Sunday, May 19, 2024

Detective Comics Punches All The Ninjas

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[Danny Elfman Theme Plays]
I take it back. I know I said that Clayface was the “I win” button for the Detective Comics team, and he still is on a lot of levels…but it had been a while since I’d witnessed Cassandra Cain use her abilities to their fullest extent. I honestly can’t recall the “last” instance of that. It was…somewhere in Batgirl series, I’m sure, but I can’t quite pin it down. Even better? Remember, way back in Detective Comics #935, when Kate said that Cass couldn’t fight everyone’s battles at once? Being wrong has never felt so great, I’d bet.

So, yeah, Cass fought so well and so hard that she reinstated the Inverse Ninja Law just enough against a swarm of warriors who, by definition, negate that tropey advantage. And that was risky. Or, it would have been had Tynion not fully earned this sequence. It’s a little similar to the way Detective Comics #938 played out—which this issue actually paid an homage too with that elevator gag—with the entire team just curbstomping the Colony thanks to Kate’s leadership and total disregard for “fair fights”. With that one, however, the goal was extraction. It wasn’t a hard sell; they didn’t need to beat everyone. Just escape.

This time, the only goal was to move forward through swarm after swarm of ninjas, every panel of which was rendered in Takara and Mailolo’s tremendously bloody flair and engaging layout design. Sure, there’s a rescue at the end of the tunnel, but Cassandra didn’t sneak her way through. She probably could have, but that would have just left her friends vulnerable to the hordes of ninjas that had already bested them before. And that’s why this works.

[Freebird Plays In The Background]
Not because Cass is fully capable of taking on a legion of the world’s deadliest fighters—whether or not they’re on Deathstroke’s level but simply lack his equipment is a conversation for another time—which she is, but because of why she had to do it. Every good action sequence tells a story. A great many of them are based in anger, revenge, comeuppance, or simple heroism. Not many are…built on a foundation of this specific kind of selflessness. A selflessness that’s just a little bit selfish.

Cass takes them all on to protect everyone. She shoulders the burden on her own, not because it’s right thing to do, but because she needs to. To prove it to herself. To prove it to Shiva. To prove, once and for all, that even under the most dire, extreme, completely bat-shit insane circumstances she won’t kill again. Even if it’d save the lives of upwards of nine million people, because every life is sacred.

Don’t mean to be so dramatic, but it’s not every day you see something so heartwarming that’s also absolutely covered in blood.

Kate Kane And The Worst Morning After Ever

While Cassandra punches her way through the sewers, Kate, Luke and Jean-Paul are in a bit of an odd pickle. Bleeding out, chained to a support column, and right beneath an active nuclear weapon. Okay, so it’s not an earthquake machine, but it does pretty much the same thing.

Thankfully, because Luke is smart and has nothing better to do, he’s figured out that detonating a nuke this deep below ground will cause an earthquake so massive that it’d swallow the entirety of Kane County, and even some bits of Bludhaven. Not-so-thankfully, the only thing that anyone can do—since Kate’s attempt at using Clayface to “win” is preemptively countered—is wait to die.

The fact that he still hasn’t given up yet is probably helping Kate’s opinion of him. It’s not as low as it was, but this is the moment where his true colors would show. And they did.

I can’t help but love everything about this little exchange between the three of them. Jean-Paul gets to be grumpy and dramatic yet also mostly accurate. Luke gets to talk a mile a minute about the nightmare they’ve gotten themselves into, all cheery for his own sanity and because he truly does that Batman is capable of saving the day. And Kate, oh Kate. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she hadn’t been stabbed at all. She just…ignores blood loss and the fact that she’s naked because who has time to think about any of that?

Of course, Luke probably loses his 123rd wind once Bruce falls in a heap in front of them.

I’m not really sure why Shiva wants to obliterate Gotham on live TV if the morning talk shows that are broadcasted in Gotham will be destroyed too…which means that the cameras won’t pick up what actually happens. You’d need a helicopter traffic cam or something, and for that signal to go directly to a tower that won’t be eaten by the county-sized hole in the ground she’s about to make. I mean, she’s trying to sink an entire county, so her logic doesn’t need to be 100%, but I can’t help but feel she’s trying to be a little too dramatic than is practical.

