Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 2) The Victim Syndicate (Rebirth) by James Tynion IV

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“You destroyed my life. You destroyed all of our lives. We are the victim syndicate. We’re here to return the favor.”

— James Tynion IV, Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 2) The Victim Syndicate

    James Tynion IV continues his unexpectedly entertaining run of Detective Comics with volume 2, The Victim Syndicate. Taking place directly after the unfortunate events in Detective Comics (Volume 1) Rise of the Batmen, the story starts off by serving us an aftermath assessment for each character in the newly formed squad under Batman and Batwoman’s wings. Inevitably, the events that lead to the loss of a comrade have taken a huge toll on every one—some more than others—and things seem to be a lot more fragile for everyone. Questions about their purposes in life and their motivations on a daily basis are put through the blender and mixed in with a hefty amount of doubt. There’s nothing like a new group of freaky and shady characters to make matters a bit more dark and complicated. This story arc introduces fans to a brand new set of villains who have had a grudge for quite some time and are ready to react in order to see change in Gotham.

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    The Victim Syndicate is definitely not your typical squad of villains as they have joined forces for one particular reason: they see Batman as the cause of their supernatural conditions. Being the collateral damage of an altercation between Batman and big-name villains, each of the Victims find solace in blaming Batman and his friends for their predicament. This alone can be seen as a brilliant premise to investigate the idea that their are innocent victims that get hurt or die while the focus of the action remains on Batman and his nemesis. By diving deeper in the psyche of those that never asked to be in the middle of a battlefield, the rise of the Victim Syndicate brings light to the ignored and the forgotten. But does it actually set things up for something extraordinary for this story arc? Yes and no.

    What was particularly well-done was the leader of the Victim Syndicate, the First Victim. His character remained mysterious throughout the whole story arc and his mere presence installed fear and demanded caution. His origin was kept a secret for the better part of the story, while every other member had a rapid-fire revelation on who and how they became who they are now. Even in the final showdown, everyone (except the First Victim) was dealt with in a quick and efficient manner. This style was quite effective as they always packed a punch and remained straight-forward. However, while some of these moments were quite powerful, some of them also fell short. I’d probably point my finger at the writing. With James Tynion IV, you get the most wordy dialogues ever, but they aren’t consistent in quality—their pertinence can sometimes be questioned. In fact, he sometimes overdoes it for my taste and deviates from the character’s personalities.

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    Spoiler (Highlight To See) : «Spoiler (Stephanie Brown)» plays a big part throughout this storyarc, especially because she’s the one who’s having the hardest time to deal with the loss of you-know-who from the past volume. Throughout the story she often serves as a cliff-hanger for a lot of moments; just when you think you know what’s going on, something else is delivered. I can definitely appreciate these plot twists and find them quite tantalizing. Two other characters are also newly introduced into this Rebirth series, Spoiler (Highlight To See) : «Batwing and Jean-Paul Valley». While the former gets a more prominent role in the narrative, the latter was teased. In fact, he was teased so hard that the transition from his cliff-hanger moment to his reveal in the next issue made no sense to me. I wish they had taken the time to build him; it honestly would’ve been quite a “rebirth” for that particular character.

    I believe it was the last issue of the storyarc regarding The Victim Syndicate that had me hesitant. For one, I wasn’t sure anymore what the First Victim’s powers/weapons were. One second he seems unbeatable, the next he’s just a wooden log ready for the next big round house kick. Second of all, the arrival of the “game-changer” character, Spoiler (Highlight To See) : «Spoiler (Stephanie Brown)», also sort of bothered me as well. While the story was obviously being built-up for this very moment, it’s the speech and the tactics used by said character that felt so underwhelming and unconvincing. However, I do understand the whole idea behind this move and what the volume as a whole was trying to tell us. After all, you’ll never see a more doubt-ridden and sad-faced (I’m not even kidding about this one; it really gets weird to look at sometimes) Batman anywhere else.

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    Similar to Batman (Volume 2) I Am Suicide by Tom King, this volume also features a two-part story at the end, involving Batwoman however. Co-written with Marguerite Bennett in order to promote the Rebirth series of Batwoman that came out around the same time as the last issue, this story connects with the crossover event Night of the Monster Men and continues along the sub-plot regarding Batwoman and her dad who was mentioned earlier in The Victim Syndicate. This mini-story somehow managed to make the crossover event sound a lot more interesting than it actually was. The artwork is quite decent and the idea of tackling the purpose of Batwoman, compared to Batman, was also interesting. However, the way they conveyed her purpose felt wrong, but it’s quite hard to grasp the extent of it until you actually go ahead and read Batwoman’s Rebirth series. In fact, this two-part story simply sets things up for Batwoman Rebirth #1 and didn’t have anything more to offer regarding the Victim Syndicate. In the end, volume 2 continues in the right direction and James Tynion IV is definitely a great writer for this series. There are things that need work, but this is nonetheless entertaining.

