I guess my overall point is that I’m one of those people that loves feeling smart for paying attention. And that’s just how Tynion writes scripts for Detective Comics, so perhaps that means I’m also easy to please. Well. That’s certainly possible, but Kate wasn’t even in this issue and I still loved it. Bam, proof it’s not just Kate existing that makes me love this book.
Anyway, tons of stuff happened and just like my War Games theory back during The Victim Syndicate, I was right on the money! It’s all about an earthquake. But we’ll come back to that. For now, actual thoughts on other things. Not too many this time, (shocker, I know!) as this was super straightforward for how complex it actually is. Just what happens when you seed things so well.
Well, that, and when you trust your audience to come to the right conclusions.
The Batman Gambit: Demon’s Head Edition
It doesn’t matter what or who Bruce believes. Distrusting Jacob and locking him in a cell gets him screwed over with the League of Shadows. Trusting Ra’s Al Ghul with information about the League of Shadows and releasing him from a different cell screws him over. And that’s kind of great because in neither situation did he actually make the wrong choice with the information he had at the time. Ra’s played his hand perfectly here, as he almost always does, and got the Dark Knight to do exactly what he wanted him to do: shut up and think.
No, really. That’s it. That was the whole point. Take it step by step: he leads Bruce through the sequence of events that caused him to forget the League of Shadows—which by the way is an awesome subversion of Bruce not being aware of another ancient conspiracy; he was!—the how and why of it, lying just enough to convince him that he’s not up to something else. Bruce buys it, lets him out and is immediately paralyzed by something the anti-toxins in his system could not possibly counteract. See, the choice of paralytic is important to note, though. Yes, Ra’s mocks that he will still be able to think unhindered while unable to move, but…
That’s his entire plan. That is Ra’s Al Ghul’s last hope to beat Shiva. If he knew how to beat her, he would have. He doesn’t, but he’s willing to risk everything on the chance that Batman can figure it out if given just the right motivation and circumstances: a situation where he can’t fight back, but is forced to think of a way out with all of his knowledge of the League of Shadows restored.
It’s the perfect set-up.
But that doesn’t answer another question I’m sure many of you are having, and boy is this a fun one. You’re probably wondering, unless you’re a giant DC nerd and can somehow remember a 13-year-old polarizing mini-series and/or who Zatanna is (or her father Zatara), just what on God’s green earth this was supposed to be:
Oh, my friends. What we have here is one of the single gutsiest things Tynion could do. Rebirth’s all about bringing back the old and merging it with the new, but this? This is one of those things a lot of people would have rather forgotten about altogether.
Identity Crisis: Redux
Back in 2004, DC published a limited series called Identity Crisis centered around the mysterious murder of Ralph “The Elongated Man” Dibny’s wife, Sue. Those two were the heart and soul of the JLA for decades, and it was heartbreaking to see Sue murdered. And it was especially disconcerting that even Batman was having trouble figuring out who the murderer was! Yeah, long story short that tale is not as awesome as it sounds. It was super dark and depressing and weird.
Oh, sure, I know it sounds pretty freaking amazing to watch the entire superhero community of the DCU band together to solve and unsolvable murder of one of their dearest friends (Doctor Mid-Nite did the autopsy for God’s sake!) but that’s not at all what happened. To make a weird story much shorter: Ray “The Atom” Palmer’s ex-wife Jean Loring killed Sue because…she was jealous? It didn’t make sense then, still doesn’t. And also she killed her by stealing Ray’s belt and growing inside of Sue’s brain.
Anyway, at some point during this investigation, Captain Boomerang killed Tim Drake’s father for some reason (I told you this was weird and dark), and also it’s revealed that Doctor Light (the first one) actually broke into the JLA Watchtower years ago and raped Sue Dibny. Yup.
So, the JLA arrives and subdues Doctor Light, and Batman quickly leaves because he’s got stuff to do in Gotham. The rest of them, having realized that Doctor Light is totally aware of their secret identities, take a vote on whether or not Zatanna, the Mistress of Magic, should wipe his mind and basically lobotomize him into someone totally ineffectual. It’s not a unanimous vote, but it passes and Zatanna wipes Doctor Light’s mind.
