Detective Comics #981 review: James Tynion IV ends his run in an emotionally satisfying chapter



This is the end of an era for Batman and his family.

It’s the end of an era as James Tynion IV closes out his run on Detective Comics. That means cleaning up the OMAC mess, figuring out the emotional dynamics of multiple characters, and setting up where we go from here. It’s a comic filled with endings, goodbyes, and new beginnings. Could we ask for any more?

So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

“BATMEN ETERNAL” finale! This is it–the unbelievable conclusion of James Tynion IV’s Batman epic! It’s the last stand of the Gotham Knights, fighting a monster they helped inspire…and a destiny they won’t accept! What will become of the greatest crime-fighting team Gotham City ever saw?

Why does this matter?

Tynion wraps up his story with new directions for characters as well as a more singular look at Batman who has slowly lost his team and the Belfry. The idea of a Batman team is an inspired one and it’s sad to see it go.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

Look into my eyes.

Last issue Spoiler and Orphan saw multiple futures which gave them hope and an open mindedness to push forward in this issue. The biggest lift is Tim Drake changing his mindset as he controls OMAC and attacks Gotham city. The idea of saving a fellow hero is a strong one in this narrative, since Batwoman killed Clayface. The first ten issues resolve the OMAC storyline and it shifts in interesting directions. The key takeaway is how Batman isn’t the one resolving things, but it’s a group effort from a few of the bat-centric heroes.

The rest of the issue serves as an epilogue as Tynion IV checks in on Batwoman and Batman’s current relationship status (since it was pretty frosty for the last few issues), Cassandra’s next steps in becoming a stronger person, and where Tim and Bruce go from here. It’ll be interesting to see these characters moving forward (or how long it’ll be before we see them again) as Tynion does a good job establishing each ones new place and direction. Anyone who loved Batman on his own will cheer at this ending, but it’s still a sad day to see everything Tynion IV built up end here.

Burrows draws a great issue with some awesome action packed scenes (see below) and some cutting emotional beats. There are also some big splashy pages that revel in the heroic nature of the characters, serving the epilogue portion well. This series has been a love letter to what these characters stand for and Burrows does a good job finishing it out.

Sweet action scene.

It can’t be perfect can it?

As is customary with superhero comics I’m a bit surprised Tim got off so easily. Sure he was being manipulated, but there’s nobody calling for his head after he busted up windows and controlled the OMAC soldiers to do his dirty work. Maybe it’s asking too much, but there are elements that are brushed under the rug that doesn’t make this a perfectly clean finish.

Is it good?

A good finish with an epilogue that is the strongest part. Tynion IV has done a great job writing a new kind of Batman story and it’s sad to see it go, but it ends in a way that makes you hopeful for the future. It’s quite obvious Tynion IV has made real progress with the characters and their development and it’ll exciting to see where writers take these characters in the future.

Detective Comics #981
Is it good?
A strong conclusion that's more about new beginnings.
A great farewell to all that Tynion built up with a good direction made for the characters
Burrows does a great job with the action and emotional character beats
In typical superhero faction Tim gets off even though he kinda broke Gotham for a night
9
Great

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