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Did you read Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 2): The Victim Syndicate yet? What did you think about it?
You haven’t read it, you say?
Let’s fix that right away!
You can order your copy @Amazon Canada / Indigo Chapters right here!
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/

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38 thoughts on “Batman: Detective Comics (Volume 2) The Victim Syndicate (Rebirth) by James Tynion IV

  1. Bookstooge says:

    They definitely need to Re-Birth Azrael. I loved his character in the Dark Knight falling/broken/rising/whatever saga back in the 90’s. He was the perfect “start out good then slide on down to badguy” character that got his come uppance. I love that kind of thing.

    Do kids these days even remember Batman being broken by Bane?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahah the introduction of Azrael was really awesome back during that saga, although some of the story arcs were very repetitive and some just didn’t feel right. The first part of Knightfall was however the best (with the Bat Breaker at the end). Classic. They should really give Azrael a decent story, he’s one of those characters that I feel like they haven’t truly explored yet. There are some really… really.. bad ones with the whole mythos behind Azrael (not Jean-Paul Valley behind the mask). Hopefully they’ll do something with him somewhere in the future during the whole Rebirth era.

      I think people will always have Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises to remember about that Bat-Breaker. I don’t know if they’d ever bother tackling the huge omnibuses to see the story behind Knightfall though! At least fans will always remember (in fact volume 3 of the Batman Rebirth series reminds about it; I was going to talk about it when I actually put up a review for that one hahah).

      Good stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bookstooge says:

        Yeah, the Nolan movies really ruined that whole back breaking thing as far as I’m concerned. It wasn’t nearly as built up as it was in the comics, didn’t have the pathos and didn’t really show Wayne’s resilience in coming back. In the movie he just hung on some ropes for a couple of minutes, then presto chango, he’s all better. Oh well, now I just sound bitter 😀

        Liked by 1 person

          • Bookstooge says:

            Yeah, I was not a fan. I had issues with movie 2 as well, but that was more a “this is really dark, not sure I want something this dark in my house” kind of thing. But the third movie, I watched but have no desire to ever own it. Bane should have been cgi’d til his muscles exploded, which would have made all the other people watching complain. So I guess if Nolan had to choose between me and lots of other people, lots of other people win.
            I HATE when directors personally snub me 😉

            Liked by 1 person

            • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

              Well, there’s no surprise if I say I adored all three movies (and the second one, the most, of course). 😀 I totally understand your wish that Bane looked like the Hulk, but man… I don’t know if I want a CGI’ed Bane in my life. Tom Hardy was phenomenal in my books, and he was bulked up even more than in Warrior (2011), which was insane to me. The Bane we get in Batman & Robin was probably closer to your imagination, but man… that was the most shameful representation of the character. But that movie is another story…

              Liked by 1 person

  2. healed1337 says:

    Personally I didn’t have any problems with the last issue, although I can see where you’re coming from.

    In any case, the Victim Syndicate is probably the most sympathetic group of villains in the Batman universe for a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Great review for this comic Lashaan, I remember you being a little disappointed with the first volume too so it’s a shame the second didn’t end up being better, although it seems like there were still plenty of aspects you still enjoyed. The Victim Syndicate sounds quite interesting from the way you described it, guess it was just missing something to make it amazing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thanks Beth! 😀 Yep.. These Rebirth stories are missing crucial ingredients to truly succeed for me. But between the Batman series and this Detective Comics series, I feel like the Detective Comics series has a lot more to offer. The writer has great potential and I feel like it’s only a matter of time before he finally writes a story that will blow our minds. In fact, The Victim Syndicate is a really cool idea. Their story is interesting and just their design is creepy. I’ll continue to stay hopeful for future story arcs! Thank you again for reading, I appreciate it! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

        That’s all right. 😀 In that case are there more volumes to the Rebirth stories, or more that follow on from it focusing on The Villain Syndicate? Maybe eventually they’ll have that extra something that will blow your mind and it will have been worth sticking around for. That’s normally what I hope for, why I can never leave series unfinished no matter how bad it was. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

          Based on what the next story arc is about, I don’t think they’ll be revisiting the whole Victim Syndicate squad. It did serve as a nice introduction, but I don’t think they’ll pursue it a while (that way they can go on and cover more villains now). Hopefully this is not the last we’ll hear of the Victim Syndicate. 😀 Next story arc is about the League of Assassins though! Might end up being surprisingly fun. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    These reviews come together so beautifully! Want to give a gal a few pointers before I post my next review of this final volume of Low? 😉 Because I am not sure how you manage to put these together so well. Even when it is titles such as this that I do not read, I still find myself enjoying every minute of your review. But you are not selling me on anymore superheros or villains! No Lashaan.. bad 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahahaha that will never seize to crack me up!!! 😛 Just watch me pour out a bunch of unexpected reviews that’ll make some of these movies/shows extremely irresistible. Even for the Great Danielle! 😀 😀 😀

      Honestly, the deeper you get in a series, the less attention you’ll be able get from your followers. While I don’t really mind that there’s probably just a 1% out there that have actually read these volumes that I read, I think its good to know before even publishing that you might not get as many reactions as you’d get from reviewing… The Night Circus. In fact, I always review first for myself, just so I can put my thoughts into words and then share it in hopes that those interested and curious enough will go on digging for more.

