The concept behind Batman hosting a team of heroes is not new, but it’s never been done quite as well as James Tynion IV has done in the last few story arcs of Detective Comics. Maybe it’s because the members are so eclectic–or maybe it’s just because Clayface is so great–but it has been a breath of fresh air for a line of Bat-family books that tend to all feel very similar.
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez
Publisher: DC Comics
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“Intelligence” part one! Azrael has found a new home in Gotham City…unfortunately, someone from his old home with the Order of St. Dumas has found him! The Order has unleashed a bizarre new evil on the world, and it’s convinced it must destroy Jean-Paul Valley!
Why does this book matter?
This is the start of a new arc that deals with Azrael and some secrets that tie into his character. If you are at all familiar with the character in the 90’s this story might interest you. It’s also a nice place to start with the series with much of the team in tact and ready for what comes next.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
That’s a neat idea.
This is one of those issues where the superhero team lets their hair down and shows how they relax. It opens with Azrael, Batwoman, and Batwing enjoying a local basketball game with each of them enjoying it in different ways. Batwing–who owns part of the team–is toying with his tablet that can guess who will shoot and from where, Azrael is trying to just enjoy a game, and Batwoman is looking to do some people watching of a certain actress from “those vampire movies.” It’s a nice mix of personalities before drama sets in. There’s also a cut away to Clayface and Orphan hanging out, which develops their relationship nicely.
Tynion IV certainly defies expectations, with a strange hairy monster dude storming into the game bleeding (seriously, how did he get through security?). Soon the story starts to unfurl as we learn who he is and how he is tied to Azrael. Overall there’s a good bit of world building as far as Azrael’s past and an enemy that’s soon to kill a few folks in Gotham. There are also some key details dropped about Azrael himself that fleshes him out a bit and adds a layer of science fiction to the series.
The threat ties well into Bruce Wayne’s current mission, which has him infiltrate Penguin’s casino. This story thread adds a James Bond feel to Bruce’s down time and it’s just fun. Alfred is in his ear–he’s attempting to find some answers, but unfortunately for him Azrael’s past gets dropped into his lap. It’s a good balance of storylines that come together beautifully by the end.
The art by Alvaro Martinez keeps the story grounded, even when the high sci-fi concepts drop, with sharp pencils that do well to capture the intricate backgrounds and surroundings. I can’t imagine the amount of time it took to draw Azrael’s sweater in every panel, or the audience in the basketball scene, but it adds a layer of realism that makes swallowing the character work all the more fulfilling. The design of the villain is quite cool too and it adds another layer of science fiction goodness to the issue.
I think they mean Kristen Stewart.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This is a pretty actionless comic with a lot of talking and setting up of what is to come. That’s not a deal breaker by any means, though I did wonder when things might kick up a notch. It’s a character building team book for the most part, but could use a bit of action infusion.
Is It Good?
This is a great start to a new arc that may do wonders fleshing out Azrael’s character. A question of faith is introduced in a well plotted and strong issue.