Team books are tricky things, and something I hold to a very high standard. I cut my teeth on X-Men back in the early 80s, so I know how a team book with multiple characters and arcs that can last years can be done right. At the same time, the Avengers books of the 80s and 90s were pretty meh until the New Avengers made the team dynamic a bigger focus.
Detective Comics #947 (DC Comics)
Detective Comics is odd in that it’s a team book, but the team is incredibly broken and might not recover. Still, they’re telling interesting stories with well planned characters, some of who actually act in their own self-interest from time to time (gasp!) but it’s still got an odd feel. Let me explain.
In this issue we see Spoiler doing what she does best: ruining the best-laid plans of the Batfamily to push her own agenda. This is a great twist and well worth the read, because she makes these characters work for it. These monster of the week villains become truly second string to what she herself can do to this team, and it only emphasizes my previous criticism that we wont see these rather hum-drum D-listers again, so why care now?
Spoiler is why. She’s opened up her own eyes to the problems a team of superheroes cause in a city, and she’s pushing back against it, hard. She’s taken a page out of Bat’s Tower of Babel book too, in that she knows exactly how to fight her team in the most devastating way.
The issue is good, and worth reading. The arc, kind of meh at times, wraps up nicely. But as far as the overall book, I’m finding it has more conflicts internally than externally, and I’m not sure if this is good or bad.
Batman, slightly grumpy fellow that he is, is kind of allergic to teams. It’s remarkable that he’s shown to have the level of trust he has here to give Batwoman what she needs to turn a rag-tag group into a true force to be held up as a good force in the DC Universe. We’ve seen them triumph over foes close to our heroes, and fail in the loss of a member, but overall their work has a net positive.
The team is still broken.
Clayface is an outsider, and we’re all waiting for the other shoe to drop. Spoiler–who, as you see in this issue–eventually starts to cause trouble wherever she is, and totally disrupts the team dynamic. Is Cain part of the team? Is she just the muscle? Finally, Tim, the heart of the team, is gone; “killed” and missing and no longer the smart and friendly glue that holds everyone together. A team book about a broken team. It’s just odd.
My gold standards, and feel free to make fun of me for this, are the basketball issue of X-Men back in the 90’s Jim Lee run and the various Claremont issues of the X-Men trying to connect with the society that hates them so much in the late 70s. This was a team that shared meals together, laughed together, and even took some time out to do something fun.
Batfamily does not lend itself well to fun, but something in this book needs to show us why these people are choosing to fight together, instead of all breaking free like Spoiler to make their way alone.