      I’m definitely looking forward to reading your thoughts on the next volume of Low. I’d recommend talking about the author’s purpose behind that story arc, the direction of the story for that volume as a whole and the evolution of characters/overall plot/themes throughout the series (especially if its the finale). This usually helps me review “sequels” in comics, especially when each volume continues a story and isn’t just “another story with the same characters”.

      However, you’ve been doing a wonderful job so far anyways. Stick to how you’ve been doing it for the past graphic novel reviews (talking about how you felt about the artwork, the characters, the ideas and your overall appreciation). So sure you’ll have plenty to say and will be able to say everything you need to say to get people to try the series out (or stay away from it). 😀 😀

      Thanks again for checking out my review and for the kind words. ALWAYS appreciate it! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. LizScanlon says:

    I just don’t know how you do it- review a GN so thoroughly… I wouldn’t even know where to begin! XD
    Brilliant review and I’m totally loving this spoiler hiding! 🙂
    I don’t know.. I would like to read more comics, etc but I’m not really a huge fan of Batmans and Cap Americas and Spidermans for some reason… actually, out of these three, Batman is probably the only one I wouldn’t mind reading about/watching! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Chris Evans says:

    Great review mate, I love the way you really dig into the heart and subtexts of the story. In the end I’d say three stars is about right for this, an entertaining enough read (that’s way better than the Monster Men thing) but not an instant classic.

    Detective Comics has become a bit mediocre, I’ve really not been enjoying the League of Shadows arc and the drab art hasn’t helped. In fact a lot of the Rebirth titles in recent weeks seem to feel a little tired, especially in terms of the visuals, a lot of my favourite DC artists seem to have fallen victim to the twice-monthly shipping. It was great that we got David Finch doing an entire arc on Batman but that sort of consistency seems to be a rarirty of late.

    Talking of the Batwoman Rebirth series, I’m itching to read that (especially with Steve Epting doing the art – that’s a monthly title so he’ll hopefully be around for a while) but I’m going to wait for the collected editions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thank you sir! Yeh, I’ve ended up using Monster Men as my reference point for my ratings for these Rebirth stories. Although I do wonder if I shouldn’t knock off a star off that… atrocity. I don’t dare re-read it in fear of doing just that. It might make me a bit darker in my appreciation for some of these stories… Quite sad that League of Shadows hasn’t impressed you. I’ve heard people liking it a lot more than I thought they would (955 seem to have been a hit with many…) But I totally hear you on the artist issue. It seems to be quite present with a lot of runs. I do wish they stayed consistent and tried to go for something that can be considered high quality.

      I’ve never heard of Steve Epting before. I do know of Marguerite Bennett though, but I haven’t tried out her stuff yet (except for this two-part mini prologue story). But since the introduction of Batwoman in the Rebirth series (Detective Comics) I have been itching to try out Batwoman Elegy and other stories from the past regarding the character!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chris Evans says:

        Steve Epting is definitely one of the best comic artists of recent years (at least in my opinion), his pre/post-Civil War Captain America run with Ed Brubaker is monumental stuff!

        Right with you on Batwoman, a great character from the ever expanding Bat-family!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    I’m not a big Batman (comic) fan although I did enjoy the movies. He’s a complex character, who is interesting to watch no doubt, but I’m not sure how reading about him would go. Especially when so many writers try their hand at him.
    I think a Batman fan would enjoy this one a lot more than me and probably offer a better insight XD
    Nevertheless, I really liked your review! Keep up the wonderful job, Lashaan 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Ohhh, Batman has been through so many hands (writers), it’s pretty insane. Probably one of the characters who’s known SO MUCH change in the history of comics. Every person finds a Batman that they like and find to be perfect for them. I just love discovering all the different variations, as well as digging into his canon story. After all, I do consider myself as one of Batman’s biggest fan hahah 95% of the comics I review are essentially Batman-centric 😛 I know a lot of people haven’t read a lot of the stories I review or even like Batman that much, but I mostly do it for myself and that little fanbase who probably don’t have many places to go to fanboy/girl about these hidden gems! 😛
      I really appreciate that you take the time to read them and find out more about Batman through my reviews. Even if you don’t plan on reading them for yourself, I guess these reviews gives you a pretty good idea of what’s going on in the comic world! 😀 Thank you again for checking this out!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

        Yeah, definitely! I love reading about things I’ve experienced and loved but I also love reading about the other stuff I don’t know that much about 🙂 It gives me such a new, cool perspective.
        I did enjoy the movies quite a lot (I haven’t watched all of them, though) even if I’m not knowledgeable enough to pick up on those details that make fans either swoon or enraged hahaha
        To me, they were simply a pleasant and entertaining experience. But if I ever plan on reading the comics, I will definitely go by your recs ^^

        Liked by 1 person

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