Injustice League: Detroit

There—okay, there was an era of the JLA back in the 80s where the team was centered all over the place, but Detroit was kind of the big thing…this joke is probably a lot funnier in my head, but oh well.

Anyway, as it turns out, that ballerina that Cass had been watching for months on end rescued her and somehow dragged her back to her home atop the studio. The bedtime story she’s reading, well, the explanation that Tynion delivers in the issue proper requires no analysis as it’s more or less perfect, but it seems to suggest in an odd sort of way that the narration in Cass’s section of Detective Comics #950 was neither omniscient nor Lady Shiva “hearing” Cassandra: it was the ballerina adding on to the bedtime story after she heard Cassandra’s name. Thus, it was anachronistic.

Which, okay, that’s pretty awesome, if true. But, the real surprise is a blink-and-you’ll miss it moment just as Cass leaps out the window: the author of the book. I mentioned early on in this arc that Shiva’s real name is Sandra Wu-san, and that she’s from Detroit. What I neglected to mention, mostly because she’s been dead for like 30 years, is that Sandra had a sister named Caroyln. The author of the children’s book. Now, knowing Tynion, this’ll come back into play somewhere down the line.

Fact is, Carolyn Wu-San may not be on Shiva’s level…but if memory serves she wasn’t a slouch either. However, if she took up writing children’s books instead of, uh, murdering like her sister then Cass has a blood relative who isn’t evil! She’s got an aunt who, hopefully, would love to meet her. But, I guess we’ll see, eh?

Oh! And now we know what Steph’s been doing! She put her old website back online, and is basically acting as a crowdsourcing hub of vigilante watch dogging. So that’s…an effective use of her time, I guess? Well, we’ll get to see her again in Detective Comics #957 next month!

Jacob Kane And The—Oh God That’s Not Napalm

Yeah. Okay. On the one hand, should the Detective Comics team stepped back and let the Colony do their thing so this entire crisis would have been averted? Yes, absolutely. On the other—no. No, that’s it. It honestly did not occur to me that the drone fleet that Ulysses made was him holding back due to government regulations, because wow bad enough he stole Tim’s memorial suit out of the case but…seriously? What is wrong with this kid?!

If Jacob’s the borderline Well-Intentioned Extremist, Ulysses is the true Supervillain in the Colony.

He seems to truly believe that it doesn’t matter the method in which you defeat your enemy, as long as you do as efficiently and as often effectively as possible. But it’s even worse than that. It’s worse than the implication that Jacob unintentionally encouraged this behavior in Ulysses by bringing his abilities into the Colony. A self-replicating swarm of nanobots that burn any and all human shaped objects until everything is dead. With cameras attached to them.

I mean, I’ve outlined the white nationalist implications of what the League of Shadows is, and how they operate, but to burn them like that? Cook them in such close quarters? Good lord, Jacob’s not just horrified due to the war crimes. He’s basically watching a simulation of Jews being burned alive in the ovens. Considering how unhinged Ulysses is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he sampled some footage of that from the multitude of documentaries about the Holocaust just for that presentation. Sure, the League of Shadows are evil and want to incite genocide but—you just don’t do that. There’s absolutely no reason it needs to be as painful as possible. Or that cruel.

And yet, with all of that, I can’t say that, considering the stakes…it wouldn’t be the worst plan. Over nine million lives at risk, not counting the cancer victims of the radioactive fallout that would seep into the ground water. Assuming that they can turn the nanobots off, because if they can’t that would be killing literally every human-looking thing on the planet with fire. Not so dissimilar to what quite a few scientists thought would happen when detonating the first atomic bomb: ignite the atmosphere.

But if they do use that weapon, Clayface can just protect them all by turning into a big ball again, since that’s not human-shaped. Still, I’m really not sure how I feel about this. For Jacob, not the narrative. It’s great for the narrative!

Final Thoughts

How did Kate and Jean-Paul get their gear on so fast?

Shiva is so boned.


Writer: James Tynion IV

Pencils/Inks: Marcio Takara

Colors: Marcelo Maiolo

Letterer: Sal Cipriano

Images courtesy of DC Comics

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