and gals I've talked to feel the same way.  So, does this issue make Clayface the bad guy again and possibly get closer to saying goodbye to the VS once and for all?  Let's find out...

The issue opens with Clayface telling Batman everything he doesn't want to hear...He wants to be a bad guy, he never really cared about anyone, he is going to go and kill the Bat know, the stuff that Batman probably hears twice a week and three times on Sunday.  The Dark Knight chalks it off as hot air from a hurting Basil, but just in case, uses a little (Mr.) Freeze Ray to even the score.

I will give Miguel Mendonca and James Tynion credit here for a pretty fun couple of panels that showed me something this book has been sadly missing...a sense of humor.  Seeing all the cool gadgets and gizmos stowed away in the Arkham put a smile on my face.  Not as much, however, as the one I had when it was revealed that Clayface used his head (and Clay) to escape Batman's clutches!

After showing the reader that the First Victim may not be doing what he's doing for any reason other than taking down Batman (big surprise, huh?), we head off to the Belfry and get...more arguing.  Well, first we do get the idea that Dr. October may be able to "cure" Clayface, but then it's time for me to again realize why I stopped liking Spoiler about a year ago.  Tynion seems to have her around to make me grind my teeth every time she opens her mouth and while it's obvious that she is here to play devil's advocate to everything Tim wants to do, it doesn't make it any less annoying.  Annoying as she is, she forces Tim to remember what Tim of Tomorrow said about Batwoman and away we go.

This part actually annoyed me more than Stephanie.  Since the future Tim Drake got sucked away by Hypertime, we've seen Tim and Kate hanging out and doing Bat-things together.  We have gotten no panel time of them discussing any of the crazy shit that went down, but here, out of nowhere, Tim realizes this is the exact moment that his future self warned him against?  It fits the story, but that does not make it any less forced.

We do see that Batwoman may, in fact, do something really bad, but then go off to my two favorite characters in this book, and also the two with hardly anything to do ever...Batwing and Azrael!  I should be happy with any page space for these two at all, but there are gone so damn quick.  So much for one of the smartest guys on the team and a vigilante named after the Angel of Death!

It all leads to Clayface facing off with Tim, Kate, and Batman in the Belfry.  Clayface punches are mostly psychological as he throws shade at the three, but things turn suddenly when Cass steps in and faces Basil.  For all the bitching I did about Tynion not hitting the feels when Tim came back from the dead, he hit them here.  Seeing Clayface not being able to hurt Cassandra and then falling to his knees hit me in my cold, black heart and was one of the best moments this book has had since Rebirth started.  It's very basic and quick, but it was well earned.

After that, I was expecting a happy ending, but sadly, that doesn't happen here.  In an odd and confusing transition, Basil gives into his inner Clayface again and we are left with the team, the Belfry and possibly Gotham City in big, big trouble.

I liked most of what we got here with Clayface, but some of the other things definitely brought my score down a bit.  The forced way Tim connected the exact moment with Batwoman, the continued cameo status of Luke and Jean-Paul and the lack of any real story progression was annoying.  However, the art was good for the most part and there was that one great moment which almost makes up for everything else.  Not the best issue of Detective, but better than the recent fare.

Bits and Pieces:

For those hoping for Clayface to continue being a good guy, this issue will have you twisting and turning in your seat.  While the overall story does stall here, James Tynion gives loyal readers a well earned and very emotional moment that almost is worth getting this issue for by itself.  While the Clayface situation is still up in the air, I am still holding out hope for Dr. October's cure to make everything work out in the end.


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