Except this happens right at the very same moment that Batman returns to the Watchtower, as he was still concerned for Sue’s well-being. And he is not happy with the whole lobotomizing thing. So the JLA calmly talk to him and explain—I’m just kidding they mindwipe the last ten minutes from his brain.
Obviously, he eventually figures out that this happened, since he is a detective, and that paranoia and distrust nearly destroys the world since the spy satellite he created—okay, look just go read Infinite Crisis if you want that story. It was awesome, but this part wasn’t.
It’s all kinds of messed up, and for Tynion to bring it back, especially for Zatara-based magic to be the source—hooboy.
Thankfully, it makes perfect sense this time around! It was a supervillain that wiped Bruce’s mind from figuring things out he wasn’t supposed to figure out, not his closest friends and allies! So, yeah. That’s about ten thousand times better, in my opinion. Plus…right, yeah, Zatanna and her father Zatara are famous for their use of magic by saying the words backwards. In times long past, Bruce trained with Zatara in order to understand how to defend himself against magic when he was learning how to be Batman, and he and Zatanna kinda had a thing during that time. So that’s back! But, ideally, not the other part. Where she wiped his mind.
Everything make sense? Awesome. On to the Earthquake! Sort of.
7:03 To Midnight
After Jacob, Cooper (who is totally Shore Leave from The Venture Bros.) and Dom are rescued by Simon-sans-Garfunkel and The 90s Kid, along with the rest of the Colony. Jacob immediately asks about Kate’s body, and Simon tells her that Shiva took her.
And these two small moments are incredibly heavy. For one, Cooper, who gets pretty far into Camp Gay territory, has to be a clear and present reminder of what happened to Kate at West Point. This is a soldier he trusts, but I find it hard to believe that he doesn’t also hate him on some level for forcing him to think about the literal years that Kate lost due to what more or less amounted to bad timing.
There’s that, and then there’s the bit about the body.
Bad enough that Jacob thinks he murdered Tim, a kid not that much older than Beth was when she was taken from him, but now he’s got to focus on not making the same mistake he did almost twenty years prior: never finding Beth’s body.
If you’re wondering why Jacob isn’t chewing losing his freaking mind right now, it’s not because he doesn’t care or because he’s that hardened a soldier. We just saw him punching industrial super-glass until his fists were bloody in a vain hope to get to Kate. No, this is him trusting her to still be alive. Because if he doesn’t, then he’s making that same mistake he did with Beth. Giving up before confirmation.
Anyway, just before the Colony exfiltrates to their airship, The 90s Kid does something to Tim’s memorial display. I figure there’s a fifty/fifty shot that he stole the costume and is gonna run around in it. I don’t think he defaced it; he really seemed to like Tim even if it was as a rival. Maybe he left some tech there he always wanted to share with him, like he said way back in Detective Comics #937.
Moving on to the earthquake:
Fault line. Sink. He said “swallow” back in Detective Comics 951. Yup, that’s an earthquake machine of some kind.
But who’s going to stop them? Oh, most certainly not Simon-sans-Garfunkel. Batman? I doubt it. He’s a little busy. Batwoman? Probably too preoccupied with the whole bleeding out thing. Even if they were still in the fight, Jacob’s right in his assumption that there’s no way they could take on this army on their own. Once again, subverting the Inverse Ninja Law. Even more than that, though, Clayface is goop while Azrael and Batwing are MIA.
So, that must leave…
I was actually going to say Midnighter since he has teleporter doors, but that works too! And it’ll be way more awesome. Those are ninjas are only mostly dead, by the way. Probably.
NEXT WEEK: BATWOMAN #2! And absolutely nothing else.
DETECTIVE COMICS #954
Writer: James Tynion IV
Pencils/Inks: Marcio Takara
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Sal Cipriano