"Though nothing, will drive them away/We can beat them, just for one day"
Detective Comics #940 - Rise of the Batmen Part Seven: The Red Badge of Courage
Written by James Tynion IV, Pencils by Eddy Barrows, Inks by Eber Ferreira, Colors by Adriano Lucas, Letters by Marilyn Patrizio, Editor Chris Conroy, Asst. Editor Dave Wielgosz, Group Editor Mark Doyle
To get a little navel gazey, I wonder If my desire to talk about and analyze media makes me inherently predisposed to not care about spoilers. There is an old study I like to point towards that underlines my point in the “spoilers don’t matter mantra”*. If that knowledge undoes a story it is not that pre-knowledge’s fault but poor construction from the start. It is the manner and context in which these spoiler moments are executed that ultimately matters i.e. the storytelling involved. Most often spoilers are disseminated as out of context plot points with no key to how they are executed. It doesn’t matter that Superman dies but how he dies.
Detective Comics #940 “Rise of the Batmen Part Seven: The Red Badge of Courage” concludes James Tynion IV’s first arc on the book and features a much rumored spoiler moment: the death of a Robin. A plot point both DC and Tynion had been laying into pretty hard since it first sprouted at SDCC ’16. This morning I ended up waking earlier than usual and out of boredom visited BleedingCool for a news check in and to see if they’d run anything concerning Detective. They had and I gobbled it up. A couple hours or so later when I had some free time I sat down to read my stack of new books, Detective Comics at the top of my digital stack. When it was over, even with my knowledge of what was going to happen to Tim, Tynion delivered a real gut punch and wrenching book. Thanks in no small part to the art team of Eddy Barrows(pencils),Eber Ferreira(inks), and Adriano Lucas(colors). Because it’s the execution and storytelling that matters not some arcane plot point on if a character did or didn’t die.
He didn’t die by the way, just “taken off the board” by Mr. Oz similar to what the mysterious watcher did to Doomsday in the Superman books. Tim was starting to connect threads that shouldn’t be connected and now he appears press ganged into Mr. Oz’s Mystery Squad. I wonder what their SqwadGoalz are.
To the world at large though, Tim Drake is dead … for about the next 18 months or so until this Rebirth business is cleared up. One of the more consistent critiques against Tynion was that he’d over write the page sometimes and not let the art do the work. That isn’t the case in middle portion of “Red Badage of Courage” after Tim’s “death”. 8 pages make up this sequence and only one of them has dialog of real merit and that’s still buttressed by pages and panels of silence. Gone are the gorgeous and grandiose splash pages, just simple paneling and maximum melodramatic close ups. Comics tend to be are inherently melodramatic and here the big emotions are shock and grief. Clayface, an excellent supporting cast member’s, monstrous and formless visage gets the point across in his big sad yellow eyes. Adriano Lucas has been playing with a darker color pallet this entire arc but once the fires are put out everything seems darker than it should, blues are blacker now. It’s these moments that sell the real emotion and loss the characters are going through and supersedes whatever retroactive Rebirth shenanigans that are going on.
It’s counter to the story Tynion rightly focused on but I would’ve liked to see more of what’ll come of Colonel Kane going forward. As it stands Batman is pulling a classic CW Flash and locking him up in his own extra-legal prison. Tynion is off the next two issues as Detective folds into a crossover with Batman and Nightwing for “Night of the Monster Men”. The next Tynion arc begins in #943 and is called “The Victim Syndicate”, perhaps we’ll find him in a Hannibal Lecter like role there.
On “Night of the Monster Men”, I don’t think I’ll be covering it. I don’t currently pull Batman or Nightwing and with Fall Quarter beginning next week, could perhaps use a lighter writing schedule for a couple of weeks.
*Here’s a more recent article featuring Prof. Christenfeld