“Welcome to boot camp. Keep up if you can.”
— James Tynion IV, Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 1) Rise of the Batmen
James Tynion IV did a great job in making this first volume in his Rebirth series worthwhile. While Rise of the Batmen wasn’t the most brilliant and never-before-seen story, it still managed to deliver something that made some sense and shows a creative team that wisely utilizes the quicker release of these shorter Rebirth comic issues. Containing issues #934 to #940, this volume sets things clear regarding its direction. It is far from being focused on just Batman, it is the story of a whole new Batman family while putting the spotlight on a specific character for each volume. I felt like this first volume was essentially more focused on Batwoman by relaying a sort-of origin story for the character. In fact, the story explored her character a lot more and solidified her position in the squad. Having plenty of occasions to shine, her character is set as the new leader to a group of individuals that will trained under her wings in order to face an enemy that they have yet to uncover.
What Tynion IV does brilliantly in this first volume is the characters. I felt like he was able to give each of them a personality and assure a certain consistency to them as well. Red Robin, for example, was probably the second character who had the most focus and his persona was perfect. He felt genuine and showcased his particular set of skills quite well. While he could easily get on your nerves with the constant focus on his ingenuity, his character still felt pretty well molded and thoroughly assessed. What I do see from James Tynion IV is that he might have a little difficulty in not overdoing certain characters. Compared to other writers for Batman or Detective Comics, this writer enjoys putting more words than the usual comic would contain. This gives us more opportunities to comprehend characters and to read more into their thoughts and way of life, but there’s always this line that he sometimes goes over and ends up forcing too much out of certain characters when it could have easily been avoided.
Although this first volume in the Rebirth era of Detective Comics gives us an interesting story to kick things off, the squad isn’t the most compelling and attractive set of heroes you could imagine. I was honestly surprised by the new protégés who were recruited since it was hard to imagine what kind of chemistry they could actually build throughout the series. Composed of Batwoman, Spoiler, Red Robin, Orphan and Clayface, one is bound to be surprised by the things that are to come regarding these fellow Gothamites. In fact, Clayface was used as comic relief, which was a very curious and fun decision, but still turned out pretty good. The first volume also introduces us to a whole new villain. This surprise villain however doesn’t deliver the punch as strongly and effortlessly as you’d imagine. His introduction and development was carried out in a very “info-dump” manner, by simply taking a moment out of everyone’s time to lay out his motives and plans. It honestly felt like someone asked for a time-out so that everything we needed to know about this person was plainly presented. This took away a lot of the climatic effect that the revelation could’ve had. Then again, his motives weren’t the most mind-boggling either.
The artwork remains a forte in this volume. There’s two different styles that are used, and they’re both great. One is a lot more sharp and colorful, while the other is more faded with a focus on gradations (looks more like it was painted). I also like the fact that they used full-two-page spreads to have more space to work with. It was interesting and more engaging than the usual panel configuration, page by page. It also gave way to more innovative ideas in how to deliver the story at hand. One of the downside in the art department is the use of the Arkham Knight suit design for the villain’s army. That was a little sad and unoriginal, but I have the feeling that they wanted to reuse it, in another context, in order to reintegrate the design in a more canon storyline. After all, the whole Arkham Knight character is almost an Elseworld character that was brought to life in the Arkham video games.
The overall volume was a curious and fun adventure. It’s not spectacular, but it had the potential to get there. It’s definitely enjoyable if you give it a chance. The ending also contains a massive tragedy that will have its impacts transcend onto the next story arcs. It also seems to connect with what happened in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 by Geoff Johns. This was a pretty cool touch, since it leaves things in a huge mystery and seems to indicate that there’s something much bigger that is going on in the background. I’m really curious how the projected major event will unfold and how it will integrate the other DC Rebirth titles. In the end, Batman Detective Comics (Volume 1) Rise of the Batmen remains a fun volume that simply shows that it has potential and has plenty of avenues that can be contemplated for future story arcs. Hopefully James Tynion IV and his squad of artists will find their identity throughout the Rebirth era and offer a story that will come down as a classic some day.
Did you read Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 1): Rise of the Batmen yet? What did you think about it?
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/